It’s a crying shame that “Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos” #1 didn’t hit shelves four months from now, mere weeks from Halloween. Writer Gerry Duggan, artist Salva Espin, colorist Val Staples and letterer Joe Sabino deliver a wacky adventure filled with things that go bump in the night. They also make those bumps ridiculous and laughable, but charming and fun. Truly, the bizarre mix of characters and circumstances brought on by “Secret Wars” makes this a comic that covers all of the bases, tickles all the tropes and has something for every reader, regardless of personal investment in Deadpool, Shiklah or any of the other characters present.
Duggan brings in the madcap, anything-goes humor into “Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos” #1 that he has used throughout the adventures he has written of Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth. Deadpool breaks the fourth wall, mocks his co-stars and tackles the difficult topics readers have always (not) wondered about comic characters, such as when Deadpool informs the readers he “had to drop a deuce.” Yup. Nothing is sacred and everything is fair game for humor and mockery.
Salva Espin meets Duggan’s challenge, from Dracula’s confidence and swagger to his scrambling, enthralled Nosferatu servants. Espin focuses on the characters, their emotions and their body language. There are scenes with details drawn in, but I’d fare far better to describe the characters and their interactions than the settings they happen in. The backgrounds wax and wane, accommodating the importance of the characters and the space necessary for letterer Joe Sabino’s balloons to rest comfortably. The freakshow in this comic gives Espin plenty of range to draw the strange and unusual: Werewolf by Night, the Living Mummy, Frankenstein (actually the creation of Doctor Frankenstein), Man-Thing and Marcus the Minotaur, who actually looks more like a centaur and is in possession of the symbiote most frequently associated with Venom.
Staples has fun with the colors, from adding a outer glow to Man-Things bulbous red eyes to the pattern applied to Shiklah’s Lara Croft-inspired sports bra, which matches her makeup and sticks to the character’s historic color palette. He provides a wide, but heavy secondary color palette to the issue, which fits the purply-skinned netherworld warrior and compliments her tones to elevate her in every panel. The oranges and greens prevalent throughout the issue also cast the mood and work to showcase the Commandos. Staples’ bold colors and Duggan’s exaggerated notions filtered through Espin’s art pack the panels of this comic.
The end result is a bunch of monsters, lots of blood, some double-crossing and a comic that just tries to have fun with the absurd concepts encouraged by the premise behind “Secret Wars.” “Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos” #1 is everything readers have come to expect from the Gerry Duggan Deadpool experience, with the added bonus of more monsters and a high adventure quest.