While Marvel trots out a parade of Iron Man-themed variant covers across their comic book line this month, the Kevin Maguire-drawn primary cover to "Deadpool" #7 has an Iron Man theme of its own that props up the story inside. In place of the standard-issue recap page, this issue opens with a letter from the editor, explaining what awaits readers inside. It's a silly, campy throwback to comic books of yesterday that included letters from the editor and other comic book mainstays, like "Stan's Soapbox." As such, this issue is positioned as an "inventory issue," allegedly found in the back of a drawer. Writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn ask you to leave the seriousness right there and move forward.
Scott Koblish does a marvelous job recreating he look of the characters from that era in a style plucked from Romita's Raiders. There are hints of early Todd McFarlane, John Byrne, John Romita and Sal Buscema in the artwork Koblish puts down, making "Deadpool" #7 an undoubtedly Marvel comic that could legitimately pass as a lost issue recently found -- except that it features Deadpool.
The comic opens in the Daily Bugle offices with J. Jonah Jameson doling out assignments as Duggan and Posehn attack every opportunity for humor, including Peter Parker suffering from being chronically ignored. Just a few pages in and the duo had me chuckling and snickering at the silliness of this book. Essentially, the issue plays out as a parody of the 1980s comics. Duggan and Posehn use the context of the "Demon in a Bottle" era Iron Man lore to play along with the Iron Man month theme Marvel is using across their line. Mixing Deadpool and a struggling Tony Stark provides some comedy gold, albeit mostly dark humor and much of it at Stark's expense. Embracing the era for all it's worth, the writing duo bring in Angar the Screamer and Power Pack, celebrating Marvel's 1980s eccentricities. There's even a parody of the Hostess ads from that era.
Creatively speaking, the shining star for "Deadpool" #7 is Val Staples. Using Ben-Day dots, Zipatone effects and subtle color commonly found in 1980s newsprint comics, the colorist takes the whole book and really seals the deal. The pages beyond the panel borders have creases and are sun-faded. The colors for the extras marching through the pages are loud and contemporaneous to the palettes of the day, right down to the flamboyant orange Speedo on a Hulkishly familiar (think 1980s) California resident.
Since the Marvel NOW! relaunch afforded me the chance to check out this book, I've been enjoying the adventures of the Merc with a Mouth quite a bit. Previously, Deadpool was an easily ignorable character that played up 1990s tropes and notions I preferred to leave in the past, but the irreverent celebration of Marvel's past (Marvel THEN! as labeled on this issue's cover) in the pages of "Deadpool" #7 proves that humor can be found in everything and some things are simply more prone to it than others. I only hope, like the "Times Past" stories from James Robinson's "Starman" run, readers continue to be treated to Marvel THEN! adventures in the pages of "Deadpool."