Because no one demanded it, another Deadpool ongoing title featuring an artist known primarily for his work on “Star Wars” comics and a novelist who’s never written comics before that will almost certainly be cancelled within a year! And, if the first issue is any indication, there will be some outrage from the hardcore Deadpool fans, while everyone else simply shrugs and mumble about how they thought the book had been axed three months earlier.
The core concept of “Merc with a Mouth” is a good one: a Deadpool title that has nothing to do with “Dark Reign” or tying in heavily with current events in the Marvel universe. There’s logic in producing a fun Deadpool comic for those who don’t care about Norman Osborn at all, one that fits in with the relationship previous iterations of the title have had with the rest of the Marvel universe.
Except, um, shouldn’t the book be funny? Or entertaining? Or something other than a light, pleasant little romp lacking any real conflict? I must ask: how can a comic where Deadpool is shot into the Savage Land from orbit, tangles with cavemen, and meets Ka-Zar be so boring and fluffy? It’s a pet peeve of mine when people use the word ‘fun’ as a pejorative, but that’s exactly the problem with this book: it’s fun in the worst sense of that word. Nothing ever feels at stake and scenes just fly by without leaving an impact.
All of which wouldn’t matter if Deadpool was ever funny. Gischler’s conception of Deadpool matches up with Daniel Way’s current portrayal of the character, complete with dueling narrative captions, but this lacks the darker edge and gallows humor of Way’s writing. There seems to be no point here to the two different captions since the voice doesn’t change at all between them. If they weren’t done in differing lettering styles, you would have no idea that Deadpool is meant to have two voices in his head.
Bong Dazo’s art is serviceable, albeit a bit indulgent. It has a very fun and cartoony look, but falls short when it comes to actually articulating any of the physical comedy bits. The only time where the art itself sells a joke is on an early page where Deadpool first encounters Ka-Zar and his pet tiger for the first time and we get a peek at the pair through Deadpool’s eyes. Zabu depicted a small, friendly, cute cat is a funny idea completely sold by the art. Other than that, Dazo does an adequate job with the issue, never really getting in the way, but rarely doing anything to stand out — aside from the ‘playful’ manner in which Deadpool’s contact, “Dr. Betty,” dresses and the positions in which she contorts herself that will cause you to, once again, wonder if the laws of physics are, in fact, different in Marvel comics.
While the solicitation for this issue promised a reprint of Deadpool’s first appearance in “New Mutants” #98, actually included is “Deadpool” #4 by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness where Deadpool takes on the Hulk. This is a mistake on Marvel’s part that is a great treat for anyone who hasn’t read Kelly’s run on the book, and one that further highlights the low quality of “Merc with a Mouth.” The first page of the reprint issue is funnier and more entertaining the whole of the first issue of “Merc with a Mouth.” Maybe sticking with the 18-year old Rob Liefeld comic would have been a smarter move.
When “Merc with a Mouth” was announced, various online commentators remarked on how unnecessary a second Deadpool title is and this debut issue does nothing to quell those opinions.