Today’s reading: Deadpool: Sins of the Past #1-4 and Deadpool (Vol. 3) #3-5
Story by Mark Waid (Sins of the Past) and Joe Kelly (Vol. 3)
Art by Ian Churchill, Lee Weeks and Ken Lashley (Sins of the Past) and Ed McGuinness and Kevin Lau (Vol. 3)
Issues 3 through 5 of Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness’ Deadpool tell the book’s first long arc and give us more of a peak into Wade’s past than we’ve gotten previously.
Spiritually, these three issues act as a sequel to Mark Waid and Ian Churchill’s 1994 Deadpool: Sins of the Past miniseries, as they pick up two big threads from that four-issue story: They reintroduce Dr. Killbrew, the scientist responsible both for curing Wade’s cancer and disfiguring his entire body, and reteam Deadpool with Siryn, the X-Force member on whom he has developed a major crush.
We also get a pretty sweet fight between Deadpool and the Hulk, and we get to see what the mercenaries of Hellhouse get up to when Wade’s not around (Hint: It mostly consists of cowering in front of T-Ray).
A lot of what transpires in issues 3 through 5 depends on some working knowledge of Sins of the Past, so here’s some context: In Sins, Black Tom Cassidy, who was effectively turning into a living tree, had obtained the services of one Dr. Killebrew (note the spelling; it changes when he resurfaces in Kelly’s run) to help cure him. Killebrew believes the only way to cure Tom is to give him some of Deadpool’s regenerative cells (Note: Deadpool’s healing factor is itself a warped genetic copy of Wolverine’s). So Tom has some goons try to take Deadpool in, one of whom slices off DP’s hand, which Killebrew then affixes to Tom, red glove and all. The series ends with Deadpool taking Killebrew away in a boat, demanding the doctor fix his healing factor, as Wade noticed it was taking him an inordinately long time to grow his hand back.
… Except Deadpool apparently skipped out on the doctor shortly thereafter, never actually addressing the issue, according to Kelly. So when Deadpool loses a finger to Taskmaster in issue 2, he’s right back where he started, unable to grow back more than a wee nubbin.
Cue the opening of issue 3, and the arrival of a mysterious package at the Hellhouse that turns out to be Wade’s missing glove, along with a love note from Black Tom. Wade decides to go on a revenge run, enlisting Siryn – Black Tom’s niece – in the process. The two track Tom down to a chalet in the Swiss Alps, only to find not Tom – who at the time was busy harassing the students of Generation X – but Killbrew, and a box full of red gloves.
In addition to being spelled differently, Dr. K looks different, too. Churchill drew Killebrew with Sandy-colored hair and a little more wisdom in his eyes: Albert Einstein meets David Crosby. McGuinness’ Killbrew has grayish-white hair, a fuller mustache and is rounder of belly: Wilford Brimley meets Dr. Light from the Mega Man games.
Either way, Killbrew tells Deadpool he’s dying and wants to fix him as penance for past wrongs. The only thing that can save Wade is an infusion of gamma-irradiated blood, and only because he took that gamma bath in issue 1.
And so, Deadpool gets his biggest, greenest guest star to date in issue 4. During this period, the Hulk had taken over one of the Florida Keys and was in one of his more violent “Leave Hulk alone” phases. So after a fight that ends with Deadpool impaling the Hulk on a rusty street sign, DP gets his blood, Killbrew gets his cure and Wade can set about crossing “Kill Killbrew” off his bucket list.
… Except that Siryn gets between the two and pleads with Wade to spare Killbrew’s life, which he does, after much hemming and hawing. Siryn serves as the angel on Deadpool’s shoulder throughout this arc, getting Wade’s hopes up for a romantic relationship just enough to get him to do good, while making it clear to him that her primary duty is to X-Force – of which she had recently become a junior leader – and that they could only be friends, at least for now, and possibly moreso if Wade continues playing nice. That being said, she also reveals she’s cool with him essentially stalking her, knowing that he watches her sleep outside her bedroom window at the Xavier Institute, leaving her “safe t’dream.” Sorry, that’s just creepy.
The Siryn-Deadpool relationship never really develops beyond this. Deadpool, in fact, moves on rather quickly to a new woman who is in no way good for his mental health, and not long after that the living embodiment of Death, with whom he still maintains a relationship. Siryn bounces from team to team for a while, moving from X-Force to X-Corp to X-Factor Investigations, where she ends up impregnated with a clone of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man. According to writer Peter David, Deadpool made one cameo appearance in that iteration of X-Factor, off-panel.
As for Killbrew, we’ll see him again in about a year’s time, in a story that further fleshes out Wade’s experiences in the Weapon X program and introduces an even bigger threat from his past.
Before we part ways, let’s check in on the other denizens of that marvelous mercenary meat market, the Hellhouse. Issue 5 ends with a look at T-Ray inside his lair after a big hit, where it’s revealed his powers involve some kind of magic, and his back is covered in a large, horrific scar, with names carved into his flesh below it, including Wilson’s. He’s clearly being built up as a big-bad for Wade – one who has no qualms killing children for money, it turns out. Exactly why he hates Deadpool so much will be revealed much later, and then retconned and unconned and may or may not involve Thanos. But for now, let’s enjoy T-Ray for the menacing, alabaster Street Fighter knockoff he is (speaking of which, keep your eyes peeled for the Kevin Lau-drawn Zangief knockoff hanging around Hellhouse).
Next time on Thursdays with Wade, we’ll cover Deadpool’s Flashback Month issue, which tells the story of Wade’s ex-girlfriend, Copycat, and just how long Landau, Luckman & Lake have been keeping tabs on the man in the red pajamas.
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.