What follows is a transcript of my immediate reactions to the comic Deadpool Max #2, by Kyle Baker and David Lapham, as I experience them. And yes, I am off my effing head right now.
9.29 pm PST:(soundtrack: loud)
9.31: Ooh, and Lapham rips out of the gate with a devastating swing at that "word association" scene in Morrison's Arkham Asylum! "Loneliness? MONELINESS! Father? MATHER! Mother? ORANGE!!" It's a knockout! I am not making this up.
9.34: Kyle Baker's color spotting has become so ridiculously clean that the holding lines are just these decadent luxuries. This is like the flattest of comics art, close to the bone with these totally raw unaltered digital shapes, but it's given this crude, pop-up-book dimensionality by the contrast between the inked panel elements and the computerized pure-color ones.
9.36: Beautiful homage to Steranko's early, Kirbyist SHIELD stuff on page 3.
9.39: There's a lot of great work with body language going here. Baker makes Deadpool's posture and little gestures so jerky and skitzy, it works great against everybody else's heroic posing.
9.42: WOW the colors on this flashback sequence look incredible. Baker's doing Richard McGuire, that's the only stuff I know that comes close to this. Actually, that and this one silkscreen comic I saw today, I can't remember what it was called but it was about Gertude Stein (I think) and published by Nobrow. (Just checked, it's called ADA, by somebody or something named "Atak", everybody go order it cause it was crazy and beautiful and really disgusting.)
9.43: If you're like me and this is the only Deadpool comic you've ever read, this issue actually has some incredible origin sequences. They're like the first unique-looking superhero origin pages in like, 40 years? How long since the last good origin sequence? Does Batman #666 count as Damian Wayne's origin sequence? Probably, I guess.
9.47: OK, this issue has the best and most disturbing single panel of the act of peeping tomism I've ever seen. This stuff could go in a gallery no sweat.
9.50: Aw, graphic panel of a grown man picking his zits! This is like Alfred E. Neumann on crack, folks!
9.51: Wow, in the panel where the old woman is offering to let a guy into the hospital to see his friend but only in exchange for sex Baker goes uber-Manara portraiture drawing. This comic book, let me remind you, is published by Marvel. How has the MAX imprint not ruled this hard since Corben's Cage?
9.53: (more soundtrack)
9.55: There's some really intense... the only way I can describe it is post-chiaroscuro inkwork in here, like Matisse maybe. Figures totally blacked in with bits of spotted color everywhere. Sort of Paper Rad doing Miller Sin City style, but with a lot of Eduardo Risso in the shapes of the silhouettes. These huge, utterly magnetic areas of pure black spread across the technicolor rest of the page and just vacuuming you in. Oh, you know what? It looks like Tommy Lee Edwards' Question stuff.
9.59: Confession time! My personal greatest primal fear is the American medical establishment (I have nightmares about the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center), and Lapham creates these incredibly unsettling paranoid-hospital scenes out of whole cloth. Both this book and Lapham's chef d'oeuvre Young Liars feature really scary scenes dealing with the power dynamics inherent in psychoanalysis.
10.02: We read this stuff as humor comics because that's the only way to do it and stay sane but if you take some of these lines totally straight they're like the soap opera version of Viennese Actionist sloganeering or something. "Please, you must believe me! I would never in a million years inject you with paralytic drugs and cut out all your internal organs to be sold on the black market!"
10.04: I'm kinda surprised to say, but I think Kyle Baker has worked out the first coloring schemes that successfully make computer lettering look like a natural part of the environment.
10.06: There's this one great panel in Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp, a two-tone painted portrait of a monk praying, with all these beautiful pinks and blues flying around the frame... Baker does his version of that about 2/3rds of the way through this book, you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it.
10.09: Really queasy push and pull going on in some of these panels between Baker's perfectly symmetrical computer-drawn elements and his light-on-physics inked cartooning. It's actually like... throwing these panels way off-balance, they really tip you over into the next one, sluice you around on the page.
10.11: Annnd, no issue of Deadpool Max would be complete without a bestiality joke, but wow, a pigeon? That is legitimate innovation happening right there.
10.13: Huh. The hero is apparently in the back room of the hospital with his girl eating people's frozen internal organs? Is this really post-universal health care bill America? Baker's computer rectangle shapes really just fragment in this panel, it goes all sharp-cubist and puts these vertiginous op art kaleidoscopes in the corners of the frame.
10.14: Oh hey, we actually get to find out why Deadpool associates his mother with oranges! Did not see that coming. It's not exactly Alan Moore for complexity, but still pretty smart writing.
10.18: Remember that vicious "Captain America fights Hulk" sequence in Ultimates volume 1 #5 about... maybe eight years ago? That was a legitimately sick moment, but it just got its "nastiest half-page four-panel takedown scene" crown stolen hard. (Page 20.)
10.21: Man... this issue has some of Baker's most realistic facial drawings since the late '80s, but he gets really almost Sergio Aragones with these full-figure action pages. Loose and scratchy. It ends up going past cartooning into the quick-sketched style of life drawings of figures in motion. Added to the stiff toothbrush-box colors, it looks phenomenal.
10.23: Lot of Quitely in the sequences where the dancing-robot body language meets the realist portraiture -- more a similar fusion of elements than the same look, but there are still definite strings running between the two artists.
10.27: OK, done! The full-page ad for next issue looks pretty phenomenal, this almost Disney-animation looking shot of Deadpool fighting a Nazi babe in the middle of a bunch of Klansmen. This is really a pretty incredible comic you guys, superhero stuff done not just right but interesting, actually a mode of mainstream comics I've never seen before. It's full-blown, plot-involved superheroics somewhere deep inside, but it's also a fusion of the most ridiculously disturbing elements of Alan Moore-Rick Veitch "dark hero" comics and the most biting assaults of Kurtzman super-parody. If you're looking for the next great new neglected Marvel book to champion (and you know you are ya dirty fanboy, that's like number three on every comic shop-goer's want list), this is the one. And of course, it looks great. If this comic didn't exist I would have dreamed it. Real stuff, done with equal style, bile, and consummate professionalism. Good, good comics.
(And here is my review of last issue.)