Cars Can Be Blue, Dating Batman
Drew: It goes without saying that the lives are superheroes are kind of weird — that’s the reason they’re of interest — but they’re often so removed from any frame of reference that it’s easy to forget just how strange a superheroes daily life actually is. Over the last year and a half, Deadpool has learned that he has an estranged daughter, befriended a group of mutants engineered using his DNA, mourned the loss of his baby mamma, gotten married, and antagonized Dracula. It’s a long, strange list that only feels more disjointed when they’re listed together like that, which is of course what Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn do in Deadpool 35, hanging a lantern on just how weird it is to be Wade Wilson.
The issue opens with Wade being a surprisingly sweet dad to Ellie, though he still doesn’t trust himself enough to take care of her, leaving her with Agent Preston before heading out to catch up with Ellie’s grandmother. Grandma of course blames Wade for what’s happened to her family, and he doesn’t put up much of a defense. Posehn and Duggan play Wade’s self-loathing in subtext here, but li’l Deadpool’s summary on the intro page makes it clear that Wade holds himself accountable for what happened to Carmelita. It’s some pretty dark stuff, but Wade can’t really focus on any of it, as he’s just called in a favor to the X-Men to help the X-Men copies he met in North Korea. Unfortunately, that’s only the first of many favors he needs to cash in, so heads back into the city to make a few house calls.
Meanwhile, Dracula has acquired an old Spider-Slayer suit, and is hoping to use it to exact revenge on Deadpool. Wade thinks this whole plan is pretty funny, but it’s not clear if it’s Deadpool the character or Deadpool the series that sees the prospect of facing a supervillain as kind of quaint at this point. A vampire in a mecha-suit is pretty funny, but it’s also a world removed from the issues of guilt and obligation Wade is dealing with right now.
Posehn and Duggan highlight just how out-of-synch the vampire stuff is when they inject Shiklah into the issue via a facetime call.
The conversation basically boils down to explaining why the thread of Deadpool being married is on hold, though it has the added benefit of demonstrating just how weird Wade’s life is right now. Conversely, Deadpool’s pre-marriage emotional baggage is so hefty that everything that’s happened since runs the risk of feeling a little thin, but I think the relative normalcy of the conversation emphasizes how close Wade could be to happiness.
In spite (or perhaps because) of the depressing subject matter, Posehn and Duggan pump the issue full of gross-out gags, from dentures to vomit to an “accident” that leaves Wade without a clean costume to wear. This series has long featured plenty of groan-inducing jokes, but these feel especially out-of-place in an issue about Wade’s loss of humanity. I mean, what’s emotionally honest about a homeless guy defecating in Deadpool’s costume? Or Deadpool ditching a bin of his own vomit in the shrubs outside of the Jean Grey School? I think the surprising crassness of these gags is the point (Wade’s conversation with Shiklah opens with a “Baby Got Back” ringtone), but without a stronger punchline, these feel like fart jokes at a funeral.
All in all, I think this issue paints a pretty accurate picture of this series as a whole — it wrings a shocking amount of pathos out of a self-consciously convoluted continuity, but slathers it all in jokes. Sometimes those jokes hit, sometimes they miss, but Posehn and Duggan have never been afraid to lean into just how disjointed those jokes might feel in the midst of all the sadness. I guess that is to say that this issue was both hit and miss for me, Taylor, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts — was it a mixed bag for you, too, or did this work better (or worse) for you?
Taylor: That’s a great question Drew and one that I feel I’m in a unique position to answer. You see, I’ve never read much of the Deadpool series. I’ve really only known him as an ancillary character in multiple crossovers. In all of these stories he always plays the same role of jester and laugh factory extraordinaire. It’s rare that I ever get a glimpse into his pathos so it’s a little weird to be dealing with it here, especially as it’s interlaced with zany action.
The thing is, it’s so easy to miss the subtler moments in this issue. Like you Drew, I enjoyed the opening scene where Wade is talking to his daughter. The moment when she asks him to take off his mask is actually pretty heart-wrenching.
Deadpool obviously wants to break down the barriers that separate him and his daughter, but his mask is literal and metaphorical block preventing the intimacy of a true father-daughter relationship. For as long as Deadpool wears that mask, his daughter will never see who he is. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is perhaps best left up to the individual reader, but the basic premise of it is like a punch to the gut. Here we have Deadpool, usually so ballsy and happy-go-lucky, afraid to remove his mask for fear of scaring his daughter. It’s basically seeing him at his most vulnerable.
For all that though, Deadpool later does remove his mask when he forcefully gives his costume to a homeless man. It seems appropriate for this issue that we would see Deadpool’s face at this moment. What should be a big deal to both hero and the audience — the removal of the mask — is nothing more than a vehicle for slapstick comedy. It undermines all of the quality story telling which takes place earlier in the issue all for the sake a of a few laughs. It feels cheap to me.
Being of the sort who generally enjoys a good time, I wish I could say the price payed for these laughs is worth it, but unfortunately, it’s not. All of the comedy in this issue feels forced and a little desperate. Again, Deadpool is our jokester friend and it feels like Duggan and Posehn are trying a little to hard to pound that point home. I found the humor to be of the lowest sort and nothing of substance. It almost felt like watching the trailer to Dumb and Dumber To. The only part I found to be that funny was when Deadpool makes his escape.
It’s an old gag, but it checks out. Also, I’m a sucker for a protagonist’s flat refusal of an earnest antagonist entreaty. It has something of a Bill Murray quality that I just can’t get enough of. Sadly, the gag and fight don’t end here and continue with more jokes that fall flat.
If it sounds like I’m disappointed, it’s because I am. Deadpool is practically an All-Star comic book character and I was counting on big things from my first full blown voyage into his world. I can only hope that later issues prove to be more thoughtful and funnier. It they are, be sure to let me know.
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