Friday, May 15, 2009

Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2 When: July 2009
Why: Mike Benson How: Carlo Barberi

The Story So Far...
Deadpool: Superpowered former test subject of the Weapon X project turned rogue mercenary. Armed with an arsenal of hi-tech weaponry, standard munitions, and a sense of humor, he fights for truth, justice, and the American Express way. Cash is preferable.

By accepting a million dollar contract from a gambler wanting his bookie killed to avoid paying his debts, Deadpool walks blindly in to a trap. Instead of killing his intended target, the DP accidentally triggered an explosion that destroyed an apartment building, and killed several innocents.

With his presence caught on tape and broadcast across news networks, Deadpool becomes the unwitting player in a double-or-nothing bet between his client, and local New York mobster, Tombstone. The wager: Can Deadpool survive in the heat for twenty-four hours? With the Punisher entering the picture after seeing the news, the odds just got a lot steeper for the 'Poolman.

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Deadpool 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Punisher 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Deadpool 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Deadpool 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Deadpool 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 4 (Trained)
Energy: Draw 4 (Arsenal)

- When his family was murdered by the mob for witnessing a gangland execution, Frank Castle dedicated himself to a one-man war against all organized crime as The Punisher.

Drawing upon his extensive training as a soldier during the Vietnam War; Castle adopts the death's head skull as his symbol, dealing death to gangsters, drug dealers, kidnappers, and any other criminal who crosses his path.
During his career as the Punisher he continues to hone his abilities while also amassing a wealth of standard and unusual munitions, including supernatural and super-science weapons stolen from super-villains he has defeated. Combined with a rare tactical mind for warfare, and his skills in hand-to-hand combat, Frank Castle's arsenal makes hima a formidable opponent even for superhuman targets.

Prominent enemies include; Jigsaw, Kingpin, Bullseye, Barracuda, Ma Gnucci. Violent activity in New York has made Punisher a regular sparring partner (and sometimes ally) for heroes such as Spider-man and Daredevil, as well.

- The exact details of Wade Wilson's early life remain a mystery, perhaps even to him. During his adult life he became a mercenary who, upon learning he had developed cancer, gave up on his life to submit himself to experimentation with the top secret remnants of the Weapon X program. The project experimented with altering Wilson on a genetic level, attempting to treat him with a healing factor developed from the genome of former subject, Wolverine. However, Wilson's cancer interacted with the process in unforseen ways, reducing the effectiveness of his healing powers, and rendering him hideously disfigured.

Deemed a failure after several missions, Wilson was discarded by Weapon X to the care of The Workshop -- a facility for rejected subjects who could be tested upon until their death. Wilson's healing factor, however, kept him alive, allowing him to eventually escape and resume his career as a mercenary, adopting the ironic codename of Deadpool. Wilson's fantastic healing abilities, expertise with conventional weaponry and munitions, and hand-to-hand fighting skills help him earn a reputation as a gun-for-hire despite being mentally unstable.

Math: Deadpool Ranking: Deadpool (#44)

What Went Down...
With Deadpool lying low to avoid attention, the Punisher is forced to masquerade as a pizza delivery man to get close to his target. Initially, Deadpool appears fooled by the coat and hat disguise, but when the Punisher reaches for his gun, Deadpool sees it coming in the reflection of his penny jar!
The jar becomes a weapon in the hands of the merc' with a mouth, but it's he who takes the damage as Punisher fires through it with a hi-tech energy weapon.

At point blank, the Punisher fires again, blasting a hole directly into the eye socket of the beleaguered mercenary. With his healing factor working overtime, Deadpool plays a little bit of a distraction game, taking the time to draw his katana blade to slice the barrel of the Punisher's hi-tech weapon [which was taken during a previous encounter with the Torpedo, as noted via earpiece by Punny's current tech-support, Henry. - Mike Rochip].

Never one to advance without a series of contingency strategies, Punisher reaches in to his pizza delivery coat to produce the unlikely weapon of a giant mechanical squid tentacle! The "smart-arm" regains the Punisher instant control of the battle, allowing him to pluck Deadpool into the air by the throat, before tossing him head-first through the cieling into the apartment above [Home of Mrs. Jenson, the landlord, as it were. - Mitigatory Mike].

Punisher brings DP back to his own level -- headfirst -- before offering him an opportunity to cool off and get a little fresh air -- by slamming him through the external wall of the apartment building!

Dangling high above the street, Deadpool devises a cunning escape plan involving severing the only metallic smart-arm keeping him from becoming a red and black stain. Fortunately for him, Punisher's got a much slower penance in mind, sending a lifeline in the form of one of Whiplash's whips that curls around his ankle. Unfortunately, Whiplash was not a villain particularly interested in the potential appilcation of the whip as a rescue device.

The jolt of a few thousand volts ensures Deadpool smoulders with all the crispy spices of down South fried chicken, but with one distinct difference. Keeping his wits about him, Deadpool is able to turn the tables, showing tremendous resilience to yank Punisher from the window above via the electric whip.

This, of course, sends both men plumetting to a hard day's night, but when you're a super-mercenary with healing powers borrowed from Wolverine, that's probably a better alternative than running up a large electric bill.

A shadowy figure watches from the rooftops above while Deadpool limps away into the night, leaving Punisher to dream of new schemes and items to source from the the ACME weapons catalogue.
The specifics of the rematch, and who's watching, are a subject for another day.

