Monday, July 22, 2024

Between Books - Deadpool: Dead Presidents

Cover for Deadpool: Dead Presidents showing Deadpool firing handguns at a greem godzilla like monster.

Deadpool boxes zombie Abraham Lincoln. Yes, this is great Deadpool!

As I said earlier, Gerry Duggan is part of some really really great Deadpool. Deadpool: Dead Presidents by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore is really funny Deadpool. A misguided necromancer had decided he has the solution for a failing America, resurrecting the deceased presidents of the United States. But naturally, something has gone wrong, and they all come back evil! Now, Captain America could stop this threat, but when SHIELD realizes that it is a horrible look to have Steve Rogers beating on a zombie historical leader, they go to the one man who any press is good press…Wade Wilson. The merc spends the story stopping the devious plans of the deceased presidents, A through E level.

This is really really good Deadpool!

Wade is building community. He has a group of SHIELD agents around him in support including a new agent, Agent Preston, a character who is diverse and brings a lot of reason to an unreasonable story. But he also has Agent Scott Adsit in his support group, I mean Baymax! Adsit, the voice of Baymax in Big Hero 6 is a friend of Duggan and Posehn who were active in the comedy scene and they created him as a recurring fictional agent who you can still find a decade later still on the page. Yet, he has still not appeared in live-action, which is a huge mistake. The posse even includes the ghost, NOT ZOMBIE, Benjamin Franklin.

Deadpool is trying to be better. He’s a professional my friends. He wants to do a good job and make plenty of money. This a merc with a mouth with a motivation. The awesome thing about this run as it develops is Posehn and Duggan will give him even more motivation to be a good human. So if you pick this up, keep going. I mean it does have a cliffhanger which makes you want to go to the next volume.

Wade, is he my friend? Yes, I will admit he generally does not break the fourth wall. But he has plenty of quips that are clearly meant for me, I mean the reader. And he does explain to other fictional characters that he is talking to us. So we get an acknowledgment. My favorite moment though may be when he tells us what to listen to during a five-page montage. Honestly, it made it feel more cinematic.

Finally, if I have not made it clear enough…this story is absurd. Zombie Abe Lincoln! But in all the wildness, the creators give us a clear picture of what they thought of 2014 American society (spoiler it may not have changed much)! They also are brilliant in working in real historical facts about the presidents and super super obscure references to other Marvel storylines.

With Deadpool and Wolverine coming soon, you may be looking for a comic starting point. Deadpool: Dead Presidents by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore is my recommendation. It does not require a lot of Wade’s backstory. It is silliness ramped up to 11. It has characters that will follow Deadpool around awhile, yes I want Adsit in this movie! Finally, the writing and art are top-notch!

Now get out of here and go read! 


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Friday, July 19, 2024

Between Books - Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance book cover shogin Deadpool with guns drawn in the middle of a grouping of Avengers including Captain America up front, Rogue, Quicksilver, Psylock, and Monet

Let’s continue our exploration of recentish Deadpool stories in the Krakoan Era of Marvel Comics. Will Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance satisfy a diehard Deadpool fan?

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance by Gerry Duggan with art by Joshua Cassara finds the Mutants of Krakoa on the run. Orchis, an anti-Mutant organization, has filled the vacuum left by SHIELD (which is always falling apart) and has forced Mutants to leave Earth for exile on the planet Arakko (which you might call Mars). Avenger Steve Rogers cannot let this stand, and forms a team of X-Men and Avengers, the Uncanny Avengers, working to expose Orchis’ evil plans and allow Mutants the right to live freely on this planet. One of those Avengers…is our guy Wade Wilson. Orchis in an attempt to further discredit Mutants has a superpowered individual steal the Captain Krakoa costume formally worn by Cyclops to spread Mutant Hate in false flag operations. Can the Uncanny Avengers expose Orchis and the identity of their suited soldier?

So, let’s examine this story in light of whether is this really good Deadpool? First, Wade is fully a member of a community in this Avengers team. He has a group, he is loyal to them and they are loyal to him. He truly has a place where he mostly fits as a bridge between Mutant and non-Mutant heroes. Second, Wade is on his 100% best behavior. Steve Rogers is leading this group and historically he has proven his willingness to do whatever Steve asks and be a better person. This is Deadpool as we generally won’t see him in movies, a good soldier. Third, honestly, Wade does not laugh away the pain. This is going to sound wild, but, while he has some jokey jokey moments, he provides some of the most sincere and truthful moments of the story. He’s clearly there for the comedy relief, but the court jester speaks some hard truth. Finally, Deadpool is not our pal. He really has nothing to say to us as this is more of an Avengers/Captain America book.

