Despicable Deadpool 300: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner & Patrick Ehlers

Despicable Deadpool 300

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

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Drew: Five years into this run, pointing out that Deadpool is a Sad Clown would be lazy analysis — not only has that point been well established, but the series itself has managed to explore it so thoroughly, reducing the character’s emotional journey to a two-word summary couldn’t possibly do it justice. And yet, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to begin this piece than embedding Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown,” not because of a shallow similarity between the content of these two works, but because of some profound similarities in how they treat that content. The lyrics describe a narrator who puts on a good face in spite of his profound sadness, but the music doesn’t betray that sadness for a second — it sounds like any other Motown hit (though that bouncy bassoon that maybe hints that this song is about a clown). By this point in the story, Wade Wilson has completely dropped that fascade of silliness, but just like the instruments in “Tears of a Clown,” the series itself maintains that clownish exterior.

At least at first. And that’s the “punchline” of Deadpool’s sadness — the sillier he looks, the more tragic the disconnect between his external and internal lives. But, you know, “tragedy” looks pretty silly when it’s happening to Deadpool. Take the mysterious space weapon Wade uses to hopefully garner the attention of the Avengers. Wade hopes it might give him superpowers, but instead, it just makes everyone vomit.

Falcon Blow

And I mean everyone. Over the next few pages, we just get an escalation of this one gross-out gag, culminating in a giant-sized Giant-Man covering the streets in puke. Only, we recognize all of this vomit as Deadpool’s failure. All he wants is for the Avengers to put him out of his misery (or, more precisely, out of his loved ones’ misery), which is a sad enough desire on the face of it, but he instead finds himself in the middle of that “Mr. Creosote” sketch from the end of The Meaning of Life. The tragedy isn’t just that Deadpool wants to die, but that he misses the mark so thoroughly, he lands himself back in the comedy series he was trying to escape.

We might recognize that those tragedies are the machinations of writer Gerry Duggan, but the conceit of fiction is that we forget that, at least long enough to be invested in how the characters deal with it. But, you know, those things overlap in the fourth-wall-breaking world of Deadpool. So when Duggan shows up to have his Animal Man moment with Wade, he sees the only actual way out: kill the writer. On the surface, that may feel stupid or cheap or derivative, but I’m impressed at how daring it is. It’s actually kind of the opposite of that Animal Man issue — this isn’t the character pleading with his writer (or more precisely, the writer pleading with himself) to not kill him; this is the character desperately wanting to die, and seeing no other solution than to destroy everything standing in his way. It’s the part of Duggan that wants to put Wade out of his misery taking control, albeit with some jokes about how masturbatory the other part of him might be.

Only, Wade doesn’t die — he doesn’t need to. Instead, he just needs to escape the memory of everything Duggan and his collaborators put him through. That means escaping into his mind museum to destroy every memory of everything he loves, turning the issue into a kind of clip-show massacre. It’s a bizarre way to sum up the series — acknowledging its emotional toll on the character, while simultaneously erasing it — but it’s a clever (and perhaps the only) way to set Deadpool back to zero.

But, you know, is he? I mean, I think so, but I’m also intrigued by all of the other cameos that fill the issue after Wade’s memory slaughter. I’m pretty sure Brian Posehn and C.B. Sebulski are Wade’s lawyer and judge, respectively, and while I don’t know what every artist on this series looks like, I’m pretty sure they’re all represented (hilariously) at the sanitarium.

Deadpool artists

Then, as Wade makes his escape, he confronts his editors, Heather Antos, Annalise Bissa, and Jordan D. White, who mentions that Deadpool is “somebody else’s problem now.” This could just be a fun way to pay tribute to all of the folks that have worked on this series over the past several years, but I’m almost tempted to read this as Wade’s “Dead Garfield” moment, suggesting that Wade actually died in that coma, and everything that happens afterwards is just a fantasy playing out in his final seconds of life. That’s maybe a shade too deep and dark even for this series, but that theory will live on in a pocket universe in my head, forever preserving Duggan’s Deadpool run as a kind of perfectly self-contained little series.

Patrick, there’s so much to talk about in this issue, I barely scratched the surface. I’m excited to hear your thoughts on anything I mentioned, but I’m also hoping you can pick up the slack on talking about the artists on this issue — we saw work from regular series artists Mike Hawthorne, Matteo Lolli, and Scott Koblish, who were also all saying goodbye (however temporarily) to Wade in this issue. I think they were deployed expertly here, with each respective sequence playing to their unique strengths, but I’m hoping you can highlight some of your favorites.

