Today, Scott and guest writer Greg Smith are discussing Deadpool 8, originally released April 24th, 2013.
Scott: And we’re back. After the glorious detour into the Bronze Age that was Deadpool 7, writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn are picking up where they left off in Deadpool 6– with Agent Preston living inside Wade Wilson’s head. It must be hard for a writing team to follow up an issue like Deadpool 7– the consensus best of the series thus far, but one that seemingly takes place outside of the series’ continuity. With expectations higher than ever and questions abound, Duggan and Posehn prove that things aren’t always as they seem, deftly weaving the events of Deadpool 7 into the lingering storylines from the first six issues in a surprisingly logical way.
Wade and Agent Preston are getting used to sharing a body. They decide it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to break into Preston’s house in the middle of the night and explain to her young son that his Mommy, presumed dead, is still alive but trapped in a strange man’s body. That goes about as poorly as you might imagine, and Wade takes off in a stolen ice cream truck, only to discover Vetis- the demon from Deadpool 7- has returned and demands Deadpool kill four deal-breakers in exchange for Michael’s life. Now, Michael the Wizard has been nothing but trouble for Deadpool, but he appears to be the only hope for getting Preston out of Wade’s head, so Wade sets off to kill the first name on the list: bank robber Corrado Coloruno, who has the power of invulnerability. Deadpool does him in, but hardly has time to celebrate before he gets knocked out and has his organs harvested by some hot redhead and her friends.
Deadpool 8 doesn’t have a hook like the undead-presidents arc or the drunk Tony Stark inventory issue. It’s much harder to summarize this issue in a sentence than the previous issues, and I feel like this is the start of a transition from a weird high-concept series to a weird character-driven series. Deadpool has more or less assembled its cast, as it looks like the supporting players it’s picked up along the way- Michael, Ben Franklin and Vetis- are here to stay. All of these characters have great potential, and throughout the issue I kept feeling like Deadpool would make an awesome animated TV series that I would watch the crap out of. The scene with the whole team chatting in a restaurant booth felt like a Bizarro-Seinfeld, where Elaine lives inside Jerry’s head.
So Michael got his powers by making a deal with Vetis? I’ll buy it. Nevermind what it implies about the timeline of the series or how old Wade must be or anything like that, it ties things together in a way works within the logic of the series. I’m glad that Deadpool 7 isn’t a one-off with no bearing on the rest of the story.
Humor is obviously a big draw for this series, and readers probably have expecially high expectations given that it’s written by a well-known comedian. I’ve heard and read criticisms that the jokes rely too heavily on pop-culture references and tired stereotypes (i.e. “Women are bad drivers”). I get that, but I believe real credit is due to the writers for the situational humor they concoct. The scene where Wade/Preston break into little Jeff’s bedroom is one of the funniest I’ve ever read (and another scene that would play great on TV). Duggan and Posehn waste no time mining the two-people-in-one-body situation for its comedy potential, delivering a cringe-inducingly awkward and thoroughly hilarious moment right off the bat.
I’m not sure who those organ-stealers at the end of the issue are working for, but they have a good idea: someone who can regenerate his organs ought to be making donations more often. If this “employer” is creating his own regenerating degenerate, Wade may soon have to face his greatest challenge yet- defeating someone just like him. Apparently this guy has done this to Wade quite a few times already, which prompted the redheaded woman gaze at Deadpool with pity and say, “There are worse things than death.” This got me wondering- is Wade actually an unhappy person? He has mentioned that he doesn’t have any friends, though he has grown fond of Preston and is reluctantly warming up to Ben and Michael. On the other hand, he truly seems to enjoy his line of work, and there’s just a playfulness in everything he does that makes it hard to believe he’s a sad soul. Plus, his inner consciousness is a children’s bouncy-house pizza party!
So Greg, first things first, welcome to Retcon-Punch! I’m super anxious to hear what you think about Deadpool. You are a funny, funny man, does this issue live up to your comedy standards? Do you, like me, believe it would make for a pretty darn good animated series? Also, I got so wrapped up talking about the writing, I forgot to mention the art, which was helmed by series-newcomer Mike Hawthorne, who I think is a good stylistic match for the series (although there were some slight differences in character designs that took a little getting used to.) Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got lots to say, so you probably don’t need me to leave you with any more questions. Right?
Greg: To answer your last question first: Of course that’s enough questions! What kind of jerk ends a paragraph with a question?
Now that that’s taken care of, let me first say thanks for the welcome. You, Drew, and I grew up together, and I have the fondest of memories learning about superheroes and comics with y’all. Also: thanks for the unbelievable pressure to be funny by calling me a “funny, funny man.” I haven’t felt that much pressure since I was asked to do my Tom Hardy Bane impression on a first date (You see what you’re doing to me?).
I’m glad you want to focus on the inherent humor in the issue, Scott, because I think this is what makes Deadpool such a unique and intoxicating title. At the end of the day, the idea that supermen and women put on costumes to fight crime with powers and martial arts fighting is straight up fun. Playful, even. Frank Miller can gritty it up as much as he likes, but even the name “Batman” and his Bat-paraphernalia carry a sense of childlike glee, of throwing disparate concepts together and seeing them stick. Posehn and Duggan’s story recognizes this basic building block of the superhero narrative (Real world + imagination = Awesome superheroes!), and as a result, it’s an absolute blast to read. When Wade commandeers an ice cream truck and bullshits that it’s “in the name of the Avengers,” I’m in fifth grade again, playing superheroes with my friends. For a story to be both this funny and take me back to simpler times is proof positive of the power of this mode of storytelling.
One final note on the comedy of Deadpool: Posehn’s comedic style could not be further away from Mr. Pool. Posehn’s stage presence is lackadaisical, his delivery monotone, and his jokes pleasantly meandering. Wade, on the other hand, is a god damn heavily armed Daffy Duck — ruthless, off-the-wall, and bouncing all over the place. To see Posehn revere the history of the character and recognize that he must flex different comedic muscles rather than his primary style is not the sign of a nerdy standup looking to cash a check, but a writer who cares deeply.
Yet as you rightly say, Scott, we’re neglecting the art of Hawthorne. On first glance, I thought his work was serviceable and realistic, but nothing special. Yet his style actually furthers the effect of the comic, in a disarmingly subtle way. See, my dumb monkey-brain wanted wacky, zany, completely stylized art to match the postmodern Tarantino-meets-Animaniacs antics of Wade. In other words, I felt that Deadpool clearly is not of this world, so the art shouldn’t be, either. However, this ham-fisted approach would completely negate the idea of “real world + imagination” that I think powers the superhero engine. Hawthorne portrays the world as real as possible so that it’s obvious how not-of-this-world Deadpool is. In Soviet film theory (how’s that for a backpocket pull?), Sergei Eisenstein argues that effective editing comes from the collision of two opposing ideas, or shots. In other words, the friction from idea A combined with idea B creates idea C, or the film. In this case, the artistic rendering of a “real world” (idea A) collides with the hallucinatory goofiness of Deadpool’s shenanigans (idea B) to create an incredibly funny and memorable work of comic fiction (idea C).
As for an animated series, my friend, I would adore watching that. Adult Swim, if you’re reading, I think you know which two writers to hire first!*
*Probably Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan.
Greg Smith is a Detroit-bred, Los Angeles-based writer, filmmaker, and comedian. You can see a short he made here. His improv team Eggs Con Huevo plays all around LA. Follow him on twitter at @SmithLGreg.
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