Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursdays With Wade: Revisiting Joe Kelly's Deadpool Part 9

Today’s reading: Deadpool #11
Story by Joe Kelly
Art by Pete Woods

To celebrate their first year, Team Deadpool wanted to do something special for its 12th issue. (Sure, Flashback Month screwed up the numbering, but not the intentions). 

What they landed on was a Forrest Gump-like tale in which Deadpool and his roommate/prisoner, Blind Al, end up in 1967’s Amazing Spider-Man #47, a classic Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. tale involving Kraven the Hunter, Osborn hair, Aunt May fainting, Mary Jane dancing for no reason and the origin story of Deadpool’s best friend/tech guy, Weasel. 

For the parts of the issue that were lifted from ASM, the team took the negatives from the original issue, covered up the parts that needed to be switched out, then drew in Al in the place of Aunt May or Deadpool in the place of Spider-Man. Panels were reordered as needed, and extra subplots involving the Daily Bugle staff were removed. The original plot was about Kraven returning to town to get revenge on Norman Osborn for stiffing him out of $20,000 in his quest to defeat Spider-Man and crashing Gwen Stacy’s send-off shindig for Flash Thompson, who was leaving town for the Army. 

P.S.: This is during that stretch when Osborn doesn’t remember being the Green Goblin, after a fight with Spidey in Amazing #39-40. 

The book switches back and forth between the past – where Wade and Al are – and the present, where Weasel and the Great Lakes Avengers are working out how to bring them back. There’s also a framing sequence featuring the Watcher, because why not pretend this romp is an event of great cosmic importance? 

Pete Woods deftly handles blending in with Romita’s ’60s art, though one suspects that classic Marvel inkers Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott helped significantly. DP regular Nathan Massengill inks Woods in the present. 

Filling out the cast is a number of classic Spidey characters, including Anna Watson, Harry Osborn, and a never-before-seen Empire State University science student named Jack Hammer, who is every bit as much of a clean-cut nerd as Peter Parker, but more of a prick about it. 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet young Weasel. 

“You gotta wonder what happens to a kid like this t’mess up his life,” Wade ponders. You happened, dude. You happened. More on that later. 

Wade and Al travel not only 30 years back in time but clear across the country, landing smack on top of Aunt May on the porch of her home in Forest Hills, Queens. Not knowing they’ve teleported through time as well as space, DP uses his belt clicker to travel to Chicago, where he believes he’ll find the Hellhouse and a ride home. What he finds, instead, is the Hellhouse’s predecessor, Sister Margaret’s Home for Wayward Girls. Said wayward girls proceed to kick Wade in the shins until he leaves, breaking his teleporter in the process. 

How the main characters in the past and present realize Wade and Al are trapped in time is a bit of not-unexpected ridiculousness. Al figures it out because Aunt May’s TV is playing way too many old shows. Flatman of the GLA figures it out because human portal Doorman coughs up a Ferragamo platform pump he believes was made circa 1967. This leads to a bunch of unfortunately of-their-time jokes about Flatman’s closeted homosexuality. 

Thankfully, the LGBTQ crowd isn’t the main target of Wade’s merciless mirth in this issue. That honor goes to the signature ribbed-for-whose-pleasure hair of the clan Osborn, which is the subject of wisecracks in 13 – count ’em (I did) – 13 separate panels. 

Deadpool and Norman Osborn will cross paths again many years in the future, in a crossover with Thunderbolts during the Daniel Way era. And yes, Wade makes more hair jokes. 

Anyway, to bring Wade and Al back, Weasel and Flatman deduce they’ll have to replicate the double-teleportation event that sent them to the past in the first place. Except Wade’s bodyslide belt is busted, so he has to find some other form of ’port technology. Fortunately, an ESU class picture on the wall of Aunt May’s home shows Peter standing next to one Jack Hammer. 

