Review by C.J. Bunce

When he first wrote a Deadpool tie-in novel back in 2015, writer Stefan Petrucha was still a year from the arrival of the movie Deadpool in theaters.  But he would have known Ryan Reynolds was cast in the title role.  Either Petrucha had a good idea forecasting Reynolds voice and view of the role, or both the filmmakers and Petrucha had a complete take on the famous “merc with a mouth” from the comic books.  Either way for most of the Marvel novel Deadpool: Paws, the author gets Wade Wilson–the cancer-battling Weapon X experiment who becomes the wisecracking anti-hero known as Deadpool–exactly right.  In fact there is only one scene in the novel that would have you step out of the voice of Ryan Reynolds’ incarnation of the character–when Petrucha has Wilson bad-mouthing Canada.

As part of Marvel and Titan Books’ release of a series of tie-in novels of the Marvel Universe (including Civil War, reviewed here at borg.com last month), they have issued a new paperback edition of Deadpool: Paws Deadpool: Paws combines all the cringeworthy ideas you’d expect from a Deadpool tale.  It’s a blend of Ace Venture: Pet Detective, John Carpenter’s The Thing, John Wick, and a twisted look at Dick and Jane, and, if you are a fan of Deadpool 2, take note:  You’ll find that same balance of over-the-top humor, in-your-face-action, and inappropriately placed melodrama right here.

Whenever an author takes on the job of writing a tie-in story for a well-known character, and especially when the writer crafts the story in first person, readers will know quickly with even a misfire of one phrase or sentence whether the author knows what he or she is doing.  If you read a lot of tie-ins you can catch the mistakes simply in dialogue.  But Petrucha (who has written tie-in series from Nancy Drew: Girl Detective to The X-Files) mastered Deadpool’s audacity, raunch, snark, sass, whine, inner-monologue, repeated breaking of the fourth wall, and strange charisma, in every action and retort.  He also throws in as many well-placed pop culture references as you’d find in an entire season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The best parts of the novel find Deadpool wrestling with his own inner voice, and the story editor, and some other voice, and even more voices, and the reader, as he complains about the medium of a prose novel vs. the comic book medium.  As with the movie version of the character, Petrucha supplies dialogue, knowledge, and high-brow references that are clearly above and beyond something Wade Wilson could ever come up with–somehow writers always do that to Deadpool and it almost seems like part of his trademark style.  For another character it wouldn’t work, and yet for Deadpool Petrucha’s choices are right on target.

If you don’t want to see animals in jeopardy, even genetically engineered mutant dogs that turn into colossal Hulk-sized beasts, then definitely walk away from this one.  For fans of the character that can overlook that part, they’ll find this novel to be as compelling as any comic book story in the Marvel catalog.  It’s as true to the character as anything you’ve seen before.  Plus you’ll see Deadpool encounter some familiar faces and surprise superhero appearances.

Order Stefan Petrucha’s prose novel Deadpool: Paws now from your local comic book shop or here at Amazon.

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