Deadpool is not a leader -- he's self-involved, greedy and looks like hamburger meat -- but that doesn't mean he won't keep trying. His newest attempt gets the spotlight in "Deadpool and the Mercs for Money" #1, where Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin drop a big mystery into Deadpool's lap. It's a light story, full of blood and bullets with open-paneled art to match.
Bunn is no stranger to Wade, having written "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe." This book is a lot lighter than that story, but it still holds true to the character. There are two big action pieces in this issue: one to introduce the team and one to give Team 'Pool a crew even more ridiculous than themselves to fight.
Since there are so many characters to go around, the team is boiled down to their most recognizable aspects: Terror is gross; Foolkiller is too serious; Slapstick is a cartoon; Solo teleports; Masacre is the Mexican Deadpool; Stingray was an Avenger. However, this first issue didn't need much more than that. Even if you know all of them, they are pretty consistent. There isn't going to be a lot of in-depth character exploration in this series, no psychological breakdowns of character like 2013's "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly." Instead, expect moments like Terror excitedly picking through corpses for new parts or Stingray being shouted down for talking about the Avengers yet again.
The Crazy Gang may be the stupidest group of characters Alan Moore ever created, and they feel out of place in the modern Marvel setting. However, Bunn plays it for laughs before giving them teeth. The mercs get their asses handed to them by these goofs -- and they should. It gives the characters an opportunity to learn and grow into a group, and Masacre gets to prove himself to be really good at what he does despite being barely understood. This Bad News Bears of killing schtick suits them well. Bunn fits all these outcasts from the fringes of the Marvel Universe into one stolen Quinjet while parodying 21st century startup and branding culture.
The biggest surprise was Espin's art, which is where the concept of the book really hits home. It's cartoony, simplistic and expressive, with big open space panels, fights happening in nondescript rocky terrains, exaggerated faces and a gang from the other side of the Looking Glass. This is, essentially, Deadpool's Saturday Morning Cartoon Bloodbath. Artists like Declan Shalvey or Tony Moore might double down on the grosser, bloodier elements of the script, but Espin simplifies it with big globs of blood, clean decapitations, a Deadpool logo on Wade's back scabbard and things of that nature. GURU eFX adds to this tone with bright, flat backgrounds and hints of shadow sculpting on the characters' faces.
Deadpool's movie is out this month and Ryan Reynolds is looking to make the character more visible than ever, so an increase in the character's appearances is expected. The nice thing about comic books, though, is that you can tell several different stories with one character simultaneously in order to find out what works best. Marvel is leaning into the idea of "Deadpool as Bugs Bunny" with this series, which kicks off with a fun story that won't have a greater impact on the publisher's bigger shared universe storytelling -- but it does remind you that, yes, Stingray was once an Avenger.