The story is written by Gerry Duggan who has given us some of the beat Deadpool out there. Storywise, he does draw on some of his Deadpool past and some of his Deadpool family creations. But he is not writing haha hehe Deadpool. He is writing an Avengers tale that is well within the Krakoan Era of X-Men comics, which he has contributed to. He is one of my favorite writers; this is a solid story. Duggan just didn’t write a Deadpool story.

Duggan does rely on the history of Deadpool and the Avengers Unity Squad. Believe it or not, Deadpool is not just an Avenger, but has led and bankrolled the team. A big part of that history is Captain America, and allow me to say again, Wade’s willingness to do anything for him. This story does lead back into that willingness in some of the reveals. What happened shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did as I was expecting the soldier to be someone else. But Duggan really did hint hard at his final reveal.

There is synergy in using Avengers and Deadpool at the same time. There appears to be some sort of Avengers team in Deadpool and Wolverine. And this book does help remind at least comic readers that Deadpool has been associated with the team. Do I think it’s this team…not even close. But it could lean heavily on X-men like this story does since the Deadpool movies have been X-Men heavy and the most exciting trailer reveals have been X-Men heroes and villains.

I will say there is a lot of value in comics in reflecting today and providing stories for moral growth. There are some real ripped-from-the-headline-type moments here which reflect current events and maybe how we should react to these issues. Some may not like where Duggan goes. But as I often say about comics, we need to learn our lessons.

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance
by Gerry Duggan with art by Joshua Cassara is a good story that supports a major Marvel Comics story line with Krakoa. But it’s not the “best” example of what I like about Deadpool. Yeah, I like that the jester is wise! But Wade is definitely a supporting hero, not the lead. So while I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t a good example of my quest to showcase Deadpool. For that, we may need to go further into the past! 


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Monday, July 15, 2024

Between Books - Deadpool by Alyssa Wong Volume 1

Bood cover for Deadpool by Alyssa Wong volume one featuring an image of Deadpool floating in a pool of bodies on a watermelow floatie asking the audience "Literal enough for you?"

Alright, I really like Deadpool! But how does one of the most recentish runs stack up in that fandom!

Deadpool By Alyssa Wong Volume 1 collects the first five issues of the Deadpool main title written by Alyssa Wong with art by Martin Coccolo along with a few pages of material from New Mutants. Two plots slam together in this opening volume! First, Deadpool is given an audition to become a member of Atelier, a super-elite group of assassins you mostly don’t know, in the mission to kill Doctor Octopus. Second, while on this quest, Deadpool is kidnapped by the Harrower, a newish villain, who acts a bit like DC’s Poison Ivy and wishes to use Deadpool to create a new super symbiote. Wade has to balance both Harrower and Atelier. While everyone is trying to kill him, Wade also grows a new child inside him and balances a new girlfriend who may herself be a killer (okay she’s totally an assassin).

Let’s look at what I think makes Deadpool great. First, he is fully trying to build community by joining Atelier, a group of like-minded killers. Maybe it’s not the group that a moral person wants to be part of, but there’s an opening. Second, Wade is fully trying to be better. His audition with Atelier is him seeking validation for the fact that he has improved to an elite level…of killing. But he is also trying to be a great boyfriend with us seeing the growth from courting to officially we are a couple. Let’s also not forget he is working on being a great dad/friend to a new symbiote. Third, the humor that covers the pain here is somewhat on the nose. Harrower’s experiment is unimaginably painful, and Wade never stops the quips or laughing. This is truly a laugh-it-off situation. Finally, is he our pal? Wade does greet us into this story! But Wong does not have him chit-chat with us as much as some may like.

I also need to note for those who don’t like Deadpool, this is really violent. Symbiotes are in the house! And that always brings a level of blood and body horror that others may not enjoy. Visually you get to see why Wade is wearing the red pants. But it’s truly not for me to be so bloody at times because symbiotes are not always kind to bodies. (Disclaimer, I think Marvel overused symbiotes like Venom and Carnage).

A lot of what comics do is work synergy! Deadpool & Wolverine has been on the board for years, and this volume at least does a bad job of preparing fans for a movie. The good of this decision is that Wong was not pushed by a committee to write a Wolverine story and could make story choices beyond that requirement. The New Mutants material fully puts the title in the Krakoan era, where Mutants had their own nation-state. It also reminds us that Deadpool is Mutant adjacent, despite not being one. The use of Doctor Octopus as a target did limit the stakes for me, as I knew that no real harm could come to him in a non-Spidey title. I also am symbioted out (my new phrase). I am just not a fan of Venom and Carnage and all the other symbiotes that Marvel seems to currently be sprinkling everywhere (oh, I already mentioned that). So sadly, there’s no synergy here for me.

