Welcome to The Round-Up! This week, we get into the debut of Gambit’s all-new ongoing, check in with Caitlin Kiernan and Steve Lieber’s Alabaster: Wolves and get down to brass tacks with Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.
Following right behind fellow purple-clad hero Hawkeye, Clay Mann and James Asmus look to give Gambit his own series and a new look at a familiar hero. Unfortunately for Mr. LeBeau, his issue doesn’t share the same success his aforementioned friend enjoyed; not much can be said for what feels like a unmotivated plot and mediocre art in this first issue.
The angle of the book sees Gambit returning back to his roots as a high-profile master thief, which is a great concept. However, Asmus never touches on exactly why this is the case; what key event prompted a superhero to return to criminal beginnings? Seems like a large unanswered question for a launch issue, one that will hopefully be answered as the title progresses, because right now it feels like Gambit just got bored.
Also, too much inner narration on the part of Gambit and not enough of the witty, slick dialogue that we’re used too. Granted, it is a #1 and we do need a lot of information to set things up, but I found that things just seemed to run on too long and there wasn’t enough of Gambit, well, being Gambit.
On the other end, the art is pretty mediocre. I’m not a fan of photorealistic comics but even by that standard, it seems to need work; Mann’s lines are thin and crisp but the coloring seems to sometimes bleed through that. I will give credit to some of the panel layouts and shot selections; some really great closeups through this issue and the action sequences move along very well thanks to clever panel placement.
Gambit #1 presents an interesting idea on an old fan favorite, however as it stands now this book needs some work.
If you are reading this review, then you’ve probably been following Dancy Flammarion through the first four issues of the series, so plan on buying issue #5 because it provides as satisfying a conclusion to this supernatural thriller as one could expect. In one of my earlier reviews, I made the point of praising the introduction of a strong female heroine in a medium that can prove… resistant to non-male characters. While this issue does not reveal Dancy to be some sort of superheroine, it does show her to be a superb hero. In fact, it is her lack of supernatural powers – unlike so many around her – that makes her the self-reliant, ass-kicking young woman we see from the start of this mini-series to its conclusion. Is she an anti-hero or simply a hero who refuses to “color in the lines”? Although she seems uncertain herself early on, Dancy’s growth as an individual by the end of this story arc provides a particularly satisfying element to this gothic narrative. Early themes of good and evil come to a head in this final issue. Questions of Dancy’s fate – temporal and eternal – abound as readers are left to ponder not only who is on whose side, but also the intentions of the agents of both heaven and hell.
Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg’s artwork is hellishly paired to Kiernan’s story. Without spoiling the story, I will simply say that the work done in this final issue effectively conveyed the experiences of terror and awe Dancy felt at key moments of the comic. Dark Horse would do well to keep this trio together. Overall, Alabaster: Wolves #5 is one of the strongest examples of gothic literature in the comics medium today, and this series illustrates one of the smarter and more thought-provoking comic titles out on newsstands today.
The title “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” is pretty self-explanatory, and the prospect of Wade Wilson picking off Marvel’s biggest superheroes one by one should be something worth reveling in. However, Cullen Bunn’s mediocre scripting in this uninspired issue shows that even the infamous Merc with a Mouth can be ridiculously boring.
While Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1 contained a promising setup, the second installment in the miniseries falls flat. There’s a certain art to killing off superheroes, as proved in 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet – Thanos’s elimination of superheroes is clever, varied, and a hell of a lot of fun to read. Wolverine is rendered boneless, Cyclops suffocates in a block of force, Spider-Man’s beaten to death with a rock, Nova dissolves into a pile of blocks, Iron Man’s head gets ripped off, and Thanos practices his pimp hand by breaking Captain America’s neck. The comic book dexterity that made watching Thanos polish off Marvel heroes so great is completely absent in Bunn’s mindlessly gratuitous bloodbath. Even 1995’s Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe one-shot fared better. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #2 is a repetitive read that has already fallen into a tedious pattern: Hero kills Deadpool (spoiler alert, he can’t die). Deadpool regenerates. Deadpool kills hero. And while the Wade Wilson in this ‘verse is supposed to be compelled by a darker, more sinister voice in his head, Bunn’s attempts at humor fail to elicit even the weakest chuckle. Worst of all, there’s nothing in the writing that compels the reader to invest themselves in any of the characters or situations, let alone care about them. It’s a disappointing comic that really has no purpose in its existence, aside from the half-assed crossing off of a few names from the ‘To Kill’ list.