The first issue of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1 is in stores today. Should you buy it? YES!!!
I didn't realize how much I had missed the old Marvel What If? books until I read Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1, by Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic (check-in on GetGlue here). Readers are familiar with the format, which was responsible for familiarizing thousands of ten-year-olds in the 1980s with the concepts of quantum physics: The Watcher, a bald space-voyeur explains that there are infinite realities and therefore infinite possibilities. In this particular reality, a series of unfortunate events will lead to Deadpool killing the Marvel Universe. Such a concept could easily be gimmicky or inane, but this creative team exceeds all expectations.
Cullen Bunn is part of the next wave of Marvel superstar writers, an up and comer that is obviously being groomed to be one of the next "architects" of Marvel. Using the experience learned over a decade of Joe Quesada's tenure as Marvel's supreme commander, it seems the company is planning to breed a new generation of genetically engineered super-creators. Cullen Bunn comes with a pedigree of indie books at Oni Press, most notably the fantastic supernatural western, The Sixth Gun (and if you haven't read that, close this window right now and go pick up a copy of Volume 1 on Comixology - or read the first issue for free). Marvel started him off on ancillary Fear Itself tie-ins like Fear Itself: The Deep and Fear Itself: The Fearless, and paired him with current generation superstars like Rick Remender on Venom, and has recently unleashed him on high profile books like Wolverine and Captain America and Hawkeye.
In Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1, Bunn takes a character that many have complained has fallen into a rut of goofiness lately and injects some much needed darkness back into the mythos. The book kicks off with the brutal murder of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four, and then flashes back to tell us how our lovable Merc with a Mouth became a cold-blooded killer (again).
How this happens turns Deadpool's current conventions on their heads. Thanks to psychic tinkering by the Psycho Man, the comical "voices" in Deadpool's head, represented in recent years by white and yellow caption boxes, are replaced by a more sinister "red" voice, which presumably is what prompts Deadpool to murder his costumed colleagues. Deadpool himself, whose recent antics might fit in better in a Looney Tunes cartoon than they do in a comic about a gun-toting, psychopathic mercenary become sadistic, ruthless, and effective. It's a return to form for the character, without ignoring years of development. This is still the character we love. He just doesn't love us anymore. It's masterfully executed.
Talajic, who has worked before on Deadpool Team-Up, X-Men, 5 Ronin, and Hit Monkey, does a superb job of bringing the story to life. The art is pristine, and finds a great approach to portraying what is a very dark and gruesome story. The horror is conveyed in the faces of the characters and their actions, rather then through murky shadows and too many lines. The pacing and page design is as clean as the art and colors, making it a pleasure to read as much for the appreciation of craft as for the intriguing story.
With so much crossover madness, political and religious allegory, and other serious business in mainstream comics today, it's nice to find a creative team given the chance to show off how much fun comics can be, even when they're dealing with the depressing psychological breakdown of the protagonist and the presumed murder of all our beloved heroes. The best of the book is something I haven't even mentioned, and won't spoil: an ending which takes Deadpool's penchant for breaking the fourth wall and uses it to put a shocking twist on the Watcher's narrative.
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1 (of 4) is in stores today, and if you don't buy it, you're a fucking idiot.