It’s been a while since I reviewed a graphic novel, hasn’t it? And it’s the first time I’ve ever written a post about a Marvel superhero. I just could not resist Deadpool Killustrated though – it’s about an anti-hero running through classic novels and trying to eliminate their characters. Like The Eyre Affair meets Watchmen! But not really.
Summary: Deadpool killed the Marvel Universe.
The veil lifted from his eyes and he saw the world for what it was: a fiction. He took it upon himself to set everyone, hero and villain alike, free from the burden of living the tale. But his job isn’t done yet.
So, comic-book writers. Awesome at stories, terrible at blurbs. That just doesn’t do this graphic novel justice because the concept is actually really clever. Deadpool has become aware that he is living in a fictional reality and pretty much just wants to die – only he can’t because the authors keep writing him back to life. His theory is that if he travels back into classic books and kills off their heroes, then there will be nothing for modern superheroes to be based on and so they will eventually cease to exist.
It sounds a little cheesy I suppose, but it works very well. It’s explained in a way that actually makes sense, unlike my summary above. As an example, killing Bram Stoker’s Dracula would cause all modern vampires to vanish as they’re based on the original (an over-simplification, but you get the point) – no original, no later copies.
Deadpool runs through an awful lot of classics. Like, a lot. Some are dwelled on more than others, but it focuses on books with a lot of supernatural figures/technology/action or where the main characters work in a team. We see Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, The Jungle Book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women… and a huge amount more. I didn’t even recognise them all and I like to tell people that I’m well-read (seriously. I’m one of Those People.)!
It would have been nice to spend a little more time on each classic I think. This graphic novel compiles only four comic-books, which was the entire run of the series. I know, to generalise and stereotype horrifically, that the comic-book demographic isn’t really into classic novels, but it could have been extended a little more. I don’t expect a full issue per book or anything, but it would have made the work as a whole seem slightly less rushed. At one point there’s a montage-style flitting through several classics when the obstacles and challenges of each book could have been examined more thoroughly.
I’m trying to work out how familiar with Marvel you need to be to enjoy Deadpool Killustrated. You don’t actually need to know anything specific about Deadpool himself – I didn’t, and I really liked this. Basically, though, he was part of the Weapon X programme, like Wolverine, and therefore heals super-fast and pretty much can’t be hurt. There you go. That is the sole information you need. Now go play.
Basically, as long as you’ve seen a Marvel film here and there and you’re aware of the existence of Spider-Man, Captain America, etc, you’ll be fine.
The ending is a little airy-fairy (first time that word has ever been used in connection with Deadpool, I swear), but passable on the whole. That’s the thing, when you come right down to it. Deadpool Killustrated is really good – but it could have been amazing. It feels a little rushed in places, but it manages to pull off a really ‘out-there’ concept without it ever feeling silly. You should read it, regardless of whether or not you feel like you’re ‘into’ the superhero thing.