Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Deadpool 25, originally released March 12th, 2014
Patrick: In high school, I did theatre. Like a lot. Acting, directing, writing, set building, lighting, sound, Vice President of the Drama Club — I was a damned theatre rat. It was great, I loved it and built my whole life and identity around it. But I was also kind of a jerk in high school. At the height of my jerkishness, the director of our theatre program told me that she used to think I was funny, until she realized I was just mean. Which is a harsh thing for a teacher to say to a child, but I’m sure I was asking for it. I was socially destructive, and alienated all of my friends in that world. It was the nuclear option: I had hurt too many people to stay in that circle. So I bailed — on my hometown, on theatre, on all of those people that used to be my friends. Was I acting out of self-preservation or was I protecting my friends from further exposure to my toxic attitude? Deadpool 25.NOW shows Wade’s world melting down around him in the most predictable way, as the Merc with the Mouth is unable to find peace in resolution. He too bails, and whether its a selfless or selfish act is heartbreakingly ambiguous.
Deadpool’s been confronted by a sour Crossbones. Remember when Wade left him in that hot air balloon? Yeah, so does Crossbones. A fight breaks out, and Deadpool is egged on to new levels of brutality by the voice of Preston, somehow still lodged in his head. During their fight, they encounter Agent Gorman, who they gleefully murder — again as encouraged by Head Preston. As their fight continues, it becomes clear that Deadpool isn’t having fun liquifying Crossbrones’ brains with his fists, even if Preston seems to be relishing it. My favorite scene in the issue breaks down this conflict to the simple difference between Wade’s “No more!” and Preston’s “No, more!!!”
This is Duggan and Poshen’s storytelling at its absolute finest. It’s important that Deadpool and Preston state and restate their positions in the clearest, most childlike ways possible. If there was just one “No, more!!!”/”No more!” exchange, the sequence would be robbed of the desperation this beating is currently soaked in. But our writers gussy up the moment with that Sabertooth joke. It’s pathos disguised as a non sequitur joke, which is kind of this iteration of Deadpool in a nutshell.
Luckily, Real Agent Preston shows up on the scene and Head Preston shuts up for the rest of the issue. Wade comes to the realization that he’s just no good for his friends and decides to skip town for “anywhere (in) Europe.” Is he a changed man? As evidenced by shooting the seagull that shits on him, it’s clear that he’s simply a relocated man. That’s all well and good — for as much wonderful character work as Posehn and Duggan have done with Deadpool, the fundamental nature of the character cannot change. If he’s not hyper violent, cracking jokes and singing the praises of Mexican food, then he’s just not Deadpool.
This means that we can add this issue to the pile of All-New Marvel Now issues that serves as a better transitional issue than an actual new beginning (such as Nova or Captain Marvel). Which isn’t to say that it’s bad in any way, but this is a quality unique to serialized storytelling: occasionally we encounter an issue that serves a transparent narrative purpose. You know how TV shows have to devote entire episodes to characters leaving when the actors are moving on to other projects? Parks and Recreation and Community both had those kinds of episodes this year, and while they’re both totally satisfying episodes, packed with the characteristic heart and yuks, the audience is keenly aware of the ghost in the machine. There’s an artificiality to these transitions, and Duggan and Posehn wisely make the transition an intentional move on Wade’s part. It’s hard to see him leave Michael the Wizard and Preston and Ben Franklin and Scott Adsit*, but the fact that Deadpool is leaving them for their own good feels right.
With 75% of this issue being senseless violence, a lot of the burden of the storytelling here falls to artist Mike Hawthorne, and there are more than enough panels that make me squirm. Unlike so much Deadpool violence, this brawl with Crossbones is largely hand-to-hand, so we’re not even allowed the dramatic distance that sexy guns and sleek blades usually grant us. There’s no escaping the brutality of jamming thumbs in your opponent’s eyes, or a double-booted kick to the face.
Oh yeah, I forgot that Crossbones spends much of this issue in his tighty-whiteys. Greg! What do you make of that weird little detail? Also, did you make the same mistake as me and put the issue down after the letters page, and therefore missed out on that final page of content? Vampires? Time traveling Hitler? That sounds an awful lot like Zombie Presidents, doesn’t it? Hey, if history is doomed to repeat itself, there certainly are worse histories to repeat than the first 24 issues of Deadpool.
*Look at that bench of supporting characters! I tell ya, Deadpool is better at creating compelling S.H.I.E.L.D. agents than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Greg: Crossbones’ tighty-whitey outfit strikes me more than a weird little detail, Patrick. It speaks to the power of commitment, both in storytelling and jokes (often inextricably linked in the world of Deadpool). It could’ve been easy to, after hitting the cheap laugh of Crossbones losing his pants, write off returning him immediately to his normal outfit as a consequence of cartoon logic, yet Duggan, Posehn, and Hawthorne are more interested in putting cartoonish actions under the microscope and examining the real world consequences. As Wade is learning, real world consequences are forever, and the fact that the storytellers are sticking to this provides a lovely mix of external hilarity and internal poignancy.
You pointed out the sense of clear, childlike storytelling in the “no, more/no more” exchange as being utterly satisfying, and I couldn’t agree more. As you say, it’s a highly charged character beat disguised as a silly joke, shouted to us at a fevered pitch. Such narrative tightrope walking is difficult under the best of circumstances, yet it feels utterly effortless here. Why is that, exactly? Why does this comic book dream team make it look so dang easy?
In earlier issues, I sometimes wondered whether my pleasures of Deadpool were primarily marveling at the storytelling, or gaping vicariously at Wade’s actions. I, too, was a theatre nerd in high school, yet I was less of a “mean jerk” (which, honestly Patrick, you’re like the nicest person in the world, I cannot imagine this, and want to hear stories soon) and more of a “person-who-lets-mean-jerks-be-mean-and-try-to-smile-about-it”. Where “classic Deadpool” might deal with such folks with zinging one-liners and absurdly gratuitous violence, I dealt with such folks by bending over backwards to make sure they felt comfortable. My motto was “don’t rock the boat”; Deadpool’s might have been “rock it as hard as possible.”
As such, I sometimes got a thrill from Wade’s balls-to-the-wall, ultraviolent Daffy Duck antics because they felt utterly foreign to me. I would stand at a distance, admiring his actions, wishing sometimes that I could act like him, yet never fully empathizing with him. However, now that Deadpool is realizing that, when listening to Preston’s head and indulging in his basely violent tendencies he might be kind of a “mean jerk,” I’m realizing that my love of this series absolutely stems from powerful storytelling and not weird personal issues with catharsis I have. You pointed out the inherent artifice in TV “farewell episodes,” particularly for those who read behind-the-scenes shit like Deadline, yet nothing about Wade’s farewell felt artificial to me. It felt earned, natural, like an honestly good move for him. The fact that Duggan, Posehn, and Hawthorne took us to this place, by doubling down on comedic and dramatic commitment, is proof positive of the excellent storytelling that lies within 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 Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?