Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Deadpool 12, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Scott: You can’t avoid the inevitable. Throughout Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan’s Deadpool run, there has been one constant: no matter how much Wade Wilson has to suffer, he always kills the guy he sets out to kill. As a result, Deadpool comics are more about the thrill of the ride than the destination. As individual episodes, Deadpool is light fun, with humorous characters regularly being introduced and killed in humorous ways. So when it comes to a villain who has been around for several issues, should we expect his death to be several times as much fun? Deadpool 12 says so long to a character who has defined the series’ second major arc and, aside from some structural problems, Posehn and Duggan deliver an epically fun, albeit inevitable, farewell.
Wade Wilson is getting his ass handed to him by Vetis, who has cashed-in on an impressive collection of powers, including shape-shifting, invulnerability and precognition. Just when it looks like Vetis is about to send Wade to Hell for eternity, Michael arrives with Mephisto, who is promptly beheaded by Vetis. Michael informs Vetis that he was given his soul back in exchange for Vetis’ soul, then he cuts Vetis open, allowing Wade to rip out Vetis’ heart and release all of the souls he has harvested. Mephisto reattaches his head and takes the crew into Wade’s mind, where he proposes a deal that would give Agent Preston her own body. Wade refuses the deal and the gang is left to explore Wade’s mind, which is disturbingly barren of memories.
Thus concludes the second arc of Posehn and Duggan’s Deadpool. It’s the end for Vetis, the schemin’ demon who has served as the series’ primary villain since his introduction in the awesome Deadpool 7. I’ve enjoyed his sleazy wannabe-usurper character, and the brilliance of his plan to overthrow Mephisto and seize control of Hell was finally put on full display in this issue. He had been giving out incredible powers to humans in exchange for their souls, then going back and — with the help of Deadpool as Executioner — reclaiming those powers for himself, becoming a nearly unstoppable force. The shape-shifting power is mostly a ploy by Posehn and Duggan to sneak in a few extra pop culture and Marvel Universe references, from Cyclops to “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
Here’s one thing I love about Deadpool: there aren’t many comics where the hero’s face gets mashed into a bloody pulp and you just laugh about it (a lot of credit for pulling this off goes to Mike Hawthorne, whose vibrant, playful art is a perfect tonal match for this series). Vetis has been a fun villain, and this issue was an appropriately outrageous conclusion to his story, but I can’t help but feel like he was short-changed by the structure of the issue. The past six issues have been leading up to the moment where Wade finally gets to kill Vetis, and it happens two thirds of the way into the issue? I understand the need to tie up loose ends at the end of an issue, but that seems a little extreme. Call me sentimental, I just think Vetis earned the right to a little more build-up before his final send off- something to hold our suspense a little longer. This issue climaxed too early, and as we all know, that never leaves all parties feeling satisfied.
That being said, I can’t really complain about the way Vetis met his demise. It was awesome. From Vetis beheading the devil to a very Christ-looking Michael creating a very literal “opening” for Deadpool, it was everything I could have hoped for.
Much of the final third of the issue was dedicated to setting up the next chapter of the Deadpool saga, which apparently will explore Wade’s mysterious past. The most interesting and comedically-rich element of this past arc was Wade dealing with Agent Preston living inside his head. Now, Posehn and Duggan have upped the ante by putting Michael and Ben Franklin into his mind as well. The recesses of Wade’s mind are nothing but bare walls and cobwebs, and he’ll have to piece together his past as his memories return to him, all while trying to appease four voices in his head. The next arc also promises to get to the bottom of that whole organ-harvesting incident from Deadpool 8. After throwing dozens of short-lived characters into these first 12 issues, Posehn and Duggan are doubling down on Wade Wilson, hoping his dark secrets can sustain a new chapter. Wade is a unique character in comics, and with so much about him unknown, investing more heavily in his character is absolutely the best thing this title could do.
So Patrick, how are you feeling about Deadpool now that we’re two arcs into the series? And how pumped are you for another throwback issue- something this creative team has shown they have a knack for?
Patrick: Oh, I’m absurdly stoked for the next issue. I love the idea that these genre issues are simply part of the series’ DNA, allowing Deadpool to explore what’s so wonky and weird about comics’ past and not just comics’ present. I’m reading a lot of series that have fun emulating older forms of graphic storytelling: Hawkeye, FF, Batman Incorporated, AstroCity – and they’re all great comics. But they all hold that history in a certain reverence that Posehn and Duggan will not be holding. At the same time, I expect the next issue to provide us with information vital to the next arc, while also being a campy-as-fuck genre-specific joke factory.
Okay. That’s enough speculating on what I expect to like “next time.”
The tone of this issue is a few shades darker than what we’re used to reading in Deadpool. Wade’s dialogue is basically still all one-liners and Veitis shapeshifts into forms that are as hilarious as they are convenient, but there’s a much weightier sense of consequence to this battle. Something that’s always been interesting to me is that the entire world ends up being Deadpool’s straight man – this helps to amplify his jokes, but it also helps amplify the recklessness of his actions. Wade vanquishes his demon and is ready to slap himself on the back, when Christ Michael steps forward to say that, no, they didn’t do a very good job here. Michael died. He went to Hell. He may have come back as a more trim, white-robed figure, but his time in Hell has real psychological consequences for the character. It looks like psychological consequences are the order of the day – as the issue ends with Deadpool rocking back and forth, trapped in his own memories.
Hey, are we ready for that? This series has been inching it’s way toward more legitimate storytelling throughout – we haven’t encountered anything quite so wacky as an army of zombie presidents in a while. But what this scene suggests goes beyond normal superhero catharsis. Look, Wade can’t even take solace in the fact that he won the fight – that’s usually the only thing motivating him (…other than Mexican food). The idea of exploring Deadpool’s own sense of self-worth and his ability to go on, despite the darkness of his past, is an intriguingly dark well to pump. It’s the kind of concept you expect to see played out with Batman or Wolverine as your hero. Following where ever this last scene takes us is going to be an introspective, and weird, ride.
Damn it: speculating about future issues again!
One last observation. I loved the way the creative team depicts Veitis’ use of Marvel superpowers. There’s a well-observed shorthand at work throughout as Veitis shifts specific parts of his body in order to tap into specific power or ability. Sometimes, it’s pretty obvious: he’ll turn into Cyclops so he can shoot lasers out of his eyes, or Hulk so he can SMASH. But there are other nods that are much more subtle: like when he dons Magneto’s arm so he can lift a manhole cover with the power of magnetism. There was one I didn’t get though, so I’m appealing to our commentors: Veitis makes his arm into a little red arm-cannon-looking-thing.
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?