Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool has in recent years become one of Marvel Comics’ most popular costumed heroes. The Tarantino-level of gore and particular brand of humour that grace the pages of Deadpool comics, and now two major motion pictures (one much better than the other), are big draws for Marvel fans. But beyond his Spidey-like humour and his Elektra-like swordplay, Deadpool’s uniqueness among Marvel characters is a product of his self-awareness. In other words, Deadpool understands he’s a comic book character. One wonders, then, how he felt about being uprooted from his 21st-century life and replanted in 1953, as he was in Adam Glass, Mike Benson, and Laurence Campbell‘s Deadpool Pulp.
Deadpool Pulp: Comparable Series
The Marvels Project, Truth: Red, White, & Black, Sub-Mariner: The Depths and the Marvel Noir line come to mind as series comparable with Deadpool Pulp’s gritty interpretation. Aside from the five series’ similar settings, their realistic and often hopeless representations of the era they investigate are what set them apart from other series and one-shots set in the ’40s and ’50s.
Deadpool Pulp: Super-Cameos
I’m not going to give away much about who appears in this mini-series. After all, Deadpool Pulp hit the shelves a little less than seven years ago. It’s worth noting, though, that, at least according to the Marvel Database wiki, Deadpool Pulp is the first and only story set in Earth-10310. This means that Deadpool Pulp is separate from both the Earth-616 and the Marvel Noir, Earth-90214, universes. So, alternate reality versions of everybody are up for grabs … including a character whose name rhymes with “Mabel”.
Deadpool Pulp: The Plot
Deadpool Pulp’s version of its titular character doesn’t have super-powers. His immortality notwithstanding, though, this Deadpool, who also goes by Wade Wilson, is still a killing machine. This Deadpool is an arguably sane CIA contractor. His current mission, hunt down a rogue agent who stole an experimental nuclear briefcase bomb.
Deadpool eventually learns of a conspiracy that could shatter the tentative peace between the American and Soviet governments. Investigating this conspiracy takes Deadpool to Cuba where he learns the truth of his origin.
Deadpool Pulp’s story-line is well situated in a pulp-themed mini-series. It presents several pulp/noir themes, like the femme fatale, the friend/conspirator, manipulation, and insanity.
Deadpool Pulp: The Art
This mini-series’ covers have an almost geometrical quality to them. The art inside, though, with its low and smoky lighting, is appropriately reminiscent of ’50s pulp illustrations and film noir. Its well-textured backgrounds provide context and a feeling of reality in a mini-series I had expected to be silly, rather than cynical.
I expected Deadpool Pulp to be more along the lines of the “Marvex the Super Robot” one-shot from 2009’s All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1. For those who haven’t read the Marvex one-shot, I’ll sum it up by noting that the story’s villain is a sentient sandwich.
Deadpool Pulp: “Where’s the Cream Filling?“
This mini-series showed readers a great pulp/film noir story-line, reminiscent of 1955’s Kiss Me Deadly. But, it didn’t lean on Deadpool’s self-awareness in any meaningful way. This mini-series’ only nod to Deadpool’s unique perspective is its use of multiple inner monologue boxes. Deadpool’s competing personalities are there in force. However, the creative team never engaged in a metaliterary investigation of what Deadpool thought about life in the ’50s. Nor were there any quips about page gutters, panel sizes, or issue numbers.
Instead, it seems self-awareness is particular to the Earth-616 version of Deadpool. And, although some may say self-awareness is Deadpool’s best quality, it was refreshing to see a slightly more heroic and romantic version of the Merc with a Mouth.