Deadpool: Drawing the Merc with a Mouth – Three Decades of Amazing Marvel Comics Art


Written by Matthew K. Manning, art by many and various (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-78565-428-2

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Picture Perfect … 9/10

Comics are almost unique in the narrative arts for their capacity to turn throwaway characters into superstars – although modern revisionist novelists are doing a pretty good job these days turning the acquaintances of Sherlock Holmes or Oliver Twist into money-spinners…

Our industry, however, thrives on the fans taking to their hearts – and wallets – the villains, the weirdoes and the deliberately dire and turning them into multimedia attention magnets.

Here’s an ideal case in point…

Deadpool is Wade Wilson (a thinly disguised knockoff of Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke the Terminator: get over it – DC did), a costumed hired killer and survivor of genetics experiments that have left him a grotesque bundle of scabs, scars and physical abnormalities.

The upside – if such it is – of the ordeal is that he is now practically immortal, invulnerable and capable of regenerating from any injury.

Any.
Injury.

He is also a certifiable loon…

As you will find within this monolithic (279 x 356 mm) hardback – courtesy of Matthew K. Manning’s concise career retrospective and interview-filled appreciation – the wisecracking “Merc with a Mouth” was created by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza. He debuted in New Mutants #98 (February 1991); one more escaped product of the Canadian “Weapon X” project which created Wolverine and so many other mutant/cyborg super-doers.

He got his first shot at solo stardom with a couple of miniseries in 1993 (Deadpool: the Circle Chase & Sins of the Past) but it wasn’t until 1997 that he finally won his own title, which blended 4th-wall-busting, absurdist humour (a la Chuck Jones Road Runner cartoons via Ambush Bug) into the all-action mix; securing the crazy killer’s place in comics history.

Since then he has become one of Marvel’s iconic, nigh-inescapable over-characters, perpetually undergoing radical rethinks, surviving death, identity changes, reboots and more before always, inevitably, reverting to irascible, irreverent, intoxicating type in the end…

This colossal celebration will not teach you how to render the resoundingly robust rascal but instead offers a selection of high-quality art examples – cover, panels, panels and unseen treats – from some the industry’s best and brightest illustrators. Following the scene-setting ‘Introduction’ Deadpool’s eccentric publishing history is divided into terse, picture-packed chapters beginning with ‘Creating a New Mutant’ tracking his trajectory from ‘From Villain to Antihero’ and his first taste of stardom as ‘The Merc with a Mouth’.

A radical departure is fully assessed in the chapter detailing the divergent life of ‘Agent X’ and an unlikely partnership with mutant martinet Cable is covered in ‘The Odd Couple’. The shift to full time metaphysical mischief starts with ‘The Title Character’ and details the intricate madness of ‘Deadpool’s World’ before reaching the only ‘Conclusion’ possible…

His is primarily a celebration of comic art and artists featured here include Liefeld, Greg Capullo, Ian Churchill, Joe Madureira, Aaron Lopresti, Ed McGuiness, Pete Woods, Alvin Lee, Bernard Chang, Dan Norton, Arthur Adams, Jim Calafiore, Cully Hamner, Tim Sale, Rick Leonardi, Darick Robertson, Georges Jeanty, Steve Harris, Alvin Lee & UDON studios, Brian Stelfreeze, Patrick Zircher, Mark Brooks, Skottie Young, Reilly Brown, Ron Lim, Clayton Crain, Carlo Barberi, Jason Pearson, Geof Darrow, Mike Hawthorne, Tony Moore, Kris Anka, Paco Medina, Dave Johnson, Nick Bradshaw, Bong Dazo, David Nakayama, Matthew C. Waite, Kyle Baker, Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire, Arthur Suydam, Dalibor Talajic, Pascual Ferry, Mike Gustovich, Joe Cooper, Humberto Ramos, Max Fiumara, David Lopez, Ryan Stegman, Tony Moore, Jim Cheung, Mike McKone, Das Pastoras, Greg Land, Jae Lee, Mike Del Mundo, Kaare Andrews, Salva Espin, Jay Shaw, Adam Kubert Walter McDaniel, Esad Ribic, Julian Totino Tedesco, Phil Noto, Katie Cook and many more…

Bold, brash, brilliantly eye-catching and designed to improve your musculature just by lifting it, Deadpool: Drawing the Merc with a Mouth is a wonderful visual treasure trove and even comes with an exclusive Reilly Brown cover print.
© 2016 Marvel. All rights reserved.

