Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursdays With Wade: Revisiting Joe Kelly's Deadpool Part 18

Today’s reading: Deadpool #21 and 22, Oct.-Nov. 1998
Story by Joe Kelly
Art by Walter McDaniel and John Livesay (#21) and Anthony Williams and Andy Lanning (#22)

Back before Marvel decided to chronically renumber all its titles, every 25th issue was treated as a big deal. There was an epic battle, or a key character was killed or brought back to life, or at the very least a holofoil or gatefold cover.

Issue #25 of Deadpool, for a bit, was also supposed to be the series’ last issue, making it doubly important.

But we’re not at issue #25 yet. We’re at issues #21 and 22, oh-so-close to the final story arc, “Dead Recknoning.” And the producers are off-camera, telling the talent to stretch to fill time.

Last issue gave us a nice breather and some quality bro-time between Deadpool and Montgomery, Landau Luckman & Lake’s chief precog. The next two issues see Wade being groomed to take on a just-introduced alien creature named Tiamat who is apparently the only thing standing between Earth and a Mithras-conceived utopia. Wade’s orders: Kill.

So, Zoe Culloden’s spent 20-some issues telling Wade he can be a hero, a good guy, not a piece of human garbage, and what does he have to do to save the galaxy? The one thing he’s been trained to do all his life that he’s been trying to get away from for months now – except for that one time with Ajax; he had it coming.

Wade reacts to this news by falling into old habits. He gets stinking drunk on a park bench while toggling through the options on his image inducer (Pre-cancer Wade! Barrio gangster! The doctor who tried to have Weasel committed in issue #6!). He freaks out when someone teleports into his house and sees him without his mask on. He socks Zoe in the stomach. He stalks Siryn. He gets in a fight with Cable (perhaps his oldest habit). Call it “Drowning Man 2, the Re-Drown-ening.”

By this point, everyone’s a little sick of Wade’s self-pity schtick. Fortunately, his oldest enemy – who at this point is six years out from co-headlining a series with Wade – knows a thing or two about fulfilling destiny … and, um, taking out the trash.

“No one thanks the garbage men, Wilson … It’s part of the job. But everyone still needs us. Without us, the world drowns,” says the man whose sole purpose in life prior to 2000 was to kill Apocalypse. “I ain’t dead yet (at this point, Cable has been poisoned by the techno-organic virus within him, so he thinks he’s dying), and the trash still needs to be picked up.”

By issue’s end, Deadpool is back at LL&L and ready to drag the cans to the curb save the day. Just in time for the overbearing Overboss Dixon to deliver some bad news.

Noah is dead.

You guys remember Noah, right? He’s the other guy who works at LL&L who has a name. Works with Zoe but takes his orders directly from Dixon? Well, yeah, he’s dead, killed by Tiamat while scoping out a facility in Puerto Rico.

Because Dixon sent him there to get killed. Noah apparently had begun to grow a conscience and a spine, questioning the overboss one time too many. And Dixon remains so convinced Deadpool will fail his mission that he will kill and mindwipe his own people to ensure that happens. To make the matter more of a shame, Dixon had apparently just recommended Noah for enrollment in the overboss program, which must be the LL&L equivalent of “He had two weeks till retirement.”

Oh, and guess who’s back? Gerry the bum! Last seen giving an unconscious Wade a pep talk in issue #14, everyone’s favorite burned-out hippie who’s more than meets the eye shows up in issue #21 floating and sipping tea in the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, who’s having a hard time coping with the fact that DP, whom he describes as “a living maelstrom of negative energy,” is being trusted with the fate of humanity.

“You know as well as I that sometimes destiny just points his finger and chooses someone … He’s very stubborn that way,” Gerry says as Strange drops his teacup and saucer in shock.

Finally, let us wrap with another Great Moment in Pool-o-vation! When Wade returns to LL&L at the end of issue #22, ready to do what needs to be done to save the Earth, he offers the following words to Zoe and Monty:

“You wanna scare a Girl Scout, do it yourself. You want to see a grown man cry like he’s just seen Bea Arthur naked? You leave it to me.”

Ladies and gentleman, I do believe this is canonically the first in what will be a long line of Deadpool’s patented Bea Arthur references, although in the future they will betray more of Wade’s fondness for the de facto leader of the Golden Girls.

Next time on Thursdays with Wade, Deadpool faces his destiny as “Dead Reckoning” is at hand. 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 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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