This week’s You Are Deadpool #1 kicks off a choose-your-own-adventure tale the likes of which I’ve never seen before in a comic format. I do remember reading some choose-your-own-adventure novels as a child, but I was never fond of them due to how limited their options always seemed. I also suspected that I wouldn’t find much to like in a story where the authors didn’t feel strongly enough about the narrative events to actually commit to them. With that said, if any character could work in a choose-your-own-adventure format, it’s Deadpool. His penchant for absurdism and fourth wall breaking make him a natural choice for a comic that transcends the genre’s usual structural conventions. Finding out that Al Ewing is the writer for You Are Deadpool only made me more confident in the series’ potential for success. Does Ewing work his usual magic, and does this debut issue start the series off effectively?
This is the first choose-your-own-adventure story that has impressed me with its amount of available choices rather than disappointed me. The page count is the same as your average comic, but the creative team manages to stuff a shocking amount of content in. This is largely thanks to artist Salva Espin’s layouts, which include a lot of panels without ever feeling too cramped. All of the panels are numbered, and the reader follows narrative instructions with regards to what panel to skip to and when. There are so many story paths present that it actually feels a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of the issue’s flow it becomes an enjoyable ride. Making choices is actually fun here–as is going back and seeing what happens differently when you make alternative decisions.
Another element of this issue’s setup that makes it stand out from other choose-your-own-adventure stories is its use of stat and inventory systems. Deadpool has sadness and badness stats that increase or decrease dependent on the reader’s choices. These stats actually have a major effect that is revealed on this issue’s last page. Without spoiling anything, I’ll simply say that this series innovates with structure in ways I’ve never seen in any story, choose-your-own-adventure or otherwise. The inventory feature is also fun, as Deadpool can carry around up to three items at a time. It’s up to you what he picks up–and the results are often amusing.
It’s not just the structure of this issue that impresses; the actual content is solid too. Ewing’s take on Deadpool is one of the funnier ones I’ve seen in recent years; the fourth wall breaking is actually witty and doesn’t just feel like random banter. My favorite story detail is probably the fact that we meet a new Grasshopper–as a Great Lakes Avengers fan, that deep cut scores major points with me. The artwork is also solid throughout the issue. Espin delivers clean line-work, and colorist Guru -eFX does solid work as well. VC’s Joe Sabino also contributes a lot to the issue’s success with impeccable lettering that helps prevent the multitude of choices and text from becoming chaotic.
I don’t have any major qualms with this issue. I wish the artwork felt a bit more distinctive, and that we got to see more of Wade’s ruthless, violent sort of humor. The issue’s visuals are good as is, but they would be even more memorable if they varied from Marvel’s typical house style more. Nonetheless, there’s so much about this issue that goes above and beyond quality-wise that one facet of it being good but not amazing isn’t a big deal.
Overall, You Are Deadpool #1 is a fun and impressive debut issue. This series is shaping up to be different from any other comic or choose-your-own-adventure story I’ve ever read. The amount of choices available is mind-boggling given how few pages there are, and there are a number of almost RPG-like elements added in for extra spunk. I have almost nothing to complain about here, and I’m confident that future issues of this series will only get better.
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