Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursdays With Wade: Revisiting Joe Kelly's Deadpool Part 11

Today’s reading: Deadpool #14
Story: Joe Kelly
Art: Ian McDaniel and Anibal Rodriguez

After watching Wade alienate himself from his entire supporting cast during the two-part “Drowning Man” story, he spends issue #14 still buried under T-Ray’s magic snow in Golden Gate Park. With him out of the way, we’re free to explore everyone else’s reaction to Wade’s dark turn.

Let’s start with the two people who’ve perhaps suffered the most because of Wade: Weasel and Blind Al, who are currently stuck in The Box.

Al, of course, is no stranger to The Box, having spent plenty of time there as Wade’s prisoner. Weasel, though, is a first-timer. It’s dark, and there are sharp objects everywhere. Al says the best move is to be perfectly still, don’t make a sound, and maybe Wade will let them out when he returns. That said, the door is unlocked. All they have to do is walk out. So why doesn’t Al seem keen on leaving?

Al relates a story, probably the best monologue of the run:

“I had a buddy once, from my union days, Tommy Mulroom. Sweet guy. Made his own brandy and rolled his own cigarettes. Never saw his face, mind you, but I just knew he was a looker. Voice like silk. Tommy lived in Maine, bred Chinooks for fun after he retired from the job, had 16 of the critters. Maine, Weasel … 2,788 miles as the crow files. … I’d been with Wade for two years, and the mouth-breather was getting sloppy, careless. He gets called off to Guadalajara for a whack-job that’ll take at least two weeks. The window of opportunity cracks open. Instead of scrambling for the border, figure I’ll head for Tommy’s. Deadpool didn’t know him. … Plus, Tommy knows people who know people. … He can get me papers, put me underground … whatever I need. Takes me a day just t’fumble my way out of the house. I make it to the door with a few scratches and a bruised hip … and the sense I can’t go on. But soon as I feel the sun, that glorious sun, I don’t feel any pain, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get away from the monster that keeps me in the closet. Usin’ a couple a’ tricks I picked up in the Girl Scouts, I manage to score enough cash t’start the trek ’cross country. … I train it out to Arizona and crash for a few days. Sun poisoning, touch of the flu. Have a fever dream about Tommy, where he takes me in his arms and reminds me not to sleep too long. Arms like cannons, body built like a brickhouse, the strongest guy I’ve ever met … Leave ’Zona, train t’Tallahassee, then it’s a fast and loose road trip direct to t’Maine with some college kid on a break. He digs the intrigue, the fake names, the cloak and dagger. I let him call me gramma … I call him Tommy. A cheap comfort, but what the hell, I’m old. … We hit Tommy’s place at sundown. Kid takes an extra second to hug a crazy old bird and leaves. Nice. I smell brandy cookin’ in the back. Tobacco makes the air tangy … smell of life. I start practicing my collapse into Tommy’s arms, and I’m about to the ring the bell when it hits me … the whining. Tommy’s dogs, the chinooks. Big dogs shouldn’t make sounds like that … begging sounds … then the door opens on its own … slow. The air spills out … wet … and I hear his voice. Gravel and gasoline. Wade says, ‘Watch your step, Alfred. Tommy made no-no in the house.’ The SOB found me. To this day, I don’t know how he did it … but there he was. With Tommy … What was left of him. Such a big man … The sounds that came out of him … they didn’t fit such a big man. … We just left him … with the dogs. … With all my hope. That, my friend … is how you build a prison.”

As if we needed any more fuel for the Wade’s a Bad Dude fire at this point.

But Al insists Wade has a good side. He did save her when he was under orders to kill her, after all. That’s how she became his prisoner in the first place. But his time in The Box has convinced Weasel of the opposite, and he skips town, taking a few of Wade’s weapons for protection. And Deuce the Devil Dog, whom Al never liked anyway.

Weasel and Al aren’t the only ones figuring out what to do next, though. At the interdimensional offices of Landau, Luckman & Lake, Zoe Culloden is wallowing in the sorrow of having wasted her time trying to groom Wade for the role of cosmic savior, so much so that she can’t even enjoy being sexually harassed by her co-worker, the hideous precog Montgomery, who comes bearing potentially good news about the supposed lost cause that is Wade Wilson. More on that in a few paragraphs.

Then there’s Gerry the Bum. Gerry visits the unconscious Wade and tells him he had to let T-Ray work him over, to teach him a lesson. “Now you know you can’t piggyback on someone else’s dreams. You gotta use your own two feet if you wanna walk the path to redemption,” he says before walking off.

It is at this point that Wade comes to, looks around, grabs the bottle of booze Gerry left behind and says, “I’m such a colossal jerk.” Which instantly summons Zoe, because we’re at that point in the movie where the hero has hit rock bottom, and he is now ready to begin his training.

Noticeably absent this issue is pretty much every artist who has worked on the book since its inception. Ian McDaniel becomes the new official penciller with #14, after a group of fill-in artists, including Pete Woods, Shannon Denton et al, replaced Ed McGuinness. The fill-in artists were generally doing their own spin on McGuinness, but McDaniel’s style is much darker, matching the tone the book has taken since “Drowning Man.” Even comic relief characters like the Hellhouse’s Fenway and C.F. look less comical under the new art regime.

While we’re mopping up after “Drowning Man,” a pair of interludes give us a glimpse at the next big arc. A heavily armored man is hunting for Deadpool and wiping out past associates, starting with a French Canadian mechanic we’ve never seen before.

Whoever this new guy is, Wade’s last antagonist isn’t done with him yet. T-Ray shows up at the Hellhouse to announce to the other mercs that he has defeated Deadpool, threaten them a little, then announce he’s taking a vacation. But he’ll be back, “to teach him some more truths about life.” (Everyone is forever trying to teach Wade lessons. What exactly about Deadpool screams “eager student?”) And T-Ray does return later on, with one hell of a retcon that will go on to be largely ignored.

Next time on Thursdays with Wade, Deadpool makes his first visit to the offices of Landau, Luckman & Lake, and we see more of the man hunting for Deadpool. See ya there!

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