The first ever Deadpool variant cover and the first (of many) Deadpool variants to take a shot at DC was on #12, riffing on DC's month of covers that were just headshots of their leads.
Today’s reading Deadpool #12-13, Jan.-Feb. 1998
Story: Joe Kelly
Art: Pete Woods (12-13), Shannon Denton (12), Nathan Massengill (13) and Walden Wong (13)
We’ve had a lot of fun these past three issues. Issue #9 gave us a new villain to mock; #10 gave us the Great Lakes Avengers, a team that exists to be ridiculed; and #11 was a seemingly endless barrage of jokes about Silver Age comics and Osborn hair.
But as the study group learned in Season 3 of Community, trying to force things to be lighter only makes the darkness stand out more, and stuff’s about to get real dark.
The Deadpool of issues #12-13, collectively titled “Drowning Man,” is not a hero. He’s not even a guy trying to be a hero. His inner demons have won, and by the end, there is literally no one left to stand by him, nor should there be.
Wade has become straight-up scary-boyfriend abusive. We always knew he had it in him (he keeps an old woman prisoner, for chrissakes), but we’re distracted by the jokes and the pop culture references and the cartoon violence. Without the laughter, we start to think maybe Typhoid Mary was right after all: Wade spends so much time trying to be a good guy because that’s exactly what he’s not.
He’s also not big on his actions meeting his words. Remember when he told Al he was going to let her go in issue #10 and then hunts her down in the aquarium anyway? How about when he considered messing up the timestream to give young Jack Hammer a better life before he becomes the porn-addicted punching bag better known as Weasel? How about when he tells Al in issue #13 that he’s NOT going to meet T-Ray at Golden Gate Park at high noon to settle their score once and for all, and then he totally does.
For those of you keeping score, here’s what Wade does to each of his so-called friends in these two issues:
Blind Al: Picks her up by the face and shoves her in The Box for secretly becoming friends with Weasel.
Weasel: Straight-up punches him in the face. Also puts him in The Box, for the same offense.
Siryn: Grabs her and threatens her when she won’t listen to him. Also gets in a fight with her X-Force teammate, Warpath, and makes a bunch of Native American jokes.
Zoe: Grabs her by the throat and demands she help him find Siryn. Later, during Wade and T-Ray’s showdown, she decides Wade is beyond saving and teleports out.
Deuce: Gets a pat on the head and a “Good dog.” Wade can physically harm and threaten three different women, but apparently animal abuse is over the line.
For all this, Wade gets what he deserves. Typhoid Mary, posing as Siryn via purloined image inducer, rapes Deadpool in the field from the movie Field of Dreams. And T-Ray leaves him broken and literally heartless in a magic-fueled snowstorm.
The end of issue #13 is essentially the polar opposite of the end of issue #250, when Wade dies surrounded by friends and family, feeling pure, unadulterated love as the world burns.
Issue #12 concerns itself primarily with Wade tracking down Siryn, the only person Wade believes can ease his anguish with T-Ray threatening his life. When he finally finds her, he accuses Teresa of not being there when he needs her, but Teresa makes the salient point that Deadpool was conveniently not a part of the recent Operation: Zero Tolerance crossover, in which Bastion and his Prime Sentinels destroyed the X-Mansion and hounded the mutants across the various X-titles.
“That’s mutant stuff … not my problem,” Wade declares, proving exactly why he can’t even handle being in the friend zone.
Later, in issue #13, as Wade and T-Ray fight, we get glimpses of why T-Ray hates him so much. He claims Deadpool tore out his heart. It was snowing, which T-Ray re-creates using his magical note paper. He then generates a spear from the same mystical notepad and carves out Wade’s heart. A mother and her child pass by Wade’s limp body. The mother contemplates coming to his aid but balks after realizing she doesn’t want her son to see a corpse. The last panel is a wide-out shot of Wade face-down in the snow, as the boy wishes him a Merry Christmas.
Nowhere to go but up from here, folks!
Before we wrap, though, we must return to the mystery of Gerry the bum. In issue #12, we see Gerry globetrotting once again, this time in Germany, conversing in the native language, though without the aid of a back-page translation (the phrase “New Coke” comes up at one point). In the next issue, we see him teleport back to his bench at Golden Gate Park, waiting for Deadpool to arrive for his fight with T-Ray. This is the first time we see Gerry exhibit any sort of ability, and it certainly explains how he got to Europe.
When Zoe arrives at the park to stop the fight, Gerry says the word “Mandelay” to knock her unconscious, expressing a working knowledge of Landau, Luckman & Lake’s neural killswitches. “Now Wade can finish this, uninterrupted,” Gerry says before walking off to score some snacks. He’s not seen again this issue.
When we return to the book, a new regular art team of Walter McDaniel and Anibal Rodriguez starts up, as Wade’s supporting cast deals with the aftermath of “Drowning Man,” we finally get a look inside The Box and a ghost from Deadpool’s past looks to reconnect.
But that’s a story for later. Next time on Thursdays with Wade, I tag in Matt, who fills us in on a Deadpool guest spot in an arc of Heroes for Hire that came out about where we are in our story. See ya 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.