Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown’s “Deadpool & Cable: Split Second” #1 reunites the two eponymous characters, who first met in the pages of “New Mutants” and “X-Force.” Brown and Nicieza open with an elongated, cluttered action tableau, dotted with Deadpool’s witticisms and also a projectile head gushing blood from the neck wound, accurately setting the tone for what’s to come.
Brown’s panel layouts have a lot slanted gutters in the first and last scenes of “Deadpool & Cable: Split Second” #1, but — instead of subtly making the action look more exciting — they’re too flashy and just make it harder to follow. Charalampidis attempts to clean things up with a predominately red and gray palette, but this lack of hue range also flattens the backgrounds. All the action sequences do have a lot of energy in them, though, and Brown’s sense of fun and fondness for Deadpool come through.
Cable worked best as the gruff father figure to the angst-filled adolescents of X-Force. Here, he plays a poor second and straight man to Deadpool’s antics. The scene with Shiklah, Deadpool’s wife, is funnier than any other scene, mostly because it’s unexpected and bizarre and Shikah can keep up with Deadpool better than Cable. The identical expressions of befuddlement on her and the sacrificial goat’s faces are hilarious. It’s too bad she drops out of the picture and is content to play second fiddle to Deadpool’s career.
Similarly, the short scene with Emily Preston has some great jokes about parenting and Jim Charalampidis’ colors are especially funny and vivid for the domestic interiors. Brown’s faces have the necessary elasticity for comedy and his pacing is strong, too. The scene featuring the Hydra minions’ celebration is a well-composed illustration of overlapping bodies which doesn’t lose the focus on Bob in the foreground. In contrast, most of Deadpool and Cable’s reunion has backgrounds that are too empty.
Deadpool’s breaking of the fourth wall makes the information dumps in the captions easier to take, but the plot already feels both thin and convoluted. “Deadpool & Cable: Split Second” #1 is primarily a bunch of jokes strung together, so the plot is secondary or beside the point anyway. The gags range from some tired digs about Cable’s age to a good one-liner about Monsanto.
The biggest joke here is that Deadpool is aware that he has more fans than Cable in real life. It is spot-on funny when Deadpool says, “I knew eventually I’d be even more popular than he is and it would look good on my resume,” especially because the creative team hammers it home by reminding the reader of Deadpool’s preferred billing on the title of the comic. This joke is repeated more than once; predictably, Wade doesn’t get tired of reminding Cable about it and it will likely pop up during the rest of the miniseries like a broken record or leitmotif.
Despite the nod to ’90s and a retro vibe, “Deadpool & Cable: Split Second” doesn’t read very differently from any other Deadpool miniseries of late, though Nicieza was the writer on the original run of “X-Force” after Rob Liefeld left and has a long history with these characters. Typical for a Deadpool vehicle, the story here is much weaker than Deadpool and Cable’s first encounters in the pages of “X-Force,” where — amid all the big guns and gritted teeth — Nicieza gave both characters a real arc. The jokes here don’t mine this material closely enough to trigger deeper nostalgia, and they don’t justify the longer page count by themselves.