Hammer and Peter Parker may share an affinity for the sciences, but they’re far from friends. They’re both up for the same job at Osborn Chemicals, and Hammer harbors a crush on Gwen Stacy, a then-future Parker girlfriend. So it’s only natural that he scoffs at Wade, who disguised himself as Peter, when he asks him to help fix his belt. To get proto-Weasel to loosen up, Wade-Peter takes him to Gwen’s party, gets him nice and blind with drink … and then pretty much turns him into the Weasel we all know and love, aka ruins his life. 

Though, for a brief, shining moment, Wade does think about making sure the future turns out OK for his sidekick. At one point, Gwen lets Jack dance with her, and Wade, watching from the sidelines while thinking up additional Osborn-hair jokes, considers ensuring they end up together and that Weasel gets the job at Osborn Chemicals. It’d mess up the timestream, but what the hell, right? 

But then Kraven attacks, and all bets are off. Wade ditches the Peter Parker disguise and goes full Deadpool to fight the hunter. Wisecracks aside, the fun part of this is watching DP fight using Spider-Man’s moves, because he’s being drawn onto the page in place of the web-slinger. After all, isn’t Deadpool just Spidey with an extreme ’90s edge? (P.S. Have I mentioned how excited I am for Kelly and McGuinness’ upcoming Deadpool/Spidey team-up book? Because I am very excited). 

While Deadpool is out pretending to be Peter and fighting like his alter-ego, Al disguises herself as the presently unconscious Aunt May (all it takes is pulling back the hair) and suffers the misery of being cared for by Mary Jane’s aunt, Anna Watson. The real May is set up on her couch, where when she comes to, a scarecrow is set up to spook her so she passes out again.  

And what about the real Peter Parker? Wade summons the freelance photographer via payphone to Bayonne, saying there’s something out in the dumps that might ensure good pictures of Spider-Man. Mischief managed. 

Then, of course, there’s good old ditzy Mary Jane, who apparently never stops dancing to the tune in her airy head. “So young to be involved with the crack,” Alfred-as-May thinks while watching MJ shake her hips for no apparent reason (In the original book, MJ had put on some rock ‘n’ roll records to dance to while Anna and Aunt May tidy up their new shared living space). At this point in the Gwen-Peter-MJ love triangle, Gwen clearly has the advantage. For more on the classic Gwen vs. Mary Jane argument, check out this old chestnut. 

The fight with Kraven ends anticlimactically, as it did in the original issue, when Kraven realizes Osborn doesn’t remember anything about the Green Goblin and won’t be giving him his $20,000. He walks off, DP saves Normie from falling off a building and burgeoning alcoholic Weasel, fresh from not getting the Osborn job, agrees to fix Wade’s belt, ensuring he and Al can get home. 

And so begins what has become a proud tradition of shoe-horning Deadpool into the past of the Marvel Universe, a convention used to great effect during Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, Mike Hawthorne and Scott Koblish’s run on the character, during which DP teamed up with Power Man and Iron Fist against the White Man in the 1970s, helped Tony Stark face the Demon in a Bottle in the 1980s and wrangled the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos in the early 1990s. He also teamed up with many a classic Marvel hero against Doctor Doom and the Beyonder in this summer’s Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars miniseries, the true events of which the Wasp had erased from everyone’s memories. 

By this point, Deadpool had already cemented itself as my favorite book, but this issue, with its time travel, high joke-per-panel ratio and fun at the expense of silver-age conventions, cemented the series as one of my all-time favorites. I like Deadpool because of this series. I love him because of this issue.

Context alert: A big four-page ad in this issue teases Heroes Return, the grand re-entry of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers to the main Marvel Universe. None of them will be teaming up with Deadpool for the time being. It’s just fun to know what else was going on at the time.

Next time on Thursdays with Wade, we’ll dip back into the dark, swirling madness of T-Ray and Typhoid Mary with the two-part “Drowning Man” storyline from Deadpool #12 and 13, which will bring a number of ongoing plot threads to a head. See ya there.

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 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.

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