by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Are reverence and irreverence mutually exclusive? Linguistically, we might understand these words as opposites, but practically, we recognize that they coexist all around us. This is especially true in standup comedy, a field that both finds humor in what we take seriously and takes what we find funny very seriously. It’s no coincidence, then, that Gerry Duggan’s Deadpool run has had such a rich mix of reverence and irreverence, adopting some of the “sad clown” stylings of his comedic friends and collaborators, lending an otherwise goofy character real pathos. Indeed, one of the most distinctive features of Duggan’s work with this character was in crafting a tragic (but nonetheless joke-filled) backstory that could lend itself to reverence. With issue 296, Despicable Deadpool aims to cash in on much of that reverence, drawing on everything from Duggan’s earliest work with the character to some of his most recent.
Which is to say: this issue takes itself seriously, even as it’s chockfull of one-liners. Wade’s rage is treated seriously. Steve’s rapidly thinning patience is treated seriously. Still, Deadpool can’t help but be Deadpool.
But don’t let those jokes fool you — this is a character settling a score decades in the making. Wade’s upset about the events of Secret Empire, sure, but that’s just the most recent example of him being used as a weapon by powerful people. Seeing Duggan reach back to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” — one of my favorite arcs from his entire run — to explain why Wade is so fed up lends a reverence to that history that Deadpool himself might not always convey. It’s a clever callback that puts this story in context of the character’s entire history.
But the real gut-punch comes as Wade lays out the only concrete way Steve can make things right: repair Agent Preston.
Even at his most destructive and rage-fueled, Wade is trying to make something right. These are some exacting terms for surrender — and even Steve must take Wade’s threat to the world at large seriously — but this is about fixing the damage Wade feels he does to those closest to him. No amount of dick jokes can make that less sad.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?