Today’s reading: Deadpool #9 and 10
Story: Joe Kelly
Art: Ed McGuinness (issue #9 only), Shannon Denton and Nathan Massengill
After a heavy few issues involving Typhoid Mary, Team Deadpool gives us a breather to concentrate on one of the many things Wade does best: Poking fun at lame characters.
It’s not an entirely care-free romp, however. Wade is still unpacking Mary’s emotional damage, his head swimming in darkness as he struggles to find the light. In fact, issue #9 opens with Wade hiding away in an attic room Blind Al refers to as “the box.” We don’t get to see what’s in there, apart from some silhouetted chains, spikes, hooks and a mace. He claims to be meditating, but he also warns Al that if she says the M word again, “Expect bad things.” You can tell he means business because the word balloon has icicles at the bottom.
He then heads over to the Hellhouse, where he has his cronies, C.F. and Fenway, distract Patch while he beats up everyone allied with T-Ray. When Patch asks what happened, DP blames all the limp mercenaries on a banana peel, then asks him whether he has any work in a more heroic vein. Of course, it’s a mercenary business, so there is pretty much nothing, but Patch says the events of Onslaught also diminished the need for hero work, which seems odd, as Onslaught removed a number of heroes from the playing field, so you’d think there’d be more need, if anything.
Before we’re left to dwell on pesky things like logic, a purple-cloaked stranger interrupts their conversation claiming to have work rescuing a princess, a job so classically heroic it is the premise of most early video games.
Said stranger turns out to be a new villain named Deathtrap, who knocks out Deadpool and takes him to his vaguely European lair, straps him to a table, dresses him up like a baby, explains away his plans and proceeds to let a giant voice-activated teddy bear slowly fall on him, each word out of Wade’s mouth bringing him closer to death by suffocation.
Sigh … I miss Arcade.
True to form, Deadpool refuses to shut up, fighting back with a barrage of yo-momma jokes, bad observational comedy and references to Martha Quinn, Jack Palance, Fat Albert and the “Where’s the Beef?” lady, as the plunging plushie attains ramming speed.
By this point, however, Deadpool had already broken both his wrists and ankles, allowing him to free himself from Deathtrap’s deathtrap, but leaving him a weak-limbed mess on the floor. Deathtrap, thoroughly amused by all of this, knocks DP out again and delivers him back to the Hellhouse with a note taped to his chest that reads, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
He is never seen again.
“Where’s the message in the story? What’s the lesson?” Deadpool (and the reader) is left asking. An excellent question that is never answered.
Oh well. On to issue #10, in which we spend a lot of time making fun of the Great Lakes Avengers, but the story is really all about Blind Alfred’s relationship with Deadpool.
Al’s spent the past couple of issues both pissed at and concerned about her captor. Deadpool essentially gave his vision-impaired prisoner a service dog just to further torment her, a mock-kindness she repaid in issue #9 by tampering with all his weapons, as he discovered while he was held prisoner by Deathtrap. At the same time, knowing Wade had been spending time in “the box” had her concerned for his mental state. Normally, a quick trip to the Xavier Institute for some late-night Siryn stalking would help him find his center, but, as he discovers in issue #10, the mansion’s been cleared out by Bastion as a part of the Operation: Zero Tolerance crossover of summer 1997.
Wade gets revenge on Al for her weapons prank by subjecting her to a game called Road-Trip Roulette, promising exotic destinations such as Graceland, the Grand Canyon, Def Comedy Jam (’90s pop culture reference, take a drink) and, in the smallest sliver of the wheel, freedom.
P.S. If Alfred is blind, why build an elaborate game-show wheel she can’t see?
Anyway, the wheel lands on the aquarium (after Wade blows it off freedom), which is apparently where they went the last time they played this game.
Going out in public lets Wade have fun with his image inducer, disguising himself at points as a morbidly obese man, a Latino gangster (a repeat disguise from issue #1), a guy with a long, curly mustache and a ruggedly handsome blond man (another repeat from issue #1). If you look at the last two long enough, you’ll start to see a little bit of the way Wade appeared after he was healed by Zsaji in Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars. But considering how he was drawn in his Flashback Month issue, that’s likely pure coincidence.
Atthe aquarium, Wade does something unexpected. After rehashing his recent conflicted feelings about good and evil, he offers Al her freedom, tells her to leave and never come back.
Except Al doesn’t go for it. She stays put in the bird sanctuary. Deuce runs all the way home, but she parks herself right on a bench. Now, the book doesn’t actively address Stockholm syndrome, the psychological condition in which hostages bond with their captors. But that doesn’t really apply to Al anyway. She tends to torment Wade almost as much as he does her. But she definitely wants him to turn his life around, and she’s been burned by past promises of freedom. Maybe she’s just old and tired, maybe after all this time, the thought of being out in the world is scarier than being confined to a rowhouse in San Francisco. “… Maybe ’cause my seeing-eye mongrel abandoned me. Maybe ’cause you’d never match your socks without me.”
Either way, Wade’s short attention span gets the better of him, and after counting to 500 (and skipping a bunch of numbers in the process), Wade shuts off his image inducer, whips out his weapons and whips the crowd up into a panic as he begins to hunt for the woman he just set free. Which attracts the attention of this issue’s special guests: The Lightning Rods, formerly the Great Lakes Avengers.
The GLA were created by John Byrne and first appeared in 1989’s West Coast Avengers #46. They include Flatman, a two-dimensional version of Mr. Fantastic; Mr. Immortal, who cannot be killed and talks like Sam Guthrie; Dinah Soar, a bipedal pterodactyl; Big Bertha, a supermodel who can grow into a female version of the Blob; and Doorman, whose body is an interdimensional portal. Their then-new name, the Lightning Rods, was a reference to the Thunderbolts, a series that had just started and featured members of the Masters of Evil parading as superheroes in the wake of Onslaught (because there is a demand for hero-work, Patch!).
Once he finds Al, Wade attempts to teleport her away from the approaching Lightning Rods. Except Doorman lands on them as they’re bodysliding. The effect of two teleportation events happening simultaneously in the same space gets them stuck in time, and in Doorman. When do they end up? Keep reading!
Random observation 1: When Wade drops the disguises and goes full Deadpool at the aquarium, he tells the panicked crowd he is on a mission “to ventilate all killer whales in captivity, to ensure that the world will never have to suffer through Free Willy Four.” Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove, the fourth movie in the franchise, was released in 2010 and stars Bindi Irwin and Beau Bridges. You failed Wade. You failed.
Random observation 2: In issue #9, DP tells Deathtrap: “Yo mama so fat, she sat on a dollar bill and four quarters came out!” In issue #10, he tells Big Bertha: “Hey, I heard you sat on the rainbow and Skittles came out!” Fat-shaming aside, it might be time for some new material.
Next Thursday, we tackle Deadpool #11, in which Wade and Al get trapped in 1967’s Amazing Spider-Man #47. I love this issue so much I turned the cover into a T-shirt. See you then!
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.