Deadpool Annual #2

Posted by Donovan McComish 19 July 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Deadpool Annual #2. Hang on, how come Deadpool's wearing Spidey's costume? We're not in for another Freaky-Friday-esque caper are we? And who is this mystery 'Spider-Stalker' that's running around stabbing our favourite web-spinner? Let's find out...

Synopsis:

We open this titanic team-up with Spider-Man violently slamming Deadpool into a rooftop, yelling "WHY WON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE"!

In spite of how this looks, Spider-Man isn't being harassed by the Merc With a Mouth, but instead believes him to be an imposter, the Chameleon to be exact. After Deadpool proves he's the real McCoy - by shooting himself in the heart - and explains why he was hang gliding through Manhattan (apparently he was looking for any nice hotels that had empty penthouses to crash in), he asks why Spidey has webbed the entrance to the rooftop door shut, as well as why he had Deadpool just shoot himself (uh, he didn't say to do that dude?).

Spider-Man explains that, a few days ago, he rescued a guy from being hit by a bus, who then showed his gratitude to the web head by stabbing him in the stomach. Before Spidey could catch him, the man had vanished. Since then, random people have kept attacking him and disappearing. Spider-Man was eventually able to catch a glimpse of Chameleon, who he correctly deduced was behind all the attacks. Unfortunately, Chameleon's hit-and run strategy has kept his Spider Sense buzzing constantly, leaving Peter afraid of what to do next. He can't return to his apartment in case the Chameleon tracks him there, nor can he take the chance of attacking the first suspicious party he sees in case he gets it wrong (as he just did with Deadpool).

Just then, a bunch of security people burst through the door, asking what the deal is "with the sticky on the door". Spider-Man rushes past them, yelling that they leave him alone, prompting Deadpool to give chase, neither of them noticing that one of the men is actually the Chameleon in disguise! Spidey heads down an elevator shaft, whose doors close before Deadpool can follow, forcing him to take the stairs whilst wondering which floor of the building to check. He soon gets his answer as he hears a scream which he follows to the corresponding floor, finding Spidey holding a slightly overweight woman by the throat, swearing he saw Chameleon change into her. Assuming that he's got the wrong person again, Deadpool talks Spider-Man down (definitely something you don't see every day), telling him that they can work together and strategise on this. As Spidey begins to let the woman go, she/he suddenly confirms his suspicions and stabs him in the neck with a syringe. A surprised Deadpool then hurls Chameleon out of the window, deciding to let the pavement punch him to death. Spider-Man however, isn't willing to let Deadpool kill for him and snags Chameleon with a web-line before passing out.

The actual civilians present briefly consider unmasking Spidey to claim some sort of reward before Deadpool draws his swords and forces them to leave. Wade then drags Spider-Man into a nearby broom cupboard. He reasons that he must protect Spider-Man from the bad guy as they are "Amazing Friends", but he's nearly out of ammo as he thought this day would just be a "hang gliding day". After a moments thought, Deadpool decides that they're going to "Chameleon the Chameleon" and switches costumes with Spidey, taking care not to look at his face when he unmasks him so as to adhere to the Super-Bro-Code (don't out a fellow Super-Bro). Planning to draw the Chameleon away from Spider-Man so the web spinner can get some much needed rest, Deadpool dives out of the window and lands on a car inviting the folks nearby to get their picture taken with "the real deal", soon discovering that, thanks to Otto Octavius' work as the "Superior Spider-Man", many of the people of New York see Spidey as a weirdo. One woman however, asks to have her picture taken with "Spider-Man", asking why his voice is different. Deadpool lies that the attempt to sedate "him" by Chameleon (who he simply refers to as a loser)  gave him a cold, at which point the woman reveals "her" identity as the troublesome villain, disappearing into the crowd before Deadpool can apprehend him, telling "Spider-Man" that he'll have something stronger next time and that he'll make a suit from Spidey's skin (Ergh!).

Acknowledging that, while he has fooled him into thinking he's Spider-Man, Chameleon has picked up on the voice difference, meaning he'll have to commit one hundred percent to being the web slinger lest Cammy finds the real deal, Deadpool tries out webslinging before coming across a mugging in progress. Confronting the purse snatcher, Wade questions why he's practising the tool of his trade in New York, the super hero capital of the world, knocking the man out before he can finish his answer. Deadpool then webs the guy to a passing police car so he won't have to string him up. Wade also grabs a nearby bystander to test if it's really Chameleon, but typically it's an innocent guy, who Pool releases. He then notices several snakes passing by his feet, all of them headed to the same building, leading Wade to conclude that he's dealing with an animal-themed villain. "Classic Spider-Man".

