DEADPOOL is on the right track again. For a while, this book was not focusing on the interesting parts of his character in favor of having him do random silly things, but this issue got into his empathetic side. Plus, we get a bonus issue of Shakespearian Deadpool! Neither story is perfect, but they both touch on what makes this book worthwhile to read.

READ: Catch up on last week’s issue with our review!

This issue opens with a bizarre scene of Deadpool and Bob robbing a jewelry store dressed as Santa. It struck me as odd considering this issue came out days before Halloween. One would expect a character that breaks the fourth wall as much as Deadpool to call out this premature celebration. He then opens a file that gives us details on Madcap’s origins. He was a regular guy who got hit by a truck carrying chemicals, which gave him the ability to heal from any wound, but also kept him from feeling anything beyond his own madness. I was happy to get some backstory on the character, but the origin story felt a little cliché. Let’s face it, getting hit by a truck of chemicals had been played out, but it did do a good job of explaining Madcap’s motivation to wreak havoc. He’s projecting his own insanity onto the world.

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We get to see Madcap at his worst. He’s infected some Central Park zookeepers with his madness in order to use them as his henchmen. This leads to a pretty funny fight scene between the henchmen and Deadpool. The only thing they’re able to say is “boop” and at one point, Deadpool pegs one of them in the head with a penguin. Things take a dark turn once Madcap shows up. He is still a parasite attached to a man. I loved this art–it’s horrifying and I cringe every time I look at it. Madcap grows out of another human being. It’s disgusting. It reminds me of body horror films like THE THINGand Matteo Lolli conveys this gory aesthetic well.

He commands all the henchmen to throw themselves into the tiger pit and sprays Deadpool with a toxin that blocks his healing factor, leaving him helpless to save these innocent lives. I loved seeing Deadpool hopelessly desperate. Despite all the wrong he’s done, he genuinely wants to help these zookeepers, and my heart breaks for him. It shows how Madcap can mess with Deadpool on a psychological level, which makes him a villain I love to hate.

READ: Wonder what happens when Deadpool gets the Venom symbiote? Chaos of course!

The next chapter of this double issue is Shakespearian Deadpool. It reminds me a lot of DEADPOOL KILLUSTRATED, which initially struck me as a trope that was getting played out. I still think putting him in other famous literature is unoriginal, but this sets it apart by staying more faithful to the literature it evokes. All of his speech is written in iambic pentameter by Ian Doescher. It’s a thrill to read if you’re a Shakespeare nerd like me, but even if you’re not super into Shakespeare, this issue is still enjoyable because of the little things.

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Although characters from other Shakespeare plays show up, like Falstaff and Juliet, the plot is loosely based on Hamlet: Deadpool is told by the ghost of a king to avenge his death. Deadpool is fully aware that he’s fictitious, and causes plenty of mayhem while garbed in a Elizabethan costume. He even makes some hilarious quips when the comic directly quotes Shakespeare. It’s a fun story with an appropriate amount of gore–it’s odd to think about how Shakespearian tragedies and Deadpool have a lot in common. They both have quips, violence, love and betrayal, and a fun one-shot story like this is a great place to explore these themes.

Double issues are always awkward to analyze, but they’re a lot of fun to read! These two in particular strike a good balance. The Madcap story covers some serious parts of the Merc with a Mouth’s current situation, while the Shakespeare parody shows he still has a lighter side. One side should not be sacrificed for the sake of the other, and hopefully, this balance will continue to be struck throughout the run of the series.

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