Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Gerry Duggan has, over the course of his run on Deadpool, become one of my favorite writers. Furthermore, he has single-handedly converted a character from one I have heavily despised into one that I cannot wait to see each month. So much so that I wind up reading Deadpool three times in a month on average. Both Deadpool and Uncanny Avengers are on my recurring monthly pull list. And I frequently grab Deadpool and the Mercs for Money as one of my random picks throughout the month. Heretofore, Deadpool as been a hollow character. A Van Wilder template suitable for nothing more than frat-boy type comedy relief. That’s no fault of the writers who have written him previously; that was simply the deliberate purpose of the character. I am just saying that I never found it appealing. It was always annoying. My only, brief, like for the guy was in the pages of the previous Thunderbolts run.
In Deadpool #22, Duggan continues his run of carrying Wilson through unusual situations for ‘Pool, pulling at heartstrings, and making Deadpool actually care for something other than just cracking wise. Now, after issues #20 and 21, I just didn’t think there was any way for Duggan and his team to top themselves. The suicide story, the 60-page or so Shakespeare tragedy-satire, and the hunt for Madcap and Deadpool’s compassion for the innocent zoo attendants controlled to do Madcap’s bidding, ending in their suicide by jumping the fence into a Lion pen…these were just a simply masterful tethering of individual set-pieces into a cohesive narrative that I would have never in a million years thought to see in a Deadpool comic. This issue is might be a minor step-down from that string, or else I’m just getting inoculated to the book being so good that I simply expect each issue to be well above-board. Issue #22 is still a strong story and sits right alongside anything being done by the other kings and queens of comics today, such as the work of Simone, Soule, Waid, or Bendis.
In this issue, after having spent some time in purgatory or whatever else we would call the near-death in-between state at the end of last issue, Wilson wakes in the hospital. Apparently, while the toxin that Madcap administered appeared to have overcome his healing factor, it turns out he just needed way more time than usual to heal. Deadpool sets out from the hospital to return to the Avengers Theatre, make a quick grab for some rent money, and then to see his surrogate family, who is foster-homing his daughter. Unfortunately, as the issue closes out, Wade gets some news that indicates his family is now in mortal peril. A deathly side-effect of the virus injected into his system by Madcap.
I’ve already mentioned a good deal about Duggan’s writing. What is most poignant and masterful in what Duggan is building are the relationships that he is weaving into Deadpool’s maniacal narrative. I love each of the people whom, although he griefs them just as much as anyone, Deadpool has a barely perceptible emotional connection with. Rogue, SHIELD agents Preston and Adsit, and especially his daughter. The twist at the end of this was telegraphed in the page before we saw the reveal, and, knowing what was coming, I had to pause before I turned the page. I just didn’t want to see what I knew had to be coming. That’s just masterful writing; Duggan has left an emotional mark on me with the way in which he builds compassion and empathy for each of the people in Deadpool’s life and adventures. Solid, wonderful, stuff.
Lolli’s art does not necessarily knock it out of the park, but he does do some nice touches that make it a tidbit above the norm. At one point, Deadpool dresses up in a Spider-Man costume to steal from the Mob. But the costume is two pieces, and he does not have the web-belt tying the shirt and bottoms together. Lolli makes this apparent by drawing a bit of Wade’s midriff showing whenever the shirt rides up. There’s great story-telling and slapstick humor when Deadpool mistakenly hits a horse with his bag of money and then gets kicked by the horse. I was totally rolling at those panels. And the tragic scene at the issue’s end is excellently crafted. On top of that, we get a great Tradd Moore cover of Deadpool as the Pale Rider, with the Grim Reaper astride the horse behind him.
As of this writing, I have only gotten through a bit more than my three review issues this week out of my total pull of ten books; about 3.5 issues. But this has been the best thing going so far. The book has been scoring a 7.5 or higher over the course of the Duggan run that I have read; I’ve been on this ongoing since Issue #15. That is a solid run, and in my opinion is quickly becoming the defining run of a comic with this character. Deadpool has been groomed for some time to become a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe, via widespread appearances in multiple capers with many teams and stand-alone team-ups with individual heroes. But it has not been until this run that I felt there was a comic that made the character of Deadpool worthy of Wolverine-level status in the Marvel Universe. When you are done here Mr. Duggan, I hope that you are able to take a nice vacation. You will most certainly have earned it.