It’s ampersand week in the comic reviews with reviews of Mrs. Deadpool & The Howling Commandos and Red Hood & Arsenal!
Mrs. Deadpool & The Howling Commandos #3
As a fan of Marvel’s monsters, I was one of the few people looking forward to Mrs. Deadpool & The Howling Commandos. It’s definitely one of the weirder Secret Wars tie-ins, and isn’t at all essential to the main Marvel event. Gerry Duggan and Salvador Espin’s spin-off stars Shiklah, the vampire bride of Deadpool leading a motley crew of Marvel Monsters in a quest to kill Dracula before Shiklah is married off to him (oh yeah, Deadpool’s dead, for now). It’s nothing hugely groundbreaking, but that’s also where some of the charm in this series lies.
Shiklah has found her way to the Temple of the Manticore, where she will uncover the artifact she needs to destroy Dracula. With the Commandos in tow, they battle against an old wizard, and come out on top with their prize. However, when they return home they find that Dracula has gone insane with bloodlust, and is determined to destroy them and make his way to God Doom himself.
That was a pretty brief synopsis, wasn’t it? Well, that’s because not a whole lot happens in this issue plot wise. Luckily Gerry Duggan makes up for it with some really hilarious interactions between the monsters. Having Frankenstein’s Monster, Werewolf By Night, and others bicker amongst each other and be bossed around by Shiklah is actually way more fun than it sounds, especially when you add in the disembodied spirit of Deadpool trying to communicate with them (his name is in the title after all).
Salvador Espin’s art is pretty much what you’d expect from a book with the name “Deadpool” on it. He has a lot of fun with the weird monster designs, but there’s not much that makes him stand out from the other artists who’ve handled a Deadpool book (or in this case, a tie-in book). That’s not to say his art is bad though. There’s a ton of really cool action scenes, and Espin does a great job of bringing out some of the character reactions that Gerry Duggan writes into the story.
Mrs. Deadpool & The Howling Commandos isn’t an essential Secret Wars book. Hell, it probably wouldn’t even be published if not for Secret Wars and the fact that Marvel was able to work in Deadpool’s name into the title. But it’s a fun book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’ve been craving the Marvel Monsters, then this is definitely the book to pick up.
Red Hood & Arsenal #3
I’m a big fan of The Red Hood, but every time I’ve tried to follow his New 52 series Red Hood & The Outlaws I ended up losing interest. To me, it focused too much on the Outlaws and not enough on Red Hood. Now with the new “DCYou” mini-relaunch, Red Hood has another series, but he’s down one Outlaw. And while that means that Red Hood & Arsenal #3 can focus more on Jason Todd, the Scott Lobdell and Denis Medri series still has some ways to go to get me to rush out and keep getting it.
After helping a high-powered Washington, D.C. agent with her targets, Red Hood and Arsenal are living the high life. That is, until Arsenal reveals that he’s spent all of the money they earned doing the mercenary job on advertisements for the new Freelance Mercenary work that he wants the two of them to take on. This brings Red Hood and Arsenal not only to the attention of their former employer, but also some very bad people, including Underbelly, a weird combination of Clayface, Jabba The Hutt, and Mojo from the X-Men.
Perhaps my biggest issue with this new take on Red Hood & Arsenal is the fact that, well, it’s simply not as funny as writer Scott Lobdell thinks it is. Sure, Jason Todd works as the straight man against Roy Harper’s Arsenal, but at the same time, Arsenal seems like a major screw up, to the point where you have to wonder how the hell he even became Green Arrow’s sidekick in the first place. Lobdell’s (or DC’s) new take on these characters reads like they’re trying to take a page from Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye by having them be really, really flawed, to the point where you wonder why anyone takes them seriously. When Roy brings up the time Jason was a crime boss, it doesn’t just make you long for the days of Red Hood being a bad ass, it takes you out of the story because it’s hard to believe that this is the same character.
Denis Medri’s art is a little too loose at times in this issue, and I hate to say it, but I don’t like his redesign for Red Hood’s outfit. I’m sorry, but just like in Arkham Knight’s DLC with the character, I don’t get why a guy wearing a helmet ALSO needs to wear a hooded sweatshirt (I get that he’s “the Red Hood”, but come on). While Medri’s Red Hood design isn’t the best, he does deliver some really solid action scenes here, and has a knack for penciling some pretty dynamic scenes for Roy and Jason.
There’s a really good final page in Red Hood & Arsenal #3 that almost redeems the whole issue, and while I’ll be checking that one out, if the direction doesn’t start to change on this series soon I’ll probably be bowing out and checking in on Jason at the start of his next series. I can see what Lobdell and Medri are going for, but I’m just not feeling it.