The Merc with a Mouth has a new role as the King of Monsters (I’m sure Godzilla will be sending his lawyers soon) in King Deadpool. Collecting the first six issues of the Deadpool series by Kelly Thompson, Chris Bachalo, Gerardo Sandoval, and Kevin Libranda, King Deadpool Vol. 1 is a consistently hilarious look at Deadpool’s new royal lifestyle. With an eccentric supporting cast and run-ins with Kraven the Hunter and the X-Men, there’s a lot here for everyone.
The story here is fairly simple, with a big focus on character as Deadpool takes up a leadership role in the monster community on Staten Island. This draws the attention of several other parties, notably Elsa Bloodstone and Kraven the Hunter. Writer Kelly Thompson’s approach here works really well – readers are after Deadpool for the humor, and the plot doesn’t get in the way of that. The assortment of monster characters plays into the comedy, but the characters also feel suitably monstrous. A character named Hurl can teleport people by vomiting them, which is ridiculous, but you can also see how that’d make a fantastic horror monster if this were a different genre. And then there’s Jeff the land shark pup, who is the most adorable thing. If there’s a Goldilocks zone of cuteness, Thompson hits that target.
Visually, this book crackles with style. Chris Bachalo handles the pencils for most of the volume, accompanied by Wayne Faucher, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Livesay, Victor Olazaba, and Derek Fridolfs on inks. Despite the large inking team, the book retains a decent visual consistency throughout. There are places where the different inking styles can be identified, but most readers aren’t going to notice unless they actively search for them. Bachalo’s stylized characters work perfectly for this type of story, as the various monsters that make up Deadpool’s “round table” of associates all have their own features. Additionally, due to how expressive Bachalo’s take on Wade is, he visually fits right in with the gang, which helps humanize the other characters visually.
David Curiel’s color art also shines here. The color palette for the backgrounds is fairly muted, while the characters are more saturated, giving visual emphasis to the characters themselves. This works perfectly for the story being crafted and provides a nice visual contrast with the accompanying lettering by Joe Sabino. Because Deadpool’s word balloons have a yellow background, the more muted backgrounds of the environment allow the words to pop off the page in a dramatic way suitable to Wade’s over-the-top personality.
The last two issues in the volume are equally strong in their craft, though different art teams handle each issue. The problem is that, within the collection, they feel like tacked-on epliogues. Deadpool #5 features art by Gerardo Sandoval, Victor Nava, and Chris Sotomayor, as Deadpool and Elsa Bloodstone stop a giant monster from attacking the isle of Manhattan. It’s a fun story, especially with the way the monster’s dialogue is portrayed, and it helps further the working relationship between the King of Monsters and the Monster Hunter. The final chapter has art by Kevin Libranda and Chris Sotomayor as Deadpool journeys to Krakoa to voice his displeasure with the X-Men for excluding him from their new home. Kelly Thompson uses Deadpool’s fourth-wall breaking to catch readers up with the X-Men’s current status quo, and the visit is a romp, but both of these stories feel disconnected from the main arc, giving the back half of the volume a disjointed feel.
But while the necessities of trade paperback publication leads to this minor issue, King Deadpool Vol. 1 is a joyous ride. Kelly Thompson’s writing strikes a nice balance between humor and heart, and the new status quo for Deadpool is a really fun development for the character. The art by Chris Bachalo, Gerardo, Sandoval, Kevin Libranda, and the rest of the art team is a fantastic blend of kinetic energy that Deadpool and monster fans should all enjoy.