Deadpool Corps volume 2: You Say You Want a Revolution


By Victor Gischler, Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4827-2

Stylish killers and moody mercenaries have always been popular fictional protagonists, and light-hearted, exuberant bloodbath comics will always find an appreciative audience…

Deadpool is Wade Wilson: an inveterate, unrepentant hired killer who survived cancer and genetics experiments which left him a grotesque bundle of scabs, scars and physical abnormalities but also practically immortal, invulnerable and capable of regenerating from any wound. He is also a many-times-over certifiable loon…

The wisecracking high-tech “Merc with a Mouth” was created by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza for New Mutants #97, another product of the “Weapon X” project which created Wolverine and so many other mutant/cyborg super-doers. His first shot at solo stardom came with a couple of miniseries in 1993 (Deadpool: the Circle Chase & Sins of the Past) but it wasn’t until 1997 that he finally won his own title, which blended fourth-wall-busting absurdist humour (a la Ambush Bug and Warner Brothers cartoons) into the mix, thereby securing his place in Marvel’s top rank.

Since then he has become one of the company’s iconic, nigh-inescapable stars, perennially undergoing radical rethinks, identity changes, reboots and more before always – inevitably – reverting to irascible, irreverent, intoxicating type in the end…

In this iteration – and following events too ludicrous to mention – Wilson united with a quartet of alternate Deadpools from very different parallel Earths (a buxom female Lady Deadpool, killer pre-teen Kidpool, a floating masked cranium from Marvel’s Zombiverse dubbed Headpool and a costumed mutt who answers to Dogpool (and sometimes “Cujo”) to form the strangest team in Marvel’s history (and yes, that includes Pet Avengers).

What Has Gone Before: a bizarre concatenation of circumstances has resulted in Deadpool and Co saving creation from the sentience-sucking Awareness.

For this they have been rewarded by the Elders of the Universe with a starship (the “Bea Arthur”) and a set of one-use only wishing rings. They’re having fun and don’t want to go home yet, but as card-carrying mercenaries the unlikely champions can never have enough spending money…

Collecting Deadpool Corps #7-12 (December 2010 to May 2011 by Victor Gischler, pencillers Liefeld and Marat Mychaels with inkers Adelso Corona & Cory Hamscher) the manic mayhem continues with a wickedly cruel spoof of blockbuster movie Avatar.

Framed through insanely clever fiddling with the narrative technique of flashbacks, the story resumes with the carnival of killer fools accepting a huge commission from the vast and unscrupulous Omega Confederation

Paradise planet Kagan 7 is a beautiful wonderland of flora and fauna inhabited – or perhaps safeguarded – by the deeply spiritual, jungle-dwelling, blue-skinned warrior-race known as the Krook.

Sadly, to cost-effectively get at the planet’s mineral wealth, the Confederation had to enslave the Krook and turn them into miners. Now the ungrateful sods are rebelling and demanding their planet back so the Omega board would like somebody to go and quietly remove all the ringleaders so the peons can get back to digging up all that lovely platinum…

Taking out the alien legion of mercs hired by the rebels is no problem, but the natives themselves – especially the extremely hot daughter of the bombastic king – prove too much for the Crazy Corps and soon they are desperately bargaining for their own lives…

Said deal boils down to the Deadpools switching sides and running the revolution against the Omega Confederation. The murderers from a multiplicity of Earths have no qualms about switching sides: the problems only occur after Wade starts boffing the mercilessly manipulative Princess Teela who then convinces her highly sceptical father that to survive as an independent, free world the unspoiled Arcadian paradise needs to modernise and commercialise … just a bit…

Wade’s thinking something reserved and classy, properly in tune with the environment: Hospitals, swish eateries, a complex of skyscraper hotels, spa resorts and golf courses… y’know, like Las Vegas in space…

