Let's get one thing clear: I'm not a fan of Deadpool. He kind of annoys me, to be honest, and whenever he is injected into a storyline he seems to mess with tone for the sake of poor comedy. But the idea of Deadpool without a censor and with David Lapham at the helm has me very excited. Those familiar with Lapham's more uncensored and surrealist stories (Amy Racecar, Young Liars) will likely have done what I have and gone to pick this up. I figured, at the very least, Lapham could make fun of the Deadpool character by using the actual character, making him far worse of a superhero than he already is. The first issue of Deadpool MAX does not disappoint inthis or really in any capacity, probably because of Lapham's use of a narrator other than Deadpool to show the funniest moments through complaints of a handler rather than the usually poorly executed, fourth-wall breaking narration provided in many of the character's other endeavours. As the name implies, this is Deadpool without a gag. There's swearing, drunk and disorderly conduct, and decapitations galore,so maybe look it over before leaving it out for the young comic lovers to discover.
Lapham's story is everything I wanted: it's crude, involves sexually suggestive and terrible things using objects usually not associated with sex, a muderous midget, and a myriad of other, equally strange and hilarious elements. Lapham was obviously going for the maximum amount of MAX when he wrote this as well, homosexual rape, frequent nudity of almost every character, plus an ongoing gag and plot revolving around Deadpool's severed head are throughout the issue, but Lapham also uses what isn't depicted to bring even humour to the issue. What isn't seen, as they say, is often worse than what is, and this is certainly the case in Deadpool MAX. Readers, for example, are left to wonder what exactly the narrator was subjected to with that crumpet, but by far the best part of this issue for me was the limited use of Deadpool. He is by far the central character, but not overpowering with his voice. We hear more about his exploits than witness, and the effects of working with such a clearly deranged agent is much funnier than watching the story unfold from the deranged agent's perspective. Overall, the issue is funny, crude, and fun, if not lacking a depth for the sake of proving how MAX the title is. My prediction is this series, if it is allowed to, will lose it's need to prove itself and become something to look forward to every month.
And Kyle Baker's art is fun and ridiculous as well. While I'm usually quite critical of the exaggerated physiques of superhero genre, but in this context, it's hilarious. Probably because the book is filled with far more men than women, many of which are nearly nude, and the exaggerated artwork is pointing to the objectification of women through the objectification of men. I know this won't last (a female nurse, or a stripper in a nurse outfit, is gracing the cover of the next issue) but the commentary, however unintentional, is quite clever. The colouring is a little strange, very bleached with light, but is very effective when contrasted with much of the material, as if a kids show decided to just scar a bunch of children on it's final episode before cancellation. The exaggeration works well with a fully (and permanently) masked protagonist, conveying thought and emotion with relative ease without making the mask try to smile. Kyle Baker handled all of the art, from inking to colouring, no small feat in a world where just pencilling is the strandard, very well done.
Grade: A- Great fun and looking to get even better!