New Comic Book Day (or Wednesday to the lay person) is always a day filled with magic and promise. What will be waiting for me in my file?! What surprises may I find on the rack that I wasn’t even aware were coming out?! Most important of all – what lucky comics will be coming home with me?!? Well this week ended up being exceptionally exciting. Why? It turns out author Cullen Bunn had two new Deadpool issues waiting for me!! I picked up my file to find issue #4 of his brilliant Deadpool & the Mercs for Money series as well as the debut issue of Deadpool: Back in Black. I can assure you, whether you’re new to Deadpool or you’ve loved him for years – this is where you want to be. Do you hear that? Yes, that’s the sound of me rejoicing.
In the worlds of comicdom specifically and popular culture in general, Deadpool is everywhere. It’s come to feel as though the Merc with a Mouth has become omnipresent (or at least the pop culture equivalent). There is no shortage of comics (or t-shirts or glasses or toys or Funko! Pops or hats or wallets or magnets or bracelets or…) featuring everybody’s favorite Regeneratin’ Degenerate. The brainchild or Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, he’s an interesting case study – an X-Men villain who rode the anti-hero hype of the ’90s into cultural superstardom. Daniel Way’s (admittedly polarizing love-or-hate) run on Deadpool (2008-2012) is often cited as a great entry point for the “modern” understanding of the character. I prefer to start with Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan who lead Deadpool (at a laugh-out-loud height of hilarious self-awareness and rapid-fire pop culture references) through Marvel NOW! (2012-2015). Presently, Joe Kelly shepherds Wade’s wonderful joint adventures with Spidey in Spider-Man/Deadpool while Gerry Duggan still holds down the main title (and covers Deadpool’s adventures in Uncanny Avengers). All of these amazing creators have left their mark on Deadpool, but for my time (and money), no one writes a better Deadpool than Cullen Bunn.
Since he first wrote the character in 2012-13’s Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, I’ve found Cullen Bunn’s Deadpool to consistently be my favorite. He gives the reader a multifaceted Deadpool, wickedly funny and irreverent yet simultaneously insecure, lonely, and sad. In Bunn’s hands, Deadpool is as entertaining as he is relatable, not just a popular character but an important one too. We can all empathize with the guy who wants to be part of the “in-group” but doesn’t know how to get there. Yet, the existential moments, presented with subtle nuance, come interspersed with dialogue so funny it can be embarrassing to read in public because you sort of make a spectacle of yourself laughing (trust me; I speak from experience). Bunn has taken Deadpool through alternate universes, zombie apocalypses, meta-suicide quests, complexly layered relationships, the heart of the multiverse, absolute ridiculousness, bloody violence, and – perhaps most unexpected of all – running his own business.
With each comic iteration, Cullen Bunn delivers what I consider to be the best of Deadpool while also offering up a surprising (yet welcome!) amount of philosophical and ethical depth to the narratives. If you’re willing to take the journey, his Deadpool can make you think as much as he makes you laugh. And, if you don’t want to take that journey, well it’s always a super entertaining comic anyway :).
A Bunn-infused double dose of Deadpool would always be a welcome and exciting addition to my weekly reading but it was delivered to me at a particularly providential time. You see, this week is midterm. So, as a teacher, that means midterm grading. My writing and pleasure reading have slowed dramatically from summer and I now have stacks of exams and reflection papers following me around in what I like to call “my grading box of guilt.” You see, the guilt follows me just as the box follows me around ceaselessly, from my desk at school to my car to my kitchen counter to my couch to the booth at Coffee Culture and back again, until I finish all the grading.
Tuesday night however I was struck by a moment of brilliant inspiration! I still had a few comics from the previous week to read. (Last weekend, in addition to grading and lesson planning, Kalie’s sister got married (yay!!) and we had an exciting weekend filled with family gatherings, beautiful nuptials, and a lot of dancing!) So I tucked those unread comics in my pile of exams, allowing myself a break to read whenever I came upon one. It was the best grading idea I’ve ever had! I was focused, motivated, efficient, and pretty much a ceaseless grading machine. So when I came home on Wednesday, with many exciting new comic books to read, I did the same thing. Knowing I would become fatigued as the night started to wear on, I used the greatest motivator I had at my disposal – Cullen Bunn. Deadpool: Back in Black and Deadpool & the Mercs for Money were the final two comics I had in my pile, not allowing myself to read Mercs for Money until I was COMPLETELY DONE with all the exams I had. Can you guess what happened?? I graded some exams!!!! I wasn’t waiting until Thursday to see what happened in those comics! The books were more than worthy of their place at the end of my pile too :).
