Deadpool #19 – Duggan / Posehn / Shalvey / Bellaire

deadpool19The 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.

Review: Deadpool #8 – Duggan, Posehn and Hawthorne


Deadpool, ‘The Merc with the Mouth’ could more accurately be called the Merc with the Mouths now that he is sharing the space inside his head with Agent Preston, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who hired him to kill the reanimated presidents in the first story arc. She was killed before she could cross over to the other side, so her consciousness was trapped inside Deadpool’s head by a bumbling necromancer named Michael. Now Deadpool is on a quest for revenge and money owed to him from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Gorman, however before he deals with that there is the matter of getting Agent Preston out of his head.

In an ill-conceived plan to visit Agent Preston’s family, Deadpool hijacks an ice cream truck, hog ties the driver and shows up at her home in the middle of the night. Armed to the teeth he climbs up a tree leading to Agent Preston’s young son Jeff’s bedroom window. He enters the child’s room, waking him to the sight of a crazed masked man in head to toe red and black spandex with twin katana blades strapped to his back. The child is understandably shaken. Deadpool silences the kid by placing a hand over his mouth and then attempts to explain where his missing and presumed dead mother is. To add to Jeff’s confusion Deadpool tells him that his mother is not only alive but that she is here inside his head. Jeff asks if he can speak to her and after a short chat she tells Deadpool that he needs to get out of there before her husband Shane wakes up. At this point a shot-gun wielding Shane enters the room and opens fire on Deadpool.

Deadpool hauls his buckshot riddled butt out the window and away to the waiting ice cream truck. He then frees the hog-tied driver and speeds from the scene. A safe distance from the house Deadpool discovers he is not alone in the truck. A demon named Vetis, who had previously made a deal with Deadpool to get Tony Stark drinking again, reveals himself and the two begin tussling. Vetis refers to the the satisfaction guaranteed clause in their contract and states most ardently that he was anything but satisfied. He then hands Deadpool a scroll upon which is written five names, one of them is the name Michael, the necromancer and quasi-friend of Deadpool. Vetis then tells him that if he kills the other four Michael will get a reprieve.

Now in The East Village of New York City, in a dingy dive of a diner, Deadpool, Michael and the re-animated Ben Franklin occupy a corner booth. Ben Franklin tells Deadpool that the names on the list are of men who have signed their souls over to Vetis in exchange for various abilities beyond those of mortal men. When asked why he did this Michael explains that he was about to wash out of the experimental S.H.I.E.L.D. program for magic users when Vetis found him and offered him the power he needed. Agent Preston joins the conversation and it is discovered that Ben Franklin is acquainted with the very first Sorcerer Supreme called The Ancient One and he knows the location of his hidden writings. They decide that the answers they need to defeat Vetis may be in these writings. They also decide that they need a dead body to send Agent Preston into and since her body is no more they will have to come up with one. Deadpool is of the opinion that one of the names on the list will work just fine.

The first name on the list is located in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Corrado Coloruno is one of New Jersey’s most wanted, responsible for bank robberies and murders up and down the state. He traded his soul for invulnerability. Deadpool spots him leaving the scene of a robbery with a gym bag full of cash in his hand. The getaway car is waiting but unfortunately for him so is Deadpool. He runs a sword through the roof of the car clean through the drivers head killing him instantly. Coloruno then flees on foot which doesn’t work out any better for him. Deadpool lassos him around the neck with a chain. He then speeds off in the getaway car dragging Coloruno behind. His ill-gotten invulnerability is now working against him as Deadpool drags, chokes and shoots Coloruno all the way to a metal recycling plant. He tells Deadpool that as long as his body drew breath he could not be hurt. To remedy this Deadpool coats Coloruno’s head in molten metal sealing his mouth and nose thus effectively shutting off his airways. Once the body is good and dead he offers it to Agent Preston. She promptly turns it down and requests that Deadpool give her some time to think about their next step.

Deadpool is approached by a young woman who asks him if he would walk her home. She tells him that some weirdoes are following her. While she engages him in conversation her accomplices open fire on Deadpool. His attention now thoroughly occupied, another thug approaches him from the rear and tazes him unconscious. Now the entire group sets up a makeshift operating room and begins an impromptu surgery. They are after his liver and a kidney. They get the kidney and two pints of blood but their time runs out before they can get the liver sample. It is not clear who they are or for whom they work but it is implied that they do in fact work for someone as they leave Deadpool lying lifeless on the side of the road.

Deadpool has been one of my favorite characters since the first ongoing series, however when he first showed up in the Marvel universe I paid little attention to him. This is because he was created by Rob Liefeld and I tried to avoid anything even remotely related to Rob Liefeld. This is a rule I still live by to this day. Having said this, I did read The Deadpool Corps book that Liefeld did a few years back. It was awful. But it is not my intention to trash Rob Liefeld here –  I mention him merely to show how this character can be misused. When in the hands of a capable writer who understands the comedic aspects of Deadpool, he is so much fun – but when the opposite is true Deadpool is just another gun crazy mutating sword swinging jackass in tights. In other words, he is every character churned out by Image in the early 90s.

Fast forward to the 2000s and thanks to writers like Daniel Way, Andy Diggle, Victor Gischler and Fred Van Lente, Deadpool is thriving and entertaining. Now enter crazy man Brian Posehn, known more for his roles in such films as Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects and the voice of Murray the robot in The Haunted World of El Superbeasto but is now along with Gerry Duggan the writer of Deadpool. And they are doing an awesome job. The humor is there, the action we have come to expect is there and so is the trademark snappy dialogue. This is a consistently well written book. I know we are only 8 issues into the run but every one has been a gem. I hope Posehn and company stay on this title for a good long time.

Mike Hawthorne was the artist on this issue. He did a four-issue mini-series called Three Days in Europe for Oni Press in 2002. His art is clean and intelligible. Hawthorne is a good visual storyteller able to convey a wide spectrum of emotion through his characters’ body language and facial expression. His page layouts are clear and understandable adding to his ability to keep the pacing of the story kinetic and entertaining. I’m looking forward to seeing more work from him.

Overall Deadpool is back on track in the hands of a very capable creative team. I hope to see the level of quality kept high and not seeing Deadpool dropped into any book that needs a boost in sales. This title is not for everyone, but for those of us who love irreverence and biting satire, Deadpool is definitely worth a look.

So until next week, see you at the comic book store.