Cullen Bunn and Mark Bagley’s new bi-weekly Deadpool mini-series came out swinging with a debut issue that managed to outshine the new ongoing series from Marvel’s “fresh start” relaunch. All along, the duo have promised to bring Deadpool back to his roots- killing people for money and having a damn good time doing it. Deadpool: Assassin #2 continues to uphold that promise with yet another laugh out loud funny and satisfyingly gory issue, even if it may dip in terms of comedic quality from the first.
The most enjoyable aspect of this series thus far is undoubtedly the effortless, perfectly Deadpool humor from veteran Deadpool scribe Cullen Bunn. Bunn has written an impressive amount of Deadpool stories in his career and his familiarity with the character once again shines brightly in the way of Wade Wilson’s colorful, irreverent, and downright quirky humor.
The jokes are clever and have no problem eliciting hearty laughs and chuckles from even the most stern readers. It’s almost as if Bunn wrote the scenarios, wrote the most obvious punchline, then deconstructed the joke entirely to find the most original and unexpected punchline possible. One particular joke during a battle against the shadow shifting Nakh sees Deadpool spout one of his most memorable and hilarious retorts in recent memory.
Just like the first issue, I can’t think of a single joke that didn’t land to at least some degree throughout the 28 pages of this second installment. That being said, there’s a noticeably smaller amount of jokes in this second issue that keep it from reaching the heights of its predecessor.
More dialogue is devoted to mere shouting between characters or simple explanations of what is playing out in the panels. It’s not nearly enough to make Deadpool: Assassin #2 anything short of a great read, but it does fall short of the precedent set in the inaugural issue.
Both Bunn and artist Mark Bagley make great use of Deadpool’s abilities to strengthen this book. Once again, Wade’s fourth wall breaks aren’t used as a gimmick, but rather to contextualize the story and provide exposition in a noticeably more humorous way. Bunn also uses Wade’s self awareness to poke fun at the cliche of many comic book villain’s dialogues in how he writes Deadpool’s lines whenever he meets a new member of the Assassin’s Guild.
Mark Bagley, on the other hand, doesn’t shy away from showcasing Wade’s healing factor during firefights to really set these action sequences apart from nearly every other Marvel book on shelves right now. Astute readers will notice just how messy a fighter Deadpool is and how he is being shot or stabbed on damn near every page. One panel in particular showcases Wade taking advantage of his own nearly decapitated head to strike against an enemy in one of the more clever yet gross panels I’ve seen this year.
That amount of gore is present throughout Deadpool’s fights and it feels perfect for a Deadpool title. Recent Deadpool books haven’t been necessarily PG-13 in their violence, but Deadpool: Assassin #2 takes the gore to a whole new level both with the sequence mentioned above and another in which Wade grinds some unlucky goon’s head into pulp.
Bagley also does a fantastic job illustrating the pace of these chaotic encounters with his panel progression during each fight. While not as pristine presented as John Davis-Hunt’s work in DC’s The Wild Storm, Bagley draws each brawl in a way that flows naturally, making it easier for readers to follow along.
Aside from the comedy and great art direction, Deadpool: Assassin #2’s greatest strength is it story and just how grounded it is. Wade isn’t teaming up with any Avengers or trying to play hero anymore, he’s simply taking merc jobs to pay the bills. This loose, even uninspiring, narrative may not add depth to the character or shatter expectations, but it is a refreshing return to classic Deadpool that allows Bunn and Bagley to focus on the character’s core appeals- over the top, bloody action and great comedic presence.
Deadpool: Assassin may not be the ongoing Deadpool series at the moment, but after these first two issues I may start a movement to have Bunn and Bagley takeover as the main creative team behind the Merc with a Mouth. Although not as funny as the first issues, Deadpool: Assassin #2 is still a wonderfully entertaining 28 page story whose grounded narrative places great emphasis on the terrific action sequences and clever punchlines.