DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Deadpool #9, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated October 1997. Enjoy!
Joe Kelly’s run on Deadpool is highly regarded by many, but I’m not really one of them. It’s okay, I suppose, but I’ve read the first year of the book and it never really grabbed my interest. But I do own this comic, so let’s check out the first page!
Kelly lets us know that we’re in San Francisco, and that something weird is happening. Of course, in a Marvel comic called “Deadpool,” weird is a matter of relativity, but okay. We get that the older woman is blind, that it seems that she’s a prisoner of some sort or at least tormented by somebody demented who moves the furniture on her. Her tormentor is apparently that dude, whom she calls “Wade.” He’s not terribly nice to her. The woman’s thought balloons (her name is Blind Alfred, by the way) are somewhat unclear – she claims she’s not mad when he re-arranges the furniture, but then she stops short and thinks, “But this ain’t comedy. Not the ladder here … leading up to … there.” Obviously, the room is significant, but it’s still unclear if Blind Alfred means that he never moves that ladder even though he re-arranges other furniture or if he shouldn’t be going in the room. If it’s the latter, then the shift from thinking about Wade re-arranging the furniture to musing about the room doesn’t make much sense. What does she mean by a “joke”? Is Wade a funny guy, re-arranging the furniture, and so she hopes that he’s fooling her into thinking he’s in the room? Perhaps, because her last words on the page – “Wade, what’re you doing?” – seems to imply that she knows that the room is not a good place. It still feels like an odd non sequitur, though. We also get a good sense of how casually cruel Wade is. He’s kind of a tool.
Meanwhile, Ed McGuinness gives us a first page that, while it doesn’t offer too much exciting, at least gives us a good sense of things. The opening “camera angle” is well done, showing the ladder descending to the floor and the broken mirror, which gives us a hint about Wade and his relationship with reflective surfaces. Blind Alfred’s body is angled toward the ladder so that we don’t miss it, and her shadow points to the mirror, which is a nice touch. The word balloons in the second panel act opposite the flow of Blind Alfred’s eyes, which go upward while the balloons force our eye downward. In Panel 3, we see Wade for the first time, and Nathan Massengill, the inker, drenches his face in shadow, highlighting his evil nature. I assume McGuinness added the sound effect, but perhaps it was Richard Starkings and his Comicraft minions. It’s placed well, as it’s the first thing we see in the panel and leads us diagonally toward Wade’s face, and it also lends a slightly horror feel to the page. In the final panel, we see that Wade is somehow disfigured, even though his face remains in shadow. His head is scarred in some way, which is a good way to suggest worse things on his face. McGuinness and Massengill show us the weaponry in the “room,” again implying something terrible without actually showing it. What’s in the room? Perhaps it’s best if we don’t know. Starkings gives Wade a slightly different font than Blind Alfred and the rest of the characters, again implying his “otherness,” and I don’t know if it was Starkings or colorist Chris Sotomayor who decided to turn Wade’s word balloons yellow (heck, it might have been Kelly himself), but again, it’s a fine touch.
Although this comic isn’t that old, it’s on the other side of the decompression divide, so it shares much more with earlier comics than later ones, including a nice wealth of information even though the page itself isn’t that compelling. I don’t know if a new reader would be too confused by Blind Alfred’s thoughts in the first two panels (maybe I’m the only one who is?), but Kelly and McGuiness do give us some good reasons to turn the page. That’s not a bad trick!
Next: Oh, yeah, it’s going to get weird. Good weird, but weird. Check out some more normal comics in the archives!
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