Friday, May 11, 2007

It's not really fair to call Christopher Priest's Deadpool the third-best run of the book: Joe Kelly set the standard, and Gail Simone's closing arc is shiny and perfect. (I'm not counting Fabian Nicieza's Cable & Deadpool: I haven't read all of it yet, and he has the handicap of having to shoehorn Cable in there.) Priest came onto a book that had faced down cancellation more than once, and was looking at it again. In fact, that's kind of how Priest got the job: Deadpool was almost cancelled, which caused Kelly to scramble to get other work; so when he was told it wasn't done, he still had to leave the book to take his new commitments.

Priest's tenure ran from #34 to #45, minus most of #42, a (mostly) silent issue homaging/mocking the classic silent issue of G.I. Joe and that may have been responsible for that "'Nuff Said" month. His issues featured rematches with Bullseye and the Taskmaster (both of whom are almost completely different every time they cross paths with Deadpool: sometimes enemies, sometimes rivals, sometimes work buddies), new roommates Titania and the Constrictor, Wade's abortive attempt to join the Frightful Four, a crossover with Priest's other book Black Panther, and a halfassed mission in space ending with a psuedo-Lobo character. But my favorite was the fourth part of his three part opener, where Deadpool meets Loki, god of mischief.

Deadpool had spent the previous three or so issues in a tube in a lab, turning into snot and having flashbacks. Death, as in, the hooded purple embodiment of Death Jim Starlin used to use all the time, is also there, captured. 'Pool escapes to find he's not on earth, the scientist that captured them is really Loki, god of mischief; and Loki claims to be Deadpool's father. Any one of these revelations would probably crush a lesser (or maybe better) hero, but for Deadpool, it's to be expected.
I tried like hell to make a little Loki-hat for 'Pool, but it looked...like hell, actually.Loki manipulates 'Pool into his larger plan, playing off Deadpool's insanity, or 'comic awareness': like She-Hulk or DC's Ambush Bug, Deadpool knows he's in a comic book. This was played a little more straight in Priest's run, less winking and nodding, more like another facet of 'Pool's insanity. That way, it would make him a little more likely to act without worrying about the consequences, since it wasn't 'real' anyway. Deadpool doesn't really care, since he doesn't have much choice, and he gets to keep his Loki-hat.

Putting Deadpool back on earth, Loki draws Thor out with a fire at the Chrysler Building. As 'Pool watches with the bystanders while Thor saves victims and a helicopter, he understands more and more why Loki hates "Fabio Big Hammer." As another explosion traps more people, Thor is separated from his hammer, and will return to his mortal form in 60 seconds. Yet, Thor keeps digging for trapped victims, making Deadpool feel like scum but giving him a chance to get to Mjolnir. He notes the inscription on the hammer "sounded like another slap at poor Loki. Man, what a screwed-up family that must be."

Thor sees Deadpool, but can't abandon the victims, then reverts to his current human form, Jake Olson. Which 'Pool doesn't mind:
'Woo-hoo!  In your face, Beta Ray Bill!  Suck it, Red Norvell!'
Even though the reader knows Deadpool shouldn't do this, shouldn't be able to do this; it's still awesome when he does.
'And then, just like that--I felt all better.'
Given the godly power, hammer, and kickass helmet of Thor, Deadpool proceeds to do what most of us would do: monkey around. Peeping, breaking stuff, getting Taco Bell--Priest mentions Bell multiple times in his run, and I'm not sure why. Wade's never gonna be one for the endorsement deals, is he?
Justice is putting on a brave front, but he's about three seconds away from screaming 'I need an adult! I need an adult!'
He eventually shows up at Avengers Mansion, anxious to go "avenge something!" but is stopped by a skeptical Justice. 'Pool tries to convince him whoever has the hammer is Thor, then is tackled by Jake. Usually, if someone isn't worthy, Mjolnir is unmovable; Jake is able to move it but nothing else. Justice uses his telekinetic powers to show both of them the door.

Outside, Deadpool wonders why he now talks "like Shakespeare in Love," and Jake strikes the hammer on the ground to no avail. He then questions 'Pool's relation to the House of Odin, and Loki appears and zaps him.

Jake ends up in the goo-tube Loki had Deadpool in previously. Loki tells his brother now he'll know what it's like to lose a birthright to someone more worthy. Loki then frees Death, but not for Deadpool (Death was kind of/sort of Wade's girlfriend, leave it at that!) but for Thor.

Feeling burned, Deadpool accuses Loki of only being in it to kill his brother, not embrace his son. Wade frees Jake, who still can't lift the hammer. Loki says Thor is no more, no longer worthy, and also puts a curse on 'Pool: "Let thy life fall into ruin until thou dost seek thy father's forgiveness!" Loki then leaves, relatively confident everyone there is good and screwed.

Jake, who is pretty much Thor in a different body, makes 'Pool return him and Death to earth and the Chrysler Building. When 'Pool made his "none of this is really happening" crack, Jake realized it had to be an illusion: Loki couldn't move the hammer or break it's enchantments, so he simply made Mjolnir invisible, then substituted a fake hammmer juiced up to give Deadpool the costume and enough powers to be convincing. (Oh, yeah, simple.)
'By the way...can I keep this?'
A very pissed-off Thor then opts to "smite yon harlequin of Death--!!" 'Pool tries to stop him, which leads to fighty time, a very good speech about teaching Thor humility, and the inevitable:
Bonnnng!
In the end, after Deadpool regains consciousness, Thor is gone, Death is gone, his hammer's gone, and he's left to slump back home alone. He remember's Loki's curse, but figures, how bad could it be? Then he takes off his mask, and instead of his usual scabby cancer head, Wade now has a man-pretty face, one that would be made to look like Tom Cruise in subsequent issues.

This was one of my favorite single issues of Deadpool, and I completely agree with the spin it puts on Loki: centuries of being the bad son, watching his moron brother bask in the glow of being dad's favorite, and losing to Thor time and time again even though he's about a million times smarter. (I don't think Thor's dumb by any stretch, just that Loki's that much more clever.)

My only criticism of Priest is that he sometimes has too many plates spinning at once, and often seems incapable or stubbornly unwilling to tell a story chronologically from point a to b; not when he can go from b to f, to negative u, back to e, coming back to a in two month's time. It was noticeable in Black Panther, but didn't become problematic until the Crew and Captain America and the Falcon, both of which were still criminally underrated, and hold up pretty well if you sit down with the whole series at once.

Putting the pictures together for this, I realized I had no less than five different Thor figures floating around. (Two Marvel Legends, from the Avengers line and the box set, and a Famous Covers) And two Loki's. (Avengers line, Legends) Deadpool squeaks by with three, two from the ToyBiz X-Men line, and his Marvel Legends, one of the high points of the line. Along with an early issue of his series, a pile of guns and swords, and a stand, this version of Deadpool comes with Doop, the green potato-looking thing from X-Force/X-Statix. If you don't have this comic or this toy, go, now!

From Deadpool #37, "Chapter X: Benediction" Written by Christopher Priest, pencils by Jim Calafiore, inks by Mark McKenna.

2 comments:

CalvinPitt said...

Oh, that is just awesome. It makes me sad that I only have two issues of Deadpool (the two-parter where he's hired to kill Punisher).

Must...find...Deadpool...comics!

Shane Rollins said...

Deadpool=My Favorite Comic Book Character Ever!

This storyline has to be one of my top five storylines ever as well. Now I'm just gonna sit here and bask in the memory.