Deadpool V Gambit: The ‘V’ Is For ‘Vs’ by Ben Blacker and Ben Acker (graphic novel review)

Another day, another Deadpool team-up as The Merc With The Mouth teams up with the ‘Ragin’ Cajun’ Gambit in order to pull an elaborate con job. As with all con jobs within fiction, nothing goes to plan and both heroes must discover who is lying and who is telling the truth. Which won’t be too easy when they discover that their powers have been messed with.

This is a fun and breezy story, contained over 5 issues, that takes many of its beats from the ‘con artist’ branch of crime stories. Think the ‘Hustle’ TV series, the ‘Now Your See Me’ series of movies, et al. So it features plenty of double and triple crosses and revelation of characters who turn out to be someone completely different from who you originally thought that they would be. This being a Deadpool story, much of this is lampshaded with the titular mercenary berating you for buying a comicbook and expecting super-hero fights. Of course, this in itself is a double cross as, amongst the traditional grifter story, there are plenty of action sequences. These are also done with more than a tongue-in-cheek vibe. Some ‘kung-fu’ sequences delight in naming the moves on offer, amongst them the ‘Standing Kick of the Golden Eunuch’, the ‘March of the Angry Tailor’ and the ‘Just Hitting A Guy With A Thing’ and it all has an air of the ludicrous.

For all the ridiculousness in the story, there is a more serious edge to proceedings when the story moves to the character of the Scrambler. A super-villain trying to go straight, his scenes are slightly clichéd, a former bad guy finds love only to find his old life won’t let him go, yet it provides something of an emotional spine to the craziness that goes on elsewhere. Indeed, while the narrative does become somewhat convoluted, the balance between silliness and the serious is just about pulled off.

Of course, the central joy of this graphic novel is the relationship between Deadpool and Gambit. Deadpool is his usual crazy self while Gambit is the suave ladies man, as if James Bond were suddenly given super-powers. There’s a funny chemistry between the two as their characters play off each other well as they can both believably be both friends and antagonists. Deadpool also gets to indulge in lots of fourth wall breaking, including one moment where he steadfastly tells Gambit that he’ll never get his own movie. Let’s hope Channing Tatum isn’t reading.

This is lightweight stuff but this is not a criticism, it’s just silly and fun super-hero fare that passes the time quite pleasantly. Which, in a comicbook world of constantly exploding universes and life shattering events, is sometimes exactly what you need.

Laurence Boyce

April 2017

(pub: Panini/Marvel. 112 page graphic novel softcover. Price: £11.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-30290-179-0)

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