As Deadpool starts a crass telethon campaign to raise galactic awareness of the poor Krooks’ plight, a tidal wave of tree-huggers from across the universe converge on the endangered paradise to support the latest cause célèbre. Elsewhere the Omega Confederation board decide that something nasty needs to be done to the contractors who took their cash and failed to deliver…

On Kagan 7 so many donations are coming in the Imperial Senate recognises the new world and inducts it into the Galactic Economic Community. The first part of that procedure is to set up a Central Bank of Krook and advance several thousand tons of gold so the latest member of the club can suitably set up a proper trading profile…

Wade is so stunned with loot-shock he doesn’t even notice when the Omega’s death-squads start attacking. Luckily old girlfriend and legendary arms-smuggler The Broken Blade arrives to save they day whilst stocking the newborn world’s defences with the latest in super-ordinance.

She’s a little less than ecstatic when she discovers Wade’s been making time with a plush and primitive princess…

The social evolution of the Krook isn’t going smoothly either. Whilst Teela ruthlessly embraces everything flashy, new and civilised, dear old dad just wants his world back the way it was before all the outworlders came. Soon father and daughter are spearheading two separate armies in a savage civil war – beamed live into quintillions of homes all over known space – and the Deadpool Corps have picked opposing sides to help keep the slaughter quotient high.

All poor Wade can think about, however, is several thousand tons of gold just waiting to be salvaged and taken back to Earth…

And in the background the Omega Confederation are still working on ways to take back their mining operation and kill everybody who has defied them…

Displaying with extreme clarity how the cure can be worse than the disease, the last hurrah of the Deadpool Corps again blends a minimum of plot with an overabundance of sharp gags, snappy one-liners, shtick, shlock and slapstick as the trans-dimensional terrorisers bumble, fumble and smart-mouth their way across the galaxy and over a mountain of oddly-shaped corpses until finally they at last go their separate ways…

Surreal, wickedly irreverent and excessively violent in the grand Bugs Bunny/Road Runner tradition, Deadpool Corps is frat boy foolish and frequently laugh-out-loud funny: a wonderfully antidote to the cosmic angst and emotional Sturm und Drang of most contemporary Fights ‘n’ Tights comics, but again pays lip service to being a notionally normal Marvel milestone by also offering a full cover gallery by Liefeld and variant by Skottie Young…
© 2010, 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

Deadpool Corps volume 1: Pool-Pocalypse Now


By Victor Gischler, Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4825-8

Stylish killers and mercenaries craving something more than money have long made popular fictional protagonists, and light-hearted, exuberant bloodbath comics will always find an appreciative audience…

Deadpool is Wade Wilson (yes, a thinly disguised knockoff of Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke the Terminator; get over it – DC did): an inveterate, unrepentant hired killer who survived cancer and genetics experiments that left him a grotesque bundle of scabs, scars and physical abnormalities but also practically immortal, invulnerable and capable of regenerating from any wound.

He is also a certifiable loon…

The wisecracking high-tech “Merc with a Mouth” was created by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza, debuting in New Mutants #97, another product of the “Weapon X” project which created Wolverine and so many other mutant/cyborg super-doers. He got his first shot at solo stardom with a couple of miniseries in 1993 (Deadpool: the Circle Chase & Sins of the Past) but it wasn’t until 1997 that he finally won his own title, which blended fourth-wall-busting absurdist humour (a la Ambush Bug and Warner Brothers cartoons) into the mix and secured his place in Marvel’s top rank.

Since then he has become one of Marvel’s iconic, nigh-inescapable characters, perennially undergoing radical rethinks, identity changes, reboots and more before always – inevitably – reverting to irascible, irreverent, intoxicating type in the end…

Here, following events too ludicrous to mention, Wilson has linked up with a quartet of alternate Deadpools from very different alternate Earths and formed the strangest team in Marvel’s history (and yes, that includes the Pet Avengers).

