Taking Another Dip In the Pool


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Deadpool gets another ongoing series this week—his third—but can he support it? Is the character as popular as he appears to be or is he played out?

Superman usually averaged between three to five ongoing series in the past 20 years. Same goes for Batman. Spider-Man is currently down to three, but one of the three appears three times a month. And Wolverine is at four and counting. I keep expecting a new ongoing series for him to be announced any day now. These are just ongoing series and not miniseries, one-shot or guest appearances, otherwise, the numbers would be much higher.

It is a trend that is as old as comic books themselves. If a character is popular enough that they can bring big sales to one particular title, then he can bring them to another two or three titles. When this happens, some fans might complain of overexposure, but even more fans buy the spinoffs.

The latest character to join the multiple series a month club is Deadpool, and his inclusion in this club is puzzling. He doesn’t have the decades of existence behind him. He has only recently made his way into other media.  And his recent return to an ongoing series isn’t breaking any sales records.

Deadpool was created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in the pages of New Mutants #98, way back in 1991. Originally bearing more than a passing similarity to the DC character, Deathstroke, he eventually developed a humorous personality. Imagine if Peter Parker became a cold-blooded assassin instead of a super-hero and times it by ten and you’d get Deadpool.

In May, Deadpool, in the form of his alter ego, Wade Wilson, was a supporting character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It is obvious that both Marvel and the filmmakers expected Wilson to create a big splash. Personally, there was really nothing of the character to grab me, but that didn’t stop FOX from announcing a spin-off Deadpool film.

A new Deadpool series started months before the movie opened. It entered the Diamond 100 chart at #17 before settling into the high 20s, low 30s range. Not a blockbuster success by any means, but respectable. Nonetheless, many eyebrows were raised when a second Deadpool series, Deadpool:Merc with a Mouth was announced. Those eyebrows were raised even higher when tomorrow’s Deadpool #900 was announced.

Originally thought to be a parody of Marvel’s practice of renumbering a series when a certain anniversary is reached, logic being that the just over a year old Deadpool series would be changed to a numbering that doesn’t correspond with it’s total number of issues. Instead, it turns out that this will be the start of a new team-up title that will start at #900 and make its way backward. And this might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

In August, we received the second issue of Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth, the last issue of the Deadpool: Suicide Kings miniseries, and two issues of the regular Deadpool series. The latter is interesting to look at. Issue #14’s orders were about 5,000 less than issue #13’s. Issue 13 did have a variant cover, which would pad its numbers a little, but orders for #14 were 8,000 less than for #12. This seems to indicate that when there is a deluge of Deadpool books on the market, each new series takes copies away from each other rather than building on the numbers.

As witty as the presentation of Deadpool #900 might be, it might be the title that saturates the market for all things Deadpool. Well, at least it was fun while it lasted.

Also out this week:

Web of Spider-Man #1:
It was just last year when Marvel decided that instead of publishing three different Spider-Man books a month, they would instead print one, Amazing Spider-Man, three times a month. The logic, I assume, is that sales would increase because Amazing fans would be compelled to buy every issue of that title where before they could ignore the non-Amazing titles.

Of course, taking that into consideration, starting this new series doesn’t make much sense. Granted, it seems to be a replacement for the Spider-Man Family series, but it is yet another series for Amazing Spider-Man fans to ignore. And now they will have an excuse—they are already buying three Spider-Man books a month. So, any sales increase this one has over Family will be short-lived.

Various (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1:
The basic concept of the House of Mystery series is that the main plot of each issue acts as a frame work for other stories told by the House’s “guests.” That setup is at play here, but this time the stories shine a light on other Vertigo characters and series’.

We will get a new Hellblazer story by its regular team, a new Madame Xanadu by its creative team and two special tales. The first stars the popular Sandman supporting character Merv Pumpkinhead in his first story in eight years. And the second is a sneak preview of the Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s new series, I, Zombie. So, not only is this an annual for one of Vertigo’s best books, but also a sampling of some of its greatest properties. Novice Vertigo fans can treat this as an excellent jumping on point for the entire line.

Various (W), Various (A), DC/Vertigo Comics, $4.99. Annual.

The Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular #1:
Certain comics just lend themselves perfectly to the Halloween holiday. One such comic is the Perhapanauts. A team composed a Chupacabra, a Sasquatch, a Ghost and other strange and mysterious beings who fight extradimensional beings is a natural fit for the spookiest day of the year.

The team returns to Image months after its last miniseries ended with a one-shot featuring a trio of tales designed to both tickle your funny bone and send chills up your spine. If you are a stranger to the Perhapanauts, this special is advertised as an ideal jumping on point. And if the Perhapanauts are old friends of yours, you should be sure not to miss this latest installment of the franchise.

Todd DeZago (W), Various (A), Image Comics, $3.50. One-Shot.

The Anchor #1:
One of the comics that had the biggest buzzes out of San Diego Comic Con this year was The Anchor. It caught the attention of many con attendees, and as well it should. Any series that is compared favorably to Hellboy and The Goon is bound to get noticed. Now the series finally arrives on store shelves.

The Anchor fights demons. Not the most original concept, I know. But the way he fights them is cool. While his body is here on Earth beating any escaped demons into submission with his fists, his soul is standing at the gates of Hell doing the same. It’s a two-front war on evil and those poor demons never had a chance.

Phil Hester (W), Brian Churilla (A), BOOM! Studios, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Jon Sable, Freelance: Ashes in Eden #1:
Jon Sable is a fairly important character in the history of comic books. Jon Sable, Freelance was one of the first books to spearhead the creator-owned, independent comic trend of the 1980s. He was one of the few characters of his era to escape the page and be adapted into another media by being the focus of a 1987 ABC TV series.

Jon Sable has been having a resurgence of sorts, between the ComicMix Website and IDW books. Mike Grell has return to the character he created over a quarter century ago, and this series is a collection of web strips that originally appeared on the ComicMix site.  Fans that missed them the first time around now have another chance to catch up on a classic.

Mike Grell (W/A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. Miniseries.

Don Bluth’s Space Ace #1:
When I was a kid, the biggest things to hit video game arcades were Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. These were not your typical, pixilated games like Asteroids or Frogger. These were more like playable cartoons, with animation provided by the legendary Don Bluth.

Space Ace arrived in 1984, the year after Dragon’s Lair and featured a space-faring hero named Ace who is de-aged by an alien bad guy and must rescue his girlfriend Kimberly as his younger self, a boy named Dexter.

With a premise like that, comic books were a natural avenue for it to go into. And it did, back in 2003 at Crossgen. But, since anything from the 80s that holds at least a modicum of nostalgia is brought back, we have this new series from Arcana. Perhaps the comic could capture a new generation of reader’s imaginations like the video game did years ago. I just hope the series is easier to get through than the game was.

Ryan Foley (W), Paulo Borges (A), Arcana Studio, $3.95. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Liberty Comics #2:
Neil Gaiman is one of the best writers in comics history. Jim Lee is one of the best artists in comics history. But each lived in different worlds—Gaiman, the literate world of Vertigo, Lee, the spandex superhero world of Marvel, Image and Wildstorm—and never would the two worlds meet. A Gaiman/Lee pairing was the most remote of possibilities.

That is, until now. Both creators are joining for a special story in this comic book, which benefits the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. If that wasn’t enough to excite you—and if it wasn’t you should have your head examined—the issue features a new Painkiller Jane story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Jim Rugg and stories by Mike Allred, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Gail Simone, Jason Aaron and many more of the biggest names in comics!

Various (W), Various (A), Image Comics, $4.99. Ongoing Series.

Punisher Frank Castle MAX #75:
When Garth Ennis left this series, I got a feeling that it was only a matter of time before it met its demise. The trio of writers consisting of Gregg Hurwitz, Duane Swierczynski, and Victor Gischler should be given credit for extending the life for 15 more issues.

The problem I felt with the new writing carousel is that while the stories were good, they were not quite Punisher stories (with Swierczynski’s “Six Hours to Kill” coming the closest to a Punisher tale). You got the feeling that you could replace Frank Castle with just about anybody else and still have the same story.

Well, that era is ended and it gets and all-star, double-sized send off. But fans of the mature themed Punisher title should not fret much. The series will be rebooted yet again starting next month with a team that should set your heart racing—Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon.

Various (W), Various (A), MAX/Marvel Comics, $4.99. Final Issue.

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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