Becoming Part of the Adventure in You Are Deadpool 1

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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You Are Deadpool isn’t the first attempt to turn a comic book into a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Not only is Deadpool — the irreverent, fourth-wall crashing, meta-joke of a character — a perfect choice to star in this kind of story, but creators Al Ewing and Salva Espin find inventive, intuitive ways to not only put readers into Deadpool’s shoes, but to make their choices, skills, and even luck truly have an effect on their adventure.

In many ways You Are Deadpool 1 follows the typical “Choose Your Own Adventure” template, giving readers decisions to make and asking them to move forward and backward through the issue (in this case, via numbered panels, which works far better than numbered pages given the size of the book) depending on which choices they make. Where You Are Deadpool stands out, though, is in the RPG elements Ewing and Espin add.

It isn’t just the decisions readers make at prompted moments that change the course of the story. Certain decisions change Deadpool’s stats (his “Sadness” and “Badness” meters), which lead to unpredictable results. Readers are asked to roll a die to determine the outcome of fights, giving forces outside of the readers and Deadpool power over the outcome — just like within the story itself. There’s also an inventory system where readers are allowed to add up to three items “smaller than a breadbox” to Deadpool’s arsenal at any opportunity throughout the issue, with some items later opening up additional story opportunities (and some proving totally useless). Not only is it impossible to know which items will be useful, but the issue rarely points out that you can pick up items at all, leaving the acquisition totally to the reader. It’s a fun opportunity for each reader to customize their adventure and really throw themselves into the story they’re creating; I had to open up a notepad file to keep track of stats and items, but it only made me more invested in the story I was helping to create.

That’s by far the most engaging element of You Are Deadpool, so Ewing and Espin make sure to hit on it as much as possible. It isn’t just our choices that change the story; even our interacting with the comic book’s physical form becomes part of the adventure.

For example, one page asks readers to cut out and construct their own Deadpool dice. The back side of that page, meanwhile, leads to a “game over” scenario where our act of cutting the page up with scissors literally kills Deadpool. It does wonders towards making readers feel like an equal partner in telling this story.

Perhaps the only stumble is asking some readers to wait until issue 3 or 4 (depending on their scores) to continue their adventure. Fortunately, my score allows me to pick right back up with issue 2, but even if it didn’t, You Are Deadpool 1 was fun, unique, and engaging enough that I’d absolutely wait a few weeks to keep playing.

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