Collecting Deadpool Corps #1-6 (June-November 2010) the manic mayhem begins with the 5-part ‘Disrespect Your Elders’ (by Victor Gischler, penciller Liefeld and inker Adelso Corona) as the new comrades – Wilson, the strikingly female Lady Deadpool, killer bad boy and errant pre-teen Kidpool, a floating masked cranium from the Marvel Zombiverse dubbed Headpool and a costumed mutt who answers to Dogpool – are hired by the Elder of the Universe known as The Contemplator to expunge a horrific threat to creation…

From a universe preceding The Big Bang an unstoppable force has manifested which absorbs intelligence. Thousands if not millions of planets have succumbed to the power of The Awareness, their sentience and independence subsumed into a slavish nullity. Protected as they are by their own innate, intrinsic imbecility, Contemplator wants the Deadpools to go kill it…

In a bit of a dudgeon over their selection is another Elder calling himself The Champion. The mightiest physical specimen in existence feels the honour of saving universal intellect should be his, but although he’s no big brain either he just isn’t in the Wilson squad’s league…

Whizzing across the cosmos in the super ship “Bea Arthur” – with plenty of pit-stops in the skeeviest bars, cantinas and dives for information and violent recreation – the team soon confront and readily outwit their brawny rival…

Forced to take a different tack, Champion teams up with fellow Elder The Gardener to remove his insufferable rivals but is utterly astounded by their response. Somehow elected their leader, “Championpool” readies himself for glorious combat before again finding himself humiliatingly outsmarted by the Terran morons and stranded on a dead-end world whilst they fly off to reap all the glory…

Tracking the menace involves going undercover, drinking, beating up lots of aliens, shopping and even colluding and cohabiting with legendary star smuggler The Broken Blade, but eventually they near the end of their quest…

More a superb succession of gags than a plot, the adventure follows the Crazy Corps as they bumble and smart-mouth their way across the universe until finally they confront The Awareness and despite – or rather because of – their uniquely skewed mentalities, triumph in the strangest way possible…

Rewarded with wishing rings by the exultant Contemplator, the Silly Squad stay in space where this initial compilation concludes with the bombastic ballad of ‘The Blue Buccaneer’ (illustrated by Marat Mychaels & Jaime Mendoza).

Trading on their intergalactic reputation as badasses-for-hire, the Deadpool Corps accept a commission to wipe out a pirate band preying on interstellar commerce, necessitating Lady Deadpool going undercover in the most shocking – to her at least – of disguises, uncovering the most unexpected of old acquaintances leading the perilous privateers…

Surreal, wickedly irreverent and excessively violent in the grand Bugs Bunny/Road Runner tradition, Deadpool Corps is frat boy foolish and frequently laugh-out-loud funny: a wonderfully antidote to the cosmic angst and emotional Sturm und Drang of most contemporary Fights ‘n’ Tights comics but pays lip service to being a notionally normal Marvel milestone by also offering a full covers-&-variants gallery by Liefeld and sketch variant by Ed McGuinness…
© 2010, 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

Uncanny X-Force volume 1: The Apocalypse Solution


By Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, Leonardo Manco, Dean White, Chris Sotomayor & various (Marvel) ISBN: 978-0-7851-4655-1

There’s no such thing as simple background when dealing with Marvel’s mutant mythology. Uncanny X-Force debuted as a monthly title in October 2010, replacing its previous convoluted incarnation X-Force volume 3 (itself the inheritor of nearly twenty years of chopping, changing and hyper-charged complexity).

The premise of the prior title was to describe the actions of a covert team of X-Men convened to perform covert black-ops – and even wetwork – missions at a time when mutants numbered no more than a couple of hundred endangered souls. The group acted with the blessing of Cyclops – titular head of the sorely diminished X-nation – during the Messiah Complex and Second Coming publishing events but were summarily disbanded when exposed to the shocked scrutiny of their understandably appalled fellow mutants…

Written by Rick Remender, the new iteration – and this collection (comprising material from Wolverine: The Road to Hell – November 2010 – and issues #1-4 of Uncanny X-Force published with December 2010 to March 2011cover-dates) – opens with ‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ from the aforementioned Wolverine one-shot wherein the feral fury realises that there’s still a need for a squad ready to do whatever it takes to keep the species of Homo Sapiens Superior safe…

