“Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” is a comic that by all rights shouldn’t work. “Hawkeye” and “Deadpool” are books with two very different styles, one with a strong introspective voice and immensely tight layouts, the other a bit more free-flowing and almost slapstick at times. And yet, to my surprise, “Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” #0 works far better than it should, thanks to the hard work of Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli.
Set on Halloween, this first issue (why it’s a #0 is a mystery to me, except for the sales bump) works at its best when it’s before the action has kicked into high gear. There’s something amusing about seeing Hawkeye’s apartment building crew mixing with Deadpool and his family, but at the same time it works far better than one would imagine. The voice for Hawkeye isn’t quite right — it’s a little overly silly rather than just wry — but it’s probably about the closest we’re going to get toward someone replicating what Fraction does on the “Hawkeye” series. Duggan is certainly approaching this carefully, with running jokes about candy bars and Hawkeye’s growing frustration.
While Deadpool is often a little too over the top these days (depending on the writer), Duggan’s take here works nicely; the idea of Deadpool with a family is still a little odd, but you can see here how it can not only be used to move him into storylines but it gives him a genuinely interesting motivation that doesn’t feel forced or out of place. It’s nice to not see actually somewhat cooperating with other characters, for example, rather than being a hindrance. At the same time, Duggan hasn’t lost the sense of humor that made Deadpool so interesting way back in the ’90s.
The art from Lolli is fairly standard, with a few of exceptions. He does a good job of telling a story across the page, with reasonable panel transitions and a couple of nice portraits of characters. Some of the best individual images aren’t splashes but rather individual panels; the arms-crossed Hawkeye telling Deadpool what happened to the bad guy, for instance, has a good sense of body language that gives you a good sense of what it’s like to have to deal with Deadpool. There are two times where Lolli draws a two-page spread that is clearly inspired and influenced by David Aja’s work on “Hawkeye,” which works quite well. One dealing with sign language and a second one using the iconography that “Hawkeye” has become known for, both of them use visuals in a somewhat inventive manner, although having Deadpool rail against the second instance of them is a funny touch that reminds you that this is a mash-up between two different comics, with all that entails.
“Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” #0 is a solid first issue. It’s no substitute for a regular issue of “Hawkeye” (for those dying for the next installment), but it’s entertaining and “Deadpool” fans in particular will have a lot to like here. For a book that really shouldn’t have worked at all, Duggan and Lolli have done a nice job.