Today’s reading: Deadpool #23-25, Dec. 1998-Feb. 1999
Story by Joe Kelly
Art by Walter McDaniel and a bunch of different inkers
In which our hero saves the galaxy by kicking Captain America in the balls.
The Deadpool-as-cosmic-savior plot that’s been building since issue #1 comes to a head in today’s three issues, collectively titled “Dead Reckoning.” Of the three issues, #23 and 25 are double-sized, much of which is dedicated to finally revealing and explaining what exactly is coming to usher in utopia on Earth, why Tiamat wants to stop it and just how much of a douche Overboss Dixon is. We also finally get the full story on Gerry the bum.
To wit, the alien entity headed toward Earth is a ball of eyes and tentacles that looks a bit like Shuma-Gorath from the Marvel vs. Capcom games. It doesn’t so much kiss and make better everything on a planet as it does render all life into a zombielike state of bliss, devoid of free will. We see this happen in multiple scenes on other planets and as the creature passes Shi’ar and Skrull warships and even the Watcher.
Tiamat, the alien creature that killed Noah in issue #22, is trying to stop what it calls the Destroyer at the behest of an alien council. Essentially, he’s the Deadpool for the other side, without the personality. He doesn’t speak Earth languages, so he can’t be communicated or reasoned with. As a result, when Deadpool and Tiamat fight in issue #23, Tiamat beats Wade near to death.
As is revealed later, however, much of what makes Tiamat so nasty-looking is body armor the same color as his turquoise skin. Without it, he’s kind of smooth and harmless. The people giving him his orders are following their own set of predictions, carved as hieroglyphics into the walls below the facility in Puerto Rico where Noah met his death. A big part of the story is showing how these predictions, and those of Landau Luckman & Lake precog Montgomery, don’t tell the complete story and are manipulated for either side’s ends.
Gerry the Bum is Gerry LeQuare, the fourth L in the intergalactic holding firm of what used to be called Landau, Luckman, Lake & LeQuare. He lives in a 1970s-chic apartment underneath Golden Gate Park, and he’s been watching Deadpool for years, nudging him toward becoming the Mithras by doing things like letting T-Ray beat the crap out of him in issue #13.
Dixon, after mind-wiping Monty and setting up Noah to be killed, finally cements himself as pure evil. When Deadpool uses a belt he grabbed off Noah’s corpse to teleport away from his battle with Tiamat, Dixon has blackout troops blow up the Deadhut with Wade, Al and Zoe in it (Don’t worry; they all escape). He’s apparently been manipulating and cherrypicking from Monty’s predictions for years, which would explain the number of times M got things wrong. And he somehow manages to trick Captain America into taking Deadpool’s place as the Mithras, even though Cap clearly distrusts and dislikes Dixon.
After the Deadhut explosion, it takes Gerry and Al some time to find Deadpool. When they do, they have to drag him, kicking and screaming, from the mother of all pity parties, as if he hadn’t just backslid in issue #22. Much of issue #24 sees Gerry teleporting everywhere from the Hellhouse to LL&L in search of Wade, until he realizes in issue #25 that it’s not a question of where he went, but when (cue the Doctor Who theme).
Using Noah’s bodyslide belt, Wade had traveled through time, to his fight with Alpha Flight’s Sasquatch waaay back in issue #1. Hidden from view, he listens to Zoe and Noah – who themselves were hidden from the view of Deadpool and Sasquatch – commenting on the fight and wonders what would have happened if he hadn’t chosen to dive into the radiation vat and prevent a nuclear meltdown back then. He believes Noah didn’t believe in him at all, which he didn’t, at least not at first.
“Deadpool is a semi-talented mercenary who got lucky that Langkowski (Sasquatch) told him how to shut down the reactor. He’s not a hero simply because he didn’t irradiate the Southern Hemisphere,” Noah says.
Wait for it.
“Deadpool’s a hero because he tried to prevent disaster.”
Squeeze me? A baking powder?
“With no logical reason to think he could succeed … a self-centered killer with nothing to gain went against all of his natural instincts and tried to save the day. Not for a reward, not under orders of a waving flag, he did it because in some corner of his heart, he just knew it was the right thing. I’m not saying Wilson is definitely the Mithras. He still needs to train, to work. But from what I’ve seen today, even if, God forbid, we were wrong about him, he’s shown me he’s got the heart of a hero.”
Wade still needs convincing, though. He returns with Al and Gerry to Gerry’s underground hippie lair, where G reveals he’s been manipulating Wade since jump and that each of his defeats – by T-Ray in issue #13, Ajax in the Deadpool/Death ’98 annual and Tiamat in issue #23, were necessary for Wade to fulfill his destiny.
“After T-Ray, you figured out that playing hero and being a hero aren’t the same. After Ajax, you believed you were worthy of a glorious destiny and reached for the brass ring. Finally, after Tiamat, you’ve learned that destiny alone isn’t worth spit. You’ve learned that you’re just a mook caught in a big black tornado, with one shot left at doing the right thing.”
Wade still needs convincing though (man, for a killer, this guy is emotionally needy). Our final pep talk of the arc comes from Blind Al, who hands Wade a gold medal and relates a story about an old friend from her World War II spy days whom she called Blondie and described as “a newsreel darling, a bona fide hero” but who wasn’t afraid to admit being scared.
(PSST! SHE’S TALKING ABOUT CAPTAIN AMERICA!)
“Gerry, crazy fruitcake that he is, is right about you,” Al tells Wade. “You’ve been trying to be a hero all this time, so of course you blew it. ’Cause it’s not a thing you can try to be. It’s not a thing you can aspire to. Hell, it’s not even what we need. We just need a guy who’ll try to get the job done, and remember to duck long enough to finish.”
NOW Wade’s ready to go kick some ass and crack wise. He teleports to Egypt, where the Destroyer has been predicted to touch down, and finds Cap fighting Tiamat. As Wade tags in, the council that’s been advising Tiamat communicates telepathically with Deadpool and tells him everything about the Destroyer and its quest to eradicate free will. They strip Tiamat of his gnarly looking armor – which apparently wards off the Destroyer’s influence – and give it to Deadpool, just in time for the Destroyer to possess Cap.
As the Sentinel of Liberty, the Destroyer tries to sweet-talk Wade into letting him zombify the Earth while they punch each other. Part of Wade thinks being a smiley vegetable is preferable to his life of pain and suffering. But he comes to his senses and, as stated earlier, kicks the possessed Captain America square in the nards, then makes a beeline for the Destroyer, destroying it.
Had this been the series’ last issue, as was previously intended, everything would have been wrapped up pretty neatly. Deadpool saves the day, the three L’s have Dixon put away, Zoe is promoted to overboss, it’s implied that Gerry and Al may have gone off together, etc. The only truly unhappy ending appears to belong to Montgomery, whom Zoe has “decommissioned” after he finally kisses her. Overbosses gonna overboss, I guess.
But Marvel decided not to cancel the book after all, and Kelly stays on for eight more issues, which we’ll cover as this weekly countdown to the Deadpool movie churns on. See you next Thursday!
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.