Illustrated by Leonardo Manco and colourist Chris Sotomayor the introductory vignette finds the man called Logan joining Archangel, Psylocke and Fantomex in secret base Cavern-X deep in the Arizona desert, all in agreement that they must continue their necessary work without Cyclops’ knowledge, if only to give him plausible deniability and a clean conscience…

All are troubled souls with blood on their hands. Archangel will fund the project and has in fact already begun their first mission, despatching insane assassin Deadpool to track down the most dangerous mutant monster in history…

Eponymous epic ‘The Apocalypse Solution’, with art by Jerome Opeña and colours from Dean White, then opens in Egypt as the mirthful maniac uncovers an underground Temple and finds devoted acolytes of Clan Akkaba led by the insidious Ozymandias resurrecting the recently slain Apocalypse with their own willingly spilled blood.

The monster had spent millennia testing mutantkind and frequently gathered prime examples to be his agents. Now as Deadpool searches the base he encounters a monstrous Minotaur. The resurrectionists have freed the Final Horsemen: Apocalypse’s last line of defence and the most wicked killers in history…

With contact lost the rest of the team rush to the site in Fantomex’s extraordinary sentient vehicle EVA (in actuality a biomechanical exterior nervous system for the stylish, bio-engineered mutant thief/adventurer) all resigned that the Scourge of Earth must die again at all costs.

Archangel is riven by doubt and apprehension. When he was merely the X-Man Angel Apocalypse ripped out his wings, remade his body and rewired Warren Worthington’s brain to make him one of his Horsemen. Thanks to the telepathic power of his lover Psylocke, Warren has regained autonomy now but lives in dread of that deep programming, constantly struggling to stop the murderous malice resurfacing. What will happen if and when he confronts his returned former master?

The rescue mission is only partially successful. Although they save Deadpool they are too late to prevent the Clan and revived Horsemen teleporting away with their newly restored yet strangely different master…

The second chapter finds the team apparently carving their way through a mass of minions at the Akkaba Temple until Archangel intrudes and discovers that the entire exercise is a simulation designed to accustom Psylocke to killing the winged wonder if Apocalypse should take him over or – worse yet – should his own dark nature win out over the personality of Warren Worthington…

With the chilling realisation that Wolverine has been preparing her to do the same for all of them, Warren is shocked from his dark thoughts by news that the fugitives have been tracked to the Blue Area of the Moon and expedites their pursuit in EVA…

However the raid immediately falters as the team is picked off by the arisen Horsemen even as, far below them in a colossal sentient Celestial ship, fanatical factotum Ozymandias experiences a few difficulties with his adored master.

The reborn En Sabah Nur is an innocent child who simply won’t accept the merciless philosophies of his former incarnation. Whilst his determined would-be killers rally and overcome their foes, edging ever closer, the return of the true Apocalypse seems destined to fail…

The blistering examination of relative moralities kicks into overdrive when Psylocke bursts into the child’s chamber just ahead of her red-handed comrades. Despite his warring personalities Archangel is ready to save the world; to Deadpool it’s just another hit and Wolverine knows that sometimes dark deeds are inevitable, but their readiness and resignation to execute the crying boy is nevertheless stalled.

Merciless, resolute Psylocke won’t let them harm the boy…

Tense, taut, bloodily action-packed and ethically challenging, The Apocalypse Solution offers a far darker side of the mutant question for fans – if not, perhaps, casual readers – to enjoy, leavening the grim tone with razor-sharp gallows humour and even moments of moving sentiment – which do nothing to dilute the shocking surprise ending…

This slim tome is further augmented by a covers-&-variants gallery by Mico Suayan, Jason Keith, Esad Ribic, Marko Djurdjevic, J. Scott Campbell, Edgar Delgado, Rob Liefeld, Thomas Mason and Clayton Crain, Behind-the-Scenes feature ‘Evolution of a Page: from Script to Colors’ plus a prose-&-picture history of recent ‘X-Force’ history narrated by Wolverine himself (as transcribed by Jeph York)…

Complex, compelling, compulsive and chilling, X-Force is a splendid example of mature Costume Dramas for everyone looking for a dash of darkness in their superhero soap opera shenanigans.
© 2010, 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.