The latest “Deadpool Versus” saga saw Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #4 released this week. I’ve maintained high hopes because of my reverence for the characters and my admiration for last year’s Deadpool vs. The Punisher. Unfortunately, this series has done little more than elicit a small chuckle and generate a yearning for the story to break the tiresome mutant-centric story mold. Issue #4 is the strongest issue of the series, but that’s not saying much.
So far, the art hasn’t wowed me, it seems to be there because, you know, comics need pictures. But this issue got my attention with Mike Henderson’s exquisitely detailed violence. Deadpool assumes control of Logan’s claws for a quick but brutal sequence, and Logan goes on a classic Wolverine decapitation and dismemberment rampage in a gorgeous splash page drenched in red by colorist Lee Loughridge.
Issue #4 features more typical Wolverine and Deadpool mayhem than the first three issues combined, drawn and colored to showcase their savage fighting styles in a manner that obeys the reality of vicious swordplay. Multiple heads are lopped off, legs are hacked in half below the knee, and blood drips from nearly every page. Action sequences are all too often drawn incomprehensibly or unrealistically-swords draw no blood and characters are thrown about while physics are ignored- but Henderson and Loughridge nail each fight.
That said, there’s not much to the art beyond those fight scenes.It’s not bad—just nothing special.
Art Score: 8
Deadpool is no stranger to being paired with humorless X-Men–his “best friend” is jokeless Cable —and Old Man Logan is no exception. However, whereas Deadpool’s adventures with Cable provided pages of laugh–out-loud exchanges, the banter between Wade and Logan continues to be unrepentantly dry—and not in a British humor kind of way
There are a few of chuckle-worthy moments from Deadpool, especially at the opening as he puts his own spin on signature Wolverine lines while sporting his adamantium claws. The final sequence also provides a couple of yucks, especially one pun that you know writer Declan Shalvey has been saving since he started the series. However, there isn’t a quip throughout the issue that made me really guffaw. It’s all kind of just lighthearted repartee, never achieving hilarious or, for that matter, profound.
I’ve read worse, but I’ve read a lot better.
Dialogue Score: 6
The Narrative (minor spoilers ahead):
The story arc is ordinary--classic Weapon-X style arc where some paramilitary force kidnaps a mutant whose powers they’d like to weaponize. This story is disheartening because it has the chance to do something different while also exploring more deeply Deadpool’s recent return to antihero status; however, both opportunities are squandered.
As Logan recedes from his berserker rage, the dying paramilitary leader whispers something readers aren’t privy to into Logan’s ear. This is the first sense that the series may present a more complicated backstory to this kidnapped mutant’s gift outside of the “she’s a very powerful mutant” trope. Shalvey had a chance to make this story darker, unique even. Instead, it’s eventually revealed that Logan was told that the mutant is “too dangerous” and is better off with this paramilitary outfit, so he must stop her and Deadpool from leaving. It’s nothing more than a lazy cop out to pit Deadpool and Logan against each other in the final issue rather than take a chance at adding complexity to the young mutant-- such as saying her mutation holds the cure to cancer and that’s what this organization is actually after. Not to mention that she’s still WA-A-A-AY less dangerous than both Deadpool and Logan.
Regarding the impending showdown between the titular characters set for the next (and hopefully final) issue, it seemed like a missed opportunity to distance Deadpool further from the hero status that he lost during the harrowing events of Secret Empire. If you’ve been keeping up with Deadpool, his inclination to play the hero opposite Logan’s bad-guy demeanor should seem completely out of character. It’s clear that Deadpool is done playing the hero, no longer concerned about whether or not he is judged for the decisions he makes. It makes far more sense to reverse the roles in this issue: Deadpool should be the one trying to stop Logan and the girl from escaping, especially if it paints him in a villainous light.
This story doesn’t take a single risk or deviate from the stereotypical mutant-centric plot at all.
Narrative Score: 5
Final Score: 6.3, Okay
These “versus” titles are rarely groundbreaking, but that doesn’t mean they have to be utterly cookie cutter. Deadpool vs. The Punisher tells a hilarious story that dives into Wade Wilson’s familial side, and 1987’s Spider-Man vs. Wolverine examines international politics in a wild tale about two classic heroes. Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #4 isn’t a bad book, it’s a quick, enjoyable read. Sadly, it still tells a tried, true, used, and abused story that doesn’t stray from established tropes whatsoever.