The ‘Merc With a Mouth’ has finally made his way into the world of manga. At this year’s Tokyo Comic Con 2020, Shueisha and Marvel Comics announced that Sanshiro Kasama and Hikaru Uesugi’s Deadpool: Samurai one-shot would be getting a proper series. Released in October of last year as part of the Marvel x Jump super collaboration, the one-shot proved very popular.
It’s not as if Marvel and Shueisha haven’t crossed paths before. Just last year, Golden Kamuy (serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump) replicated some Spider-Man: Far From Home posters to promote the anime’s upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release; what’s more, Weekly Shonen Jump flagship series My Hero Academia draws heavy influence from the likes of X-Men. In this sense, the worlds of American comics and Japanese comics aren’t as separate as you might think.
Nevertheless, a Marvel character has never received a full serialization in any of Shueisha’s many imprints before, so – in this respect alone – Deadpool: Samurai is worthy of interest.
Furthermore, even though I would not really call myself a Deadpool fan, much of its marketing material promised to bring in not just Marvel Comics characters, but Jump ones too. As a massive fan of the brand, I was intrigued.
Deadpool, Meet Jump?
Unfortunately, as of chapter one, Deadpool: Samurai has yet to introduce any Jump characters.
We do get appearances from Iron Man and Captain America, at least, and the seeds have very much been planted for future Jump appearances with the formation of the ‘Samurai Squad’, an organization officially recognized by the Avengers to operate in Japan that Deadpool joins at the end of the chapter.
Given that the Avengers is described in the series as an ‘organization designed to fight villains made up of superheroes who have saved the world in various ways,’ this obviously leaves the door open for heroes like Deku from My Hero Academia or Ichigo from Bleach (who both operate on planet Earth) to make an appearance.
Such popular series as One Piece or Gintama might not make the cut as they do not take place on our Earth (instead, in different or parallel universes), but, then again, Deadpool has never been a series to care that much about continuity.
At the end of the day, Deadpool: Samurai could do anything, if it really wanted to.
Take away the prospect of Jump characters, however, and I’m immediately less inclined to pick up and enjoy this series. To be honest, I’ve never been a massive fan of the Deadpool character, although I do remember enjoying the first movie when I was fifteen years old. If you’d have told me that there was just a new Deadpool series written and illustrated by Japanese authors, then I probably would’ve just smiled politely and ignored you.
Translating Deadpool For a Japanese Audience
Nevertheless, there were a couple of other things that made Deadpool: Samurai an entertaining read beyond the prospect of simply adding Jump characters.
The first is the number of references that are made to the wider manga industry, as well as the new format that the ‘Merc With a Mouth’ has found himself in. I had a good laugh when Deadpool said ‘Send the bill to Kodansha’ after getting out of a taxi, and the funniest part of chapter one is undoubtedly when artist Hikari Uesugi apologizes through Deadpool to his assistant before embarking on an explosion scene: ‘I didn’t want to use this on a whim,’ Deadpool sighs, before clarifying that he’s talking to ‘The assistant who’s going to draw the next page.’
Throughout the whole of Deadpool: Samurai chapter one, there are constant references to the world of manga and the industry, which, to a certain extent, were to be expected: one of Deadpool’s primary traits as a character is his ability to break the fourth wall, after all.
Yet, it was interesting from a language point of view to see how author Sanshiro Kasama translated this into Japanese from English. I’m not an expert on the history of Japanese translations of American comics, but it was educational to see how Kasama was able to capture such things as Deadpool’s abrasive attitude in a completely different language.
On the subject of pronouns, Iron Man uses ‘boku’ when he turns up to invite Deadpool to the Samurai Squad at the very end of chapter one, but I thought that was a bit weird. Surely, the billionaire playboy philanthropist would use ‘ore’? I dunno. I guess I have Robert Downey Jr. on the mind.
Deadpool: Samurai Has Proven a Treat for Japanese Fans
In any case, easily the best part of Deadpool: Samurai comes in the second half, after Deadpool baits us out with a ‘See you next week!’ end card.
Jump Plus plays along beautifully with this by adding an image of an ad, as well as a call to ‘Give the chapter a like if you liked it,’ which had me fooled for a good while. I actually stopped reading at this point and went over my notes, prepping them for the final review. Only afterwards did I click on the left side, discovering that there were actually a load more pages.
On the whole, Deadpool: Samurai leaves off in a good place. It’s demonstrated that it can play with the medium of manga well, as well as function properly in another language. There’s also the possibility of adding Jump characters later.
Would I continue to read Deadpool: Samurai if I was not interested in following this review up with another piece, though? Probably not. Speaking frankly, I’m already reading enough manga as it releases week-to-week, and (if possible) I’d like time to do other stuff. Like read old manga.
I’m definitely alone in this regard, however. Deadpool: Samurai’s first chapter has been greeted with an incredible reception, even trending in Japan when the series was first announced. As of the time of writing, it is still the first-most accessed series on Jump Plus, despite chapter 20 of Kaiju No. 8 also releasing today.
Regardless of what I think about it, Marvel and Shueisha’s latest collaboration is sure to endure into the future. That’s probably a good thing, as Marvel heroes are proving as enthralling in the east as they are in the west. If Japanese fans get a chance to access more related content in their own language because of this, then so be it.
You can read Deadpool: Samurai for free via Jump Plus (Japanese only).