For the better part of Deadpool’s tenure as a mercenary he’s gone solo, taking jobs to pay the bills (or for some chuckles). The Mercs for Money series that debuted in 2016 changed that up by making him the leader of a group. As you might expect, he’s not great at the job, and his employees kind of hate him. They go with it though, which makes for interesting hijinks and battles to be had.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
When Deadpool cashes in by franchising out his look, Stingray, Masacre, Solo, Foolkiller, Terror and Slapstick suit up as the Mercs for Money! But they’re all about to learn that Deadpool is a terrible boss, and the risky missions Wade assigns just aren’t worth the cash he’s (barely) paying! Before long the M4M are revolting, and a new squad forms — with Domino calling the shots! Then, remember back during the original Secret Wars, when Deadpool found the symbiotic costume that would later bond with Spider-Man? No? Well, the costume remembers — and months later when Spidey rejects it, the costume tracks down DP again! Witness an untold story from Wade Wilson’s past as Deadpool goes back in black!
Why does this matter?
This is a nice collection that houses three story arcs written by Cullen Bunn in the last few years. It gives a snapshot of his depiction of the character with some very colorful supporting characters. It has its moments in the comedy department, while also delivering bigger stories in each arc.
This collects Deadpool & The Mercs for Money #1-5, and a second miniseries by the same name #1-8. These logically go together while the additional Deadpool: Back in Black #1-5 close out a nice collection of Bunn written stories.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A pervasive element of this trade paperback is how Bunn mixes all these supporting characters into the narrative. Deadpool is logically the main character, but the rest are shuffled in nicely. The cast is quite good, with different types of humor and seriousness for Deadpool to riff off of. Slapstick is probably the weirdest of the characters, and ends up having his own kind of humor and running jokes. Meanwhile, a character like Solo serves as the straight man. Stingray gives the team a nice superhero element (thanks to that one time he was an Avenger) while Foolkiller and Terror add a bit of craziness. Rounding out the team is Massacre, a character who wears a unique Deadpool costume and only speaks Spanish. Sure his humor is one-note (Deadpool can’t understand him), but if you do some research and look up what he’s saying it’s quite funny.
The first Mercs for Money story utilizes a time-traveling enemy that ends up having quite a surprising twist to it. Bunn does good work with this villain, building it up and making him intriguing. You’ll want to see more of him (even though we probably won’t). The second story integrates Negasonic Teenage Warhead (probably because she was appearing in Deadpool 2 around when this story came out) and has a sentimental angle that’s nice. You won’t see it coming, and it mixes in the crazy idea that Deadpool’s chaotic choices may actually have a purpose.
As for Back in Black, Bunn delivers on a funny, kooky, and zany story. It’s not taking itself too seriously, especially since it’s set in the past. Bunn has fun with Deadpool and Venom lore while also poking fun at Kraven.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The Back in Black story doesn’t feel necessary. It’s a fun idea, but feels stretched over five issues. It is punch-em-up comics from beginning to end with very little in the way of plot progression or character work. It’s clear Bunn is dropping details here and there to connect this to Marvel Universe mythos, but it does make you wish there was more meat to the plot.
The second Mercs for Money story arc makes the mistake of splitting Deadpool up from his team. The constant barbs and silly off the cuff remarks are gone. The team eventually gets a brand new lineup, but the dynamic of the first Mercs for Money story arc is gone. Namely, Domino is in charge and Deadpool is the silly add-on, which is unfortunately how he’s used in most books.
Is it good?
I had a good time reading, and in some cases re-reading, these stories. The collection houses three story arcs that give a nice snapshot of what Cullen Bunn was doing with Deadpool back in 2016 and 2017. They may not feel important or necessary, but they’re fun, which is the main purpose of Deadpool, right?
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