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Patrick: Oh boy, Drew — making me walk the rope without a net here. I love these Deadpool artists, and I think I can identify them each by their work, but let’s put that to the test, shall we? I couldn’t find any resource that backs up my claims about who drew what, so if I make any bad assumptions, please forgive me.

I believe the first section of the issue — the 20-page barf-a-rama — is drawn by the artist with the sleaziest style of the trio: Scott Koblish. This sequence is basically perfect, and there’s a wonderful disconnect between how silly “everyone pukes” is and how much grime and grit Koblish draws into the backgrounds of his panels. We’re seeing darkly inked skyscrapers and trashcans and brick facades — y’know, the kind of backgrounds that suggest the hard-knock-life of a Hell’s Kitchen superhero. And each of the character introductions are treated with the same straight-faced severity. Check out the first three panels of the image Drew posted above: a solemn-as-shit Falcon against a drab, serious background.

And I love that Koblish and Duggan don’t dwell in the moments between set-up and payoff. Each character is on the page just long enough to establish who they are and THEN THEY’RE VOMITING. My favorite example, and the one that made me laugh the most, was Ms. Marvel.

Goddamn, so much funny stuff in four little panels! Of course Ms. Marvel’s cheeks embiggen to hold all of her vomit, hilariously distorting her face. And then she tries to swallow it in the third panel, only to become EVEN MORE GROSSED OUT. Look at her eyes in that last panel! Comedy gold, I tells ya.

That leads into the second part of the issue, where Matteo Lolli has the weird task of grounding Wade between a high-concept, long-form gag and the hyper-meta send-off we expect from the end of the series. Drew already pointed out what’s cool about Deadpool’s scene with Gerry Duggan, but it’s interesting to note just how little Lolli messes with the presentation of this scene. For two-and-a-half pages, we’re locked into this car, and the only thing we’re allowed to focus on are the characters. No action, no references to past issues, no explosive barf. Just two characters in a car.

And they play this whole “death of the writer” thing pretty straight. Lolli draws a look of genuine terror on Duggan’s face when Wade draws down on him. Deadpool cocks the gun on-panel, but then the camera swoops to outside the car for the actual “BLAM.” Compare this to Deadpool’s memory-murder-fest at the end of the issue, and it’s obvious that Lolli is showing a restraint that Mike Hawthorne does not. And if you flip to the credits page at the end of the issue, you’ll notice that Gerry Duggan is only credited with writing the first 22 pages of this thing, i.e., everything before he is killed on the page.

This is because Lolli’s section is the sincere good-bye. The majority of the middle-part of the issue is just fight between Deadpool and Cap and Preston. It’s cars and guns and explosions, which — as far as comics are concerned — is grounded. No crazy space weapons, no high-concept explorations of memory and legacy. Just a good ol’ fashioned superhero fight.

And then there’s the final set of pages, which would kind of bum me out if they were published on their own as a special issue of Deadpool. I think I get “celebration fatigue” sometimes, and superhero comics love to celebrate every conceivable milestone with a tour of the character’s history (Im looking at you, Action Comics 1000). Hawthorne’s section of Despicable Deadpool 300 succeeds through sheer irreverence. Deadpool and his creators don’t want to elevate this history, they want to tear it down. At one point, Wade says “I’ve been through worse hells than actual Hell” and, you know, he’s right. A look back at Deadpool’s history shouldn’t be a celebration.

If it’s not a celebration, that leaves Hawthorne and Duggan (who, I guess is deceased at this point), to tell us what this section is. It’s an opportunity. To start over. To choose love. To shut the fuck up.

There’s really no Deadpool story beat that’s quite as heartwarming as the one that makes him stop in the middle of a masturbation joke, is there?

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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?

3 comments on “Despicable Deadpool 300: Discussion

  1. Drew, those mental patients are definitely Deadpool artists. I don’t think Hawthorne is represented (but, I mean, he drew it). The dude speaking Italian in front is Matteo Lolli and the curly haired guy with classes has gotta be Koblish. Then it looks like Shavley is behind him (airline is a dead give-away). The woman with auburn hair and glass is saying “whoa” is likely Jordie Bellaire. But I have a hard time IDing the rest.

