The final chapter of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly hits like a sledge hammer to the chest delivered by Thor Odinson himself. It’s relentless, not only in the rapid fire pacing employed by co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, but in the poignancy nailed down in the heart-rending revelations uncovered during this cathartic journey undertaken by Deadpool. Duggan and Posehn have proven their comedic chops in previous arcs, but the emotional meat-grinder they throw Wade into, and then reassemble him from the mass of raw nerves and newly exposed feelings, is truly unprecedented in the history of the character. Daniel Way certainly touched on the darker side of Wade Wilson, but just scratched the surface of the voluminous amount of back story just waiting to be told to fully bring this character from the shadows and into the light of actualisation. Duggan and Posehn have succeeded in this endeavor beyond expectations.
In this issue Duggan and Posehn show that Deadpool has changed at the very core of his belief system, as is witnessed by his reaction to Butler during their stand-off. Deadpool relies on a very under-used weapon in his arsenal – his intellect. The fact that he is able to step back and not only examine his options but recognize and act on an alternative to full-throttle violence shows tremendous growth and strength of character. Violence still ensues of course, and boy is it brutal. Declan Shalvey graphically renders one of the most gruesome panels of this arc, but as always he does so with such artistic panache that violence becomes poetry.
Another point of growth and development is Deadpool’s relationship with the other heroes of the Marvel U, specifically Captain America and Wolverine. The two iconic heroes seem to have accepted Wade on a level they have heretofore thought unlikely if not impossible. It is as though Wade has come through a rite of passage and proven himself worthy of a “super hero guys night”. The bond formed by the three is one of the highlights of this arc for me as I’ve always wanted Deadpool to stop being the Rodney Dangerfield of the 616 and finally get the respect he deserves. That is not to say I would like a humorless, brooding Deadpool – I just think that Duggan and Posehn have found the balance that allows Wade Wilson to be more than comedic relief. In fact, they have given Deadpool an overhaul and what has resulted is a more interesting, fully-formed, engrossing and to a degree even endearing character who is capable of holding his own with the big boys of the Marvel U.
Although this has certainly been the darkest arc of this run, perhaps even any run of Deadpool, it is not without an optimistic and hopeful ending for Deadpool. There is the aforementioned improved standing in the eyes of the hero community as well as the possibility of finding his daughter among other gems of introspection to be gleaned from this arduous trek.
Visually, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire collaborate to bring this emotionally taut narrative to life. Shalvey’s tweaks to Deadpool’s appearance infuse his facial expressions with more emotive power than in previous incarnations, adding an additional degree of dramatic weight. The method of shading Shalvey uses perfectly captures the dour tone of the narrative. Bellaire’s coloring is spot on, particularly the contrast of muted colors used in the flashback sequences as opposed to the more vivid hues used to convey the gravity and horror of the more violent scenes. These two artists do an impeccable job of transforming Duggan and Posehn’s words into images – every page is full of gritty magic.
This is arguably the best Deadpool story to date, definitely the most poignant and while we know for sure that Deadpool will always be able to make us laugh, it is good to know that he is now in the hands of writers who can tell us stories of a far deeper and much more complex nature than the jokey, pop culture reference laden fare of the past. Given this issue’s final page teaser, I feel secure in saying that Duggan and Posehn have another twisting, intricate narrative in store for us. The fact that it involves S.H.I.E.L.D. makes me even more anxious to get started.
So to Deadpool fans and neophytes alike I unreservedly recommend this issue – this arc and this series, all of which are top-notch.
And remember comic book fans during this reflective holiday season, the geek shall inherit the Earth. So until next time, see ya at the comic book store.