If there’s one think that the success of Deadpool has taught us it’s that superheroes come in all shapes and sizes (and vocabulary choices, so much swearing!). But there are some quintessential aspects of Deadpool shared with other comic books. Check out these five books which have at least one thing in common with Deadpool.
Written by Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, The Umbrella Academy is a tragically beautiful story about the dangers of superpowers. When 47 babies are born spontaneously, a millionaire, Reginald Hargreeves, adopted 7 to save the world. They form a dysfunctional family known as the Umbrella Academy. Heading in their separate ways after their childhood heroic deeds, the siblings must get back together to mourn the death of their father and save the world from themselves. Way provides a narrative that weaves these seemingly unrelated heroes, from telekinesis to reality altering liars, together through love and family, and Bá’s clean art style envelops the reader in this fantastically dark world. This New York Times Bestseller will please those who prefer the darker, twisted side of superheroes.
Superheroes on the Fringe
Watchmen is toted as a foundation for any comic book reader’s bookshelf. Originally released in 1986, Watchmen chronicles an alternative 1980s, the world still in fallout after the Vietnam War and somehow, Nixon is still president. Superheroes, once the norm and government sanctioned, are outlawed; however, when Edward Blake, the superhero known as The Comedian, is found dead, it is up to Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl, Ozymandias and Silk Spectre to don their masks again to solve this mystery. With the possibility of World War III on the horizon, writer Alan Moore investigates power struggles, human relationships, and the nature of heroism in Watchmen and David Gibbon’s artwork creates a dark and gritty landscape. Just as Deadpool would never call himself a “hero,” it is questionable whether any of the Watchmen are true heroes either.
If there’s one thing Deadpool is focused on, especially in the recent film, it’s vengeance, and there’s no other character in the Marvel Universe who explores the ideas of vengeance than Moon Knight. This obscure character from the 1970s is the embodiment of the accidental superhero. Marc Spector, a boxer, Marine, and mercenary (another Deadpool similarity) finds himself in Egypt at an archeological dig. After his merc employer kills the crew to loot the artifact, Spector turns on the leader. While successful in the fight, Spectator is left to freeze overnight when worshipers of the god Khonshu find his body. On his deathbed, Khonshu offers Spector new life, if he agrees to be his avatar on Earth, becoming Moon Knight, honoring his master, the god of the Moon. While he’s been a minor character, Moon Knight was recently resurrected by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey and an upcoming Jeff Lemire storyline.
The 2012 film Dredd starring Karl Urban (and also rated R) resurrected this iconic British comic book character. Created in 1977 by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Judge Dredd is a law enforcement official in Mega-City One in a dystopian future. Mega-City One, located in North America, is a refuge in the radioactive future, stacking thousands of humans on top of each other. As a Judge, Dredd instantly passes judgement, and carries out sentencing. His helmet is used to protect his identity, showing only his lower jaw (and oft stiff lower lip). Whereas Deadpool believes in chaos, Judge Dredd believe in order to a fault, causing both to lean on violence as a means to their ends. This ultra-violent, twisted form of Justice fits in with Deadpool’s hyper-violent modes of fighting.
Great Lakes Avengers
For those who appreciated Deadpool’s dark humor, the Great Lakes Avengers (GLA) are the best superhero team to tickle your funny bone. Set forth to protect the Midwest, the GLA are a group of B-rate superheroes whose headquarters is in Milwaukee, WI. Created by John Bryn in 1989 and re-popularized by Dan Slott in 2005, the GLA are Mr, Immortal, his name is pretty self explanatory; Dinah Soar, a pink bird-like dinosaur with razor wings and sonic powers; Big Bertha whose superhuman size gives her superhuman strength and can alter her size and mass on command; Flatman, he’s flat and elastic; Doorman, makes portals and is intangible; and Squirrel Girl, who has the abilities of a squirrel. It’s not too difficult for these characters to find their situations humorous, through the vomit, squirrel attacks, or dimension doors going haywire. But through all their adventures, the GLA find a way to stick together. Many GLA books are now out of print, so make sure to get some use out of your interlibrary loan system!