by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Superheroes have an insane amount of mobility. Whether they’re fwipping around on spider webs, or flying through the air, or just brooding on a gargoyle on top of a skyscraper, there’s always a sense that the whole city is laid out before them. Artists can achieve this effect with dynamic camera angles, revealing the city below, and hopefully inducing a touch of vertigo in their readers. Despicable Deadpool 297 shows just how effectively Mike Hawthorne can use those same techniques to sell a change of setting and raise the stakes in Wade’s non-stop-slay-a-thon
Deadpool is largely an earthbound character. Further, he’s a visceral, up-close and incredibly disgusting character. For most of Despicable Deadpool 297 artist Hawthorne keeps his camera tight on his subjects and at eye- or torso-level. For reference, here’s Deadpool fighting Lady Stilt-Man on a riverboat casino:
Hawthorne’s camera is a little on the low side, but there’s almost a proscenium-like presentation here. The action is literally confined by a camera that has very little room (and very little permission) to move around. Which is actually sort of comforting at this stage of the game: Deadpool is being a real shit here, indiscriminately shooting dudes in the head. And writer Gerry Duggan loads these pages with some really frivolous (and totally in-character) Deadpool jokes. The overwhelming message is that we’re just having fun beating on the baddies. Hawthorne’s confined camera helps to convince us that this kind of behavior is only happening here, on a ship full of supervillains who probably deserve it.
When Deadpool gets out of the bowels of the ship and comes dangerously close to interacting with the rest of the world, Hawthorne lets slip an extreme angle.
This poor guy is not a supervillain. Hawthorne’s camera, now placed at least three stories below our main character and tilted up to show a huge section of the ship, is starting to tease the potential extent of Deadpool’s murder-party. On just the next page, Deadpool battles Jack O’Lantern, who is a flying villain, but the camera snaps right back to a confined, non-dramatic presentation: perfectly at torso level and implying nothing about Deadpool as a threat to the outside world.
The vocabulary is established: as long as that camera is fixed in space and on the same level as our characters, Deadpool’s moral compass is at least limiting him to slaughtering bad guys. Of course, that makes it absolutely terrifying when Deadpool abandons ship.
SWEET MOTHER OF GOD. Wade Wilson is restrained no more! Duggan even clues us in to the real nature of what’s going on in this issue: “They’ll think I’m just having fun. But I desperately need the money.” Despite what we’ve been lead to believe, we ain’t just having fun — shit is getting serious.
The next page has him tussling with Lady Stilt-Man and Gentleman Stilt-Man (which is what I assume the man-form of Lady Stilt-Man is), and Hawthorne’s camera swings wildly from low angles to high angles, almost Etch-a-Sketching away any comfort we had with Deadpool’s restrained rampage. He goes on to fight the cops and eventually bring the hammer down on himself, which is exactly what we should expect when released from the comfort of Hawthorne’s measured presentation.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
Man, the thought of Wade desperately needing anything is almost too real. That’s some mature self-evaluation and pragmatism we don’t normally expect of him.
Right? It’s like, the opposite of a Deadpool joke.