Joe Kelly’s “Deadpool” run in the ’90s gave Wade Wilson a multi-faceted personality and a darkly funny sense of humor, and he also wrote some memorable “Amazing Spider-Man” stories (that Rhino story he wrote was as intimate as a whisper in your ear and as sad as a bag of broken Christmas ornaments). These days, Man of Action Kelly — along with his original “Deadpool” artist Ed McGuinness — is throwing these two great characters together in “Spider-Man/Deadpool” #1, a fun opening chapter that establishes a dynamic and history between the characters before giving readers a doozy of a setup for the rest of the short series.
Kelly’s story takes place in present continuity, where ‘Pool hopes to recruit Spidey for his mercenary business. As per usual, Wade is the kind of character who can convince himself that anything is a good idea and has a hard time understanding when others don’t share his perspective. Since this is an action-comedy, “Spider-Man/Deadpool” is split between two fight scenes, where Deadpool fans get a feel for how Wade fits in Spidey’s world and Peter Parker gets a taste of the weird sewage Deadpool finds himself swimming through on a regular basis.
Spider-Man plays Straight-Man, put off by the mere existence of the merc. This isn’t unprecedented; he recently quit “Uncanny Avengers” because of Deadpool’s involvement. Kelly establishes this dynamic like a team up between an improviser and a stand-up comedian; Deadpool has an almost sociopathic drive to say “yes, and” to any situation or use his surroundings to justify his decisions, while Spider-Man is also funny but does not at all respect what his partner does. Each has mostly the same goal in mind but doesn’t really understand how the other gets to their end goal. Spidey essentially goes full Marge the Squirrel in the story, and it almost slams the brakes on the issue before he finally leans in and “partners” with Deadpool to stop Hydro-Man from holding the city hostage. Deadpool opening up to Spider-Man about his desire to be a better person lets Kelly balance the madcap with some honest emotion. There’s also a stunning number of genital jokes here, but most of them feel a little more clever than usual, again a testament to the quality of Kelly’s writing.
I was double-down excited to see McGuinness on this title. He drew Wade for less than a year, but his iteration is still my benchmark for the character. His Deadpool is muscular and inspired the best design elements in the artists that came after him, like Tony Moore and Declan Shalvey. McGuinness draws a lot of tight panel shots, which literally and effectively cram the characters in each other’s faces. Spider-Man is built more like a running back than a marathon runner, but the artist lets him bend and contort once he gets into action. I hope McGuinness gets more comfortable with the type of contorting that makes Spider-Man such a fun visual character as the series moves forward. Likewise, Keith’s colors are great; however, the Hell setting suffers from too much red in the character designs and backgrounds.
“Spider-Man/Deadpool” #1 is funny, action-packed and seems as though it will get even more personal as the story unfolds. Readers who enjoyed “Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool” will probably like this; it’s a book begging for a “Lethal Weapon” parody cover. Editors Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White both steer this ship, so continuity heads and fans concerned about on-character representations can rest assured. The story is accessible and will keep fans up-to-date if they’re just checking in on the story. Kelly’s cliffhanger plays into the current state of the Spider-books, and the conclusion teases some even deeper ties, which looks fun as hell. Marvel’s decision to put one of its most well-received creative teams on this book was a great idea; this story is going to be a fun one.