Deadpool isn’t funny anymore.
For years, Daniel Way and Rick Remender have interpreted the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ for a modern age: Way with slapstick humor, and Remender with subtler, witty dialogue. And while fans were often debated about which version of Deadpool was the best, the character was always funny. Unfortunately, Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan have taken all that made Wade Wilson interesting and thrown it out the window in favor of lowest-common-denominator humor that misses the mark nearly every time. Deadpool was one of my most anticipated new series from Marvel NOW!, and after two issues, I’m done with it.
First, I want to address the inclusion of a spectral Benjamin Franklin. I read Deadpool #2 about four times through, each time hoping I would find the sequence that explained why Franklin came about at all. There isn’t one. In fact, Posehn and Duggan don’t just stop at neglecting to give this new character a purpose, but they take it one step further by insinuating that Franklin could just be another “voice in my head” for Wilson.
The only actual reason I could find for his presence was to explain that to defeat the resurrected Presidents, Wade needs to figure out the source of the magic that brought them back. If there was more of an obvious reason for Franklin’s inclusion, it wouldn’t be so frustrating, but this is the kind of info that people just deduce from logic and common sense, especially in a comicbook universe.
Ben Franklin first appears at the beginning of Deadpool #2, attempting to resuscitate Deadpool via “respiratory massage”—which is supposed to be some sort of joke—and from there proceeds to become one of the most inane, unfunny, useless characters I’ve ever seen in a comicbook. By the end, Posehn and Duggan are conveying Franklin as a lewd, racist old man. It’s supposed to be funny and dirty, but it just comes across as weak and desperate.
This issue, Deadpool is tasked to bring in Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt from the San Diego Zoo where he’s taken to doing some big game hunting. I found this notion to be very funny, but not in the way Posehn or Duggan intended, I’m sure. Hunting as a sport is somewhat one-sided (humans get a powerful firearm, camouflage, a seat in a tree, an all the supplies they need against the helpless, defenseless nature of woodland animals), and having TR bust up into a zoo to hunt seems like very keen social commentary on the whole premise of murdering animals for sport.
But like I said, I can’t imagine this is what Posehn and Duggan were going for, as the rest of the story is laden with sophomoric and banal humor that’s rooted in horribly contrived situations and pretenses.
One of my biggest issues with Posehn and Duggan’s Deadpool is the use of gratuitous gore for comedy’s sake. In the first issue, Wade slices his way out of a Godzilla monster, throws up then states, “Yeah, life is beautiful!” In Deadpool #2, an elephant uses its tusk to impale Wade through his torso, causing Wade to exclaim, “At least buy me dinner first!” Both of these instances are examples of how extreme gore does not translate into ‘funny’. Also, once Wade is free of the elephant tusk, he seems to heal back to full strength – including a fully repaired outfit – within the span of two panels.
Basically, Posehn and Duggan are so focused on delivering “slapstick” gags and over-the-top violence and gore that they lose sight of the actual story. This error in judgment comes to a head when Deadpool uses a live electrical line to electrocute Roosevelt who is being suffocated by an elephant. And if you know your basic biology, you know that organic matter conducts electricity, which means the pachyderm miscreant also gets a lethal shock. This leads to a sequence portraying an elephant literally burning to death. It is on fire. All over. And no one is doing anything about it. Again, this is supposed to be funny, but all it comes across as is horrific and cruel.
I really wanted to like Deadpool, I really did. I’m a huge fan of Brian Posehn’s stand-up comedy, and I kept hearing good things about Gerry Duggan’s past work. Pairing two proven funnymen with an erratically humorous character like Deadpool seemed like a slam-dunk, at least theoretically. In reality, Deadpool is one of the worst new titles I’ve read this year. Any attempt at humor falls flat, all uses of extreme blood and gore is unnecessary, and the narrative itself is as flimsy as the paper it’s printed upon. Save your $2.99 and stay away from this book.