AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe/Deadpool Killustrated
(Art by Dalibor Talajic, Matteo Lolli and Sean Parsons)
An omnibus containing the first two parts of the 'Deadpool Kills...' series. The premise of the series is that when a supervillain tries to brainwash Deadpool, he instead opens Wade's mind to true realisation that not only is he a fictional character but somewhere out there are Creators who are responsible for making all their creations suffer. Deadpool decides that the only way to defeat the Creators is to destroy their creation and sets out to kill all the protagonists and antagonists of the Marvel Universe. He then realises that he has to also destroy the inspiration for those he's killed and sets off into classic literature to kill the characters therein, from Dracula to Tom Sawyer.
The concept of this book is, appropriately for a Deadpool story, very meta. I really liked the idea that Deadpool believes he is saving his fellow characters from suffering by killing fiction itself. Also by having him interact with the famous faces not only of his own universe but of various classic works of literature, there's plenty of opportunities for him to exercise his scathing wit. I also liked seeing, in 'Deadpool Killustrated', the way in which Wade has visions of characters inspired by those he's killing. For example, killing Captain Ahab gives him a sudden vision of General Ross and Captain Nemo briefly becomes Magneto.
Where this book is a bit lacking is in its delivery of its concept. Start to finish it's basically just a salacious gore-fest in which major characters are written-out left, right and centre. There's little chance for any of the deaths to actually impact on the reader before we're straight on to the next one (or six). Really, it's as if someone were to take the first ten minutes of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (the movie, that is) or the last five minutes of 'Avengers: Infinity War' and just make an entire story of iconic heroes dying horrifically without much else.
If you're the sort who wants to see Spider-Man shot in the face then this should appeal to you, but for me it all seemed fairly shallow in all but concept. Although I have to say that even I enjoyed seeing Deadpool getting his hand chopped off by Mulan shortly before Sherlock Holmes punches him in the face.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Darth Maul
(Art by Luke Ross)
Not to be confused with the Ron Marz book of the same name (this one's published by Marvel and that one was by Dark Horse), this is nevertheless set in the same time period; not long before 'The Phantom Menace'. Here Maul learns of a captured Jedi Padawan being auctioned off by criminals and, eager to test himself against a Jedi, defies Darth Sidious in order to seek out this unique prey.
Whilst I say that it's not to be confused with Marz's book, it has to be said that the content and themes are incredibly similar. Elements such as Maul cutting swathes through criminal adversaries and leaving no witnesses who can report that he's a Sith are very much the same. There are three major things that differentiate the two books, however; two positive and one negative.
The most obvious positive new element is the inclusion of Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis, who proves a suitable challenge for Maul not only in martial prowess but in her single-minded and fearless dedication to the Force. Fans of the old EU will undoubtedly compare this relationship to the similar Maul/Padawan one from Michael Reaves' 'Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter' novel and where this book proves innovative is in having Maul actually develop respect for the Jedi alongside his rage.
The negative new element is the inclusion of bounty hunters Aurra Sing and Cad Bane. Really this should have been the book's best element since Maul, Sing and Bane constitute some of the best villains active in the prequel era and having them share the stage had great potential. Sadly that potential is somewhat wasted and both bounty hunters come off seeming a little shoe-horned in. I kept hoping for the sort of great bounty hunter/Sith interactions that Darth Vader's perennial partnerships with Boba Fett have yielded over the years, but that dynamic never materialises.
The final positive new element is Ross' wonderful artwork. In particular, his shadow-laden glowing-eyed depictions of the two Sith Lords bring some fantastic atmosphere to the book.
You'll notice that much of this review consists of comparing this book to other Darth Maul stories and therein lies the biggest challenge for books of (evil) Disney's rebooted canon: avoiding rehashing old material. The truth is, here, I don't feel that Bunn entirely succeeded. However, if you've not followed Maul's adventures in the old Expanded Universe then you'll enjoy coming to this book fresh in a way that I couldn't.
3 out of 5