Today, Michael and Ryan M. are discussing Deadpool the Duck 2, originally released January 18th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: Two characters from different backgrounds with different points of view are forced into a situation where they have to rely on one another. This is a story concept that has been executed countless times over many different genres, usually for comedic effect. It’s a simple formula that has been repeated so much because it works so well. It’s an easy shorthand that allows our brain to enjoy a story and know where the characters stand: yin and yang, dark and light, straight man and jokester, etc. Deadpool the Duck 2 continues that time-honored tradition of the “odd couple”, but does it work?
Deadpool the Duck 2 opens with Howard the Duck and Deadpool fused together in one body after a space-rabies infected Rocket Raccoon bites Deadpool’s teleporter last issue. Howard realizes the situation that they have landed themselves in while Deadpool barfs…a lot. In order to fix their problem they hop in the spaceship that rabid Rocket landed in and pilot it back to its home base: a Roxxon satellite. After quipping with a comically foreign janitor, Deadpool trades some blows with a security guard before she reveals that the satellite is set to explode in two minutes. Peril!
To answer my own question: Do Howard the Duck and Deadpool work together as an odd couple? Yes. I think one of the reasons that we find Deadpool so appealing is that he’s enjoyable when he’s paired up with almost anyone. Deadpool’s complete insanity and off-topic single-mindedness instantly make anyone he’s around the straight man. Deadpool is the child with the short attention span that you have to constantly get back on track. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about our feathered friend Howard the Duck, but his hard-nosed detective sensibilities seem to make him an ideal choice for the voice of reason that is trying to reign in ‘ol Wade.
I’ve read nearly all of Gerry Duggan’s take on Deadpool – the sympathetic nutjob – but Stuart Moore’s characterization hearkens back to the Deadpool of yore: self-centered and talking to the voices in his head. That’s not an indictment by any means, I actually enjoyed this more “classic” version of Deadpoolio. I will admit to a bit of disappointment that Howard replaced “Ghost Logan the Wolverine” as the voice in Wade’s head. I think it would be fun to see all three characters interacting, but maybe that would be one voice too many.
Like I said before, the Deadpool of Deadpool the Duck 2 is a jackass. He’s never wrong, always justified in his irrational behavior and for a guy who has someone else rattling around in his brain, very insular. Wade has a running gag of how he’s going to turn Rocket Raccoon into a hat, looks at his own reflection and laughs to himself at the idea of a duck wearing a hat. It’s a goofy moment that gives us insight into Deadpool’s unique sense of humor but it’s also reinforces that idea that he’s alone, cooperating with no one.
Deadpool’s insanity veers away from his typical meta-awareness but briefly brushes up against the forth wall as he questions the “accent humor” at play. Jacopo Camagni has Deadpool the Duck look at the audience in frustration, making me realize how perfect this marriage of Deadpool and Howard the Duck can be. This image evokes all of the Looney Tunes that has ever been Looney Tuned: Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, fed up with the story that they’ve been put in.
One of the rules of comedy is repetition, of which there is plenty of in Deadpool the Duck 2. There’s the aforementioned Rocket Raccoon-as-hat bit, the janitor’s accent humor and Deadpool’s constant barfing at the beginning of the issue. The barf gag got old real quick but I was all on board for the “accent humor” bit, which was less about the accent itself and more about Deadpool’s maddening obsession with it. First he’s questioning why that kind of joke is being made, then he’s distracted by its origin to the point where it’s more important to him than the fact that they’re all about to be blown up.
Ryan, how did you find this issue? Do you have any more insight on Howard the Duck than my simplification of straight man? Was I too harsh on ‘ol Pool being a self-centered jackass? I found myself a little confused of the choreography of their ship landing on the satellite – was that just me? Finally, wouldn’t this series be infinitely better if it was Deadpool the Duck: The Merc with a Beak???
Ryan M.: Totally. The Merc with a Beak is a great subtitle, especially because it keep the focus with Deadpool in the same way that the book does. Though the story is set up to like a team up, the issue is really Deadpool with a dash of Duck. This sells Howard short, as his personality is nearly drowned out by Deadpool’s brash behavior. It’s true that anyone spending time with Deadpool is the straight man by default. There are efforts to create a balance, but the deck is stacked against the duck.
The issue opens with Howard’s narration. We are in his mind, getting his read on the situation. Moore gives us two panels where Howard is the dominant voice and then for the rest of the issue, it’s the Deadpool show. That’s to be expected as Deadpool is a big character and in this plot has control of their shared body, but it leaves the story feeling one sided.
Part of Deadpool’s appeal is that he has no filter between his inane thoughts and what comes out of his mouth. He doesn’t practice empathy because he is pure id. That can be entertaining, especially when the story is all about him. His adventures are enhanced by the fact that he will act impulsively and surprisingly with no regard for the things that would give other characters pause.
Deadpool’s voice overpowers the rest of the narrative here. I have no idea what Howard wants or is thinking about the situation. He is forced into a reactive position. This is compounded by Howard’s facial expressions. Camagni renders Howard’s floating head with one of two expressions throughout the issue. Either one or both of Howard’s brows is furrowed in frustration. It makes it hard to get insight into what Howard is thinking, but we still have the narration sprinkled without.
In the few moments that Camagni gives Howard more expression, it can be effective, such as the moment where Deadpool decides to dock the ship himself.
Not only does it look pretty cool to have the warp lines go through Howard’s face, we get an actual emotional reaction from him with limited commentary from Deadpool. It’s one of the few places in the book where the dynamic between them is more than “Deadpool is a jackass and Howard is frustrated.”
Deadpool’s behavior forces the reader into his perspective, so when Howard’s thoughts come through it feels intrusive. There is so much dialogue in this book, that the beats of the plot barely have time to land on the characters before they are moving on to the next joke and Deadpool’s commentary on it. It makes for cramped panels that sap out some of the emotion inherent to the story.
The plot moves forward in this issue and we start to see where Moore and Camagni are taking us. It looks like Howard is going to start to exert some control over the body he shares with Deadpool. It could be a good time, as long as Deadpool doesn’t eclipse everything else.
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