The Comic Book Club: “Deadpool” and “Daredevil: Black and White”

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This is what happens when Techland goes to the comic book store: we end up talking about what we picked up. This week, Douglas Wolk, Evan Narcisse, Mike Williams and Graeme McMillan discuss Deadpool #1000 and Daredevil: Black and White.

DOUGLAS: I confess that I don’t entirely understand why Deadpool’s sizeable cult thinks he’s special enough to support the like 14 ongoing series he’s got right now. I used to like him in moderation, back when the premise of the series was that he was the character who got stuck in standard Marvel settings and plots and absolutely refused to take them seriously. (This was otherwise known as “the period when Joe Kelly was writing Deadpool.” Kelly’s Deadpool #11–the one where he simply drops Deadpool and Blind Alfred into Amazing Spider-Man #47 and lets them rampage around Lee and Romita’s story–is still one of the funniest comics ever.)

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What’s odd about the current Deadpool glut is that almost everyone who’s using him now is treating him as an excuse to do Not Brand Ecch–everything has to be silly all the time–which doesn’t let Deadpool pop out and actually be funny. The only one of the eleven (!) stories in Deadpool #1000 that plays it more or less straight aside from Deadpool’s material is Howard Chaykin’s piece, which is so intensely Chaykin-y I almost suspect he Photoshopped Deadpool into some alternate pages from Dominic Fortune. I mean, it’s set at a bar mitzvah. But that’s also why it’s one of the few stories I liked here; too many of them strain really hard to be wacky and end up somewhere between “not funny” and “really unfunny.” (Okay, I laughed at the Blackest Night parody’s bit about how “the most feared color of the corps is ‘beret,’ which represents the emotion of ‘quiet.'”)

MIKE: I had to laugh at the conveyor belt of Double Double Animal Style In ‘n’ Out burgers. As a New Yorker, I’ve been known to plan trips to the West Coast around visiting a branch of that burger empire.

I agree with you completely about Deadpool. He was a personal favorite of mine until about two or three years ago. When he was courting Siryn and wrestling with inner demons to become a “good” guy was when he was at his best. When he took on the Taskmaster at the villains’ own mercenary school is still my favorite issue of Deadpool. He was more Joker and less Looney Toons. He was always hyper-violent, but in a more terrifying way.

DOUGLAS: The alt-cartoonists’ pieces are weird–Peter Bagge’s two-pager is the most phoned-in thing I’ve ever seen him do. (Somehow I can’t imagine that he’s had a Deadpool story burning inside him for years.) And Michael Kupperman’s story is funny, but it’s also exactly the same gag he did with Dick Tracy’s “face” villains in Tales Designed to Thrizzle.

GRAEME: Yeah, I’m with you on the weakness of the Bagge story. It was as if someone else was trying to ape Bagge badly. Ripping himself off or not, the Kupperman story was still the only thing in the issue that actually worked for me. Everything else just felt very… I don’t know, not-for-me. There’s a strange thing about Deadpool, especially Deadpool as he’s portrayed now, where it’s a very offputting “I AM FUNNY AND WACKY DAMMIT LAUGH” attitude that feels too needy, and also not funny enough to earn the anger. Too much of this issue felt entirely phoned in and poking fun at too-obvious targets.

EVAN: Agreed, Graeme, and the not-for-me-ness of it made me wonder who Deadpool’s target audience is. 12-year-old boys? Well, it’s kinda violent and trashy for them. And the humor is just too heavy-handed to resonate. I remember reading superhero gag comics as a kid and appreciating some subtlety, even when I didn’t get the joke.

GRAEME: Also, as someone who doesn’t really read Deadpool often enough to know this, what’s with the different font captions? Is he a schizophrenic narrator or something?

DOUGLAS: Yeah, basically–I gather that he’s got a bunch of voices in his head that perpetually argue with each other.

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I also feel kind of churlish complaining about a five-dollar, 104-page comic, but dammit, it would’ve been nice if the last quarter of it were something more substantial than reprints of Deadpool-variant covers.

MIKE: Seriously, who is demanding cover reprints in milestone issues? This is even more egregious than the second half of Batman #700. (Having said that, I would pay cash money for a book of Adi Granov covers.)

I did not enjoy the majority of this issue. I don’t know what I want out of Deadpool anymore, but it’s not this.

GRAEME: The cover reprints, more than anything, spoke to me of “someone didn’t get their story done in time.” It felt ridiculously like last-minute filler; I would like to think that, if it was planned, someone would’ve suggested some kind of commentary or something to make it more interesting.

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