COMICS ON THE CAN – Deadpool V Gambit (The “V” is for “Vs.)
Writers – Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
Art – Danilo Beyruth
Colors – Cris Peter
Letters – Joe Sabino
The very last installment in my seemingly endless editor antagonizing multi-column crossover on the theme “Vs” with a sweet call back to my Deadpool theme run from previous months. Including, but not only limited to Adult Continuity’s Batman V Superman XXX, This Can’t Be Deadpool XXX +X, and Superman Vs Spiderman XXX, Cultural Junkdrawer’s The V Decade, an interview with Adult’s renaissance man and go to supervillain Derrick Pierce and Comics on the Cans’ Salvation Run and Civil War GN. There are a lot of others too, so check ‘em out on the columns page.
Now on to business.
In a world where superheroes can team up in an arbitrary fashion there is one man who can read about it in a very specific manner. (Quick fade to black)
Dialogue comes up seconds before the fade up from black. A shot of a door opening revealing a bathroom decorated in Star Wars motif.
Yes, I read comics…
Quick fade to black.
Quick fade back in
A hand reaches into a nondescript cardboard box pulling out a comic a moment later.
Where do I read them, you ask?
Quick fade out
Kinda quick-ish fade back in, but don’t seem too eager.
A toilet seat gently drops into place.
Maybe the question you should be asking is WHY do I read them…
Quick fade out
Quick fade back in
A seat belt buckle with a Dalek button is pressed. The button unlocks and separates.
Do you ever think of WHY?
Quick fade out which suddenly zips back out of the fade out before completion.
Oh yeah, WHERE is kinda the hook. Good point there.
Fade to black
Fade up to title card…
COMICS ON THE CAN!
Cross fade to next title card
COMING SOON AND THEN A FEW HOURS LATER… WITH MAYBE BONUS SITTINGS IF CORN WAS EATEN THE NIGHT BEFORE…
Deadpool is pretty busy these days; a huge movie finally validating the handsome Canadian equivalent to “The Little Engine That Could”. He’s gone up against Thanos, Carnage, an alternate universe himself he double dates with Spider-Man. He has, like thirty titles from Marvel. Along with Master Chief and various pictures of skulls, he keeps the T-Shirt department section of Wal-Mart hip and in the black. Marvel would probably disappear him if the licensing revenue wasn’t so copious (speaking of that I noticed Reed Richards on a milk carton last week). It seems like the Merc with a Mouth could just coast for a bit and nobody would blame him.
Fortunately Deadpool V Gambit (The “V” is for “VS.”) doesn’t settle for coasting. The book is a goofy romp, true. But, in the best Deadpool way, it knows it’s a silly exercise and just doesn’t give a wet slap about it. Fully embracing the brutal cartoon violence that makes Deadpool such a hoot to read.
The story opens in a,line for a hipster coffee shop. Deadpool and Gambit notice each other and both bristle. Nobody seems to care except one dude dead center. He tells them if they’re gonna fight they need to get out of line. They both acknowledge that they haven’t seen each other since the “Spider-Man/Daredevil thing” and it’s off to a flashback.
Spider-Man, wearing a suit with his mask on is hanging out at the Metropolitan museum of art. Daredevil shows up saying he’s mad at Spidey and the fisticuffs start. This becomes an extended chase/fight sequence smashing through a Jade Dragon hideout, a bored fashion shoot, the musical “Hamilton” and into a hipster flea market. The quips, webbing and billy clubs fly in what is perfectly paced comedic mayhem. All set to the tune of Destiny Child’s “Survivor”. Reading this jaunt illustrates (literally) how both great action and comedy is primarily informed by character and how closely each genre resembles one another.
The twist is that Peter Parker and Matt Murdoch are having free trade coffee and antiquity in the hipster flea market when shit goes down.
Yes, character informs the action even when the character is pretending to be a different character. The rampaging superhero battle is actually a staged robbery with Deadpool as Spider-Man and Gambit as Daredevil. During the chaos in the Jade dragon hideout both stole diamonds that the Jade Dragon had gone through the trouble of stealing themselves.
It’s is a clever sleight of hand on Acker and Blacker’s part but it also gives them the ability to skewer hipster culture, have a laugh at the conceit of musicals and poke fun at the set rules for superhero on superhero violence. All this is done while establishing a Loony Toons level of comedy mischief.
Then they crank it up higher.
Gambit suspects a double cross and gets preemptive by flicking a charged diamond into Deadpool’s face. The ensuing fight runs backwards through the same zones they fought through in disguise but with a ramped up level of destruction. Till finally they just decide to talk it out and realize that the double cross was from the guy who masterminded the whole heist; an old school seeming Brit gent named Chalmers.
Meanwhile the real Spidey and Hornhead run afoul of the Jade Dragon.
The shenanigans (and that’s the only apt way to describe it) unspools with a deft hand from all parties. The manic pace, the several levels of jokes at once, the smoothly humming plot beneath is done so well that it seems easy. Of course it’s not; Acker and Blacker (even that pairing sounds funny) work really hard to keep the tone in the right place and the jokes timed perfectly.
Beyruth’s layouts have a great build up then release rhythm essential for comedy and action alike. The fight scenes, which make up the bulk of the issue, seems to burst the confines of the panels while plowing headlong through the mayhem like a classic Mack Sennett comedy. Slapstick is Deadpool’s meat and potatoes but Gambit’s acrobatic styling lends itself to the comedy form too. All he needed was the right people and story to prove it.
This is the first issue of the limited series and the bar is already set pretty high. I can see the shape of the rest of the story, roughly; it’s only gonna get crazier. At least I hope it does. Deadpool seems to be a lot of things to a lot of people right now. Deadpool V Gambit keeps in mind the core reason of his appeal; cartoon character slapstick with a wink and a splatter of gore. But hey; Daffy duck always spun his beak back around after Fudd blasted it to the back of his head.
Things tangentially related that I couldn’t fit organically into the main body of the column…
I had intended for Superman vs SpidermanXXX to be the last in this theme nonsense but then this book demanded to be part of not only the “Vs” theme but links back to the “Deadpool” theme run I did just before. I didn’t mean to lie.
I’m not ashamed to admit it; I’m a Gambit fan.
“The V is for VS” works as a perfect mission statement for the book putting the glut of Superhero vs Superhero stories on blast.
Maybe one particular story more than others.
In the museum a little girl says to Spider-Man “You’re my sixth favorite boy’s superhero”.
Through the opening fight Deadpool as Spider-Man is singing “Survivor” from Destiny’s Child saying it has been stuck in his head for days. As the fight leaves the Jade Dragons the earworm is left in one of the gang members. “Great now that song’s gonna be stuck in my head for like, forever.”. He laments.
Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” head is replaced by a xerox image of Alexander Hamilton. Which is not only a clever joke (and a lawsuit workaround if the captions are to be believed) but also feels like a shout out to the indy comic “Punks” since that had a similarly styled Abe Lincoln.
The hipster bizarre is a laugh with everybody sporting beards and/or moustaches, cruelty free tofu stands and lines like “What’s that one podcast you were telling me about where the white guys are talking to each other?”
Somehow the idea of Peter Parker and Matt Murdoch antiquing together seems right in a warped kind of way.
Rereading the starting fight the quips do indicate that Deadpool is aping Spidey’s snarky style but given the post reveal context you can tell it’s Deadpool.
Oh yeah there is the Jade Dragon guy transforming into a dragon and still singing “Survivor” to himself.
It looks like the story is gonna flip into a heist yarn which sounds good.
This is the last hysterical heist story Marvel has done since Fred Van Lente’s Modock’s 11, which is worth picking up in trade if you can find it.
Which reminds me, I’ve been promising a Big Trouble in Little China comics on the can since I started writing the column. Since the book had it’s final bow a few weeks ago, I’ll do that next.
The connection being that Fred Van Lente has been writing Big Trouble in Little China for half of its run at least.
NEXT: Big Trouble in Little China: The Final Issue
LATER: I think Black Panther is next in the box.