A first issue filled with jokes and explosions, DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 pits fan favorite antiheroes against one another in an exciting conflict. Writer Fred Van Lente’s story moves at a breakneck pace. Artist Pere Pérez renders each element of the story in striking detail.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 begins at a gambling club aptly named VS., where lowlifes gamble on televised fights between heroes and villains. The Punisher, having infiltrated the club, starts shooting everyone in VS. and is about to kill the club’s owner, Radovan Jankovic, when Jankovic saves himself by promising to help the Punisher take down a bigger target—the Bank, a money launderer with criminal ties and close friend of Deadpool. The main characters finally meet when the Punisher breaks into the Bank’s house, where the Merc with a Mouth sits on the couch, eating chips and dip. Deadpool comes to his friend’s need, and the two antiheroes clash in a fight sequence featuring tons of bullets, blood, and even a few emotions.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1
Image from DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The issue moves fast. DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 leaves enough room for the glorious gunfight central to the story, but Van Lente also effectively weaves in character drama. He alternates between the main characters’ viewpoints, familiarizing us with their ambiguous systems of morality. The Punisher’s is revealed through the slaughter of criminals that opens the book, and even Deadpool, who is often completely amoral, has someone to fight for—the Bank’s son, who runs around in a Deadpool mask and calls him “Uncle Wade.” The writer tugs us back and forth, never letting our allegiance lie with one character for too long.

Too Much Punisher in DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1?

As wonderful as Van Lente’s focus on the Punisher and Deadpool is, however, it does hamper other elements of the book. The other characters, whose voices are not as fleshed out, sometimes deliver cheesy lines that I’m sure have appeared in a thousand Marvel comics before. Even more detrimental to the story, the effective characterization and gorgeous action scenes come at the cost of plot. The issue ends abruptly with an anticlimactic page that I can attribute only to Van Lente’s running out of space.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1
Image from DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The Art in DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1

Pere Pérez’s art succeeds across the board, but the faces he draws are the most exceptional part of the book. His faces are some of the most expressive and realistic in comics today, yet they never approach the uncanny valley. Ruth Redmond’s coloring also shines, beautifully capturing the dark grittiness of VS., the Bank’s bland mansion and its surrounding autumn foliage, and the diverse oranges and reds of gunfire and explosions. Perhaps the most unique element of the book’s art is the often-unconventional arrangement of panels. No page looks the same, and, particularly in action scenes, the panel layout moves the eye seamlessly through the page. A few pages, however, become cluttered and confusing and would benefit from a simpler composition.

WATCH: Want more Pere Pérez? See our interview with Pérez and Andres Guinaldo at Philadelphia Wizard World 2016!

The Bottom Line

Despite some issues with writing, DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 is a solid first issue. It grips you with breathtaking artwork and heart-stopping action. It does not fail to deliver deeper character moments. This is a promising start to the five-part miniseries, and I can’t wait to see what this formidable creative team delivers next month.

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DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 BY FRED VAN LENTE AND PERE PÉREZ
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
Filled with quips and explosions, DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1 is a whirlwind of action with outstanding art and characterization.
85 %
AN EXCITING START

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