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Marvel’s new Deadpool comic is also a surprisingly elaborate game

And it’s our #1 Comic of the Week

From You Are Deadpool #1, Marvel Comics (2018).
“It is! And you are!”
Al Ewing, Salva Espin/Marvel Comics

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Welcome to #1 Comic of the Week, a series where our comics editor, Susana Polo, tips you off to a neat new story or series that kicked off in comics this week — just in time for some weekend reading.

This week’s issue is the only comic I’ve ever read that included a six-page tutorial, a character sheet and a page that I was supposed to cut up to make a paper d6. As our hero says above, that sounds like a recipe for effort rather than engaged reading, but I breezed through You Are Deadpool #1 with a grin on my face and a flick in my fingers.

Should this article be a game review? Or a comic book recommendation? [For a game review, skip to panel 17. For a comic book recommendation, keep reading!]

From You Are Deadpool #1, Marvel Comics (2018). Al Ewing, Salva Espin/Marvel Comics

As Polygon’s comics editor, I feel like I’m betraying my principles to admit that the thing about interactivity and randomized outcomes is that they really do get the audience invested in the outcome of a story. Without its (sigh) gamification, You Are Deadpool is a pretty silly and familiar story of Deadpool embarking upon a mercenary gig and getting into some violent and wacky hijinks along the way.

Instead, I found it surprisingly fun — and with a little willpower I was even able to avoid reading the parts of the book that weren’t a part of my You Are Deadpool story. Aside from its game elements, this is largely due to the wit of writer Al Ewing, who keeps things moving by leaning so far into Deadpool’s traditional fourth-wall-breaking tone that he’s basically hanging out the window.

The book itself is a marvel of comic-book narrative engineering — a choose your own adventure story where the captions direct you to single panels instead of pages. Rather than “turn to page 20” a box might direct you to turn to “panel 54,” which is literally the last panel on page 20.

From You Are Deadpool #1, Marvel Comics (2018). Al Ewing, Salva Espin, Marvel Comics (2018).

Mechanically, and yes, it’s worth talking about the mechanics of a comic here, You Are Deadpool is surprisingly deep. Some paths are determined through reader (player?) choice, but like any good RPG there is an element of randomness, which is where a few quick dice rolls come in. You’re asked to keep record of two simple personal stats, and in this issue alone there is even a minigame.

The mechanic I found most fascinating, however, was a three-slot inventory. What do you put in your available slots? Why, only literally any object in any panel of the comic (provided it is “smaller than a breadbox”). There was a particular option I was unable to choose because I hadn’t grabbed the right inventory items — and I hadn’t even read the panel closely enough to notice that one of them was there.

You Are Deadpool #1 is just the beginning, however, and it has a final twist in store, both narratively and mechanically. Which issue of the You Are Deadpool series you read next depends on how your stats shake out at the end of You Are Deadpool #1. I’ll be able to start reading #2 when it hits shelves next week, but my colleague Charlie Hall was not so lucky, and was instructed to wait until You Are Deadpool #4. The series will be coming out weekly, and wraps up with #5 — but regardless of the reader’s path, each issue will be visited, so interested parties might want to keep an eye on it.

Update: You Are Deadpool #2 and You Are Deadpool #3 are available on Comixology now.

[But is You Are Deadpool #1 a good comic? Go back to panel 37.]


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