There’s something to be said for fun. While it’s great that comics have gone well beyond grown men in tights punching each other, that also means you appreciate grown men in tights punching each other when it’s exceptionally well-executed. Fred Van Lente and Pere Perez, with the fourth issue of Deadpool Vs. The Punisher out today from Marvel, have it pretty close to perfection.
Van Lente is one of comics’ master comedians, of course, and handing him Deadpool alone is usually worth the price of admission. But from the start, Van Lente’s take on the Punisher has carried the book, as the Punisher finds himself the put-upon straight man dealing with a wacky sidekick that he can’t just shoot in the face, because he’s tried that multiple times. Van Lente, however, has also woven in a subtle thread that pays off this issue: Deadpool and the Punisher, in different ways, are alike in their anger at innocents being hurt or killed; they just express it in very different ways.
There there’s Pere Perez’s art. Perez’s facility with action and comedy have made him an excellent collaborator with Van Lente in the past, but here, Perez’s action scenes and layouts move with a confidence and fluidity that make them a joy on the page. Perez can make a guy in a skull mask subtly expressive even as he’s beating up a mass murderer on his way to a bank heist.
Deadpool Vs, The Punisher isn’t particularly deep, of course, but it’s particularly funny, thrilling, and well-executed. Superhero fights are a dime a dozen, but this is one of the few worth four bucks.