“…” – Teller
Writer: Penn Jillette
Artist: Scott Koblish
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Jordan D. White and Nick Lowe
So we hit that point in schedule where we are getting another fill in issue on this title. Always interesting as the results on these up to this point have been at both ends of the spectrum. Both the best and worst issues came from a fill in. The worst had a celebrity writer and the best had Scott Koblish on art. So this issue could bring use anything.
Deadpool is facing of against celebrity magician and this book’s author Penn Jillette in a game of poker. Deadpool loses the hand and as per the bet he has to become Teller for a week (Penn’s partner). Teller takes this opportunity to become Deadpool and live out his dream of being a super hero. He teams up with Spidey to stop a Tarot card based villain and saves the day with some sleight of hand. Meanwhile Penn introduces a disbarment act, using Deadpool’s healing powers, to his stage show. Audiences are not happy though when the real teller returns and that trick is no longer available.
So I was worried going in to this issue. Celebrity writers do concern me a bit. Then came the amount of fourth wall breaks on the first page. I do worry about writers new to Deadpool overusing this aspect of the character for easy jokes. I was surprised however to find Penn soon won me over not by stopping the jokes but going full on ‘meta’ fourth wall break with the opening. You have two characters (one the literal author of the book) knowing they are in a comic arguing a about the structure of fourth wall breaking. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I do enjoy a good forth wall deconstruction and Meta dialog when done correctly. Penn telling the artist to draw what is needed. Penn informing Deadpool the only reason he knows the odd’s are because he wrote it.
I did find myself also getting into the poker theme. When you think of Penn and Teller you can’t help but think of Las Vegas. Having the poker them did feel like a natural way to have these characters meet and Penn obviously knows his cards, the way the story structure lays out the reveal of the winning hand does work for a card shark or someone who has never played without feeling like it ‘played’ sharply to any audience.
Teller taking over, as Deadpool, is a fun side story here. For those that don’t know the gimmick of Teller is that he never actually speaks. So having Teller in the role of ‘merc with a mouth’ is obviously juxtaposition. Spidey is played a little stupid here for my liking; he is perplexed by Deadpool’s silence and wondering why Wade is not speaking to him. Yet the way Koblish draws Teller in the Deadpool suite, this is clearly a different man under the mask. The continuity of this issue is drawn into question as is all the other “fill ins”. I’m in the camp of making this out of continuity for Spider-man’s lack of perception here. Normally my excuse for it possibly being both is that Deadpool is the unreliable narrator, well here Penn is our Narrator, who is a professional deceiver, so the rule works for him to.
The two have a battle against a woman with Tarot card based powers called Tarot. Interesting concept for a villain who I believe is new (someone correct me if I’m wrong). What I really dug here was that it was actually Tellers sleight of hand skills that saved the day. He got to get in there and make a difference rather than just run around.
The sad factor for me was the Spider-man really wasn’t utilized. He really could have been any character in this role. I do think a character needed to be here to bounce off Teller but nothing felt special to Peter as a character.
Deadpool and Penn’s adventure plays out as you may expect, Deadpool being gagged so not to speak, and his healing factor being put violently into the act.
One joke that tickled me for personal reasons though came at the end when a man was explaining to pen and teller he wanted to see the dismemberment act or get a refund on his money. Pen states how articulate his audience members are. For some reason people yelling in areas people are meant to be reserved in and the speaker engaging with the heckler politely really tickles my funny bone. Cant say this joke will appeal to most but it did have me laughing on the train.
Scott Koblish is a guy I could sing the praises of all day. This issue was a little odd in that this was his own style of art where normally I have been seeing him homage other styles but its still just as good here. While it may not stand out look at his brilliant layouts, he managed to conveyer a poker game in comic form. That’s no easy feat.
I also appreciate the fact that he didn’t trace photo images of Penn and Teller but drew them as characters. You could still distinctly tell who it was. More than that look at the movements he gives them. These are very much the way they move on stage.
All in All
For a stunt celebrity issue? This went very swimmingly. I’m not going to say its perfect but it is better than it probably could have been. Some good jokes, Meta text debate, Fantastic art craftsmanship …it has some great pros, and its cons, lack of Spider-man as a character and forgettable second act are not to terrible for a new writer. If you were interested in checking this issue before or a Penn and Teller fan, I’d recommend it to you. If you just wanted a good Spider-man story or the main arc from Spider-man/Deadpool than I’d say you could skip this one.