This week’s reading: Deadpool -1, July 1997
Story by Joe Kelly
Art by Aaron Lopresti and Rachel Dodson
Let us now flash back to Marvel’s Flashback Month, a 1997 editorial gimmick in which the company’s entire line interrupted itself to tell tales set 10 years in the fictional past, just before the dawn of the Marvel Universe as we know it. And so we got stories such as the day Cable landed in the 20th century with long hair speaking the Askani language of the future, or the time Professor Xavier confronted Magneto shortly before his first appearance in 1963’s X-Men #1, or the time young Peter Parker went fishing with his Uncle Ben and there were monsters, but it was only a dream.
Deadpool -1 isn’t so much about Deadpool’s past as it is the past of his supporting cast, specifically Vanessa Carlysle, his ex-girlfriend and the mutant known as Copycat, and Zoe Culloden, his would-be handler from the pandimensional firm of Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare. Notice that fourth L? We’ll find out who that is later. Much later.
Zoe – whom we haven’t seen in this book since issue +1 – has been tracking Wade for five years as of the events of this issue. She follows him to Boston, where Vanessa works as a prostitute, believing Wade is at a “flux point” in his life where the choices he makes could affect whether he becomes the galactic savior later. Most people at LLL&L, including Zoe’s boss, believe Wade is not the droids they’re looking for, but Zoe wants a promotion so badly she goes undercover as a rookie prostitute – changing from skintight bodysuit to skintight minidress – in an attempt to manipulate events.
Meanwhile, young Vanessa puts up a tough front as a prostitute, but she’s hopelessly in love with Wade and truly believes they can escape their lives and move to the suburbs, a far cry from the woman who posed as Domino for a year. Also her mutant powers don’t appear to have manifested yet, so no blue skin or shapeshifting this issue.
Needless to say, this issue definitely does not pass the Bechdel-Wallace test. While Vanessa and Zoe are the leads, they spend nearly all their time talking about Wade.
This is the first we’ve seen of Vanessa in a while. She hasn’t appeared or even been mentioned in the current series yet, and hasn’t been featured regularly since 1993’s Deadpool: The Circle Chase, although she did make a guest appearance alongside Wade and current boyfriend Garrison Kane in 1994’s Wolverine #88.
As for the main man himself, Wade appears twice in this issue, very briefly, his face and hair in shadow, though still looking nothing like the blond, wavy-haired, mustachioed, hairy-chested dreamboat he was healed to resemble in Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars. At this point, Wade is just a heavy-duty mercenary, “responsible for more suffering and carnage than your average cholera outbreak,” in the words of Zoe’s boss. He had just completed the mission in which he captured Blind Al (whom he was supposed to kill), and he’s just found out he has cancer, so the character as we know and love him is still years away. Yet somehow he still manages to speak in his trademark yellow word balloons, perhaps in an overly cautious bid by the editorial team to make sure he was still recognizable.
Rounding out the cast is Montgomery, a precog for LLL&L, making his first appearance. If a post-cancer Wade Wilson and the Cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt had a baby, and that baby grew up and were jammed into Mojo’s hoverchair, that’s about what Monty (as Wade will come to call him) looks like.
The “flux point” so overly discussed in this issue appears to have to do with the fact that Wade disobeyed the people who hired him by saving Al and killing everyone else. In retaliation, an assassin is sent after Vanessa, though Zoe ultimately kills him. Thinking this was all she had to do get Wade over the flux point, she returns to LLL&L to gloat, only to be told by Montgomery it was all pointless because the cancer will ruin him anyway, something he probably should have seen coming earlier.
Aaron Lopresti guests on art this issue and gives us some great homages to Jim Steranko’s ’60s work, especially on the cover and the Stan Lee intro and outro (Smilin’ Stan framed all the Flashback Month stories).
Next time on Thursdays with Wade, we return to our regularly scheduled continuity with Deadpool #6 and 7, in which our sociopathic antihero makes a new friend who’s just as crazy as he is!
In addition to writing for The Matt Signal, Dan Grote is now the official comics blogger for The Press of Atlantic City. New posts appear Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com/Life. His new novel, Magic Pier, is available however you get your books online. He and Matt have been friends since the days when Onslaught was just a glimmer in Charles Xavier's eye. Follow @danielpgrote on Twitter.