Marvel’s very own third-rate Wreck-It Ralph, The Wrecker, has his eyes set on a school bus full of well-to-do, private school students with the hope that they will fetch him a King’s ransom. The only man who can stop him: the regenerating degenerate, Deadpool. One well-placed incendiary grenade later and The Wrecker finds himself dozing in his own personal pile of bricks, without the security of his magical crowbar. Unfortunately, the collateral damage has left the Fantastic Four’s personal mailman, and reigning champion of New York’s Stan Lee Lookalike Contest, Willie Lumpkins, suffering from a tragic case of stage four shrapnel to the chest. His only hope for survival is a radical new treatment involving an inch-long piece of vibrating vibranium. Thankfully, Deadpool knows just where to procure such a rarity: Wakanda. Unfortunately, the Black Panther doesn’t trust that the man in red pants won’t turn this inch-long piece of vibranium into a bullet. Will the Merc with a Mouth be able to convince the Wakandan King to team-up and save this innocent man’s life or will the two heroes tear each other limb from limb?
“I can smell a Deadpool vs. whoever comin’ a mile away.”
Collecting Black Panther vs. Deadpool #1-5, Black Panther vs. Deadpool follows the Merc with a Mouth’s attempts to persuade Black Panther into giving him the vibranium that will save Lumpkins’ life. Following their movies from last year, this book could have easily just been a quick cash-grab for those individuals wanting to capitalize on the two characters’ popularity. Thankfully, this is not the case as there is a lot to enjoy within these issues. Black Panther vs. Deadpool is an entertaining read that left me grinning from ear to ear well after I had closed the book.
The success of a “versus” or “team-up books” often hinges on the character drama derived from pairing unlikely individuals together. Daniel Kibblesmith’s dialogue with these characters is on point throughout each of these issues. He has a great grasp on the fourth-wall breaking Merc with a Mouth. Wade’s constant barrage of humor and pop culture references are a highlight of the story. The jokes range from dad joke bad to terribly good as the story necessitates.
Without spoiling the punchline for anyone who hasn’t read it, one of my favorite sequences throughout the entire story revolves around Deadpool’s answer to the age-old question, “What’s black and white and red all over?” The ridiculousness of this sequence, and Black Panther’s initial lack of a reaction, have left me giggling since I first read it. Kibblesmith sells the story with humorous banter between these two characters as their worlds and ideologies clash.
“First we’re gonna have some small misunderstanding. Then, there’s a big fight. The some mutual threat will show up, and that’ll be the real villain, so we’ll put aside our differences for a classic Marvel team-up and work together to take down the bad guy! Guaranteed Boffo box office!”
One of my favorite elements of the book is the result of Deadpool’s first encounter with Black Panther. During their meeting, Deadpool describes in great detail how every team-up book works. Throughout each of their subsequent meetings, Deadpool proceeds to identify which part of the story that they have entered. Kibblesmith does a great job of subverting these expectations in the third issue when the mutual threat arrives. This helps to make the story less predictable and truly define it as a “versus” story as opposed to a traditional “team-up.”
For better or worse, there’s not much more here in terms of depth. However, I am of the firm belief that the story doesn’t need to be deep. Kibblesmith gets a lot of mileage out of the humorous character drama and the end result is something truly enjoyable. He does manage to include a few messages about serving people as a leader through allowing them to change. Additionally, the notion that Wade is literally a walking tumor, because only the cancer grows back, was simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. The metaphor here is spot-on given other character’s perception of the Merc with a Mouth.
“This is gonna be a piece of cake.”
Ricardo Lopez Ortiz’s art here is fantastic. His chaotic lines do a great job conveying Deadpool’s insanity as well the inherent silliness of the story. He does a great job conveying the chaotic energy of a Deadpool story, while also doing a character like Black Panther justice. In a narrative filled to the brim with comedic elements, the visual gags are just as important as the dialogue. Ricardo Lopez Ortiz’s art does not disappoint here. He handles Deadpool’s visual vulgarity wonderfully and sells some of the more insane visual jokes. Ortiz’s work is definitely the reason why Deadpool’s answer to, “What’s black and white and red all over?” has stuck with me since reading the book.
Felipe Sobreiro’s colors excellently complement Ortiz’s. They give the story a golden age comic feel with the use of the dots for coloring. Additionally, the colors do an excellent job conveying the technological marvels of Wakanda or expressing the inherent filthiness of a battle to the death with Deadpool. The panels are dark or bright when necessary to convey the tone.
“You have a dying factor.”
One of my only complaints with the title is with Black Panther’s characterization. Having only seen the movie read a handful of issues, I found myself echoing Deadpool’s thought that, “You’re a lot nicer in the movie.” However, I do understand that had Black Panther been nicer to Deadpool, and more sympathetic to saving Lumpkins, this would have rendered the book unnecessary.
Ultimately, Black Panther vs. Deadpool is an entertaining read that left me grinning from ear to ear long after I had closed the book. Although the story may lack depth, Kibblesmith’s humorous dialogue combined with Lopez Ortiz’s chaotic pencil work and Sobreiro’s colors complement each other wonderfully. Additionally, I will never forget the answer to, “What’s black and white and red all over?” Hint: It’s not a newspaper.
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