“Part One: Journada del Muerto”
Deadpool, No. 37
Marvel Comics, July 2011
Daniel Way & Bong Dazo
Actually don’t know how I missed this when it came out last year. I like Deadpool and I love the Hulk. Not artsy, deep-story Hulk but Smashmaster Green Hulk. Invincible, frothing at the mouth, you-will-know-me-by-my-trail-of-dead Hulk.
The Hulk is on a short list of greatest comic book characters ever. He’s a primal emotion, a state that we all go through at some point. He’s less of a character and more of an event. A place that we go. Spaz out, black out, beast mode. A force of nature that cannot be stopped; one can only hope to contain it.
Deadpool is a newer comic book character. He too is a character who exists as a general “state of being.” He is obnoxiousness personified. He isn’t a primary emotion but he is an outsized personality quality that exists in some form within each of us.
As a rule, Deadpool is about pushing things to the limits. His character overdoes things and that’s what makes him funny. His jokes are bad. Terrible. Terribad. His emotional range is childish. He’s a broad character who wreaks havoc wherever he goes. His general existence undermines the self-seriousness of the superhero shared universe.
Appropriately, Deadpool is basically unkillable. An irritating pest who literally cannot die. So in “Journada del Muerto,” the unstoppable force of rage butts heads with the unkillable embodiment of obnoxiousness. Basically, popcorn time.
Apart from high-concept stuff (what happens when ____meets ____?) this comic has Bong Dazo, one of the best Deadpool artists in the history of Deadpool artists. Since 1993’s “The Circle Chase,” drawn by Joe Madureira, there has been a certain art style that editors sought out for Deadpool comics. Ed McGuinness did a popular run on the last major Deadpool ongoing series. Paco Medina did a bunch of issues of the series in question. Bong Dazo did most of the relatively recent “Merc with a Mouth” series, which was an alternate reality series that needed to make even fewer concessions to the shared universe conceit. Fewer=none. That was a beautifully stupid comic series and I was glad for every page of asinine antics and body-warping violence.
/if you’re a Sally Spoilsport, there’s a “serious” Deadpool comic called “Uncanny X-Force,” which is funny but in a serious way/
Bong Dazo is the best that I’ve seen at Deadpool’s expressive mask. As a comedy character, Deadpool needs to act with his face a lot. Problem is his “face” is usually a featureless ninja mask. His real face looks like ground beef so that does little good for expressiveness. So through the years, artists began to take liberties with how clothes work and started letting Deadpool’s mask contort in various ways. It works because it looks ridiculous. It really underscores that this is a story about some weird asshole with a mask on, grinning all the way.
Dazo probably hasn’t invented any aspect of Deadpool’s comics or story that I like. What I’m saying is that he is probably the best at many of these qualities. The platonic ideal of Deadpool artists. The Deadpool artist’s Deadpool artist, if you will.
For his part, Daniel Way sets up the necessary elements and stands back. The plot of this story has an almost childlike innocence to it. How does the invulnerable man go about dying? Not the most practical philosophical question, but perhaps if you want to put on your professor glasses you can draw some link between this and the idea of self-destructive behavior. Perhaps. Gimme your lunch money.
This comic is basically best friends with perfection. It gets the job done. You have a protagonist with identifiable qualities, a very specific goal in mind and who undertakes a course of action to achieve this goal. The only real problem with this comic book is that the Hulk/Deadpool fight doesn’t conclude in this issue. Not in any short-term decisive way.