Nov 7, 2016

[Comics] Deadpool's Art of War

Like many a geek who came to appreciate Chinese culture, I eventually explored Sun Tzu's Art of War. There are a gazillion versions of this book out these days given how it is often used as a way to look at business and other professional fields. Personally I tend to favor the version that came out with an introduction by James Clavell, the man who wrote the Asian Saga of books.

So I guess it makes sense for Marvel to come up with Deadpool's Art of War as their contribution to world that reads Art of War variants for this reason or that. Sure Deadpool is the infamous Merc for Hire and he has had adventures involving fighting his way across all of time, space, and even reality as part of his adventures. So why not tackle the classic book on strategy?

The end result was a lot more entertaining than I had expected and to me feels like one of the best Deadpool books in a while now. And it's funny that most of the text in the book is actually from Sun Tzu's Art of War and isn't just Deadpool's usual conversations with himself. A lot of surprises with this book.

Synopsis: Deadpool's Art of War is a 4-issue mini-series written by Peter David with art by Scott Koblish. When this takes place in the larger Marvel continuity is rather irrelevant since it's Deadpool.

The book starts with the legendary Sun Tzu dictating elements of what would become his book The Art of War including a live demonstration involving women loyal to the emperor. Somehow Deadpool goes back in time to kill Sun Tzu on behalf of the women who had been beheaded as part of a demonstration. He goes about reading bits of the Art of War and realizes its potential application to more than just war, but promptly discovers that this is not a new idea and everyone else has their spin on it.

And so in order to subject the world into a state of war, thus making his view of the book more relevant. And in his mind, the easiest way to do so is to stir the pot in Asgard and to get Loki to wage war against his family, as usual. And he ends up goading everyone on by quoting bits of The Art of War as pearls of wisdom for their battles. But of course not everything can go according to plan.

What I Liked: The writing is a brilliant mix of light humor, ancient Chinese wisdom, and meta-conversations - something I didn't quite expect from the likes of Peter David. But here he clearly demonstrates that he's more than capable of handling a quirky character like Deadpool and managed to make the most of his propensity for breaking the 4th wall and being a self-aware comic book character.

The art was also a lovely touch that felt very at home with the sort of older illustrations we saw from the China of Sun Tzu's time and yet still managed to convey the sort of vivid action we expect from modern comic books. Throw in direct quotes from The Art of War and you have one crazy comic.

What Could Have Been Better: As is the challenge with a lot of Deadpool titles of this nature how it'll always be about the event and  not the characters. And so things do seem to spiral out of control a bit as things escalate further and further and the end results are all out there. A lot of these Deadpool mini-series titles tend to have events that seem to be big enough to really shake things up and yet somehow exist outside of regular continuity.

And not being in continuity isn't a good or bad thing on its own. But depending on how you feel about the matter can color your perception of this story to some extent.

TL;DR: Deadpool's Art of War isn't quite the business book you wanted but it may be the one you deserve. The book works best if you already love Deadpool stories and it you can excuse the Art of War being applied in a crazy yet creative manner. Thus the book gets an awesome 5 epic confrontations between Asgardian forces out of a possible 5.

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