Is there anything better than games and comics? How about a comic that is also a game? No, it’s not the “Marvel Super Heroes” roleplaying game, but rather, a choose your own adventure book with Deadpool and a dice-rolling mechanic that adds a level of luck and randomness to the adventure. So, how does it work as both a comic and a game? Read on and find out.
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Salva Espin
Colored by Guru-eFX
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Now’s your chance to BE DEADPOOL in this role-playing adventure! Travel through Marvel history as Deadpool to meets Marvel Heroes through the decades!
While “You Are Deadpool” could easily be a cheap attempt to cash in on Deadpool as much as possible in the lead-up to his new movie, what we get is a comic that delves into comic book history and sends Deadpool on a hilarious journey through it.
Using the time travel helmet to set each chapter in a different era of comic book history allows the flexibility for readers to read them in whatever order the game decrees, and Al Ewing uses the various eras for all they’re worth. This issue places Deadpool in the ’70s, allowing Ewing to bring in forgotten characters like Rufus Carter and Dakimh the Enchanter as well as reference events from the era, like Captain America giving up his mantle.
In short, it makes great use of Marvel’s history to construct a unique tale and several challenges for Deadpool to overcome.
However, as a choose your own adventure style comic, the narrative does not always go in a straight line. There are multiple possible paths and outcomes each event can take, spread throughout the pages of the story. Get ready to flip back and forth between several pages to get the proper narrative for each route, but fortunately, doing so does not disrupt the experience, and the story still flows well no matter which way it goes.
In fact, it even plays with the narrative structure by giving the readers a reminder of what the consequences for reading out of order may be. The text boxes provide narration that’s consistent from one page to the next even if it’s read directly from one page to the next, rather than the readers flipping to the right panel, to transition right into a “bad end” for anyone reading that way. Later events that could lead to the same end use a similar transition, so the story flows no matter how it’s reached.
While this issue does lack the minigames that previous issues had, it presents multiple options for what order to face challenges in, where one route may provide tools and items that will assist with another. Sometimes the equipment is obvious, but others one may not even think to add to the inventory until the comic tells them it was an option, adding a new level of re-readability to the comic.
While the unique structure may present an artistic challenge, Salva Espin tackles it head-on and succeeds wonderfully. Panel layout and placement is key to this issue; many tell separate parts of the story out of order and context, so they have to not only flow with the order they’re meant to be read in, but avoid clashing with the other panels around it. Fortunately, the color scheme throughout each part of this issue of “You Are Deadpool” tend to match well (thanks to Guru-eFX’s color work), but each page is laid out in such a way that each separate panel and part of the story can be taken as its own section, preventing any one part from interrupting another.
Salva Espin’s work with the character designs is incredibly solid, no matter who he’s drawing. Yes, he does a great job with Deadpool’s body language and even his expressions under the mask, but we also get some hilarious moments like Steve Rogers as the new Grasshopper fighting a cape-and-tights clad Richard Nixon, which is just as amazing as it sounds, and is drawn with the same care and attention to detail as the rest of the issue.
In fact, we get a unique stylistic shift as Deadpool accidentally enters “a violent 1970s British comic.” Salva Espin’s style remains solid even as it adjusts to the style, blending solid ink outlines and penciled details into the hyperviolent imagery and black-and-white art on newsprint.Continued below
Even during the style shift, the color work from Guru-eFX serves the style well. The color work here gives it the newsprint-like appearance, with old faded whites like pages from an ancient book, complete with off-colored shades that add depth to the intended appearance, and the colors make a nice reappearance should the reader have Deadpool use an item he picks up from that scene.
Throughout the rest of the comic, Guru-eFX’s color work remains effective, setting the scene and making the characters pop from the scenery. The shading from the mists and occasional fire add a good level of depth to the scenes they’re used in, and the grays and blues of the swamp sky help bring out the colors of the characters, like Deadpool’s red or Steve Rogers Grasshopper’s green.
Last but certainly not least, the mechanics of the comic deserve praise. Al Ewing gives us three key tools for Deadpool’s journey: the dice, the sadness/badness score, and the inventory. These add a level of consequences and variability to the reader’s decisions, where their choices of items for their inventory can unlock certain paths to victory (or defeat) that can make a difference in their final decisions, and the badness or sadness scores they accumulate determine what order they need to read each issue in.
While the Deadpool dice from the first issue works perfectly well, any d6 will suffice, and readers might want to have multiple dice for the 2d6 Deadpool rolls for combat. Fortunately, anyone familiar with tabletop games should already have more d6 than they know what to do with (while simultaneously still needing more). But using the dice for combat adds a level of randomness and luck to each encounter, much like a tabletop RPG can change course all based on a single natural 20 or critical fumble. It adds another layer of gamification to the comic, and it’s all the more enjoyable for it.
Overall, “You Are Deadpool” #3 is another very entertaining issue, making readers play an active role in determining the story’s path while providing great laughs, art, and nods to Marvel’s history. If you love tabletop games or Deadpool, you won’t want to miss it.
Final Verdict: 7.9 – “You Are Deadpool” perfectly combines everything that makes Deadpool entertaining with the style of a choose your own adventure book and the dice rolling mechanics of a tabletop RPG. No matter what you read it for, it’s a lot of fun.