Entering the building, Deadpool finds the staff are being held captive by 'the Masssster' (sounds like an axed member of the Snakemen from Masters of the Universe), who has a very specific scheme in mind. You see, the facility is known for it's work in synthesized tissue, and the staff do a lot of that work through cloning mice. Basically if the mix of matter is right, they can transform anything into an instant mouse. With this in mind, the Masssster plans to use the facility to create an endless food supply for his army of snakes!

...Yeah, as Deadpool points out, it's pretty dumb, and as Spider-Man is a "champion against dumb" (in Deadpool's words anyway), he leaps into battle, almost immediately knocking the villain into some of the facility's equipment, causing a lot of blue energy to crackle around him. One of the scientists informs "Spider-Man" that the matter-converting energy is loose and, since the Masssster has a psychokinetic connection with his snakes, it will read them as one single batch of matter to be converted into mouse. Wade assumes that this means they will all become regular, tiny mice, but the scientists corrects him, "not mice...mouse". Now transformed into what looks like a cross between a white mouse and a T-Rex, the Masssster breaks out of the building and starts rampaging through New York. The scientist tells Wade that because the creature is so massive, the energy used to build it must be unstable and thin. He reasons that, if "Spider-Man" can injure the less connected internal tissue, then the monstrosity lumbering before them should simply fall apart.

Not wanting to waste time, Deadpool web slings into action, heading for the monsters mouth. Unfortunately, a police helicopter has decided to get involved, as Pool learns when he is shot by the gunner, who was half expecting "Spidey" to dodge the shot. Naturally a little pissed off by this, Deadpool snags the gunner via web line and pulls him out of the helicopter, using his radio to tell the two pilots that, since they won't allow him to get near the giant mouse, he's going to have to send in their vehicle instead. Fortunately for them, he's not sending them with it. Webbing the pilots out of the plane, knocking them out and anchoring himself to the roof of the building with more webbing, Deadpool then webs the helicopter and, despite the huge strain it places on his body, swings it towards the Mouse-sster, hitting the sucker right in the mouth and causing the chopper to explode. The giant mouse monster subsequently reverts back to the Masssster and his horde of snakes.
As the serpentine-themed villain is led away in cuffs on the ground below, Deadpool wonders aloud what he was doing originally when one of the pilots answers the question for him and sticks a syringe into his shoulder. Yep, the pilot was actually the Chameleon, who gloats that "Spider-Man" let his guard down even quicker this time. He is however confused at his foes behaviour, commenting that "Spidey" hasn't been acting "quite" like himself today. It's at this point that Cammy recieves a sharp kick in the back from the real Spider-Man clad in Deadpool's costume, who quips that "Diet Dr. Pepper doesn't taste like the real thing". Realising the two heroes have swapped outfits, Chameleon attacks "Deadpool", grappling with him and disguising himself as a duplicate of the Spidey. The two costume-swapped Spider-Men then try to convince Deadpool, who is still recovering from the drugs Chameleon shot into his system, of who is real and who is the fake. Wade briefly cycles back and forth between them both with his pistol before deciding to kill the one on his left, at which point the one opposite side protests, proving he is the real Spider-Man.

Satisfied, Deadpool only shoots the fake Spidey in the knee cap, while the real one suggests that the Chameleon tell him how he pulled all this off, lest he have Deadpool for a roommate. Chameleon reveals that he was able to track the web slinger via his new batch of web fluid that Doctor Octopus developed when he possessed Peter's body as the Superior Spider-Man (it's a lot nicer to talk about that in the past tense) - whose capture of the Sinister Six and constant bragging fuelling Cammy's desire for revenge - explaining that the new formula leaves trace radiation that's "exceedingly simple" to pinpoint. Deadpool comments that Spidey should probably fix that, to which the web-head responds that he'll get right on it. They then knock out the Chameleon with a double punch to the face, both of them rightly labelling him as a creep.

Shortly afterwards, our two costumed adventurers - both now wearing the right costumes - enjoy a much-needed hot-dog break under the starry-lit sky. Conveniently for us, Wade has just finished telling Peter everything that transpired while he was unconscious. Spider-Man thanks Deadpool for the assist, but adds that he has a feeling he's going to be spending the next month repairing the damage Wade did in his suit, snagging a copy of the Daily Bugle to check "his" exploits. Much to his surprise, and subsequent annoyance however, the headline for Page 1 reads "HOPE FOR Spider-Man", though Deadpool seems more interested in the closing of the Cats musical...