    • I recognized Shalvey and Bellaire immediately, and figured the dude speaking Italian must be Lolli, but like I said, I don’t know what most of the artists on this series look like. It’s a fun Easter Egg, but I am kind of loving the idea that the preponderance of real-world people after Wade more or less dies suggests that he’s now in the afterlife. Or, at least, that this version of Wade Wilson died.

  2. So, I saw Deadpool 2. In short, it is good. Very funnier, probably funnier than the first. Though a hot mess on a story level where half of it works, half of it doesn’t but you are too distracted by your laughter. And thank god Sicario 2 is being released, so that we can actually get a good Josh Brolin performance this year. Spoilers Below

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    The first Deadpool was really good. Surprisingly so. As superhero movies go, it actually had one of the better dramatised stories. The Deadpool/Vanessa relationship was incredibly well done, really making you care so that you were emotionally invested. Its biggest flaw was more that it felt like wasted potential. Doing a well told superhero story with a bunch of R Rated jokes certainly works, but it loses what special features Deadpool could really bring to the table. As in, the chance to go really meta and satirical. Luckily, Deadpool 2 actually commits to this approach, wanting to mock the self seriousness that many superhero movies have, even the Marvel ones, beneath their jokes. It also takes advantage of the success of the first one to really go full out on the jokes. The opening credits are even better this time, piling discordant elements together just after the right moment in the movie to create a sequence that is not only funny, but has a second joke layered beneath it where it humorous replicates the audience’s own processing of the preceding events. A joke all about how the audience is currently sitting there, shocked, going ‘You went THERE’. It is the sort of tone control that is fucking masterful. And there are many more jokes that are fantastic, and will have you laughing. As a comedy, this is a hit

    Though let’s talk about THERE. Because THERE is a problem. I hate to call this a spoiler,a s it happens in the first ten minutes. But people probably think it is, so another spoiler warning. Vanessa dies, leading Deadpool to go suicidal briefly in a darkly humorous suicide scene mocking Logan. This is a shame, as Vanessa was a great character and the scenes together instantly remind you about how well done their relationship is. As a fridging goes, they make you care about Vanessa as a character, instead of just as a way to motivate Deadpool’s arc. But the problem is that while such a dark turn is very Deadpool, it… is handled poorly afterwards. For most of the second act, it might as well not be an element in the story. Only with the finale does it truly reappear as part of Deadpool’s story. And considering how this movie could have really cut a sequence, considering how packed it was, removing this could have really helped the movie. Keep Vanessa alive and in the background, and make the inciting incident Deadpool going off to join the X-Men as a way to grow as a character in preparation for becoming a father (and hell, there would be a lot of great meta jokes you could build around this. Deadpool doing things because that is how character arcs are supposed to happen). While Deadpool going dark is something I approve of, the movie doesn’t do enough with it. And it is a big reason why the movie is such a mess. Adjusting this would create some more coherency to the arcs.

    But almost everything else is great. Colossus gets to be even funnier here, filled with moments that take advantage of his position as the normal X-Man. The X-Force sequence is pretty hilarious. The Juggernaut gets to return, and gets to be great, complete with an amazing theme song. And this movie has the best post credits scene of any superhero movie yet.

    Domino is a stand out. One thing I love is how casual she is. There is an almost lack of trying to her. She is so gifted by good luck, she is just used to everything turning out well. She get a big scene in the middle of the movie that really emphasises this, complete with Deadpool screaming ‘good luck isn’t a very cinematic power” during the special effects show off sequence, but I actually prefer the less show offy moments, where things just work for no reason. Her letting go of the steering wheel to fight Cable and just trusting her luck is amazing, as is her happy realisation that her choice to randomly join Deadpool has led her to the place where she was tortured all childhood and she gets to have her revenge.

