In 2016 Deadpool is an insanely popular character. He’s got multiple comic book series running and in a few weeks, he’ll even have a Hollywood movie, which looks like it will be a box office hit. But, he wasn’t always this popular. Back in 1997, he was a cult favourite on the constant verge of cancellation. When a character like Deadpool has a cult status like this it opens up to a door of creativity that other characters don’t get the chance to have. Writer at the time, Joe Kelly, has even stated “With Deadpool, we could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be cancelled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.” With Deadpool #11 this is very much the case. In it, writer Joe Kelly and artist Pete Woods take the Merc With A Mouth back in time all the way to 1967 – but with a very creative twist.
After a wild mishap in the previous issue, Deadpool and Blind Al have time warped all the way back to 1967, but not all is as it seems as it also happens to be the setting of Amazing Spider-Man #47 (by Stan Lee and the legendary John Romita Sr) from the same year. Deadpool has to impersonate Peter Parker so he can find a way to get back to the present. At the same time, he’s got to make sure he doesn’t mess with the timestream and cause all kinds of calamities. It’s a pretty funny take as it’s full of wisecracks of the original story, Deadpool zingers and a creative way of re-imagining the original story.
As it’s set during the events of Amazing Spider-Man #47, much of the original has been worked into this issue. Deadpool and other characters have been remixed into the story with a concoction of new art made to look like it was in the 60s as well as panels from the original comic. Some of these are untouched, while many have had Deadpool worked into them in amusing ways with new dialogue to go with it. Something like this could be a real mess, but new art adds some clever framing with Lee and Romita’s work to give it new context or to tell the story from Deadpool’s perspective. The result is a done-in-one story that flows rather organically.
Due to the nature of Deadpool, especially in this period the character’s history, commentary and breaking the fourth wall was very common. He would often poke fun at things and a comic from 1967 is an easy target. This would often happen to hilarious results – some of which has me laughing like an idiot.
The one I couldn’t stop laughing about was the way that Deadpool makes fun of Harry and Norman Osborne’s hair. They both have ridiculous hairstyles of red cornrows with a large receding hairline and Deadpool takes full advantage of this with his comments. I was reading this on public transport at the time and I had to stop myself from laughing like an idiot during these scenes. I mean, what the hell is with their the hair? I’m definitely with Deadpool on this one.
The other that I found amusing was at how ditzy Mary Jane was in the story. At first, I thought this was simply Joe Kelly doing it on purpose but when I read the original Spider-Man #47 I noticed he had left all the dialogue intact. Essentially, Stan Lee had made her a bit of an airhead in this issue (possibly to make Gwen Stacy the more appealing the love interests) and it really shows in her actions and dialogue. There’s one scene in which she arrives at her mother’s house to help Aunt May move in and instead of helping all she does is turn on some music and start dancing. It makes her an easy target for some amusing mockery but the characters commentary is probably quite close to what you were thinking.
With a comic of this nature, it’s very interesting to talk about the art as there are three very distinct styles at play throughout. To start with there’s Pete Wood’s late-90’s style. This kind of style was very much in vogue at Marvel at the times, especially for books that rejected the “extreme” comics of that decade. It works really well at differentiating the scenes set in the present time. It’s not the only art style that Woods works within the issue as his framing scenes set in the 60’s have a neo-silver age style. These are very clean lines and mimic styles you would see in the 1960s and it compliments Romita Sr’s work without ripping it off. The panel layouts of these new 60’s scenes work well as their economical and as the original Amazing Spider-Man issue. Finally, Romita Sr’s work is also a great example of Silver Age art and is dynamic. While the Amazing Spider-Man issue the art came from isn’t his most iconic, it’s full of energy and some panels using some great angles. This doesn’t just apply to the action sequences but even with instances of Gwen and Mary Jane dancing that there’s a life to the art. With three different art styles at play this could’ve been a bit of a mess but the way it has been handled means that it has been able to gel quite well.
For those of you who like a good Stan Lee cameo, you’re in luck as Stan makes an appearance in this issue. It’s only one panel, and Stan has cameoed in may Marvel Comics previously, but considering how the issue uses big chunks of his and Romita’s work it’s a nice way to pay respect and get a little laugh too. It’s also worth noting the story is littered with little Easter eggs homaging Marvel creators of the 60’s.
Overall, Deadpool #11 is a fun and inventive issue that was a lot of fun to read. The way the creative team have been able to use an old issue of Amazing Spider-Man and turn it into a time travelling caper is rather clever – especially since it doesn’t feel jarring when read. Deadpool is the perfect kind of character for this story as his nature to break the fourth wall and make fun of the Marvel Universe allows him to rip into the kookiness of this 1960’s Spidey to hilarious results. This issue is a fine example of the kind of creative ideas creators can get away with when a character is flying under the radar and has resulted in a story that many Deadpool fans consider to be a classic. If you’re looking for a done-in-one Deadpool story to read which will give you plenty of laughs then this issue should be at the top of your list.