The Hammer...
Colour it controversial sports fans, because after much deliberation, the defensive double knock-out is going to The Punisher by way of decision! Despite escaping the situation, Deadpool never mounted an offensive, and suffered a definite beating because of it.

Fret not, Deadpool fans! The Merc' With a Mouth will return to the Infinite Wars sometime in the future to avenge his defeat!

What did not result in a loss was the purchase of this particular comic!
I've got to admit, this is one of those humble pie situations. Initially, I was looking at Suicide Kings with healthy scepticism, assuming there might have been a little bit of cash cowing on the part of Marvel in response to Deadpool's mainstream coming out in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While I don't doubt that the film might have been a motivating factor, the mini-series pitting Deadpool against the clock in a twenty-four battle to stay alive speaks very specifically to the Infinite Wars.

Tombstone's an old favourite of the site, but in particular it is his status as one of Marvel's pantheon of fantastic street level crooks that connects Suicide Kings with the ideas we used to discuss quite often. "Chess" was the reference used to describe a keen desire to see Marvel (or DC) fully capitalize on their urban sprawls with a book that could document the on-going involvement of heroic and villainous entities moving about the landscape of the New York underworld.

'Hood Heroes Playlist
[Urban Marvel Heroes &
Villains By Site Ranking
#1 Spider-man
#2 Daredevil
#3 Luke Cage
#4 Iron Fist
#5 Morbius
#6 Deadpool
#7 Capt. America
#8 Union Jack
#9 Elektra
#10 Black Widow
#11 Ghost Rider
#12 Scarlet Spider
#13 Hellcat
#14 Batroc
#15 Blade
#16 Black Cat
#17 Dr. Strange
#18 Hawkeye
#19 Ronin
#20 Werewolf
#21 Menace
#22 Gambit
#23 Moon Knight
#24 Mr. Hyde
#25 Unus
Suicide Kings might not unite the players in incidental interactions as part of their daily activities as costumed heroes and villains, but the very basic premise isn't too far removed from that idea. Deadpool has to survive the elements of New York City for twenty-four hours. As this issue shows, that quickly pertains to characters like Punisher and Daredevil who are existing incidentally.

As you can see, I've spoiled the big surprise.
The lurking presence who shows up as the vigilante at the end of this book is Daredevil - promising another exciting match-up between the rival "heroes" in the tradition of Daredevil #65. Actually, that particular scuffle isn't entirely irrelevant as a reference for what's to come.

Carlo Barberi defies what we know of him [Justice League Unlimited #14] to tap into a style very reminiscent of the artistic collaboration of Phil Hester and Ande Parks.
Sandu Florea plays a part in that with strong inks that turn to solid blacks for the arrival of DD, with popping primary colours by Marte Gracia that gives the artwork depth, and energy during the action. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear it was the same colourist as the Hester/Parks segment, but I don't have the issue handy.

Mike Benson has a great premise to work with, but tackles what is fast becoming one of the less enviable jobs in comics.
Deadpool's fanbase has grown over the the past two decades from cult following to full blown mainstream hero. Key to the character's success has been the viral exchange of meme-like gags from the comics more recent years. That's defined the character with a very particular type of humor that isn't necessarily always successful, teetering between the fine balance of comedic and obnoxious.

I haven't really read a lot of Deadpool in the more recent years, so I'm pretty new to the 'Deadpool fantasy vision' thing, which is one of the first thing that rubs me up the wrong way a bit. To me, Deadpool should exhibit certain comedic irreverence and cultural references, but really doesn't want to become the kind of lazy, uninspired, and creatively insulting kind of comedy that actually seems pretty common these days. I'm particularly thinking of Family Guy, where even passable gags are quickly trampled by inanity, repetition, or the scripted equivalent of laughing loudly immediately after the joke.
For the most part, I think Benson does a pretty good job, but it's not perfect.

For me, the strength of the series really seems to lie in the simple concept and the opportunity it provides to play with a lot of characters in a common space, but not necessarily a common brand. It's a great opportunity to dance with a hero like Daredevil, whose monthly adventures are generally cordoned off to maintain aesthetic and satisfy the poseurs. [Hey! I'm one of them!]

As far as movie cash-ins go, it's disappointing that the series is one of the many clocking in at $3.99 an issue, but it's a great way for Deadpool fanatics to find a backdoor into the Marvel Universe. It's a less pandering method of introducing you, the uninformed, to characters that have some commonality, but can lead you on to different paths that you might enjoy. Take advantage of it, as you please.

I'd love to know how the story finishes but with July ramping up with major storylines, my finances looking as shoddy as one-eyed Deadpool, and Marvel slapping the $3.99 tag on this one, it'll probably lose-out by priority. Otherwise, it comes with glowing recommendations for those who know what they're buying.

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5

Deadpool: Suicide Kings is an action packed romp currently appearing monthly on shelves from Marvel Comics. No collected edition is available as yet, but you can track information about each issue in the (belated) Infinite Wars Shipping Updates. For more Deadpool, Punisher, and Daredevil, you'll find plenty of other stories on offer in our Amazon Gift Shoppe! By using purchase links provided on the site, including those in previous reviews, you help sponsor future entries!

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