Deadpool By Alyssa Wong Volume 1 by Alyssa Wong with art by Martin Coccolo is a fine Deadpool story that hits a lot of the boxes that I like. It is set in the Krakoan era but isn’t shoehorned into that giant arc but it also doesn’t prepare us for a movie. It feels like Wong had some freedom in the creator role which I think is wonderful. But symbiotes are not my favorite thing to find in a Marvel story as a personal story (running theme of this review). 


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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Oswald Opines - Why I Like My Pal Deadpool

Movie Deadpool making a heart with his hands.

I’ve loved Deadpool for decades. I loved Deadpool before he was cool! Deadpool would probably be shocked to find out he is cool!

I get that not everyone is a fan of Deadpool. I have friends who really dislike him. I get thier impressions. Wade Wilson is gross, profane, vile, lacks morals, and is generally a horrible person. He is super violent, he is a merc with a mouth, and he uses it. He murders and kills. Shouldn’t he be a villain? Finally, a lot of times stupidity rules his stories with a large amount of absurdity. Deadpool isn’t for everyone! Even I can find Deadpool stories I don’t like, when the writer feels like Deadpool is just a slashing and shooting machine.

Not to brag, I’ve read at least 115 Deadpool specific titles. This doesn’t even count titles where he was a guest star or regular cast member like X-Force. This makes me feel like I have the receipts to discuss the best part of Deadpool’s story and why I enjoy him so much. The best Deadpool stories have the following qualities:

  • Community: The best Deadpool stories see him trying to create relationships and communities. Wade physically looks horrifying, as highlighted in the Deadpool movie. His costume in’t cute…but it does scream “See Me! Look at Me! Love Me!” So while Deadpool stories often do have a lot of excessive violence, the tortilla of the chimichanga that is wrapped around character moments of an outside seeking to connect with others and feel valued. Deadpool IS NOT a Mutant. Yet for example he is X-men affiliated and a frequent member of the paramilitary Mutant squad X-Force. How did he get placed her, he sought community with Mutants. While he is an unlikable and unlovable outsider who appears to be a solo story, good Deadpool stories have a full cast of community.

  • BetterUp: Wade Wilson is trying to be better. He’s trying to be a better boyfriend…or husband. He wants to be a better friend. Sometimes he wants to be a better hero while other times he wants to be a better murderer. Deadpool in his long history becomes a dad, yeah that’s not a great idea. But he works on being the best dad he can, one who teaches murder but a good dad. In the best Deadpool stories, a basic story construction I see is literally, he’s trying to be better.

  • Laugh Away the Pain: A great Deadpool story needs to have a lot of humor. Often the more absurd the better. Yes, Deadpool boxing zombie Abraham Lincoln has happened and it’s hilarious. But while there is usually a lot of humor, read closely. Wade Wilson and Peter Parker quips are far from the same. Typically Wilson’s cover his own internal pain…pain over his his traumas associated with military service, cancer, non-Mutant-Mutantlike state, broken relationships, and so much more. Wade is broken. He uses comedy to hide this brokenness. Maybe that comedy can also trigger some healing!

  • Your Pal Wade: Deadpool is your friend. He’s going to chat with you while he’s on his madcap adventures. Because your buddies and we all need buddies. How many other comic book heroes can you say that about? Warning: most answers for other 4th Wall Breakers are following Wade’s lead.

I was personally thrilled when Ryan Reynolds was cast as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I thought he was perfect…because of Two Guys, a Girls and a Pizza Place. As Berg, Reynolds balanced comedy with emotion with comedy. And then they SEWED HIS MOUTH SHUT! So no quips to heal trauma. And he couldn’t be our friend. And we couldn’t hear him chit chat with friends. It was a waste! Needless to say when I saw the famous leaked test footage for Deadpool, I was one of those fans screaming TAKE MY MONEY!

In short, Deadpool’s not perfect. But neither am I! He’s an exaggerated version of me and my friends. He’s trying to make himself a better person. He has trauma he is trying to get past, maybe not in a way that everyone can agree with. But he’s trying. And like so many of us he feels isolated and is just trying to create community.

These are just a few reasons why I liked Deadpool before he was cool! Maybe you should give Wade a try and see if he’s the friend you need when you can’t get the one you want.

P.S. If you see the name Joe Kelly or Gerry Duggan, it’s probably really good Deadpool!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Cap's Comics - Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing scrooge swimming in gold coins.
Alex Ross Cover

Disney is having another comic book moment! Not since the days of Disney Kingdoms have we seen Disney push traditional Disney intellectual property into the hands of American comic book readers. And hopeful this time it sticks!

