Saturday, February 02, 2013

Into the Wilds of Deadpool Killustrated

Deadpool meets Moby Dick in Marvel Comics Deadpool Killustarted #1 written by Cullen Bunn
with art from penciller Matteo Lolli and inker Sean Parsons.
Finally got around to reading the long awaited (by me anyway) first issue of Cullen Bunn's most recent Marvel mini-series, Deadpool Killustrated. One of the few cape comic books with which it is easy to appreciate the complete lack of (and disregard for) the character's larger continuity, the real draw here was the writer, who's fantastic series The Sixth Gun, published monthly by Oni Press, has been a personal favorite since it's start, and the premise made clear in the first issue's cover: "Butchering Stories from Literature's Finest Authors!" The concept of revisiting classic American literary classics such as Moby-Dick and Tom Sawyer through the lens of Marvel Comics "Merc with a Mouth" is an appealing one.

What I had really looked forward to were the literary Easter eggs that I imagined the literate Bunn would include in a world full of such possibilties. What I was pleasantly surprised with was the relevance of some of them to a book I had recently begun sharing with my eleventh grade students.

Tolstoy: not from his short story "Family Happiness", but Anna Karenina,
though the quote seems applicable to both stories... and Into the Wild.
Last week in class we began working with Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. As part of our study of the novel's composition and structure, I took some time to write some brief author bios to enhance for the student Krakauer's meaningful inclusion of epigrams, excerpts and artifacts at the start of each chapter. With the premise that each was included by the author to add an additional level of meaning to the content which followed, my thinking was that to make the student (who likely had had little previous experience with the "contributors") more familiar with each excerpts "source" (either an author's background or their previously published product) would make their understanding of protagonist Chris McCandless, and to a lesser extent author Krakauer's, story clearer.

Two of these turned up in Deadpool Killusrated: directly,  Melville's Moby-Dick, and more indirectly, Leo Tolstoy's "Family Happiness."

The narrative text of Chapter 3 of Krakauer's Into the Wild is prefaced with a passage highlighted by Chris from Leo Tolstoy's short story. Given the similarities between the theme of "Family Happiness," published in 1859, and the line from Anna Karenina, first published later in installments from 1873-1877, then ultimately as a formal "novel" in 1878, read by Deadpool above it is fair to say there may very well be a connection (albeit of the six degrees sort) between Tolstoy's story and Bunn's use of the pages in Deadpool Killustrated. Okay, that is a reach...

Chapter 5 of Into the Wild is introduced by graffiti found inside the abandoned bus on Stampede Trail where Chris McCandless' body was found, which reads in part "All Hail the Dominant Primordial Beast! And Captain Ahab, too!" (38). In my Teacher Footnotes to students as part of their pre-reading I informed them that "Captain Ahab was the tyrannical captain of the Pequod in Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick; he is driven by a monomaniacal desire to kill Moby Dick, the whale that had maimed him off the coast of Japan."

The preview for the second issue of Deadpool Killustarted promises a meeting between the Merc with a Mouth and Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. Of Course, Twain's The advcnures of Tom sawyer introduced the world to Huckleberry Finn, whose own adventures are also excerpted prior to Chapter 7 of Into the Wild... the mind reels at the possibilities!

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