The first ‘season’ of “Deadpool MAX” draws to a close by killing a large chunk of Cincinnati and cementing the bond between Hydra Bob and Deadpool that’s been building over the course of the title’s first year. Between all of the violence, the horrible childhoods, the gratuitous sex, the damaged psyches, and more mockery of regular Marvel heroes than you’d expect, “Deadpool MAX” has been telling a simple story of the growing friendship between Bob and Deadpool. Putting behind them the lies, the betrayals, the manipulations, and the almost-killings, the two finally become the best buddy duo they were always meant to be. It’s a shame all it takes is a giant plot to melt people and pin it on Bob for that to happen.
Inverting the dynamic between the two up to this point, Bob is a basket case being led around by the calm, methodical Deadpool. Deadpool as the straight man to Bob’s craziness works surprisingly well, partly because the regular Deadpool charm comes through at times, like his freakout at the mention of Hydra or when they bust in on the Taskmater’s terrorist hideout. Mostly, though, his focus is funnier, because it’s Deadpool saying these superserious things while dressed like an idiot. At one point, he’s wearing a suit and tie over his costume, complete with bandages to hide his mask. Even when he tries to be ‘normal,’ Deadpool is a weird guy and his attempts to be a regular secret agent only highlight his weirdness.
The plot of the issue is fairly straight forward: Bob and Deadpool need to stop the Taskmaster and Hydra from unleashing Liquid X bombs on Cincinnati, while also avoiding the plans of the agency to let the bombs detonate and pin the entire thing on Bob. In their journey, Bob and Deadpool bond, mostly through Bob finally coming clean about his lies, his role in creating Hydra, and what sort of person he is, and Deadpool stepping up and recognizing that Bob is, in his words, a fool. That Deadpool is willing to help Bob out demonstrates how screwed up he is, oddly making them a perfect pair.
What makes Kyle Baker so effective as an artist on this title is his use of that “Mad Magazine” style of art that’s both serious and ‘realistic,’ while containing a mocking tone. It’s art that embodies the spirit of the comic. He makes absurdity look normal and normalcy look absurd, creating this strange world where nothing is quite right and, yet, it seems much like our own. He knows how to make Deadpool (in his suit and bandages) riding an escalator funny -- namely, by not making it crazy or wacky. Whereas, when Bob breaks down, it’s the most melodramatic rain of tears you’ve ever seen, immediately washed away like it never happened.
“Deadpool MAX” #12 both ends the first year/season of the book and sets into motion the premise for “Deadpool MAX II,” which begins next month. Finally, Deadpool and Bob come together as the comic book secret agent bosom buddies they were always destined to be. It’s a shame about all of those folks in Cincinnati. Really.