Today’s reading: Deadpool #20, Sept. 1998
Story by Joe Kelly and James Felder
Art by Pete Woods and Walden Wong
We haven’t had a pure, honest-to-goodness breather issue in a while. Much of Deadpool’s second year has been pretty dark, full of Death, elder abuse, rape, and little guys whose heads explode.
Wade’s overdue for a palate cleanser, so he does what anyone in his position would do: He kidnaps Landau, Luckman & Lake’s preeminent precog, Montgomery, and takes him to Monte Carlo to make a fortune gambling. He also gets to fight Batroc the Leaper. Yay!
All selfish gains aside, Deadpool wants to thank Montgomery for pulling him out of his funk by giving him a glimpse into his future in issue #17. Monty made three vaguely worded predictions that more or less came true: He closed up The Box, his personal torture chamber, and freed his prisoner/roommate, Blind Al (though she doesn’t seem to want to leave); he kissed Death and was brought back to life after Ajax fatally suckerpunched him; and he watched his former tormenter, Dr. Killebrew, sacrifice himself to save Wade from Ajax, proving beyond shadow of a doubt that villains can become heroes.
So yeah, it’s time to party. Deadpool uses his image inducer to disguise himself as Ricardo Montalban and covers up Monty with a flimsy poncho and sombrero. They make their way through the casino, absorbing slot machine jackpots till Deadpool decides to try his luck at the table games, which is how he comes to win the private suite of one Georges Batroc.
Montgomery initially expresses misgivings about using his abilities for fun and profit. Then the stereotypically snooty Batroc calls him a cripple, and all bets are off. Watching Deadpool dive, Scrooge McDuck style, into a pile of money on what used to be Batroc’s bed, Monty feels like he’s starting to get Wade’s whole deal.
“These feelings … This blurring of morality and ethics … I think I’m beginning to understand how you must feel sometimes. For example, who wouldn’t think himself a monster after the way you were forced to abandon Vanessa or what you were tricked into doing to …”
Now, for all the strides he’s made since “Drowning Man,” Wade Wilson is still a guy who does not like other people poking around in his business, so he threatens to kill Monty and then marches outside for some air and to complain about how horrible his life is ... to a freak in a wheelchair who can’t be surprised and can’t bring himself to confess his true feelings to Zoe Culloden.
Having made his embarrassing confession, Wade rewards Monty by getting him sloppy drunk, at which point Monty proves what a horrible precog he actually is:
“And then he’ll do Titanic Two, cause he needs the money to support his plastic surgery habit,” he says of James Cameron. And then, “Mikey Jordan winsh the Mastersh in 2005! Place yer bets!”
Wade responds to this pish-posh prognostication with “Man … where were you when I bought all that stock in Marvel Comics? Sheesh.” Marvel had declared bankruptcy in December 1996. You’ve come a long way, baby.
The topical humor is interrupted by Batroc, who comes a leapin’ for vengeance. He pushes Monty out a window 15 floors up to the hotel pool below. Monty predicts a 6 percent chance of survival and lives, the rush giving him a new lease on life and the wherewithal to pitch woo to Zoe when he returns to the LL&L offices.
Deadpool, meanwhile, returns the favor to Batroc, tying him up and dropping him out the same window in a panel laid directly on top of the letters page. The fall – which does not end in a dip in the hotel pool – breaks both Batroc’s legs, his purple-pantyhosed meal tickets.
Wade and Monty part ways, having successfully bonded and taught each other a thing or two about a thing or two. Monty returns to work, where Overboss Dixon is waiting for him with a pair of the company’s finest brain surgeons. Y’see, Dixon hasn’t taken too kindly to “his property” going AWOL, and so he feels a punishment is in order.
“Wipe him clean. A 48-hour increment should do it,” he orders. The issue ends with a close-up shot of the flowers Monty was to give to Zoe.
Next time on Thursdays with Wade, in issues #21 and 22, Deadpool learns what he needs to do to fulfill his destiny, and when that freaks him out, he gets a pep talk from an old frenemy and future series co-headliner. 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.