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing a Uncle Scrooge split between good and evil.
Lorenzo Pastrovicchio Variant Cover

“Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1” is a one-shot self-contained story featuring Uncle Scrooge in a multiversal adventure. Jason Aaron leads this effort, a well-renowned, experienced comic creator who loves classic Carl Barks and Don Rosa duck comics. Aaron reaches back to Barks’ “Christmas on Bear Mountain” story and asks what could have happened differently and pushed Scrooge away from family connections. This Scrooge McDuck used the power of his Number One Dime to enter other universes and become the richest duck in all universes, primarily stealing from Scrooge variants. Our hero Scrooge attempts to assemble a team to defeat Scrooge-Above-All and return all of the Uncle Scrooges’ riches. Along with Aaron’s original story, the issue reprints Barks’ “Christmas on Bear Mountain.”

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge in profile wearing a tuxedo and carrying a money bag.
Elizabeth Torque Variant Cover

I love 90% of what Jason Aaron writes. His Original Sin mini-series, how it reframed Nick Fury, and the impact it had on the Marvel universe is one of my favorite stories. He also tends with most of his best work to be dark, edgy, and not kid-friendly. Yet, as I mentioned, he loves duck stories because he shared them with his son. Aaron is a perfect choice for this story. He weaves the history and tradition of what a reader would expect from duck stories, like images and call-outs to Duck Tales, with Marvel story references. With me being more of a Marvel guy than a duck guy, Aaron gave me several Easter Eggs that made me chuckle, and finding myself a little shocked he went there. I also really love the fact that he choose to not make Uncle Scrooge McDuck prime the villain of this story and used a multiversal version to go all Thanos instead.

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing a spacesuited  Uncle Scrooge running through a shower of gold bars
Ron Lim Variant Cover

I don’t know any of the artists. Every chapter has a different artist, and one can tell there are slight art changes. Paolo Mottura, Francesco D’Ippolito penciling with Lucio De Giuseppe inking, Alessandro Pastrovicchio and Vitale Mangiatordi, and finally Giada Perissinotto put Aaron’s words onto the page for each chapter. It makes a lot of sense why these unfamiliar to an American reader names take up the art chores. They are all Italian. And while duck stories fell out of fashion in the United States, duck stories flourished in Italy. And so if Marvel wants to put their best foot forward with this new Marvel Disney mash-up experiment, they have selected the most duck-influenced and experienced artists available. I also don’t think Disney needed a splashy well-known artist as I’m sure that much of the audience they are attempting to attract don’t even know that Jason Aaron is a superstar of the medium. 

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge sitting in floating gold coins.
Frank Miller Variant Cover

I hope this experiment leads to more. Disney has committed to two Donald Duck What If? Stories in the next few months. The ads in the comic advertise younger heroes that may be more all-ages or youth-friendly, all with “Perfect for Younger Readers!” stamps. I think a few years ago, the $7.99 price may have kept some prospective new readers away. But with current costs, it really is a fair price for the issue. I was worried when I saw a reprint that I would not feel like I got enough new material for the price. But I was glad that Bear Mountain was reprinted as Aaron made mention of it as his inspiration. So instead of me needing to track down that story, it was given to me and other readers who may not want to take the time to research it. The next two offerings are under $5 which I think will make them more inquisitive friendly. That under $5 perception could make it feel more budget-friendly, but I assume there will be fewer pages. A parent may be more willing at that price to pick it up for their young reader. I just want to see comics in Walt Disney World since Universal Orlando Resort already has them! 

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge gripping his hat on a roofop.
John Romita Jr. Variant Cover

“Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1” makes me declare, Let’s Go. I really am a Jason Aaron stan so the news of this story instantly caught my attention. Disney and Aaron was a good bet for me. Storywise, it also makes me want to read some of the Barks and Rosa stories, because Aaron makes it clear Uncle Scrooge may be one of the multiverse's greatest adventurers.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Between Books - Before the Birds Sang Words

Book cover for Before the Birds Sang Words with an illustrated macaw sitting on a perch.

I have to beg the Between Kid to enter Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom! Maybe it takes a Dole Whip to get him to agree to enter. Maybe I just have to demand a break in the AC. Cearly, singing colorful birds doesn’t excite him. Now, Pirates of the Caribbean, he can ride all day! And what’s sad about this situation is that José is essential to the story of Jack Sparrow, Elsa, Mr. Potato Head, and Hondo Ohnaka when we see them in the parks today.

