The Deadpoolsplosion is dying down and most others would say, “It’s about damn time.” Merc with a Mouth is long gone, Team-Up and Deadpool Corps are about to bite the dust and Deadpool MAX has been turned from an ongoing to a limited series. To compound my sadness, writer of the core series Daniel Way has lost his razzle dazzle and doesn’t appear certain of what he even wants to write. Still, that’s a ton of Deadpool in the last three years, not even counting the various guest appearances, miniseries and specials that have gone to his name.
And yet, despite all of that, it’s a scene in a team comic where he only appears for four pages that speaks to me as his best and truest moment of the Deadpoolsplosion. It comes in Uncanny X-Force #5, written by Rick Remender and drawn by Esad Ribic.
I always thought Deadpool would work better in a team setting. Years ago, people suggested that Peter David put Deadpool in X-Factor, mostly for the sake of being in a comic with Siryn again and I agreed with it. I didn’t think that Deadpool would drive up the wackiness level of the comic, but that the comic would ground Deadpool just a little bit more. He’s spent so much time playing off himself that there doesn’t seem to be much development left for him. That’s why Daniel Way’s written the same “Deadpool wants to be a hero” plotline that Joe Kelly and Fabian Nicieza have written before, only to write himself into a corner and make him purely a mercenary again.
X-Force is the perfect team for Deadpool. Naturally, you have a rich guy who will pay him to keep with Deadpool’s mercenary motivation. The team, especially with Deadpool, acts as a tribute to the dearly departed Cable. Then there’s Deadpool’s comedic and at times pitiful dream to be recognized as a member of the X-Men. I don’t know if they planned it, but Way’s recent storyline where Deadpool momentarily joins the X-Men and sacrifices his own reputation to make them look better works as a perfect prelude/explanation for what he’s doing here.
For those not up to date, the first four issues of Uncanny X-Force have featured the team of Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool going to the moon in order to kill the recently-resurrected Apocalypse. While the X-Men members do this for the sake of saving mutantkind the headache of a fully-realized Apocalypse attack, Fantomex and Deadpool openly tell each other that they’re only there for the money.
The big twist is that Apocalypse isn’t like how we know him. He’s only a child, yet to grow up. His followers have been brainwashing him to be their leader, even though he doesn’t want to kill the weak. It’s a fantastic, action-packed story arc that ends with the team cornering the young Apocalypse and arguing over whether or not they should kill him. Wolverine decides that they’ll take him in and raise him right, since he’s only a kid. Arguments and scuffles ensue, only to be silenced when Fantomex coldly shoots the boy in the head. During all of this, Deadpool has been physically unable to speak, so we don’t know his take on this situation. He’s not the only one silent as the ride back to Earth is filled with awkward wordlessness.
That brings us to the issue at hand. Specifically, this scene.
There are four reasons this scene rings true to me.
1) It parallels a similar situation in Deadpool’s travels. Back in his first ongoing, before Frank Tieri’s run on the character went completely to crap, there was a story where Deadpool was brought back into Weapon X. They were changing their image and trying to take out major threats with a team made up of the likes of Sabretooth and Garrison Kane. Deadpool was recruited, partially against his will, but stuck around because he really had nothing else going on and Weapon X was able to give him back his pre-origin good looks.
Things started to go wrong when a child’s out-of-control mutant powers kicked in for the first time and he destroyed his house, accidentally killed his mother and started laying waste to his town. Rather than fight the enemy, Deadpool used his sense of humor to calm him down and cause the kid to power down into his human form. Deadpool took out the threat without a single offensive attack and seemed to feel pretty good about it as he comforted the kid. Then Kane shot the kid from behind and killed him, naturally pissing off Deadpool.
The continuity I’m sure isn’t intentional, but it certainly fits. As far as Wade is concerned about being on X-Force, same shit; different day.
2) This is the best kind of Deadpool story. Your average superhero story is about a man or woman or robot facing impossible odds and coming out alive. A good Deadpool story is about Deadpool facing an impossible situation and coming to a decision. Deadpool is what I would call a “second degree” comic character. What I mean is that you can explain Wolverine or Spider-Man to someone on their own merits. But for someone like Deadpool or, say, Venom, you have to explain Wolverine and Spider-Man first. Those types of characters have a tendency to be less grounded than first degree Marvel guys. For a character like Deadpool, it tends to translate into having to be put in a situation that we as real people in the real world can’t experience.
We will never have to deal with the consequences of having a giant space creature come to Earth to make everyone blissful zombies or the consequences of killing that creature for the sake of letting everyone keep their free will. We will never have to decide to use a device that will turn everyone on Earth blue as a step against racial intolerance. We can’t betray a bunch of superheroes because having a godly telepath in charge of the world may make it a better place. Not to mention the Superhero Civil War. Just like we can never find ourselves in a situation involving a child who is supposed to grow up to be Hitler with the options of killing him or nurturing him into something else.
