Bunn, Cullen. Night of the Living Deadpool. Illus. Ramon Rosanas. New York: Marvel Worldwide, 2014.
In Night of the Living Deadpool, Deadpool wakes from a food coma to find himself in a zombie apocalypse. He joins a motley crew, wanting to gain access to a quarantine district; unfortunately, they all become zombies at one point or another. He beheads a group of crazed women set on destroying the one idyllic town unaffected by the plague, only to temporarily turn into a zombie himself and convert the town. Finally, utilizing the severed head of an evil scientist, he discovers the origin of the infection and attempts to reverse its effects.
One of the most striking aspects of Bunn’s version of the zombie apocalypse is that the undead are cognizant of their condition but unable to prevent themselves from acting in horrific ways. As the zombies are attacking their victims, they say things like, “My cat… I ate my cat…,” “... happy place… my happy place…,” and “I can still taste it! Oh, God!,” which lends some humor to what are, ultimately, dark circumstances (#1). In Cullen Bunn’s story pitch, he explains, “the human consciousness is trapped within, unable to change the zombie’s actions. This leads to some real horror, and a reflection of a descent into madness” (Cullen Bunn’s story pitch). The proliferation of and interest in zombie-stories are obviously representative of our culture’s fear of becoming enslaved to our baser desires. However, what makes Bunn’s version so poignant is the zombies’ acknowledgment of and inability to change their actions. We all have our vices, whether it’s shopping or reading or playing video games, and I think it’s a universal concern, of, at least, my generation and older, that technology is numbing our humanity. I can relate to scrolling through my social media feed and thinking that I have to take a break, that my brain feels fuzzy, and, yet, not stopping. Bunn’s commentary prompted me to question how complacent we are becoming in our obsessions with our hobbies/interests (or are they addictions?). At what point are we going to start asking, “Please… I don’t want this!,” “Why? Why can’t I wake up?,” or “Somebody… tell me why this is happening?” (#4). Even though we have yet to start eating each other, the prospect of zombification, figuratively speaking, is still a relevant fear.
Night of the Living Deadpool also presents an alternative, and much needed, account of the hero. In comic #1, Deadpool asks where all the other heroes are, and he’s told that “they didn’t stand a chance… as far as heroes go… you’re the only one left;” the corresponding illustrations pan across Captain America’s shield buried in rubble and covered with blood (#1). In his story pitch, Bunn states that the “story redefines the hero in many ways, and here we’ll see a dark reflection of that” (Cullen Bunn’s story pitch). As I mentioned in my blog post, Deadpool’s appeal is that he’s much more human than he is superhuman. He’s a mixed character - dark and light - he’s so much more relatable, and he’s a result of good intentions gone bad, which is an element with which most readers can empathize. Yet, he finds humor in the human condition and is able to evoke laughter at the absurdity of life. As much as I find Deadpool’s humanity and humor intriguing, I also find his references to pop culture particularly entertaining. The pop cultural allusions are one of the major factors that I found the film so appealing and successful, and I feel similarly about the comic. Within the first few pages of the graphic novel, Deadpool sings, “I think we’re alone now..,” which immediately put Tiffany’s 1987 hit in my head. Those quirky references are the most endearing element of Deadpool, in my opinion.
Lastly, Ramon Rosanas captures the spirit of Deadpool perfectly by contrasting the vibrant red of Deadpool’s suit to the stark black and white background that surrounds him. The illustrations reflect Deadpool’s spirit; he is flawed, but he is alive - full of hope and color, despite his imperfections and cynicism. Additionally, Jay Shaw’s cover art is beautiful and frame-worthy. Whether you have seen the film or not, check out the artistry of Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas’s graphic novel Night of the Living Deadpool.