With two successful live-action films under his belt, it really was only a matter of time until Deadpool would be back with a new solo comic. The latest volume of Wade Wilson's adventures, by Kelly Thompson and Chris Bachalo, places him on one of his wackier adventures in recent memory, even if the opening issue is oddly sedate and uneven. Hopefully that will level out as the series progresses, but in the debut, the Merc with a Mouth doesn't quite feel like he has an awful lot to say.
In the comic, Deadpool reluctantly accepts a new contract that brings him to his much-reviled borough of Staten Island after the King of Monsters eyes New York real estate to establish a new kingdom. Along the way, Wade encounters all kinds of allies, some new and others familiar -- including Elsa Bloodstone -- as he's caught in the middle of a larger creature feature, with monstrous intrigue and enough katana-on-behemoth action to put Monster Hunter to shame.
Thompson quickly establishes the stakes and scope as she sets the contract killer on his craziest adventure yet. The wacky premise is aided by some prime supporting cast: In addition to Bloodstone, a certain character whose profile has steadily risen in recent years makes an appearance, and her interaction with Deadpool is perhaps the strongest moment of the issue.
Where the debut falters, unfortunately, is when it centers on Deadpool himself. With such an offbeat, yet perfectly appropriate, premise, Wade Wilson becomes one of the more understated elements, displaying a restraint he hasn't exhibited in some time. That isn't to suggest the Merc with a Mouth doesn't have anything to say -- Thompson's Deadpool continues to banter at a mile a minute -- but the jokes don't quite land; the humor is more observational, and more reined-in. Again, it's when Deadpool has a different foil that Thompson's grasp of his voice shines through.
With plenty of experience in bringing Deadpool's adventures to life, Bachalo is a wise choice to render the antihero's clashes against monsters; when you need bombastic action and imaginatively grotesque monsters, Bachalo is one of those perfect artists for the job. Here, he's joined six (!) credited inkers in Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Livesay, Tim Townsend, Victor Olazaba and Wayne Faucher, as well as colorist David Curiel. Despite the sheer size of the art team, the visuals remain largely consistent, which is impressive in its own right.
Marvel's Deadpool relaunch is off to an uneven start, with the potential for leveling itself out as the characters are established and find their voices. Thompson embraces the more absurdist possibilities of the Merc with a Mouth, and excels at having him play off colorful, fan-favorite foils. However, she still hasn't quite gotten his voice down when he's flying solo. There's a strong argument that Deadpool works better in a team-up scenario than on his own, so it will be interesting to see whether that dynamic will continue -- and continue to improve.