Greg: Is it macabre to say I hope I go to an Irish wake one day? Maybe my view is distorted by inaccurate media representations, but they seem vibrant, emotionally charged, full of humor and, well, life. Yet a sense of melancholy reverberates throughout — not unnecessarily maudlin, but genuine and cathartic. Death Of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America hits these disparate Irish wake-ish notes expertly, taking the reader through outstanding jokes and poignant gut-punches, sometimes on the same page.
Wolverine is dead; long live Wolverine. Except, according to Steve, not so much. He and Wade must eradicate any trace of DNA existence of Logan from the face of the earth, to avoid the common comic-book trope of bringing him back to life — a point of view rendered in a beautiful speech where he explores the importance of letting life run its natural course (particularly for these three government-messed-with folks). Steve and Wade find out, thanks to an ass-kicking Black Widow, that a blade with Wolverine’s blood is in the custody of A.I.M., who will surely make a Wolverine clone with hellish intents. Thus, they infiltrate the building, snatch the knife, and decide they can’t leave the place unbombed. Steve trusts Wade to “take care of” the blade, though Wade isn’t entirely sure he wants Wolverine to stay dead. What, exactly, is the “right thing”?
Gerry Duggan, who delivers one helluva script, lays down with expertise and efficiency why these three characters are entwined in the introduction. While the signifiers of “success” and “failure” are perhaps oversimplified as they’re applied to Captain America and Deadpool, it’s a necessary foundation to communicate the sheer ambivalence of Wolverine. With these three, we move from black to white, with Logan occupying a tantalizing gray. Not only is this a brilliant structural move, it also helps establish the roots of their friendship.
For a story propelled forward by many standard action narrative tropes — finding a MacGuffin, breaking into enemy grounds, a huge explosion — the issue’s overall tone is rather somber. As Rogers and Wilson go about their work, they reminisce about their dearly departed colleague with stories that don’t portray them at their best. Seeing Captain America shout angrily at Wolverine that the Avengers would never have him is jarring and instantly evocative; how many times have we yelled similar things to our friends, only to regret them later? It’s perhaps common in storytelling now, but my heart will still swell up anytime a comic book character behaves in a way that feels completely grounded in “our” emotional reality. For example, moments later in the story, Deadpool reminisces on a time he had a “wild, fun time drinking with ‘the Wolverine’”:
As far as emotional complexity goes, Deadpool is revelatory in this issue. He still cracks effective jokes, needles Steve on Star Wars and Trek references, and kicks A.I.M. agents in the head with no remorse, but Logan’s death seems to unlock something heretofore unseen in him. Humor’s often a defense mechanism, a wall put up to remain strong and impenetrable in the face of adversity and negativity. Wade’s wall seems to be cracking, a gnawing vulnerability eating away within him. Nowhere is this more evident than the joke-free ending, where I’ve never seen Deadpool this thoughtful and distressed:
What do you think, Taylor? Did the mish-mash of tones and feelings disorient you, or did it work for you as well? I didn’t touch on artist Scott Kolins and colorist Vernoica Gandini, whose work often veers into the expressionistic, as elements blur into each other with no divisions. Any thoughts on how that plays into or distracts from the narrative? And do you think Deadpool should clone Logan or let him rest in peace?
Taylor: Well the obvious answer is that Deadpool should, and needs, to clone Wolverine for there to be a story here. And while it is a trope to bring characters back from the grave, like you said, I think it would be fun. As Cap mentioned, the Wolverine we’d see after being cloned wouldn’t be the civilized “professor” we’ve all come to love, but something more akin to the wild animal he’s named after. Wolverine has always embodied the conflict of reason vs. instinct, so it would be interesting to see what would happen if the latter of the two finally won out.
As for the art in this issue, I found myself comparing Kolins pencils to those of Nick Pitarra’s on The Manhattan Projects. In both cases, the artists use a looser style that borders on looking like a sketchbook. My initial reaction to Pitarra’s work was that I didn’t like it, but it has sense grown on me to the point that I appreciate it for being something interesting and different. The same is true with Kolins’ style, only it isn’t nearly as jangly as Pitarra’s. Individually, what I appreciate about Kolin’s work is his eye for staging scenes which tell a story in one panel. Black Widow’s sole panel here demonstrates this aptly.
The reader never sees any of the action that has ensued before this exact point in time, but there are enough clues here to tell us what happened. A broken baseball bat, empty clips, broken fingers, and blood splatters all hint at a vicious fight. Widow, however, is immaculate and spotless. Just look at that hair! While the fight indeed might have been viscous, it was also a massacre because Widow is as dangerous as her name suggests. Panels like this occasionally pop up throughout the issue and each is fun to consider for at least a little bit and let your imagination run wild.
What goes a long way toward making these and other panels easy to navigate visually, is the color work of Veronica Gandini. I’ve found that sketch style artwork can be a little difficult to follow sometimes in a comic. Extra lines abound, sometimes objects are drawn a little out of proportion, and some lines may buck the trend of where we think they belong. In this case, Gandini eases our hesitations about sketchyness with solid and vibrant colors that elucidate what exactly is going on in each panel. Take for example the scene where Deadpool returns to his old haunts.
There’s a lot of junk in these two panels — and that’s the point. However, looking at the couch in the bottom panel, it would be much harder to pick out all of those individual item on the sofa with the absence of color. As it is in the comic, this pile of rubbish is clear and each object pops off of the couch. What could look like a bunch of scribbles at quick glance is instead a nice smattering of junk, each piece distinct from the other.
I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the art in this issue because the story just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really catch on to any of the emotion you did Greg and a lot of that is because the issue itself relies to heavily on touting a friendship we haven’t actually seen formed. While I would like to believe that Cap, Deadpool, and Wolverine were all buddies, we aren’t given enough to actually know that for certain. Because of this, everything in this issue that deals with friendship rings a bit hollow to me. Still, this is weird title and look forward to seeing where it, and Logan’s DNA, go next.
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