“Deadpool Killustrated #1”

(w) Various
(a) Various
Marvel Comics
21 pages, $2.99

I don’t know why I expected anything different.

Deadpool is not subtle in the least.

It says right on the cover that this title is “butchering stories from literature’s finest authors”.

Somewhere in my mind I guess I hoped for Deadpool Killustrated to contain a modern satirical version of the Classics Illustrated series from which it takes its name but maintaining some of the values the latter espoused and promoted. The initial Classics Illustrated run lasted 30 years and sought to expose kids to classic literature in a relatable medium while simultaneously legitimizing the comic industry. Sadly DK upholds neither.

As the Merc’ with the Mouth, Deadpool has disposed of every character in the Marvel universe several times over, and frankly he’s quite tired of it. In what has to be the most meta romp I have ever read, he sets to finally be rid of “Superheroes, the multiversal cockroach” by delving into the pages of classic literature and stopping the unending loop of continuity before it ever starts. Deadpool seeks to keep his adversaries from ever existing by taking out the inspiration upon which these archetypal characters were based. In a word *cringe* Metacidal.

It’s certainly an interesting concept, as we all have complained about the particular idioms of story impermanence and no-one staying dead in comics, at one time or another—but again, subtlety. So much for upholding the love for the Illustrated.

As for the “Classics” aspect of DK‘s namesake, they don’t fare much better. While Bunn does take care to match the parlance of whichever book he is lampooning at the time, hinting at some memorable quote or event therein, if there’s any appreciation for the classics here it comes from already knowing the references. Yes, knowing your source material is where the entirety of where you can find comedy in a spoof. Scary Movie looses a lot in translation if you’ve never actually seen a scary movie, but I don’t think I was expecting too much in hoping this arc would be better than the Scary Movie of comics. A point made all the more sardonic when you consider that Deadpool can’t even be bothered to know these same references.

This same story line could be so much better, pay much greater homage to both the source material and CI heritage, as well as actually contain a worthwhile message if Deadpool faced any kind of challenge that required use of some literary knowledge in order to exploit the weaknesses of one of these classic conflicts. However, that just isn’t the case; he faces mere paper tigers as he jumps from tale to tale.

Don’t get me wrong, Killustrated is entertaining as hell. There’s something immensely humorous comparing Moby Dick to Jaws, but if you came to this book expecting anything more than a bloodfest that would make Melville roll in his grave, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The anachronisms are great for a few laughs, but little to no homage is paid to any literature,  and it actually seems to actively deter from seeking out the stories upon which Killustrated constructs its tale. Maybe it’s building to that, and the arc needs room to breathe, maybe I’m just expecting too much from a Deadpool book; either way, I refer you back to the initial tagline: “butchering stories from literature’s finest authors.”

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you can certainly tell a lot about it from the dust jacket.