How Lettering Sells the Loss in Deadpool 34

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Comic book creators have so many tools at their disposal for exploring sadness. There’s the acting of the characters, the framing of a panel, setting, color and even dialogue if it comes down to it. Throughout their run with The Merc With the Mouth, writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Lolli have utilized every one of these tools to convey the extreme despair at the center of Wade’s life, and his climatic battle with Preston is no exception. The sky turns red, and all other color disappears, in the abandoned town of Pleasant Hill, setting a strong emotional tone for the battle. The previous issue saw Preston turning off her emotions (literally — she’s a robot and can just mute those things), but Lolli’s insistence on her steely visage actually ends up communicating more about the fatalism driving Wade’s fall from grace.

It’s some bleak shit, and would be teetering on the melodramatic if it weren’t for this team’s continued inventiveness when it come to conveying just how fucked up the whole thing is. When Deadpool has Preston beaten — not through skill or cleverness, mind you, just by blowing them both up together — we get a glimpse at Preston’s code struggling to reboot to LMD body. It takes up a full page, with only one interruption from Preston herself.

This page is brilliant. What Deadpool has done in killing Preston is violative of all the growth he’s been through over the last half-decade, so it automatically triggers a violation of the format. The graphic part of the comic disappears, and all we’re left with is a listing of cold, hard facts. Letter Joe Sabino uses a kind of retro-futurist computer font, unlike any other lettering in the issue. Nearly everything about this page is pushing the reader away, and yet there are flashes of desperation that sneak through that mechanical veneer. All of the diagnostic words appear in a sort of like pink color — not quite the passion of red, but evocative of Preston’s fading ability to fight any longer. Hell, even the cold binary code at the top of the page is interrupted so the words “DAMAGE” and “CRITICAL” within a cloud of computer nonsense.

By the time Preston wills her body to stop booting up just so she can witness her own end, Wade and the reader are about as low as we can get. “Give me eyes now.” After a full page of blackness, there’s nothing she could say that conveys the depths to which Deadpool has sunk.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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