Today, Scott and Ethan are discussing Deadpool 9, originally released May 8th, 2013.
Scott: Moral ambiguity is an important theme in Deadpool. Wade Wilson doesn’t kill people unless he has to, but he doesn’t have to enjoy doing it so much either. In Deadpool 9, the actual necessity of such violence, as well as Wade’s willingness to commit it, becomes blurred, forcing Wade to make tough decisions. It’s the kind of situation you might see depicted with a miniature angel and devil propped on each of his shoulders, but writers Brian Posehn and Gary Duggan would never revert to such a trite story device unless they were mocking it, right? Well, take the moral-righteousness of a recently-dead government agent who lives inside Wade’s head and put it up against the deplorable, power-hungry demon forcing Wade to do his dirty work and you get Posehn and Duggan’s version of a conscience-battle. They are a creative team, in every sense.
After recovering from having his organs harvested, Deadpool resumes his quest to knock off the names from Vetis’ list. He’s interrupted by Michael and the Ghost of Ben Franklin, who inform him that the key to transferring Agent Preston’s mind into a new body exists in a library under “Rykers” Island. Michael follows Wade’s plan and flashes some cops, landing him the penitentiary, from where he can teleport himself, Wade and Ben into the library. While Michael and Ben do their research, Wade heads to the beach to claim Vetis’ next victim: a lifeguard who sold his soul for super-lifeguarding abilities. Wade kills him, but realizes that nothing he can do will stop Vetis from coming after him or Michael, unless he rats Vetis out. Wade needs to make a deal with Mephisto, so he sends Michael to see him- by cutting Michael’s throat.
I love the way that Posehn and Duggan are fleshing (no pun intended) Vetis out as a villain. They are great at writing for Deadpool as a character, but a comic book only has so much personality to go around and Wade Wilson gets more than his share in this title, meaning he will almost always overshadow one-off bad guys. The reason the undead-Presidents arc worked so well is because the villains (ie. Lincoln, Nixon, Washington) came with established larger-than-life personas. Characters like Artie the lifeguard or the bank robber from Deadpool 8, while good for a few laughs, just can’t match wits with Wade. Even series regulars like Michael and Agent Preston seem to be developing at a stunted rate in order to give more jokes to Wade. But a demon scheming to overthrow the Devil? Vetis seems like a worthy adversary, someone who could occupy the “crazy-in-a-bad-way” side of Wade Wilson’s coin. Someone so perverse he bites the head off a bird for fun, ala Ozzy Osbourne (who also, incidentally, has an interest in Iron Man).
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about the amount of focus placed on Wade. Deadpool is based around his character and I’m glad he’s such an interesting one. While his inner-demons and psychological troubles have been hinted at in previous issues, Deadpool 9 teases at the dark secrets of his past more directly. Agent Preston primarily serves as a de facto conscience for Wade, but her presence inside his head is also proving to be a useful for exploring the inner recesses of his mind, which is, as she puts it, “Beautiful. And terrible.”
It doesn’t get more egocentric than re-imagining a museum’s worth of classic art with your face on it. And it probably doesn’t get more fun to draw, as artist Tony Moore clearly had a blast with this spread. Check out the “Washington Crossing the Delaware” in the upper right corner, which features the entire Deadpool gang, including an appropriately living Ben Franklin, as well as a rope-bound Captain America.
It appears Agent Preston is having a real effect on Wade. She can’t stop him from killing Artie the lifeguard, but he does show remorse for his actions, which is new for him. She also shows that she has at least a little bit of control over Wade’s body, by momentarily stopping him from hurting Michael. The interplay between Wade and Preston has quickly become the highlight of the series, and I’m excited to see if their cohabitation leads somewhere beautiful or implodes gloriously. Their impending meeting with the Devil should reveal their true character.
Ethan, I’m eager to hear your thoughts about this issue. It’s hard to believe, but I didn’t have much to say about the humor this time around. Truthfully, this issue probably made me laugh the least of any in the series so far. Tonally, it was in line with the rest of series, it just didn’t have as many jokes that hit for me. Did you find it to be less funny than what you’ve come to expect? If so, is that a bad sign?
Ethan: Was it less funny than I’ve come to expect? That’s actually a tricky question, because while I love the laughs Posehn & Duggan do come up with, the style of the zombie-presidents arc was so unabashedly one of hit-or-miss, throw-the-whole-plate-of-pasta-at-the-wall-and-see-how-much-sticks kind of humor that I wasn’t really coming to this issue for the comedy first. I was hoping that the title would start serving up some themes and plot lines that extended a bit further than “which president does Wade have to eviscerate today?” and this issue didn’t let me down. I think the most redeeming moment of the previous arc was when dear old George killed Agent Preston. Wade had a real reaction of pain and anger about that, which gave me hope that the series could be about something other than the Merc’s mouth. It’s the same what that Nightcrawler’s BAMF’ing and Wolverine’s adamantium claws are SO TOTALLY COOL, but I’d rather not spend the time reading if that’s all there is. Just like any other title has to work with bigger ideas than its premise, I’m glad Deadpool is dipping his toe into into a bigger story. While still being a ridiculous goofball in the process.
When looking around for a nice hook to hang some storyline meat on, Vetis is a good fit. First, he fits into the Deadpool cast rather well – he’s a middle-manager demon who doesn’t quite want the responsibility of signing the paychecks, but he still hates his boss.
He isn’t Dormammu; he isn’t Magneto; he’s just that guy who always takes a penny without leaving a penny. Plus demonic powers. So he’s off-the-wall enough to fill the space so recently vacated by a bunch of reanimated American presidents. But Vetis comes with a fun twist on the “sell your soul” concept. He’s not just taking people’s souls for the traditional fun of it; he’s using that leftover soul-space to store mojo smuggled out of hell for later (now) use. I love this for two reasons: one, it’s a stupidly simple idea that gives the narrative of selling your soul to the devil some new legs. It’s mercenary enough (pardon the term) to make sense. Demons, being bad/greedy, would totally take advantage of the newly freed-up room in your meatbag body to hide their stuff. Second, I like the way it takes a classic story and introduces a bit more drama by adding a firmer economy of power. When Faust gets the endless knowledge and worldly pleasure deal from the devil, who was paying for all of that? The superpowers Vetis has been handing out represent actual units of power, so he has a vested interest in recovering them. This makes Deadpool’s cooperation with him even more problematic, and it makes Vetis a bit more finite and helps define his character.
The other thing that jumped out at me was the dark room Agent Preston sees while touring Deadpool’s unconscious mind – Scott, it was included in the full spread you included above, but I’ll zoom in a bit:
Part of me thinks that we’re going to find out that the dark room is full of cotton candy and bunnies, just because Wade would find it amusing to hint at a darker side and then not have one. The other part of me holds out hope that this is in fact a glance towards another bit of Wade’s background that we’ll get to learn more about later, that might add a third dimension to his doggedly two-dimensional persona.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?