You can judge Deadpool and you can sympathize with Deadpool, but you can never walk in his shoes. Even if he tries to make the right choice, we can’t truly say if he was right or not. That’s one of his best selling points.
3) The Cable hypocrisy. The last page there insinuates to me that Deadpool’s doing his X-Force gig mostly because of his friendship with Cable. While the money isn’t very important, I feel he still chooses to get paid because it allows everyone to see a pattern no matter what his actions. Whether he’s doing what he feels is right or not, he wants to keep up the illusion that there’s no difference to him. You can’t tell what missions have meaning to him.
Anyway, back to Cable. The past few years have been based on Cable spending almost two decades in the future in order to raise Hope. Why? Because Bishop is trying to kill her. Why is he doing that? Because this innocent child is supposed to grow up and become the downfall for all mutants. Bishop’s tortured childhood is all because of something Hope does. Ergo, kill her before she can cause damage. Cable dedicated years of his life to prevent Bishop and after succeeding, died shortly after in the same storyline that outted X-Force as existing. During the time of his death, Cable was a member of the team.
With Wolverine’s new lineup, Deadpool is there because it was Cable’s party. Cable was Deadpool’s best friend and the only one in the superhero community outside Siryn who has ever believed that he could be a better man. Now imagine going on a mission to kill your best buddy’s greatest enemy only to find that your mission is nothing more than a giant wad of spit in the face of everything your friend believed in. Murdering an innocent child version of Apocalypse doesn’t make you like Cable. It makes you like Bishop and Wade appears to have picked up on that.
As an aside, this has also shown me that Fantomex’s side of the story works in a similar fashion. Wolverine, Psylocke and Angel were all in agreement that they weren’t going to kill Apocalypse prior to Fantomex pulling the trigger. He would have been paid either way. He genuinely believed it had to be done.
4) The Wolverine/Deadpool relationship. For years, Wolverine vs. Deadpool was an exercise in a gruff straight man dealing with his wacky knockoff as they stab each other repeatedly, whether they’re on the same side or not. When Daniel Way wrote a Deadpool-based arc in Wolverine Origins, he changed that for me by adding one of the more intriguing aspects of Wade Wilson’s psyche. Whether Wade realizes it or not, he sees Wolverine as his father. Not in the sense that Wolverine is like a father to him, but in that in Wade’s mind, his actual father and Wolverine are interchangeable.
For those who don’t know much about Wade’s father, here’s the rundown (at least, according to the Nicieza/Way take on the character): When Wade was a little kid, his mother died from cancer. Wade began acting out a lot as a way to deal and his father would try to rein him in. Wade’s father, a military man of some sort, was never much of a good father to begin with. He was a cold realist. The kind of man who would tell his son that, no, you could never grow up to be President of the United States. Not to mention his own response to his wife’s death was to become an alcoholic. He wasn’t completely horrible in that a flashback showed that he tried to right teenage Wade and drag him out of a bar one night, only to be shot to death by another patron. Naturally, Wade was pretty messed up from that death in the family as well and I wouldn’t doubt his foray into the military has something to do with that.
Deadpool is a biological spinoff of Wolverine. The next generation. At the same time, Wolverine is a crotchety and abusive drinker who is always quick to tell Deadpool that he’s a piece of trash… yet there’s a man who means well under all of that. It’s no wonder Deadpool sees him the way he does. In fact, tack that on to any Wolverine/Deadpool moment and it adds to it. For instance, this little moment from Wolverine #5.1:
It’s funny that he takes her word at face value even if she doesn’t know him and he wasn’t even invited to the party, but there’s an air of sadness as well when you look at it. It’s actually pretty fucked up if you compare the way Wolverine treats Deadpool compared to how he treats Daken, but this tangent has gone far enough.
I believe that there’s an untold respect that Deadpool has for Wolverine in that he’s a hero and has his life figured out in ways Deadpool never can pull off. He accepts every barb from Wolverine’s mouth because Wolverine knows better and has that right. Father knows best, I suppose. In the Uncanny X-Force scene, Deadpool appears disappointed in him. He’s genuinely shocked that Wolverine, the man who should know better and be better, is dense enough to have less of a conscience than his no-good mercenary counterpart. Wolverine’s moment of running him down for being about money – even if it turned out to be true – does nothing to help his argument and instead buries him deeper when Deadpool points out that Fantomex’s actions and Wolverine’s vindication are lower than that.
I guess this is just a long-winded way of me saying that Wolverine got served and it was awesome. Read Uncanny X-Force, folks.