Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Deadpool 45, originally released April 8th, 2015.
Taylor: At the risk of sounding trite, a funeral is an event where people come together to celebrate the life of someone who has passed on. Even though most funerals are more somber than celebratory, the very nature of the event is to recognize someone who has died and to give those who remain closure. The much heralded Deadpool 45 is the issue where Deadpool dies and in many ways it acts like a funeral for Deadpool, even before the man himself has died. It offers closure to those who have read the series the past couple years and also reminds us just how much we ware going to miss the Merc With the Mouth, even if we know he won’t be gone for long.
Deadpool is flying back from the Middle East when he has a premonition his loved ones have come under attack. Somehow, this proves to be true and while everyone survives, including his daughter, Deadpool is pissed. Using his vast array of skills, he confronts U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. which launched the attack, and defeats their entire army handily. Wade then gives up the Deadpool mantel and retires to a stolen yacht to enjoy the fruits of his victory, only to be wiped out by two Earths colliding in an Incursion event.
First off, this issue was huge! 80 pages all devoted to the Reintegrating Degenerate! There’s simply too much to cover everything in detail so I’m going to stick to the main story that we get in the first 30 pages for the sake of giving proper space to an issue devoted to it’s titular character’s death.
While it might seem obvious to point out for a supposed last issue, I think it bares mentioning that this issue has a little bit of everything that has made this run of Deadpool great. Of these, perhaps the single thing that has set this version of Deadpool apart from others is the level of pathos Wade Wilson has dealt with. Throughout the latter stages of of Deadpool, Wade was struggling to come to grips with what he wanted out of life. Doed he want to be carefree and violent or does he to be moral and caring, as he learned he could be while Zenpool? In this final issue, we get closure on this issue of sorts, as Deadpool realizes that he prefers the former to the latter.
As he’s slaughtering the entire army of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., Wade realizes he’s really good at what he does and that he enjoys it. He also comes to the conclusion that the best way to protect those he loves is not by changing who he is, but embracing that and using it to kill anyone who might endanger his daughter or friends. It’s hard to to say how sincere Wade is in this instance, after all he gives up being Deadpool moments later. However, it does give us pause because seeing Deadpool give in to being a killer almost seems like loss in some way. After all of his progress in sparing the life of Omega Red and saving a random village from Roxxon, how can we not feel he has taken a step back here by delving into violence once again. Honestly, I have conflictions about his turn as well. On the one hand, who doesn’t love a good redemption story of a once bad anti-hero becoming more of a straight hero? But seeing Deadpool kick THAT MUCH ass is really enjoyable.
What’s great about this issue, and the title in general, is that we get to sit in the passenger seat and watch Wade sift through all of this emotional baggage. And while Wade is the driver, we are the passenger and that means we still come along for the trip, even if it takes us places we would rather not. In this case, Wade’s joy in killing an entire army, and subsequently our own, makes us question our own tastes and personalities. If we like seeing Wade kill hundred of men in often violent ways, maybe we can’t pretend we’re not as bloodthirsty as he is.
This is heavy stuff, but as with most Deadpool issues, levity is provided in the form of Deadpool’s comic relief. In this case, the levity comes right at perhaps the most climatic part of the series — Deadpool’s death! Just as Wade is relishing in the hard won love of his friends and family, the Incursion event comes to ruin everything. Wade, however, is there with a quip to keep things from getting too heavy.
Even with death imminent, Wade manages to make us laugh. This is typical of the humor we’ve come to expect from this series and it should be no surprise that it’s metareferential. Not only does it bring Deadpool in the fold of the incursions, but he voices the thoughts and feelings of the readers who are reading his issue by saying that he thought this event wouldn’t involve him. It’s one last laugh from the a character who always has a clever quip to bely his tragic story.
There are other examples of how this issue acts as a funeral for Deadpool by celebrating all of things readers of this series have come to love about it but I’ll leave that for you, Drew. OR you could talk about the 50 OTHER PAGES that are contained in this special issue. If that’s your choice, how well do you feel they capture the spirit of this series? Are they a fitting send-off for Wade?
Drew: You know, I actually think those back up stories are kind of an odd choice. Not that they’re bad — many of them are quite entertaining — but focusing so much on Deadpool‘s extended cast leaves the issue oddly absent of its title character. I suppose his conspicuous absence is the point, driving home the finality of the promised “death,” but in failing to make this issue a true celebration of the character — like, say, Amazing Spider-Man 700 — those backups actually undermine the permanence of his death. What’s weird is that we actually got an appropriate character tribute back in issue 27, which leaves this issue feeling somewhat aimless.
Of course, that it doesn’t nail the impact of the death is kind of the joke. Duggan and Posehn effectively fake us out in the final scene, making it seem like the “death” promised on the cover was more of spiritual one, as Wade says goodbye to Deadpool.
I was happy to accept this “death” as what was promised on the cover as a tongue-in-cheek subversion of the hype built up around superhero deaths, but then Duggan and Posehn yank the rug out from under us again, delivering the killing blow not in a way that means anything to Deadpool or Wade Wilson, but as almost an afterthought. Only Deadpool could kill off its hero with such irreverence and irrelevance. I mean, the “Death of Deadpool” is actually the story of the end of the world (and the known universe), but slips in just at the end of the issue. It’s an effective send-up of the high-stakes storytelling of these huge events that actually undermine their own stakes by just hitting the reset button. I’m no more afraid of Deadpool being dead than I am the rest of the Marvel Universe being obliterated in the final page of a Deadpool comic, which is to say, I’m not afraid.
Still, even as they’re playing it for laughs, Duggan and Posehn manage to sell the emotional stakes of those final moments. Wade is able to face his death peacefully in the arms of his daughter.
It’s a beautiful piece of emotional closure, even if we know it will be unceremoniously undone almost immediately.
In that way, Wade’s absence from those guest-spots is downright respectful. Indeed, when Wade does show up for significant screen time again — in another “inventory issue” — it immediately feels cheap and overlong (though I suppose its place at the end of an 80-page anthology may account for the latter). That inventory issue might have felt fun on its own, working both as a commentary on huge crossover events AND a space for taking gauzy roast-style digs at the Marvel Universe, but in the wake of Wade’s death, it serves as a rather deflating commentary on the character. I’d readily dismiss reading too much into what might have been intended as a goofy bon mot, except for Duggan and Posehn’s cameo at the end of the story.
This is actually their second cameo — they appear earlier in the more obvious fourth-wall breaking scene alongside editors Jordan B. White and Heather Santos — but the silhouettes here take on an almost poignant tone. Is this little fantasy meant as their farewell — their The Tempest with poop jokes? I’m honestly not sure if Duggan and Posehn will be returning to write Deadpool post-Secret Wars, so I don’t know whether to read this as a silly aside or a final statement of purpose, which I suppose is a fitting way to say goodbye to this character — even if it isn’t a final goodbye.
That confusion may be what’s leaving me most uncomfortable about this “death,” and what it might mean for this series going forward. Comic book deaths are easily reversible, but creative teams tend to say goodbye only once. That is, while I was never all that concerned about the end of Wade Wilson, I maybe should have been more worried about the end of this volume of Deadpool. Is it really over? Was it all a dream? I suppose we’ll have to wait to find out.
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