I’m not big on Deadpool; the character or the concept with its self-referential humor, its breaking the fourth wall and its murderer-as-comedian. And I’m apparently too out of the cultural loop to get a lot of the references. So, if you’re a Deadpool fan, you might as well stop reading this right now. I’m probably not the reviewer for you.
Peter Parker finds himself back in High School wearing only his underwear. “Nice peter, Parker,” says a braying tormentor with bangs covering his eyes and wearing a football jersey labeled “Luddite.” Deadpool steps in and blows the tormentor away. (One of the characters standing behind Deadpool is Forbush-Man which is, perhaps, a sign of the satire to come.) “Are you insane?!” Peter objects, “He was just a kid!” but Deadpool tells him that this is a dream. “Anyway, here’s the bad news,” he tells Peter, “Someone’s attempting to access your mind to get you to do something you don’t want to do. The good news? Of all the unstable mercenaries out there, I’m the one who’s been hired to get you out.” He also tells Peter that, like in the film Inception, he’s “four levels deep” and has to ascend through the dream levels before he can wake up. He then raises them up to the third level by blowing up the school.
Of course, it’s just a dream, so the school still exists. Peter realizes that he can wear anything he wants in a dream so he instantaneously switches to his Spidey suit. They come up against the R.P.G. kids (R.P.G. stands for Role-Playing Games), including a girl with bangs covering her eyes, and easily dispatch them, taking them up to level two.
There, Spidey finds himself in shop class. (“I made corn holders,” says Deadpool, showing off his work.) Three guys (one with a nail gun, one with a blowtorch, one with a wrench) attack them but they fight them off. Since it’s a dream, Spidey gives Deadpool permission to use his gun. Deadpool shoots Spidey in the face, taking them up to level one…
…Where Peter finds himself in detention in his own version of the Breakfast Club. There are four others with him: Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson, Deadpool and a girl with bangs over her eyes. Since Peter doesn’t recognize the “bangs” girl, he figures she is an enemy. He’s right. She attacks. Deadpool kicks Spidey through a window finally waking him up. Spidey finds himself sprawled out on a prison floor with Deadpool standing over him. “The good news,” Deadpool says, “is that when I said someone was trying to access your mind, I wasn’t lying. The bad news is that person was me. And thanks to hypnosis you just helped break my employer out of a high-level security prison.” Deadpool tells Spidey he didn’t do it for the money but because his employer “said he found a way to kill me.” So who is Deadpool’s employer? The Hypno-Hustler.
So, is this our new regular creative team or just another fill-in? Writer Kevin Shinick and artist Aaron Kuder are unfamiliar to me but they both put forth decent efforts. The Inception-with-super-heroes idea is clever and suits Kuder’s somewhat cartoony drawing style. (Unless this is not Kuder’s regular drawing style and he made it cartoony because the story is a dream. This is the first I’ve seen of Kuder’s work so what do I know?) It’s the details that are hit-and-miss for me. I like the Forbush-Man appearance and the Escher stairs take-off. I like that the surprise villain at the end turns out to be Hypno-Hustler. But the Breakfast Club and Dead Poets’ Society bits did nothing for me. Deadpool’s humor was annoying. (Except I liked the corn holders and Deadpool’s lame joke, “Ha! You can stick that line between my corn holders” in response to a lame joke from Spidey.) I couldn’t tell half the time whether the internal monologue captions belonged to Deadpool or Spidey. And some things eluded me entirely. What’s the deal with the index finger? What’s going on with all the dream figures with bangs covering their eyes? Is it only an Ally Sheedy Breakfast Club allusion? Are there jokes within the Role Playing section that I’m missing? And does being in Peter’s dream mean Deadpool now knows Spidey’s secret identity? (Or did he already know?) Even the cover eludes me. Shane Davis has signed this “After N.R,” implying that it is an homage to…something. But what? And who is N.R.?
Now, I accept that this issue might be hilarious to some people. I accept that there are Deadpool fans even though I’m not one. I accept that there are probably people out there who get all of the in-jokes and all of the references. Those people will love this issue. But the rest of us? The rest of us, I suspect, will find it rather average.
Average issue deserves average rating. Two and a half webs.