Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursdays With Wade: Revisiting Joe Kelly's Deadpool Part 20

Today’s reading: Deadpool #26-29, March-June 1999
Story by Joe Kelly
Art by Pete Woods (#26, 28 & 29) and Walter McDaniel (#27)

You just saved the world, and your book’s been spared from cancellation. Now what?

This is the question Joe Kelly is left to wrestle with as he continues writing a series that was supposed to end with issue #25.

Fortunately, there’s one big mystery left over from the previous 25 issues: Why does T-Ray hate Deadpool so much?

The answer to that question is one big retcon that has since been unretconned, reretconned and contraretconned, in what can only be described as the Continuity Curse of the Kelly Run.

But first, a cast reshuffle, a Howard the Duck villain, and a pointless fight with Wolverine!

Deadpool has pulled up stakes from San Francisco and moved into the Bolivian fortress he raided in issue #1. And he’s got a new roommate. Blind Al is, inexplicably, out, and Montgomery, the former Landau Luckman & Lake precog, is in. You may recall from the end of issue #25 that Monty kissed his true love and co-worker, Zoe Culloden, who upon promotion to overboss had him decommissioned and thrown out of the company because she couldn’t handle having a skinless, wheelchair-bound boyfriend.

Wade also has a new pilot: Ilaney Bruckner, whom you may remember from the Ajax story. Turns out she didn’t die after all!

(Writer’s aside: This seems like something I should’ve known and pointed out in writing about Ilaney earlier, right? Yes. If I’m being completely honest, the eight issues that make up Kelly’s Deadpool denouement kind of faded from my memory, save for the big T-Ray reveal at the end and the fight with Wolverine.)

Sadly, much like before, Ilaney is the butt of a number of fat jokes that I still maintain were wholly unnecessary.

Despite having saved the world, Wade is still a miserable sack of stuffing. Part of him believes all he did was curse the human race to remain unhappy as a result of getting to keep its free will. He’s no longer on the LL&L payroll, and so he’s gone back to mercenary work, though this time for a Moroccan gentleman named Alestaire Grunch who tortures cats and used to be the business (and life?) partner of Patch, the diminutive old curmudgeon who runs Hellhouse.

Wade’s also going a bit nuts … OK, nutser. He’s begun hallucinating a beautiful, raven-haired woman who hangs out with bunnies and pours liquor into milk jugs. And so he’s started seeing a shrink. Or rather, he’s started seeing Howard the Duck villain Doctor Bong. His prescription, or Deadpool’s interpretation of it, at least: Go fight Wolverine.

Logan just so happens to be in San Francisco’s Chinatown district, visiting a generic old friend. And he’s brought fellow X-Man Kitty Pryde along with him. Kelly does a great job of mocking Wolverine’s narration boxes from the time period, that mix of violent 1970s antihero appropriating Eastern zen wisdom:

“Smell is the sense that most closely links us to memory. A breath of half stale air in a district like Chinatown unlocks a glut of images. Old friends, lovers, dead goat on a beach, my tricycle, Ginger, the spice and the castaway, chopsticks jutting out of a guy’s eyeballs like cockroach antennae. Sometimes, I wish that when I smelled an egg roll, it just smelled like an egg roll.”

Deadpool disguises himself as an old-lady street merchant but drops the ruse once Wolverine’s sniffer susses him out. He then proceeds to provoke Logan, who doesn’t appear to be in a fighting mood until Wade hits Kitty with an uppercut straight outta Street Fighter. As Wade and Wolvie exchange blows, Wade comes to the realization that he knows the woman in his hallucinations.

“She’s just the broad who stole my heart a long time ago, then got dead,” he tells Doctor Bong. Issue #27 closes with the actual woman of Deadpool’s hallucinations running from some unseen terror in Atlanta. She drops a locket, inside which is a picture of her with a man, and the inscription reads, “Love always, Wade.”

Issue #28 opens with some creepy looking narration boxes we haven’t seen in a while, familiar green flames and a fella in a cloak plotting to make Wade Wilson’s life miserable from afar. We’ll get back to him.

In the meantime, Alestaire’s got a new assignment for Deadpool, in Atlanta of all places, a job that came on magic paper that turns into green flames (SEE?!). The target, the raven-haired woman from Wade’s hallucinations. But he’s not the only merc on the job.

Enter Bullseye. How long has it been since these two crazy kids hung out?

Issue sixteen. Greece,” Wade replies, a mere hint of the fourth-wall breaking that will become far more pervasive under the next writer, Christopher Priest.

Deadpool sees this familiar woman as the key to his sanity and tries to talk his old friend out of making the hit. Bullseye responds by stabbing Deadpool in the side and bounds off to do his anything-can-be-a-deadly-projectile schtick. They have a pretty sweet fight that ends with Bullseye taking a boomerang-shaped spoiler to the chest. Despite the mask – and the face covered in scars beneath it – the woman, Mercedes, believes Deadpool to be Wade Wilson, her long lost husband. And Deadpool believes Mercedes should be dead.

But wait, when was Wade ever married? Was this before or after Weapon X? How come this wasn’t mentioned in the Flashback Month issue? And what does T-Ray have to do with any of this?

Patience, my friends. We’re getting there.

Issue #29 opens with Deadpool forcing Latverian scientists to run DNA tests to prove Mercedes isn’t a clone, by threatening their prized collection of Star Trek memorabilia.

Monty, meanwhile, wants to know who this woman is who’s sleeping in Wade’s bed and why he’s never heard of her, despite spending years researching his life in preparation for him to become the Mithras.

Deadpool doesn’t get very far in explaining when a horde of zombies comes crashing into his Bolivian pad, led by none other than Black Talon.

For those who did not read this past fall’s Deadpool vs. Thanos miniseries. Black Talon is a voodoo priest who wears a rooster costume and practices necromancy. He comes seeking Mercedes because as a resurrected dead woman she is a near-perfect construct and he wants to learn her secrets.

This fight scene is played nearly entirely for laughs, including Deadpool’s own. Assisting in the hilarity is Monty, who, given his physical appearance, attempts to blend in with the zombies, grunting things like “Brains is good food” and “Eep op ork ahh ahh.”

Eventually, though, the old ultraviolence kicks in, and Mercedes screams for Wade to stop mercilessly wailing on Black Talon, who by now has lost control of his zombie horde, which has turned to dust. Wade responds in sadly characteristic Wade fashion:

“Maybe you didn’t notice, but this chicken McNugget impaled me with a ten-inch steak knife! Healing factor or not, I’d say I’m entitled to a little payback! So get off my hump before I forget my life has gone ape snot since you breezed back into it and wish I’d never saved you in the first place!”

Mercedes runs off, and Deadpool lets slip to Monty this key bit of backstory to close out the issue:

“Years ago, in the snow, “Crazy” (the Patsy Cline song, later featured in the Deadpool video game) playing in the house behind us, my wife was murdered, and all I could do was watch.”

The story of Mercedes’ death, and how Deadpool and T-Ray play into it, will be revealed across the final four issues of the Kelly run, which we’ll cover in next week’s final Thursdays with Wade before the Deadpool movie premiere. 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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