Friday, June 6, 2014

Deadpool Made Me A Hipster

For many, many years I've tried to avoid the smug condensation that comes with telling people "oh, I've been a fan of that a lot longer than you have" or "I remember when it was fresh and new" or "it was better back then."

But there's one topic, one character from comics who, whenever I hear people talk about how great he is and how original he is, it's extremely hard to not speak up about the old days and how much fun the character was then.

Of course, I'm talking about Deadpool.

Deadpool's rise to fame is really nothing short of miraculous.  Created in the 90's by Rob Liefeld amidst other junk characters like Crule, Gideon, the Mutant Liberation Front, Domino, Feral (the list goes on and on), Deadpool was essentially a throwaway character that, somehow, people responded to.  He had a few (terrible) miniseries, but it wasn't until Joe Kelly launched his ongoing series that his popularity suddenly started to take off.  Consistently funny, breaking the fourth wall a lot more than he ever did before, and being self-aware about how ridiculous it is to be in a comic book all lead to something not seen since She-Hulk was threatening the writer of her book for making her jump rope for several pages while naked.

The series had its high and low points (the Christopher Priest years are generally considered to be the "low" period of that first run), but later stuff involving T-Ray just made the series seem like it forgot how to be fun.  Gail Simone managed to bring it back and make it just as fun as it used to be, but her run, sadly, wasn't forever.  The Cable and Deadpool run brought back some freshness, if just to have Deadpool have a regular straight man in Cable to bounce his wackiness against.

Now, Deadpool has, at times, had three titles being printed at once, has met pretty much everybody, and told so many jokes he makes the writing staff for SNL, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report combined seem lazy.

But here's the thing.  Comedians take breaks from doing stand-up all the time to refine and build new material.  They tweak it and toss out what doesn't work over months or years before coming up with a new great set.  Writers don't have that luxury, as they need to crank out several dozen pages monthly, and unless you're really, really clever, you're going to get stuck falling back on pop culture references.

Deadpool is still a great character with a great back story (when it isn't being changed all the time), but personally I'd rather have him stay tucked away in a corner of the Marvel Universe, only interacting with other big characters when his own story demands it.  Let the humor stay fresh and special, giving us a little bit at a time instead of pushing something else out every single month with writers who only stay on for a short time (Joe Kelly was on for only 33 issues, but he did some really groundbreaking work with the character).  

As it is now, when I hear people discuss how awesome Deadpool is, I want to tell them to look back at the character's history, but I realize they can't appreciate the same amazement that there was something that new and remarkable on the market at the time, not after Deadpool's been in a movie and has his own video game.

I realize it's selfish to think that my experience as intrinsically "better" than theirs.  Perhaps they were inspired by the movie or game to investigate the character further and are now realizing just how amazing he is.  Maybe they are finding the humor as great as I found the humor back in the old days.  I'm willing to accept that I can't see it the way they do just like they can't see it how I do.

But I just can't get that "a joke told over and over loses its humor" idea out of my head, no matter how hard I try.

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