Thoughts:

Ever since Deadpool first came to prominence with his own, wacky comic from Joe Kelly in the late '90's', fans of the character (as well as us web-heads) have been begging for him to cross paths with Spider-Man as the two share several characteristics, the most blatant being a gift for the gab. And sure enough that has come to pass in recent years, but in my opinion, those team-ups have never quite hit the mark. The first team-up between the two wise-crackers in Amazing Spider-Man #611 featured some hilarious dialogue exchanges between the two (the issue was written by Kelly after all), but suffered from some poor artwork. The second team-up in Deadpool #19-21 fared better with it's art, but Daniel Way's characterisation of Spider-Man was a little off, not to mention that the story was more about Hit Monkey than it was Spider-Man or Deadpool. And as for team-up in Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn's Deadpool #10, well that was just one big missed opportunity to satirise the Superior Spider-Man series. Overall, these stories have all been varying degrees of funny, but pretty inconsequential in terms of the dynamic between the two characters.

Thankfully in this annual, we are treated to a fun, energetic, but also quite touching romp, and once again it is hilarious. Christopher Hastings keeps the story at a fast clip whilst also making no effort to shy away from the weirder aspects of Deadpool's adventures. I never expected to see a snake-themed supervillian transformed into a giant killer mouse. The inclusion of that seems a bit random, but the Masssster isn't there to be taken seriously. Instead he's both a subtle and obvious jab at Spider-Man's rogue's gallery, the obvious part being that he's animal-themed, which Deadpool points out to us, and the subtle part being that his costume rips off Doctor Doom, which references the fact that Spidey has come up against more than a few second-string and rip-off bad guys, such as in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #16 when he faced the Wicked Brigade and Master Monarch, the latter being another Victor Von Rip-Off.
Despite the fact that Spider-Man is absent for a chunk of the issue, the dynamic between him and Deadpool is portrayed brilliantly here. In their last real team-up, it often felt as though Way was dumbing down Peter's sense of humour to make Wade funnier, meaning Spidey was way too serious given the zaniness of the situation. Peter is pretty serious at the start here, but there's more of a reason for him to be that way considering the Chameleon's constantly on his tail. Once he's managed to rest we get the classic, wise-cracking Spidey again. Deadpool meanwhile is given a lot more credit in this story than you'd think. It would have been all too easy to show Deadpool wrecking Spidey's reputation, but thankfully Hastings kept Superior Spider-Man in mind when writing those scenes. Deadpool really does see himself and Spidey as best buds, and you get the sense that, while he is having fun pretending to be Spider-Man, he's also trying to uphold Spidey's reputation in addition to protecting him from the Chameleon, the sincerity of which kind of offsets any creepy factor to Wade's behaviour. The ending scene between these two is short, but definitely satisfying, and we get a Spidey/Deadpool brofist, which makes everything better. It goes without saying that Deadpool is pretty hilarious here too. His reaction to Chameleon jabbing Spidey in the neck with a syringe made me laugh out loud from how over the top it was.

Talking of the Chameleon, there's been a concentrated effort at Marvel recently to make him a more threatening villain and it's mostly been a success. Despite not appearing that much in the issue, Cammy maintains a presence throughout thanks to the fact that he could pop up anywhere at any moment, and his relentless attempts to torment Peter really leaves you rooting for Spidey and Pool to nail the creep. The reveal of Chameleon being able to track Spider-Man due to his new web-fluid that Doc Ock devised was handled really well, as it not only gives Peter a solid reason to go back to his old formula (as Chameleon noted how easy it was to track the new one), but it also proves that Otto wasn't as Superior a Spider-Man as he thought.

Jacopo Camagni handles the artwork for this annual and for the most part, it's pretty awesome. The facial designs for the characters are rather cartoony, but there's a consistency to them that prevents the work from looking sloppy or disproportionate. The vibrant colours by Matt Milla also add to the 'nuts factor'. The only thing that didn't really work for me was how expressive the eyepieces in Spider-Man's mask were. Usually I have no problem with this, but in this case, it takes away from the otherwise solid contrast of Wade and Peter in the Spidey suit - Camagni even includes the little flappy bit that Wade has at the back of his Deadpool mask when he wears Spidey's, which is some clever attention to detail - since there's barely a consistent look to the lenses when Peter wears the mask, and some of the expressions done with them are a little weird, though on the flipside there are several that look pretty cool. One shot in particular reminded me of the style employed by Marco Checchetto, one of my favourite modern Spider-Man artists. There's also a bit of inconsistency with Deadpool's face. When we first see him unmasked, he looks pretty much in line with the current depiction of his scarred visage, whereas the second time, he instead resembles a cartoon zombie.

Nitpicks aside however, this is an awesome and hilarious 'sort-of' team-up between Marvel's two biggest blabbermouths. If you like either of these characters, you should definitely check this out...

Score: 4.5/5.0

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