This week, capsule reviews of Deadpool #8, Hulk: Broken Worlds #1, Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3 and War of the Kings #1, together with the thing you’ve all been waiting for – the Comics Daily opinion of Watchmen.
hillside cannibals dvd Every Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.
At the time of publication, this the plotline for the first issue of Fabian Nicieza’s crossover with Mike Carey’s X-Men seemed a rather odd choice. With Cable’s utopian island state being ripped apart by a rampaging bio-weapon, the stage seemed set for an action-packed arc to win over visiting readers from the more popular title. Instead, the writer delivered a reflective and strangely mournful piece, largely set within Nathan Summers’ own mind. With hindsight, however, Nicieza’s preoccupations are all-too apparent.
The end of Carey’s most recent issue had seen Cable agreeing to merge with a psionic parasite, restoring his telepathy and enabling him to fight Hecatomb, with the visiting team’s physical powers obviously no match for the creature. Nicieza rewinds matters slightly, moving back to show Summers musing whether to go through with the deal. His thoughts follows a rather unexpected path, musing that all his recent triumphs, establishing democracy in a fictional eastern European state, starting his Providence think-tank to encourage a new form of society and outwitting that US government’s bids to discredit him, were only possible because he had abandoned his telepathy and oversized guns. It’s a slightly far-fetched hypothesis, reliant on the notion that his psychic “cheating” worked against him, but the writer’s real thesis soon emerges. Nicieza later described Cable’s removal from his own book to participate in the Messiah Complex plotline as “faintly hysterical”, but there’s a tone of real wistfulness here, as the author know ledges that his more complex take on the character he helped define will soon be abandoned.
What seals the deal is the moment where Cable begins to reflect on whether some outside force is governing his life, manipulating into playing the “grizzled, gun-totting tough guy” every time he tries to grow out of his niche in the X-universe. There’s no fourth-wall break here, as Summers’ reflections are clearly crouched in sci-fi language, and such elemental beings showed up fairly regularly in Cable’s solo title. For all that, the attack on Marvel’s editorial policy is unmistakable, with the writer clearly irked by the dismissal of the mix of geopolitics, espionage and super heroics that had become the character’s modus operandi. Nicieza had clearly received his own glimpse of his time-traveller’s future, reduced to a plot device in his own book and forced to regress into a Leifield-esque terminator analogue. Cable & Deadpool #40 is an unexpectedly sobering read, and leaves a striking glimpse of the cost of investing creative energy in a character whose destiny is in the hands of others.
Another batch of capsule reviews from the Comics Daily team, including Deadpool #4, Ex Machina #39 and Thunderbolts #126, the first issue by the new creative team of Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre. Read the rest of this entry »
After Captain Britain used the Skrull invasion to launch himself back to stardom, this week sees another of Marvel’s niche characters looking to repeat the trick. After the X-office decided to kidnap his Cable and Deadpool co-star for babysitting duties, Wade Wilson effectively held down a solo book for ten issues, but the title always felt as if it was just treading water until cancelation. There’s no shortage of effort here, with big name cover-artists, extensive advertising and a detailed prose back-story for the book’s star, but the tale itself still lacks both direction and genuine laughs.
Deadpool’s perennial problem is that there’s nothing inherently funny about Spider-man with guns. His wisecracks alone aren’t enough to make his book a comedy, making him very dependant on the scenarios his writers place him in. His most successful eras, under Joe Kelly and Gail Simone, have seen the book written as a sitcom, with Wilson’s adventures always conceived with comic potential in mind. However, situation comedy requires a situation, and here we simply have Deadpool rolling up for a fight. Unlike the official state defence force of MI13, the Secret Invasion is hardly an ideal launching pad for Deadpool, but Daniel Way’s structuring of his story is still distinctly questionable. The writer is careful to introduce a fresh tactic to each phase of Wilson’s scattershot assault on a Skrull assault craft, but is hampered by his decision to show Deadpool working towards a serious goal in a comical way, rather than the reverse. Although an Asterix-style running gag about Skrull translation is carried off with aplomb, most of the comic material in the book falls flat. Typical of the writing is the parodying of ‘Pool’s trademark yellow thought bubbles as being a multiple personality disorder, with Way never quite finding a genuine punch line in his material. Considering the lack of supporting characters in this issue, it’s understandable that Way seeks to play with the copious narration the issue contains, but his approach is a rambling series of riffs rather than an actual planned gag.
The multi-page recap to Wilson’s life makes clear that he’s still a part of Simone’s Agency X organisation, although this is entirely absent from the issue, with the focus remaining on the book’s star. Despite the issue’s minimalist plot, there are still holes in the story. Wade has obviously prepared his offensive in advance, with his mascot costume constructed out of body armour and a remote means of triggering the stadium’s roof set up. But how did he know that the Skrulls were about the show up there? Either Deadpool had advance warning of the invasion, from a means unexplained in the book, or he just likes to hang around baseball games with a considerable amount of munitions. There’s comic potential in the latter option, but Way is obviously determined to leave the fourth wall alone for the time being. There’s no sense that the book has pinpointed its direction, with the gritty cover at odds with with Paco Medina’s clean, bright art. Given that the book’s pre-publicity has focussed on Deadpool’s possible siding with the Skrulls, it seems another odd choice to choose his surprise pitch to them as the first issue’s cliff-hanger. There’s storytelling, decompressed storytelling, and taking an entire issue to reach the scenario described in the series’ promotional tagline. Wade’s healing factor will be pushed to its limits to recover from the injuries sustain here.