Deadpool has no competition among Marvel’s main superheroes when it comes to being the strangest among them. Yet even by his standards this is one weird collection. Continuing from the events of Vol. 9, for most of it Deadpool isn’t Deadpool or Wade Wilson, he’s Alex Hayden would-be mercenary and abandoned fairground owner. And for some of it he’s not present at all.

Let’s start with that. When Evan Dorkin wrote and drew the Bill & Ted comics, he established their favourite comic character was Fight Man, and a one-shot special was subsequently produced. It closes this collection, being thematically linked. Dorkin also writes an earlier story in which there’s a surprise, but it’s not as sharp overall, although as seen by the sample art, Juan Bobillo renders the fighting mayhem as admirable excess. Back at the front of the collection and also not as sharp when compared with their previous work, Gail Simone and Alvin Lee supply a triviality set around stolen panties. Thankfully they’re back later on to improve on that, also returning Black Swan, who we might have presumed dead after Vol. 9.

Having so many different artistic styles in the same collection makes for a visual mess. The pages range from the distortions of Kyle Hotz to early art by Mitch Breitweiser where he’s attempting for the precision of Paul Gulacy, but doesn’t have Gulacy’s eye for imaginative layouts. Bobillo’s a mystery, great on some pages, slapdash on others, while Lee and Udon (sample right) supply the animation style gloss and solidity that worked so well last time.

Daniel Way would progress to a lengthy run on Deadpool, and his contribution with Hotz shows why, up with Simone’s work for the best Deadpool story here. He pitches the tone just right in a story of warring TV executives. It’s Simone and Lee who come up trumps right at the end, though, bringing their Agent X story to a conclusion and probably confounding all expectations with their revelations. It’s a clever plot, and the thrills are sustained over two chapters.

It’s Dorkin’s Fight Man solo that’s the collection’s highlight overall, though, a superhero beset by problems just like any ordinary schmoe, like the constant arguments with his wife, and those bills piling up. On top of that the merchandise isn’t selling, his popularity is down the tubes and he’s facing lawsuits from the parents of his dead sidekicks. Luckily there are plenty of villains for him to beat up. It’s a very funny superhero satire, and Dorkin’s cartooning is another artistic highlight. Deadpool Classic Vol. 11 moves on to Victor Gischler’s era.