Deadpool & the Mercs for Money started as a summer miniseries and has (thankfully!) evolved into Cullen Bunn’s first ongoing monthly Deadpool title. The comic follows the exploits of Deadpool and the team of hired guns he recruited to help handle his workload. The miniseries explored the stressful and exhausting experience of having Wade Wilson as your employer…especially when you need the money. The first three issues of the ongoing monthly title have shifted the narrative focus. Frustrated with Deadpool as a boss and uncomfortable with the belief that he’s thoughtlessly sending them on morally compromised missions, Slapstick, Stingrey, Solo, Foolkiller, and Terror eventually decide they’ve had enough and quit – leaving Deadpool to wrestle with what went wrong and his feelings of being cast aside yet again.
This is where this week’s issue #4 opens. The now-merc-less Deadpool is attempting to set right what he’s done wrong by rescuing Negasonic Teenage Warhead (complete with a fantastic freshly shaved head! (yay for a blatant, obvious, and really fun nod to the movie!)) from the corrupt corporation who told him she was dangerous and hired him to apprehend her. As far as I’m concerned, issue #4 was easily THE MOST AMAZING issue yet! We see Deadpool attempt to invade a secure research facility (always fun), reflect on/struggle with the sins of his past that lead him there (poignant and powerful in Bunn’s hands), and meet the new Mercs for Money team the cover boasts. I loved the original band of mercs but, personally, I’m infinitely more excited for Deadpool & the Mercs for Money 2.0. Now we get Domino, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Gorilla-Man, Masacre (still around from version 1.0), Machine Man, and Hit Monkey! With a far more diverse team, brimming with wildly eclectic personalities to play off of one another, how will this not be the best comic this fall?? In fact I think, in addition to giving us the best version of Deadpool, Bunn’s also created the best team book Marvel’s putting out right now. Too often Marvel uses their team books as crossover hubs first and the actual story content is placed at a distant second. Here, free from getting bogged down by crossover madness, Deadpool & the Mercs for Money is always filled with humor, insane action,and has a story that focuses on the characters and their relationships, as all great team books should.
But that wasn’t all the Cullen Bunn penned Deadpool inspiring me to grade efficiently! Nope, there was also Deadpool: Back in Black. This miniseries serves as a sequel to last year’s Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars in which Cullen Bunn placed good ol’ Wade Wilson back in the 1984-85 Secret Wars event to show us all the central role he played (you know, regardless of the fact that technically he wasn’t created until 1991). Part of the story illustrated how it was Deadpool who first wore Spider-Man’s infamous symbiote suit.
The new miniseries picks up in the church after Spider-Man’s freed himself of the symbiote. Apparently, as opposed to hiding in the church until (drawn by their mutual anger and hatred of the webslinger) the symbiote joined with Eddie Brock to become Venom like we thought, it actually went back to Deadpool first. Then they had some awesome adventures in the ’80s. This is that story. I don’t want to give anything away; it will be far more entertaining if you just go pick it up for yourself. But I will say I was (obviously) excited when I brought this book home, eager for the fun of an ’80s flashback story. And I was not disappointed! I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. It was certainly an attention-winning first issue.
So basically I guess my whole point is if Cullen Bunn’s writing a Deadpool comic, I want to be a part of it. I have great respect for him as an author and deeply appreciate all he’s brought to the character, both the layers he gives Deadpool and the stories as a whole. If you’re interested, here are some handy links to other posts I’ve written about the adventures Deadpool’s had with Cullen Bunn at the helm, to help further underscore the depth and hilarity the stories can contain. The horror comic ones were written for Kalie’s horror blog Just Dread-Full and the other ones happily live on this site.
Night of the Living Deadpool – for the zombie and horror lover!
Return of the Living Deadpool – for the zombie, horror, and sequel lover!
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe – for the meta lover of postmodernism (and, you know, crazy violence)!
Deadpool Killustrated – for the literature lover!
Deadpool Kills Deadpool – for the existentialist!
Deadpool & the Mercs for Money – for people who would like to see how Deadpool would handle Michael Scott’s duties!
Whoa…I didn’t realize there were so many! See? I do love me some Cullen Bunn Deadpool. Oh well, they were all amazing :). I just have so much fun whenever I sit down to a Cullen Bunn crafted Deadpool story. And this week allowed me to bring not one but TWO new ones home with me! To quote Doug Heffernan from The King Of Queens, “I know God loves all his children, but sometimes I think he likes me extra special.”
Cullen Bunn’s Deadpool & the Mercs for Money #4 and Deadpool: Back in Black #1 made my day, saved my night, got me through my pile of grading, and were – far and away – the best comics I read this week. They stand with the best I’ve read this whole month! Now I think I’m going to go re-read those issues and let the rejoicing continue.