Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool 41, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Taylor: When someone mentions Deadpool to you, what’s the first word that comes to mind? Is it lunatic? Madman? Goof-off? Ask a fan to describe the titular character of the most recent run of Deadpool and you might get some of these same answers, but a few might throw in descriptors such as melancholy, complex, and heartwarming asshole. Wade Wilson is many things, and depending on how you read the series, he could be any of the things listed above. However, even though we’ve known Wade for a long time now, can any of us really say we know him? Taking into consideration that the man hardly knows himself, this question becomes even more confounding.
Deadpool is sad you guys! Previously, Deadpool existed as the Zen version of himself — a self which in many ways he feels is better than the Deadpool we all know and love…er, tolerate. This has caused Wade to feel a bit out of sorts. On the one hand he wishes he was more Zen, but on the other, it’s more fun and sexy to be regular Deadpool. Unable to finds answers to his questions, Deadpool sets off to the Middle East to work a job protecting oil refineries for the Roxxon Corporation. There, he quickly rebels against his employers, saving a town and maybe getting himself into a whole mess of trouble.
Just as Deadpool has both good and bad parts to his personality, so too does this issue have it’s good and bad aspects. Since I want to leave this article on a good note, let’s start with what’s not so great.
No doubt many recognized the continuing theme of environmentalism running through this issue that also dominated issue 40. I, for one, found the activism in the previous issue refreshing — it’s an important topic that needs to be addressed. However, the continuation of this theme here feels like more forced issue. So what’s the difference? Why is it that I enjoy the environmentalism touted in one issue but not the next? The reason, I believe, is twofold. First, in issue 40 the subject of “gracking” (fracking) is front and center. It’s a stand alone issue whose only purpose to address the environmental issue. In this issue, though, writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan attempt to address the issue of Deadpool’s identify crisis at the same time as addressing the issue of oil production. While it’s not impossible to explore both of these subjects at the same time, it seems like a bit much for this single issue.
The second reason the environmental issue doesn’t speak to me in the issue is that the characters which represent pollution and corruption are simply too one-dimensional. Potter, the gigantic and blood-thirsty mercenary, seems to enjoy killing just for the sake of it.
While this no doubt makes the man hatable, it doesn’t necessarily make me feel a strong hatred for the act of oil extraction, and really, isn’t that what I should be mad at here? If not mad at the act of extracting oil, shouldn’t I at least be able to target my anger at the CEO who ordered this operation like I could in the previous issue? Because of the absence of the real culprit behind harmful oil extraction and because of how lightly it’s touched upon, the entire environmental message here comes out looking superficial. It’s basically like reading an issue on climate change and feeling good about feeling bad, then driving off to work in your SUV.
Whereas this aspect of the issue fails to impress, I did enjoy the other parts of the issue that focused more on Wade and his desire to find himself. This issue is most prevalent at the beginning of issue, where Shiklah bemoans the loss of the Wade’s old self.
Sure, it seems like she’s trying to persuade Deadpool to do what’s best for himself by going on a walkabout, but the implied subtext is that she wants Wade to find his old self. There’s a problem with that, however. Wade wants to be more than his old self. Zenpool showed Wade what he could be, and while he might not want to be exactly Zenpool, he did enjoy actually being a decent human being for once.
This all comes in to play towards the end of the issue when Wade takes the moral high ground rather than the one that pays. It’s a moment of growth for our hero and it’s telling that he could only do this growth away from the one person who doesn’t want him to change. Why I find this aspect of the issue so likable is that it’s relatable. Who hasn’t been in the exact same situation, where we are torn between being what someone wants us to be and what we want to be to ourselves?
Really, that message alone is enough to make me enjoy the issue. It has its bumps, but they are easily ignored given the insightful nature of our Merc with the Mouth. Drew, did you equally enjoy this issue? Does the good in the issue outweigh the bad? The art of Salva Espin had it’s off-putting moments for me, did you find the same to be true for you?
Drew: Oh, this is interesting: I agree with you that this issue is a bit of a mixed bag, but for basically the opposite reasons. For starters, I was quite charmed by by Epstein’s art here. It feels largely consistent with Scott Koblish’s work on the series, but with a slightly cuter bent. The effect is slightly more approachable characters and an overal cartoonier feel, which I think the writing really needs to sell the gags (and the violence) this series trades in. To that end, I was particularly enamored of Espin’s choice to give Wade a little stubble, which I think works to humanize him in a way that really fits this issue.
Taylor, I think we largely agree on the effectiveness of Wade’s uncertainty. As a twenty-something very much still unsure of what I want to be doing, the story of Wade not knowing is downright comforting. Moreover, I think Deadpool “regrowing” his conscience is a clever fallout of his stint as Zenpool — his ultimate course of action isn’t just informed by what he wants or what his loved one wants, but is influenced by a profound, almost spiritual event in his life.
But as much as I like the conflict and how a conscientious Deadpool solves it, I can’t say I’m as enamored of Deadpool going all Black Widow, largely because Black Widow is already doing that storyline so well. Granted, Nathan Edmondson didn’t invent the “we’ve done horrible things to other human beings for most of our lives. Now we do bad things to bad people” pitch, but man, it really seems better suited for mitigating the assassin-ness of one of Marvel’s most notable Avengers than for giving Wade a conscience. I mean, isn’t seeing Wade gleefully, remorselessly reign vengeance on redshirts part of the fun of this series? Part of the fun of the character? Posehn and Duggan have done a great job at showing that that’s not the only thing to like about this character, and that, indeed, that violence is often no fun at all, but it still feels kind of central to what this series is. I wouldn’t put it past this creative team to surprise me, but I’m feeling a little more “cautious” in my cautious optimism here.
As for your environmental critiques, Taylor, I can’t say that you’re wrong, but I’m not sure I agree that it matters. I’m totally with you on how turning an oil company rep into a murderous psychopath skirts the morality of what Roxxon is doing here, but ultimately, I’m not convinced that this story is about the morality of what Roxxon is doing. This series has never been particularly subtle with its villains, and while the last issue did set its sights on fracking, I’m not sure there’s any expectation that this series has any kind of larger message, either. I mean, this series kicked off with Deadpool fighting the evil, resurrected remains of US Presidents — we weren’t chiding those issues for failing to address the tyranny of political appointments.
We may quibble about which parts of this issue hold it back from perfection, but we’re in agreement that the stronger moments shine through in spite of those weaknesses. Like Shiklah, I’m happy to have our old Wade back, even if he’s maybe not quite the “old” Wade, after all.
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?