Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Deadpool 11, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Ethan: Stories have to follow a lot of formulas — rising action, tension, struggle, resolution. Comics are often even more constrained — extraordinary people, powers, and villains combine to make extraordinarily predictable outcomes. Familiarity sells. But while you could say a lot of horrible things about Deadpool — and they’d all be true — if there’s one thing that he is NOT, it’s conventional. Maybe it’s because his superpower has more to do with the basic act of survival rather than leaping a building in a single bound; maybe it’s because he’s just a bastard of a guy who lucked out with the world’s most impressive healing factor. Maybe it’s because he’s Canadian. I dunno. Either way, he’s up to his eyeballs in demonic intrigue right now, so perhaps the standard operating procedures wouldn’t be the best fit anyway. As he continues his contract with Vetis, hunting and killing superpowered humans who sold their souls for their abilities, writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan continue to entertain while Wade Wilson continues to backstab his way to freedom.
Thanks to his current time-share / body-share arrangement with Agent Preston, Deadpool begins this issue making dinner for Agent Preston’s family. Deadpool has also invited Agent Adsit over in order to ambush him into helping find a new body for Michael. Speaking of Michael… after jumping the line in the last issue (and some demon’s tonsils), he’s finally in Hell proper now, and manages to win an audience with Mephisto in order to warn the demon lord that Vetis is gunning for him. Back on Earth, Deadpool continues to follow his contract with Vetis, hunting down the people who sold their souls for super-powers. The latest example is a shape-shifter who first tries to mack on Jessica Jones using the shape of Luke Cage, then shifts to Black Widow to escape once Deadpool drops in. Wade catches up to him (her?) in Times Square, where the shifter has taken the form of a cheerleader. Deadpool gets into a bit of a scuffle with Daredevil after mistaking Murdock for the shapeshifter, but stays true to form by shooting a civilian to distract Daredevil and continue his mission. Deadpool kills the shapeshifter, and Vetis arrives to claim the power hidden in the corpse’s body before announcing that his next move is to take the souls of both Michael and Deadpool. Deadpool shows his hand, telling Vetis that Michael’s already in Hell, and the stage is set for a nice little brawl between the two.
One element of the Deadpool franchise that’s always refreshing is the jump-cut pace of the action and story. I felt like the Zombie President’s arc stagnated somewhat because of the checklist aspect of Deadpool having to kill his way through the list of presidents; conversely the Vetis arc seems to have opened things up a bit. Yes he’s still following a linear hit-list of objectives, but because the targets this time are no-names, we get more quality time with Wade. Which means we get more scenes of Wade shooting innocent people in the femoral artery.
I love that Deadpool gets away with this kind of thing. Compare this situation with your more straight-laced superhero comics. The hero is facing a superior opponent, incapacitated, with time ticking away before he has to be at that one place to do that one thing to save the world. Several things can happen: the hero digs deep and finds some source of strength (maybe tied to a tragedy in the past) and uses that inner power to free himself and beat the bad guy. Or maybe an unexpected ally shows up — ooh, maybe it’s someone we thought was dead and/or a villain, but is actually alive and/or a reformed-villain-now-good-guy! Whatever the score, the table-turning tends to be tied somehow to the hero being a superior person — morally, mentally, spiritually. Now try to apply those formulas to this situation: Daredevil has just beat the tar out of Deadpool and tied him up, but Deadpool needs to get loose to go kill someone. Yeah, the standard solution isn’t gonna cut it. Better to shoot some COMPLETELY INNOCENT PERSON in the leg with a giant revolver to distract the REAL good-guy — Daredevil — to buy time and go kill that pesky shapeshifter.
Speaking of Daredevil, I love Mike Hawthorne’s tribute panel to Daredevil’s radar-sense:
In keeping with the wonderful tongue-in-cheek celebrations of the Superior Spider-Man title we got in the previoius issue, this parody of Daredevil’s unique perception of the world and his clinical, forensic analysis of a situation is terrific.
Drew, what did you think of Matt Murdock’s cameo? How about the copyright-breaking mention of DC’s Batman? Where do you think this arc is going to end up in terms of finding Agent Preston a new body? Most importantly: do you think the cucumbers and bell peppers were going INTO the pasta, or were they destined for a side-salad?
Drew: I was almost certain they were part of the salad Wade was referring to, but I suppose it could be a pasta salad — I guess we’ll have to wait until next month for the thrilling conclusion! As for Agent Preston, Wade spouts off a few options for where to put her consciousness — a life model decoy or an old vision body — which are absurd (and overused) enough to make me think they are more winking nods to Marvel’s history than viable options, but who knows? Life model decoys may seem ridiculous, but let’s remember that the problem is that a person’s consciousness is trapped in another’s body. The thought of Wade cooking dinner for Preston’s family is beyond weird. It’s like that scene in Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg is channeling Patrick Swayze’s character, only with more fart jokes.
Ethan, it’s interesting that you got tired with the “gotta catch ’em all” nature of the dead presidents arc, since I’m kind of feeling that here. Duggan and Posehn are making a concerted effort to maintain Wade’s mercenary status, keeping his actions strictly for-hire. The formula thus far has stuck to a “here’s a list of people you need to kill,” and while this arc has also started bringing in other heroes for Wade to bounce off of, the actual kill list has been virtually faceless (which Posehn and Duggan emphasize here by making the case of the week a shapeshifter). I kind of miss the strong, goofy characterizations of the dead presidents — not to mention the nerdy historical references. My expectations may simply need to be adjusted — if the case of the week is just to afford Wade some wacky adventures, maybe we don’t need to focus so much on the whos and whys of said case.
Of course, I think we’re done with Vetis’ list as of this issue. Next month seems to promise a showdown with Vetis, with maybe Michael showing up to save the day a la Ethan’s example of tropey resolutions that are still pretty satisfying. Or maybe Wade will just slice Vetis’ head off — who knows? If this issue has taught us anything, it’s that he’s unpredictable. And that he packs burritos in his belt pouches.
Suffice it to say, I too loved Hawthorne’s rendering of radar sense. Actually, his work in general this issue is quite strong — his action is always clear, and he makes a number of fun choices with his camera placement. I was particularly enamored of this shot, from the opening dinner scene:
I like virtually everything about this image: the contrast of Wade’s domesticity and the tied up family, the way the high angle of the camera reveals what’s behind Wade while making it clear that it’s pretty fucked up, even Agent Preston’s reflection in the knife (that whole reflection thing is always clever, but has been used sparingly enough to keep it from becoming tired). Learning that Wade smells like a corpse only makes the scene all the weirder.
This was a fun issue, so I’m a little wary of the impending boss battle, which I suspect will monopolize most of the next issue — no creepy scenes with Preston’s family, no talk about Adsit’s beanbags, no ridiculous Times Square billboards advertising “Posehnonic” and “AS & S”:
Also, it looks like Posehn and Duggan disapprove of “Bring It On: The Musical.” Also: “The Pap.” It’s easy to see why I keep coming back to this title.
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?