Pick of the Week
What did the
Art by Scott Koblish
Colors by Val Staples
Letters by Joe Sabino
Cover by Kris Anka
Size: 32 pages
I was a third, maybe half, of the way through Deadpool #13 when it occurred to me that it was going to be Pick of the Week again; that it would be the second time I, Josh Flanagan, had written about a Deadpool comic book, proclaiming it the best of the comic books I had read in a given week. It’s odd. Next thing I know, I’ll be proclaiming Mumford & Sons “not that bad” and eating salad.
But one of those things has actually happened, and it has nothing to do with Dwight Shrute playing a banjo over and over, or leafy greens. No, Deadpool #13 is definitely the Pick of the Week. Again!
I don’t even really hate Deadpool. It’s more that I don’t care about Deadpool. I don’t get the schtick. It’s fine, but it’s not my thing. Yet increasingly, it’s the allure of the other in comics that’s attracting me. I’m not saying that I need super alternative comics, because we’re talking about a Deadpool book after all, from Marvel Comics. I’m actually a pretty mainstream guy. Still, anyone who reads a lot of comics with a savvy eye will notice that certain patterns emerge, and those patterns repeat themselves for 30-40 years. Maybe more. If you read the amount of mainstream comics that I do, those patterns can become incredibly boring, sometimes nauseating. Like a certain band and their droning antecedents. We’re not here to talk about that though. What really excites me in comics is when you see what sort of mischief creators can get up to within the confines of something that traditionally has such a rigid structure. What’s really making me smile with this series, and especially these flashback interludes like this one, and previously issue #7, is that Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan are pushing boundaries. The jokes are becoming more risqué, while remaining both witty and delightfully lowbrow. They’re using the safety of parody to go after taboo and tradition, and it also happens to look fantastic.
We’re back in 1977 New York City for this issue, with Scott Koblish and Val Staples on art and zipatone duty. The whole issue is drawn in the style of a comic book from your dad’s childhood (unless you’re super old), that you pulled out from a musty box in the basement. There are stains, and there are colors running out of the border, and no matter how many times I see this trick, it always makes me smile. Koblish in particular really embraced the layouts, designs, and figures of comics from that era, and at any point, a character could have taken out a Hostess fruit pie and ended the story. It is tonally perfect, and a joy to read. I can only imagine that as the pages came back to the editors and writers, they looked and saw and nodded, because those sons of bitches did it. They actually did it. The scene with the sex page (not what you think) should get its own Eisner. It’s a mix of pop, cliché, humor, and a damned beaver (not what you think). It is glorious, and you can nearly hear the delightful wah wah guitar and hi-hat.
On the other side of the process, I think you have Duggan and Posehn’s finest script so far. This thing is chock full of double entendre and genuinely funny jokes, straddling the line of post-modern and stupid in all the best ways. They’re working with metaphors for race and sex and not bobbling the ball, all while making fun of KISS. Iron Fist’s pent up… power might be my favorite gag in the whole thing, but it’s quite honestly a tough call. The pages are packed, and if this isn’t giving you your funny book’s worth of delight, then I don’t know what to tell you.
So many comics are so very serious, and collectively we just can’t shake the feeling of trying to make “dark” the same thing as “quality”. At the same time, comics that are supposed to be funny are so often not funny. Luckily, these folks are actually funny, and in the midst of a billion other books trying to cram how sad it is to have a cape, juxtaposed with wholesale human slaughter in other books, it’s so nice to have a book that’s well produced, wearing its love of the medium on its ridiculous, flowy sleeve, and have it hit at exactly the right moment. This is nostalgia mixed parody done well, and it is a rare thing indeed.
If all that wasn’t enough for you, here are two more thoughts: the villain is a pimp called The White Man, and every time Luke Cage looks horrified, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in a comic book.
The 70′s were almost entirely ridiculous. And wonderful.