Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Deadpool 18, originally released October 9th, 2013.
Drew: Color theory has always had an interesting relationship with superhero comics. To make the heroes stand out on the printed page, they were put in bright, primary colors. That practicality had a counterpart in the way the characters were written — with equally clear ideals (think “truth, justice, and the American way”). Those ideals (like the colors) can be mixed in ever more complex ways, covering all of the possible hues, but as any colorist can tell you: hue is only one dimension of color theory. Another is saturation, or the opacity of a color. Deadpool, with its knack for fourth-wall breaking, has long had a lot of play with this kind of figurative saturation, as Wade regularly peels the curtain back to comment on the absurdities of the world he inhabits. Desaturating Wade has always revealed a bright, zany world — even when disembowling presidents, the tone was always incredibly upbeat — but as writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn move further into their “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” arc, they’ve revealed an increasing interest in the third dimension of color theory: value, or darkness. The result is a surprisingly rich comic, made up of all of the colors of the real world.
The issue opens with a flashback to Wolverine’s own escape from the Weapon X facility, as he ruminates on how easy it was to become an animal, and how hard it has been to regain his humanity. Jump cut to the present, where Wolverine is leading the X-Men (or, at least their non-union North Korean equivalents), Deadpool, and Captain America in a race to Camp 23 to rescue their families. Cap is stumped as to how to storm the well-fortified camp, but Wade comes up with a clever bit of subterfuge to get them in. The camp erupts into battle — making one question the logic of giving prisoners superpowers — and the good guys make short work of the soldiers, rescuing many of the families. Unfortunately, many were also lost, including Carmelita (and potentially Eleanor) — the two people who had very recently given Wade a new purpose in life.
Let’s stop right there, because that’s quite the moment. Artist Declan Shalvey gives that reveal all the Pietà-inspired weight it requires, but for me, the real tragedy is Wade’s willful ignorance leading up to the discovery of Carmelita’s body.
Everybody knows what Wolverine is saying. By this point, even Agent Preston — who is in his own head — knows not to go into the valley. Wade himself throws down his jokey “icebreaker” sign, showing that he understands the gravity of the situation. The whole creative team here (including colorist Jordie Bellaire — remember what I said about color?) sells this defiance as a juvenile coping mechanism, but in many ways, Wade may need to discover Carmelita’s body.
As they race to Camp 23 at the start of the issue, Wolverine remarks on Wade’s silence. He suggests that, unlike any other time in Wade’s life, he has something to lose. It’s a sobering thought, and while the jokes creep back in during the fight, Wade’s silence is palpable in those first few pages.
Actually, Duggan and Posehn use silence effectively throughout the issue. I was struck in particular by this scene, which moves from dialogue to sound effects to silence with surprising effectiveness.
I half suspect that Duggan and Posehn had some vague goal of writing scenes that simply consisted of “BAMF”s and “SNIKT”s, but this is surprisingly moving. Those two sound effects are amongst the most famous in comics, but Duggan and Posehn turn them into key narrative elements. The “BAMF” tells us that Wolverine and Park are alone, and the “SNIKT” tells us that the deed is done, even though we don’t even see Wolverine move.
There’s plenty of sadness, but as I mentioned above, this issue is remarkable for its wide emotional range. These tragedy’s are divided by the moving reunion between Kim and his wife, and even Wade finds some time to poke at the fourth wall a bit.
It’s some significantly less-brazen fourth-wall breaking than we might expect from this series, but still much more brazen than we would expect of any other series. This is a unique tone, unlike anything else in comics, which sent me back to reading through the comments of our first Deadpool writeup, where some commenters rejected the goofy tone, and others rejected the notion of darkening up such a fun title. This issue strikes a balance between the two much more gracefully than I would have thought possible, making me ever more excited to read the next issue.
What do you think, Scott? We’ve both been fans of this darker arc, but what do you make of the prospect that Carmelita’s death might darken this series permanently? Are you going to miss the lighter tone? What do you think happened to Eleanor? Might the lighter tone return if Deadpool is tasked with raising a kid? Most importantly, if Wade, Wolvie, and Cap are to recreate Three Men and a Baby, which one is Tom Selleck?
Scott: If and when this remake happens, I’d peg Wolverine as Selleck. Wade has Selleck’s quick wit and charm, Cap has his impeccable bone-structure and unimpeachable qualities, but Wolvie’s the only one who seems willing or able to grow facial hair. And if we’re talking Selleck, what’s more important than that?
Honestly, Drew, I’m not worried about the darkening tone of this series. Firstly, I wouldn’t put it past Posehn and Duggan to revert back to a more upbeat storyline after this arc comes to an end, if only because they’re comedians at heart. I’ve heard Jon Stewart say that the reason he does his show on Comedy Central is because he’s uncomfortable going more than a few minutes without getting a laugh. I imagine Posehn and Duggan might be the same way- they won’t be able to sustain such seriousness for long, just by their nature. Wade has become too complex and troubled for this title to ever return to the effervescent lightheartedness of the Undead Presidents arc, but remember, we’re only a few issues removed from a magical pimp mini-arc. Things got dark in a hurry, and they could lighten up just as quickly.
The second, and more important, reason I’m not concerned about the tone is because these guys do dark really well. They have more to offer than witty quips and pop cultural non sequiturs. Simply, they’re good writers. They know how to tell a dramatic story, and can make a serious moment as entertaining as a goofy one. They’ve managed to make me feel more emotionally invested in Wade over these past four issues than I ever thought I would earlier in the series. It helps to have an artist like Shavley, who knows that sometimes showing less is showing more.
We don’t need to see what Wade sees to understand what he’s looking at- his cries tell us everything. Of course, he can’t really know whether he’s looking at Eleanor or not. It’s horribly sad to think Wade could have lost his daughter without ever having known her. I just don’t think this title could go that dark. Butler values Wade’s DNA way too much to let his offspring get slaughtered with the rest of the prisoners. I have a feeling he has Eleanor stowed away somewhere, possibly to be used as part of the procedure to save his sister. I could be dead wrong, but I sure hope Wade is rewarded at the end of this by getting to take his daughter home with him. Whether I’d consider that a reward for Eleanor, I’m not sure, but it would be plenty of fun to read.
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?