Daredevil Deadpool ’97 Annual

 


Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Bernard Chang (Pencils) Jon Holdredge (Inks)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics (September 1997)

 

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to dig up the past.

Sometimes you should just let a sleeping dog lie.

But because Daredevil season 3 is about to hit Netflix, because Typhoid Mary is enjoying her spotlight on Iron Fist’s second season, because there’s an inexplicably undying love for all things Deadpool: because of all these reasons I decided to dig up the past and wake up the sleeping dog that was this single issue.

The basic story has Deadpool develop twisted empathy for Typhoid Mary and track her to New York. She’s there to hunt Daredevil, the man she believes responsible for all her woes. Deadpool hopes to encounter Daredevil first so they can have the classic comic book team up and get Mary the help she needs. Daredevil is skeptical but sides with the less psychotic (no really) Deadpool. The conclusion sees all three use a battle (because this is still 90s comic book storytelling) to work through their issues and tie the story up in a neat little bow. It leaves nothing for the next writer to build upon and no reason for the reader to continue following these characters other than for completions sake (because, again, this is still 90s comic book storytelling).

I was into Kelly’s Deadpool at the time, I was a pre-teen smart ass that liked reading characters who were also smart asses. The art on the regular Deadpool book was cool and innovative for 1997, and the art here by Bernard Chang was clean, fluid, well-constructed and didn’t fall too deep into exaggerated physiques that were all the rage back then. His expression work was good too. But he seemed to favor Deadpool over Daredevil and the story suffers as a result.

Joe Kelly had worked on both eponymous characters. In the case of Deadpool, his work was what rescued the character from being a Spiderman-with-guns-clone from the with-guns-clone-factory that creator Rob Liefeld was operating with impunity.

Kelly’s writing, on reflection, wasn’t yet what it would become by the mid-2000’s. His strength was comedy and super-heroics, not so much theme and character. He wasn’t right for Daredevil. The characterization is way off. Daredevil feels like a bit player in a book whose title bears his name. He should be a cocktail of Atticus Finch, Rocky Marciano, and Robert Redford. Instead, he comes off here as a cardboard stand-in with no volume.

The psychological aspects of the story are left undeveloped. There are at least two characters with which to explore themes of mental illness, adolescent troubles, and identity construction. These are missed opportunities that would have given the story more depth and substance.

A shame, because Frank Miller’s Daredevil had balanced all of this with great action. Although expecting substance and depth from most titles was a big ask at the time, there were still creators who were pulling it off on elsewhere.

In the conclusion to the story, we’re led to believe that, for the characters, digging up the bones of the past can help mend things, bringing them some absolution.

If only that were the case with revisiting the issue itself.

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