Review by Karl Verhoven
For all the trappings and distractions, Deadpool is primarily a superhero title at heart, so how does it differ from most superhero titles? Look no further than the opening page here. Superhero titles build on tension. Can the superhero defeat the villain? Secret Invasion provided a cliffhanger ending, with Deadpool, somewhat conveniently, dropped into the sea in the vicinity of aquatic super-villain Tiger Shark. Dark Reign opens at a press conference with Deadpool explaining how he beat Tiger Shark: “Like most of you I was under the impression that Tiger Shark was a thoroughly badassed individual, but as it turns out, he’s actually quite the little pansy.”
As it actually turns out, this is another of Deadpool’s hallucinations, signified by the eccentric make-up of the assorted press representatives, brilliantly depicted by artist Paco Medina to include Tinkerbell, a gorilla in a trenchcoat, Mr Spock, a member of ZZ Top and a dyed-pink poodle. The giveaway is that the attractive woman asks for Deadpool’s number.
The two-part fracas with Tiger Shark is hilarious, and returns inept Hydra agent Bob to Deadpool’s company. There’s then rather an awkward break as the final part of that two-chapter tale segues into a crossover with Thunderbolts, which is found in Deadpool/Thunderbolts: Dark Reign, so you’ll have to buy that to get the whole story. It’s not brilliant, actually, and the quality level of this collection is raised by its absence. Once that’s done with, Deadpool has earned the enmity of Norman Osborn, then heading the US security services, and he sends Bullseye to deal with him. This is complicated by Bullseye then masquerading as Hawkeye.
In brief, writer Daniel Way continues the lunacy he established in the first collection with a beguiling mix of funny dialogue, funnier situations and unpredictable plots. Much of the Bullseye and Deadpool battle takes place in a butcher’s warehouse, and apart from making inventive use of the tools found there, Way delivers an unbelievable new costume for Deadpool, one that’s been a dream of his since childhood.
Artist Paco Medina is excellent at illustrating Deadpool’s more realistic version of old-style Warner Brothers cartoon violence, and knows where to draw the line. The injuries the rapid-healing Deadpool can endure are shocking, but Medina is actually relatively restrained in his depiction. Even with the distasteful ending.
Yes, even in a series that thrives on outrage and iconoclasm and likely to offend more conservative readers anyway, the ending crosses a boundary. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not funny.
It’s not even permanent, as it’s business as usual in X Marks the Spot, which is next. Dark Reign‘s content along with that Thunderbolts crossover and the previous Secret Invasion is collected as volume one of Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection.