Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review # 61: "Deadpool - Soul Hunter"

In my review for Uncanny X-Force's "Final Execution," I mentioned that I was a little disappointed that - after Rick Remender turned Deadpool into a full-fledged hero - Wade had regressed to his goofy, inconsequential ways in Marvel NOW! Keep in mind I still liked "Dead Presidents," but I thought there was potential for a lot more with the character. So colour me surprised when I realized that Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan had actually managed to craft an engaging, ongoing narrative and a strong cast of characters. ALL of Deadpool's new clique (including the failed necromancer Michael, the dirty ghost of Ben Franklin and SHIELD Agent Preston - though she has no choice in the matter) stuck around for "Soul Hunter," which I did not expect. Deadpool has always gathered strange characters around him like Weasel or Blind Al, but strangely - despite their eccentricities - this group seems more human. Well, even though one is the ghost of a founding father and another is trapped in Wade's own head.

I fully expected "Soul Hunter" to be an immediate continuation of Wade's (and Preston's) identity crisis, but that wasn't the case. Instead, Volume Two opens with a letter from the editor who says - because of the two-week turnaround - the creative team was unable to complete a new issue and they've had to pull a stand-by story from a filing cabinet. This "old story" is supposedly from the late 70s or early 80s, which is quite the feat given Deadpool first appeared in 1991. Anyhow, Wade shows up wearing a slightly modified costume that includes a sweatband and starts to ravage 80s culture along with what Marvel Comics were like at the time. The best dig is his own in-comic ad that promotes alcohol and involves the untimely deaths of two people.

Now, there is an actual plot as Deadpool agrees to a deal with the lesser demon Vetis to keep Iron Man (going through either his "Demon In A Bottle" or "Enemy Within" stage... one of the two) drunk in exchange for a laser disc factory (Wade wants them to be bigger.) He tracks down a soused Tony Stark as a nuclear disaster hits. However, Wade cheats the demon in the way we all hoped he would by donning the armor to become Iron Man himself and trying to save the day while hammered. The result is an ecological disaster. My impression when I finished the story - which has a gut-bustingly funny ending - is it was a well-done, well-thought out, inconsequential little diversion.

So imagine my shock when - in the middle of the next issue back in the present - Vetis shows up to call Wade out on not fulfilling their deal to his satisfaction. Deadpool now has to kill four people who have sold their souls for superpowers. One has him finding a way to destroy an invulnerable man. One leads to him tussling with Daredevil. One has him fighting a man who sold his soul so he could breathe underwater and command sea creatures. Wade rightly calls out how he has a "lame choice of superpowers." I love it.

However, the best story has Deadpool hunting down a financial wizard who has gained the power of precognition. Who is hunting him at the same time? None other than the Superior Spider-Man. For those who are unaware, Spidey's Marvel NOW! series centres on how Dr. Octopus has taken over Peter Parker's body. Deadpool's "extra awareness" of his world is used to full effect, as he starts ripping on Otto Octavius to the full degree while Spidey-Ock tries to prop himself up as Parker's greatest opponent. Since the precog saw the Marvel Team-Up coming, he recruits a group of henchmen to save his bacon. This was the first time I had ever seen Lady Stilt-Man. I laughed my ass off.

Call "Soul Hunter" a pleasant surprise. While it's not as funny as "Dead Presidents," the extra effort that is being put into Deadpool, his cast and his story shines through. It's worth a pick-up.

Rating: 7/10

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