DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4 BY FRED VAN LENTE AND PERE PÉREZ
Characterization
Art
Plot
Summary
DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4 serves up expert characterization and action that'll get your blood pumping.
87 %
A real kick to the face
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DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4, the penultimate issue of the miniseries, ticks all the right boxes. This issue is just as action-packed and exciting as its predecessors, with a bit of the good ol’ feels thrown in. While one might expect the issue-by-issue set up pattern to get old — Deadpool ends each issue with a bullet to the brain, only to wake up in the next one with no memories — writer Fred Van Lente always keeps it interesting.

In this issue, Deadpool wakes up on a barge and goes exploring, finding Hudson Banks, the son of his friend/accountant, Simon Banks. As Hudson, who lost his mother to Taskmaster in the last issue, brings Deadpool up to speed, The Punisher and Taskmaster battle it out. When Deadpool learns of the loss of his friend, he jumps into the fray, and blood really begins to fly.

A Hell of a Team

For two characters who walk through life so differently, Deadpool and The Punisher make a surprisingly cohesive team. Deep down they’re not so different: neither are strangers to loss and pain. Deadpool may go through his life cracking jokes while The Punisher is ruthless and cold, but at the end of the day, they both have a lot of blood on their hands.

READ: Love Deadpool? Check out this review of DEADPOOL #29!

Van Lente does a pretty excellent job of balancing both of the main characters in this issue. There’s never a point where I feel one is upstaging the other. Deadpool and The Punisher are both very distinct characters, but they never clash. I mean, sure, they clash in battle, but their dialogue and interactions don’t seem forced. Somehow, DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4 manages to take the absurdity of Deadpool and mix it with the grittiness of The Punisher to create a gorier take on “the Odd Couple” trope.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4
Image from DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4, courtesy of Marvel.

A Punch to the Pathos

I’m personally not always a fan of the “loss of innocence” trope, but the way that DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4 handles Hudson’s tragedy is an exception. Throughout this miniseries, it’s plain to see that Hudson is a brilliant kid who is being misused by his father. In issue #3, Hudson watches Taskmaster decapitate his mother. This issue deals with the fallout of that.

READ: More of a Punisher fan? Check out this review of THE PUNISHER #1!

When Deadpool is still stumbling along confused, he finds Hudson and asks him if they’re in the afterlife. Hudson tells him that he knows that they’re not — because his mother isn’t there. With tears streaming down the boy’s face, he wishes The Punisher and Taskmaster dead. How many heroes and villains’ origin stories stem from dead parents? If Hudson’s story were to continue in comics, who would he become?

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4
Image from DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4, courtesy of Marvel.

Near the end of this issue, Hudson has his own miniature stand-off with Taskmaster. It makes Hudson all the more interesting, and raises a dozen more questions in me. Maybe the kid will fade into comic obscurity like so many others written-off as collateral damage. However, I’ve grown attached to him. I think his complicated emotions and situation would make for an interesting recurring character.

Ass-Kicking Artwork

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4 is overloaded with fight sequences which can be tricky to portray in artwork. Personally, flipping through page after page of punches can get tedious most of the time. However, artist Pere Pérez does a wonderful job of making the action dynamic. Fists and knees hurl in from every direction, and the moves get increasingly creative.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4
Image from DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4, courtesy of Marvel.

Unfortunately, I think the flow of the artwork can sometimes get a bit confusing. At times, Pérez employs a boxier, disjointed style for the panel layout, which made it difficult in tracking the order of the action. Some pages have a lot of smaller panels to show more detailed action, but they’re also tilted and skewed in a way which doesn’t progress in a way one can immediately pick up on. This matter is exacerbated in portions of the fight where there’s dialogue. It definitely took me out of the story as I trudged through how to follow the panels.

Last Words on DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #4

Overall, this issue is a good read. Is plot sacrificed for epic combat sequences? Definitely. However, I think one expects that in a team up like this. This was an especially plot-light issue, but I have faith that the conclusion will pick up the slack.

READ: If you love crossovers, check out this review of SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #13!

The ending of this issue was especially satisfying. Without giving too much away, Van Lente set up a pattern with the previous issues and then decisively broke it here. While the storyline didn’t have me completely engaged, the cliffhanger certainly has me squirming in my seat for the next issue.

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