    Julian Dennison is also a standout, playing Russel/Firefist/Ricky Baker (I’m not kidding. He’s basically Ricky Baker with mutant powers). He’s the character where the themes of the movie circle around. Parenthood as a way to be better than we used to be, When they go low, we go high and, and I’m not kidding, Vice President Mike Pence deserves to suffer a horrifying death.
    Ricky Baker (I am sticking with that name and you can’t stop me), instead of being trapped in a terrible foster system until finally finding a family that can actually provide love, is instead sent to the X-Men equivalent of a Gay Conversion Centre. And the similarities are cutting. They even use the exact same techniques to ‘cure’, electroshock therapy. It is the sort of thing that the previous X-Men movies have never actually done before, and a fantastic demonstration of why the X-Men movies have always been so fucking terrible. For movies supposedly about Civil Rights, no movie is actually that interested in showing oppression. Where the comics have used things like Concentration Camps before, the X-Men movies have always been cowardly in this respect. There’s a reason that the only truly well down character (as opposed to just iconic performance) has Fassbander’s Magneto in First Class, and that’s only because of the focus on the Holocaust. The X-Men movies have never actually cared about actual oppression. Where has the X-Men version of Get Out with the U-Men been?
    But Deadpool 2 actually has the guts to properly explore oppression, sympathising greatly with Ricky Baker’s pain and stating in no uncertain terms that it is truly horrific. When Deadpool says that everyone involved deserves horrific death, this isn’t a joke about Deadpool’s lack of morality. The movie backs it up, giving the Headmaster a crowd pleasing death that makes clear that despite the movie’s belief that we should not let the evil of others corrupt ourselves, Mike Pence and those like him deserve horrific endings with with sheer, inhuman cruelty. It is a fantastic show of just how much an X-Men movie can get out of actually exploring oppression instead of wasting time speaking vaguely about it.
    The actual parenthood aspects are hurt by the fact that the movie is a mess. Which is a shame. But Deadpool’s attempts at actually saving Ricky Baker are heartfelt and powerful. They work, they are powerful. And yeah, Julian Dennison continues to prov how funny he is, and having him team up with the Juggernaur is amazing.

    But then we get to Cable. Urgh. I do like Josh Brolin. I really do. Sicario. Hail, Ceasar. He’s proven he is a talent. But maybe he has to admit that comic book movies aren’t for him. Jonah Hex, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Avengers Infinity War. Deadpool 2. Hell, technically Men in Black 3 counts. But it is sad that in that lost, there are some truly bad movies. And the only good one, Deadpool 2, he is by far the worst part.
    He just isn’t funny. There are maybe two jokes around him that work. Both which use Cable’s uberseriousness as the joke itself. One is him putting on chapstick. The very visual of Cable doing that is hilarious. The other is technically more of a Domino joke, but works better because of Cable’s uberseriousness. Cable marches towards the prison transport like the Winter Soldier, and and prepares to shoot. And then gets blinded in the eye by a truly improbable event that causes the big badass to completely fuck up his shot embarrassingly. Deadpool has a joke about Cable being so dark that he must come from the DC Universe, and that’s more accurate than they intended. He feels so dour and self serious that he belongs in Batman v Superman. The movie positions Cable as a character to take down. Whose purpose is to represent a sort of superhero movie to be rejected. But it feels like that would be handled a bit better if they actually made the target of their satire into a joke. I remembered Jason Statham in Spy, and kept thinking that that was how they should do Cable. Don’t have him cracking jokes like the rest of the characters, but accentuate his seriousness to self parody that when he talks about needing to kill a kid to change the future, he sounds stupid.
    He isn’t Thanos. Cable doesn’t fundamentally fail as a character in every conceivable metric. He’s just the bare minimum. Other than great costuming, there is very little that suggests actual effort. Considering how obvious a choice Brolin was for the role, maybe they should have just looked outside the box and committed to joke from the first movie and cast Keira Knightley. Or maybe they just had to write him so that Cable felt like he belonged in the same movie. Considering both how funny this movie is and how emotionally harrowing it can be, it is weird that Cable doesn’t really fit in on either side. He’s just there, as a joyless, grim character most notable for the loss of potential.

    The other problems are minor. Like Negasonic Teenage Warhead and her new girlfriend, Yukio. I love how they are casually in a relationship,never treated as anything other than normal. And I love Negasonic’s new costume. But despite Negasonic being an important character last time, here she is an extended cameo. Which is a shame, especially as the Negasonic/Yukio/Deadpool dynamic looked to be one that had a lot of potential. Hell, in the climax they even arrive late and leave early.

    Deadpool 2 has problems, it is a hot mess. Most overstuffed superhero movie in some time (note, Infinity War isn’t overstuffed. It is grossly understuffed). Cable problems. But it is both hilarious and the first real attempt by the X-Men franchise to be an X-Men movie. This should be the template for future X-Men movies, honestly. There is so much greatness I haven’t had chance to talk about, like the X-Force sequence.

    But bring on Day of the Soldado, I miss liking Brolin

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