Monday, December 02, 2013

I refuse to call this issue a "Madcap romp."

My Youngest son is a huge Spongebob Squarepants fan, so I've seen a ton of episodes. In one, Squidward asks Spongebob's starfish friend Patrick Star, point-blank, "Just how dumb are you?" Patrick immediately replies, "It varies." I assumed this was the case for Deadpool as well: how crazy is he? As crazy as the writer needs for the story, right? Right?

Even though I'm a fan of Deadpool, I seem to go long stretches without reading Deadpool. I only read Cable & Deadpool a couple times, before the title dropped Cable. I'm still missing a few issues of Deadpool Team-Up, and most of those I bought on sale. Ditto Deadpool Corps, a thoroughly silly yet somewhat enjoyable book. Oh, and I did like Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth, which was mostly carried by Bong Dazo's art. Sounds like a lot of Deadpool, right? But I've only caught part of Daniel Way's run--over sixty issues--or the new Marvel Now! volume four.

But I did try Deadpool Annual 2013, "Madcapped!" Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, art by Evan "Doc" Shaner.

Now, there's a lot to like about this issue: the art is clear and funny. And so are most of the jokes: I think Acker and Blacker overall hit more than they missed, and that's more than you can say about a lot of Deadpool comics. And unlike a lot of comics from guest or celebrity writers, they use continuity! (Correctly! More or less.) And they bring back a classic Marvel villain, Madcap! would be completely forgiven for saying "Who?" there.

A Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary creation, Madcap originally was a young man on a religious field trip that ran afoul of an Advanced Idea Mechanics cell that was trying to destroy one of their inventions, Chemical X--wait, it was actually Chemical X07? Huh. Anyway, X07 was an enzyme that would "incite a rapid healing in human bodies," which kinda seems like the sort of thing AIM beekeepers would really need; so there must have been some side effects...the accident kills everyone on the future Madcap's bus trip, including his parents and sister, but he soaked up the X07 and survives. Losing his faith, he attempts suicide, only to discover he has super-healing and no longer feels pain. Then he gets really crazy, and discovering he also had the power to induce a cheerful insanity in others, he makes a costume, feeling that nothing means anything and there's no higher purpose. Madcap didn't have a ton of appearances (he showed up in Power Pack of all places, with a nice cover) but Gruenwald used him in an issue of Daredevil...that I suspect was a fill-in, but OK. I don't think any of that info was actually in this issue, either; but you get the gist of it.

Coincidentally, Daredevil is where this issue starts as well; as pre-Secret Invasion and Daniel Way, in Hell's Kitchen, Deadpool is about to take a shot at Matt Murdock. (Which doesn't really fit with where Pool was at the end of Cable & Deadpool...) Before he can shoot, Pool is accosted by Madcap: their healing factors seem to be evenly matched, but Madcap's insanity-power instead sends Pool to his "happy place." Worse, their ruckus has attracted the attention of Daredevil, who's both immune to Madcap's power and really doesn't like Deadpool. (Go get the Daredevil/Deadpool '97 annual: it's great!) Worse, a passing Thor shows up, and at DD's request, "Lightning 'em, Thor." A startled Madcap leaps into Deadpool's arms, Scooby-Doo style, just in time for the lightning to reduce them both to a pile of ashes. ("Too much, Thor." And Thor's response is hilarious.)

Of course, Deadpool heals back from that, since his healing factor is pretty much magic now, isn't it? (I always thought it was pretty good, but not functionally invulnerable good...) Grumbling, Pool doesn't know if Madcap healed earlier and left, or died...but now there's a new voice in his head, in the form of the white caption box. Cue a flashback to Daniel Way's run on the book, except now that extra voice in Deadpool's head is Madcap, and he seemingly knows it, even if Pool doesn't acknowledge that other voice as Madcap. How well that retcon fits is for someone else to decide, but it's a bit sweeping for my taste: "Those sixty-some issues from that other writer? Nah, they happened like this!" On the other hand, some people didn't like the dueling voices/caption boxes motif at all: personally, it didn't grab me at first either, but I did think it was an interesting workaround for Way to have snappy dialogue without the hassle of supporting cast members.

Then, "Just before Marvel Now!" Deadpool is in Hell's Kitchen, again; about to take another shot at Matt Murdock. Which doesn't seem to fit where Pool was at the end of Way's series, either: Pool was often shown to be trying to be more than just a merc, to be a hero; so this is like watching an addict relapse, repeatedly. Mad-Caption asks if Pool knew Matt was Daredevil, and the answer's kind of? He did remember to set up a Daredevil-senses jammer thing, and a bomb to distract the other heroes. Which doesn't go off, and Luke Cage arrives to return it, up Pool's ass. Which sets off a bit about which Marvel characters' names sound like, ahem, sex acts; which gains Pool a stout beating. Which gives Madcap a chance to take the driver's seat, and he does, using his powers to make Luke do a dance number. Which is when Thor shows up...

I won't spoil the rest, but I wonder if Acker and Blacker maybe weren't given the job of drawing a line, from Way's run, to the new one. This is how things were, this is how things are going to be. Maybe, going forward, Deadpool will be a little less...madcap. As of yet, I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or not.


CalvinPitt said...

So one of the caption boxes was Madcap, but the other one was still Deadpool, even though Wade's external dialogue argued with both?

I don't know, the caption boxes were OK, but I would have preferred Way either use Wade's supporting cast, or make up some of his own. I really liked Cable/Deadpool, but I bailed on Way's stuff eventually. He didn't seem to have any clue what he was trying to do.

The current series seems pretty good, based on the first two trades.

Dale Bagwell said...

Oh hell man, these scans are funny! I'm both intrigued and disturbed by the possible positioning and types of sex acts that make up those famous sex acts. Especially the "Moon Boy" Oh shit, no!

I've gotta go find this one now , thx:)

googum said...

I only wonder, if you read Way's run now, knowing that other voice was Madcap, would that help it, or hurt it?

And Deadpool has another panel or two of horrible sounding sex acts...for some reason, the first one to come to mind was the "Lockjaw," but I'm not sure that's in there, which means I'm horrible.

Dale Bagwell said...

No, no it doesn't. Ok, maybe a little, and only if you've done any of the aformentioned acts, including the "Lockjaw";)