Today’s Reading: Deadpool #16, 1998
Story: Joe Kelly
Art: Walter McDaniel, Anibal Rodriguez and Rodney Ramos
You know what this book hasn’t done in a while? Steal from Daredevil’s supporting cast. More on that in a bit.
Issue #16 opens with Deadpool on a mission in Greece, talking to someone through a headset, singing songs from Grease, building a bazooka disguised as a sheep and explaining his feelings about marsupials (“I don’t trust any animal that has more storage space than I do naked”).
Wade talks to the disembodied voice throughout the issue, updating whoever it is on his life and claiming things to be peachy, as a series of flashbacks and interludes shows us otherwise:
-Wade and Al’s relationship remains strained, as she plays up the master/prisoner bit to rile him up. Asked what it will take to get her to stop, she demands an apology. But apparently Wade is the Fonz, so he can’t do it, at least not without a whole lot of sputtering beforehand (Seriously, though, an apology isn’t even the bare minimum of what he owes her, given the events of the past few issues).
-At Landau, Luckman & Lake, where Wade has just become a contracted employee, Overboss Dixon and Zoe’s partner, Noah, plan a mission for Wade separate from his galactic-savior duties. Dixon is still not convinced Deadpool is the so-called Mithras. Should Wade fail, Dixon says, “We will dispose of the bodies. Deadpool’s … and his adoptive sponsor’s.”
-Wade goes to Weasel’s old apartment to try to track him down, but his old weapons guy/sidekick has cleared out, leaving only a note asking Wade not to find him and a suitcase full of dynamite, allegedly for his landlord.
It’s good that we’re still getting reminders that Deadpool’s life is a mess. Truthfully, he’s done next to nothing to redeem himself since “Drowning Man,” save for killing a photosensitive bioengineered monster.
-At the Hellhouse, the absence of both Deadpool and T-Ray has done the place good. Patch, the denfather of this den of inequity, is happier than anyone’s seen him all series. But C.F., the malleable merc who takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’, misses his buddy who used to beat him up for funsies. Then the Deadpool-stalking man in black from issues 14 and 15 busts in and finally introduces himself.
“I’m Ajax. I’m a cleaner.”
For someone who’s been very menacing so far, that line’s a little Ooph. Either way, Patch offers info on Wade willingly, and none of the mercs appears to die by Ajax’s hand.
(P.S. Now that we’re finally shown Ajax in full, he looks like an armored version of this issue’s special guest star. But it was the ’90s, and black head socks were de rigeur, so what are ya gonna do?)
Finally, we meet the man behind the voice on DP’s commlink, and it’s none other than perennial Daredevil baddie Bullseye, for whom Wade is running a pro bono mission.
Bullseye and Deadpool apparently go back years, to the point that Wade continually calls him “rookie.” Given that they’re both assassins for hire with twisted worldviews, this never-mentioned connection makes sense. But it’s a frenemyship at best, not unlike his relationship with Taskmaster.
Bullseye says he invited Wade along on a mission he could’ve handled himself to see firsthand how Wade’s gone soft. He relates a story about a merc named Frankie Palatzo who lost his weapons geek, got hung up on a woman, started getting introspective and lost his edge. Bullseye says he ended up killing Frankie, because someone has to be No. 1. He claims the only reason he hasn’t killed Wade is “You make me laugh.”
The issue ends with Wade surrounded by dead Greek goons – all killed by Bullseye – and surprised when his bazooka sheep misses its target.
Wade and Bullseye will cross paths regularly over the years. Kelly brings him back in issue #28, amid a storyline that ties into the origin of DP and T-Ray’s beef. In issue #36, during the Christopher Priest era, a flashback reveals the two competed for work from the Kingpin. Later, in issue #61, during Frank Tieri’s run, Bullseye attends Deadpool’s funeral, while ghost Deadpool watches and has fun possessing people. And the two get into a multi-issue dust-up years later during the Daniel Way era, in a crossover with Thunderbolts, while B was dressing like Hawkeye for Norman Osborne. Those stories allege their history dates to their respective childhoods, but seeing as Wade’s memories have been proved unreliable, that could all very well be hogwash.
Fun fact: On the letters page of issue #16, artist Walter McDaniel proposes to his girlfriend, Diane. Altogether now: AWWWWW! According to his Wikipedia page, he has been married three times.
Next time on Thursdays with Wade, Ajax hunts down one of the bigger names from Deadpool’s past, we learn more about what Landau, Luckman & Lake need Wade for, and Wade and Al … well, you’ll just have to come back next week.
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.