Before the Birds Sang Words by Ken Bruce outlines the long, and we mean long, saga of the Disneyland Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. While the attraction may have opened in 1963, Bruce ties the origins of the singing bird attraction not in just the popular tale of the New Orleans bird toy that Walt Disney brought to Imagineering, but even earlier to the astronomical clock in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg in Alsace, France. The 60-foot clock was created in 1354 and seen by Walt as a young Red Cross volunteer and an American businessman visiting France in the 1930s. Bruce uses the clock as a foundation from which he builds intersecting histories of mechanical toys, American views on Tiki and Polynesian culture, and Walt Disney’s development of the American theme park as seen through Disneyland. With Disneyland established, and his gift of a mechanical bird to Imagineering, Disney charged his artists to develop a bird restaurant. This challenge would lead to a ten-year development cycle that includes some of Disney’s most respected artists including John Hench, Marc Davis, Rolly Crump, the Sherman Brothers, Harriet Burns, and numerous other Disney Legends who participated in the evolution of a planned restaurant to a higher-capacity singing bird show. Bruce provides a comprehensive view of the show's development discussing Disneyland food service (can we talk about Stouffer’s Foods friends), Audio-Animatronic development, show scripting, building layout, song selection, recording, and virtually any topic of relevance to the show. Bruce finishes with a discussion of the evolution of the Disneyland attraction and its duplication in other parks like Walt Disney World.

I really enjoyed Before the Birds Sang Words. It is well-organized, well-written, and engaging. As someone who is not in food service, if you had told me that I would be fascinated by a chapter discussing Stouffer’s Foods I would have loudly said that would not happen. But in the big picture of Disneyland and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, this one small detail matters for understanding the relationship between leasees in Disneyland and why Walt Disney moved away from their large role in the park. The quality of the book and its definitive coverage of the attraction is surprising to me due to the fact it’s not a Disney Press edition yet it meets or exceeds the qualities of that press.

I called this story a saga, and it really is. The short story us Disney fans tell is that Walt Disney wanted a bird restaurant, Walt Disney realized that the birds were above the food, and he moved to an attraction. No, this is a ten-year development where technology changed, capacity was better understood, and Tiki culture grew in popularity. What’s also interesting to me is that honestly no one seems to have gotten what they wanted. Marc Davis designs were rejected, along with Rolly Crump’s. I really enjoyed the pages that discussed Davis and Hench working at cross-purposes. Songs were revised by George Bruns. Scripts and roles were changed, taking out some of Wally Boag’s saucy jokes. In the end, the attraction was rarely what anyone truly wanted, but a true collaboration between many visions. Though some would be able to show in the attraction’s evolution that what they wanted likely would have been for the best from the start.

Before the Birds Sang Words
by Ken Bruce is a engaging saga of one Disney attraction. But it’s an attraction who’s impact extends beyond the four corners the bird room. Bruce notes that some like the Between Kid may not be an enthusiastic for singing birds today as in the past. But Bruce gives us a context to better understand how important singing birds really are in Disney history and a chronicle of the hit they really were for Disney fans in Anaheim and beyond. Bruce helps us understand fully the lastly impact of the tiki birds and their entertainment legacy even for those who lack modern interest.

Clearly next time I’m in the park, I need a AC break even if he says no!  Because I love legacy.

Review Copy Provided for Review

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Between Books - There are Dads Way Worse Than You

Book cover for There are Dads Way Worse than You showing an ilustrated Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker looking at Luke's severed hand.

I’m not a card guy. There is part of me that sees a card as a $5 note, which will likely go to recycling in 97% of cases, all numbers being approximate. I’ve kept a few for the notes as they warmed my heart. But let’s be honest most cards go to recycling. I know the one’s I’ve given SHOULD BE RECYCLED.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father
by Glen Boozan and illustrated by Priscilla Witte is what I received from the Between Family in place of a card. The book is simple, are you worried about being a dad? Well, here’s a list of fictional and real dads who quite simply you out Dad daily. The bad dads include Darth Vader (no spoilers as he’s on the cover), Disney villains, and numerous pop culture baddies. Each dad is highlighted with a cute picture and a short narrative of his failure.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father will likely resonate with new dads who are worried about their future parenting triumphs and failures. Geek dads, including Disney ones, will also find themselves amused by the images and memories. I am willing to admit, I may be a better dad than Darth Vader. I did like the BBQ image at the end of the book where my favorite bad dad pairing is playing catch.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father
by Glen Boozan and illustrated by Priscilla Witte is a book that to me is better than a card. And maybe this is what we need to normalize small gift books with heartwarming messages, in place of recycling materials. And hey, those sweet notes we love, you can still add them on the blank pages!

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