Marvel NOW! Deadpool, Vol 2: Soul Hunter (2012). Collecting issues #7-12.
Writers: Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn. Artist: Scott Koblish (#7) & Mike Hawthorne (#8-12)
Last volume, things got a little... Necromantic. A bumbling sorcerer, hopped up on stolen power, resurrected the deceased Presidents of the United States in a misguided attempt to save his country. Needless to say, things didn't quite play out the way he had intended them to. So, not willing to let Captain America run around the country killing for POTUSs (POTII?), S.H.I.E.L.D. drafted in Deadpool to make the former Presidents former once more. Somehow, this time around, things get even stranger.
Issue 7: Drinking Game. This issue begins with a trip back in time, to when the colour palettes were more muted and the costume had fewer pouches and belts. Yup, we've returned to the tail end (or should that be... TALE end?) of the Bronze Age of comics, in time to see Deadpool make a devil's deal. Mr Vetis contracts Deadpool to accomplish a simple task: Get Iron Man back on the booze! Could this job be too mean, even for Deadpool?
Issue 8: Running With The Devil. Returning to the present day (the Platinum Age of comics?), Deadpool is doing his best to do right by Agent Preston. But while he attempts to fix that awful deal, Mr Vetis returns once more to remind him of the LAST awful deal he made. And thus Deadpool embarks on his new career: Soul Hunter. But while Deadpool is hunting his targets for Vetis... someone else is hunting HIM.
Issue 9: The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea. Deadpool continues to track down the names on Vetis's soul shopping list. Meanwhile, Michael the Necromancer has to take drastic steps in order to track down an ancient magical tome, which may be just what they need to get Agent Preston out of her current situation.
Issue 10: Eight Legs To Kick You. Shocked and upset after Deadpool did something that was a little too... Deadpool, Benjamin Franklin's ghost abandons him. Down in hell, Michael the Necromancer attempts to get a meeting with the man in charge. Meanwhile, Deadpool attempts to take down a powerful Precog, with the help of another Precog... Spider-Man! But Spods isn't quite the wisecracking joker we've come to know and love.
Issue 11: Dare To Be Deviled. Deadpool goes after the last name on the list: A shapeshifter! And he ends up fighting one of the strongest enemies he's faced yet: The people of New York City! And Daredevil.
Issue 12: Damned If You Win, Damned If You Lose. The final confrontation with Vetis is here! One TINY problem... he's now absorbed the powers of the souls that Deadpool collected for him, and he's ANGRY. But don't worry, Deadpool has one last trick he can pull. It may end up costing him more than he ever could have imagined, though.
And with that last dose of soul crushing pain, the volume comes to its end! Hilarious, right? Deadpool is such a funny character, and nothing sad or horrible ever happens to him! It's all so light and fluffy and oh god the next volume is going to HURT. This is where things get rough, people. Buckle up.
So, Volume 2 of Deadpool is done! Also known as "The volume where the cracks start to show." Volume 1 is a solid intro; it's fairly lighthearted, but in the suitably messed up way that lets you know this isn't a book for kids. Then Volume 2 comes along, as you start to see the darkness that is always just under the surface with Deadpool. You start to realise that maybe Deadpool's greatest power isn't his power to regenerate, it's his power to forget. Because there are some wounds that even his prodigious healing factor won't be able to recover from.
Our story begins simply enough. It's a "Classic" tale of Bronze Age Deadpool: Wade strikes a literal Devil's Bargain and manages to sort of complete his task without actually doing anything too horrible, except maybe ruin a few beaches. It all seems so... simple. But one lesson you have to learn, when you're dealing with demons: They have all the time in the world, and sooner or later you WILL pay what you owe. Or rather, what they say you owe!
This first issue is a lot of fun; we get to see some classic style comic fun. There's an incredibly funny scene with Peter confessing his secret identity to a sadly distracted J. Jonah Jameson, a pre-Symbiote Flash Thompson, and Cable turns up with a colander on his head for no discernible reason. It's a hoot! The fact it's all drawn in real sketchy '70s style just adds to the retro-ness. It's a nice touch, that adds to the classic feel of the issue.
This soft start is Posehn and Duggan's way of tricking you into thinking this is a nice book. Sadly, from here on, things start to slowly unwind.
We return to the present day for the rest of this tale, as a modern day Deadpool runs once more into a very angry Vetis. And this angry demon just happens to have a list of five names that are to be condemned to eternal suffering in the depths of hell. The last name on the list? Michael the Necromancer. Deadpool's new Necro-bestie.
The deal is simple: If Deadpool can bring Vetis the other four names on the list, Michael will be free. If not? He fries.
The setup is simple enough: Deadpool has four names on his list. Each one at one point has sold their soul to Vetis in exchange for power. One gained invulnerable skin, one is a shit version of Aquaman, one is Donald Trump, also a powerful precog, and the other is a Shapeshifter. So, Wade has to find fun, interesting, and increasingly more horrible ways to murder these people, in exchange for saving Michael's eternal soul. Along the way, he actually ends up killing Michael himself... but that's all part of the plan, so it's fine. Along the way he fights with a Who's Who of New York's Street level heroes and villains, including my BOY Taskmasker, Daredevil, and a Spider-Man that is 100% certainly absolutely not Otto Octavius.
Honestly, I don't know if Deadpool actually KNOWS that's Doc Ock in there, or if he's just a huge troll, but seeing Deadpool rip into how dumb Ock is in front of him is still pretty damn funny.
But here's the thing, the real story, the scene BEHIND the scene. Because while this book plays out like the first few levels of every JRPG ever, there's some real stuff going on behind the scenes.
You see, after a fairly easy hit on one of his early targets, Deadpool has a fun conversation with a rather attractive lady. She proceeds to stun Deadpool and harvest his organs. Because this is Wade's life.
The worst part isn't the random organ theft. Let's be fair here, Deadpool has the best regen in the 616, he'll be fine.
It's the implication that this is FAR from the first time this has happened. The way they're acting makes it seem like this is an almost regular occurrence. Taking blood and organs for who knows what reason...
There is NO WAY this can end happily. I mean, nothing in Wade's life ends happily, but this is extra strength messed up and you just know it can't end well for anyone involved.
It's a fairly tame scene, compared to the horrors to come, but it is nonetheless the start of what is probably the most messed up arc of this whole run, and a core plot of Posehn/Duggan's whole tenure on Deadpool.
Deadpool then continues to Deadpool over the whole situation, and everything returns to something vaguely resembling a normal comic. The "Hero" fights the "villains", we get a few cameo appearances from Marvel notables, and Vetis meets his grizzly end at the hands of the reborn Michael.
But, all's is NOT well, even when it ends well. Michael is alive again and free of Vetis, but he's PISSED at Deadpool for how it happened. Ben Franklin goes with him to try and cheer him up... and somehow, even though the villain was vanquished and the devil was paid his due, Deadpool ends up all alone, at the end. All alone, with himself and the old memories that he broke free, and all of the horrors that that entails.
Those horrors are coming, next volume! So get ready, because this is going to get DARK.
Overall, Volume 2: Soul Hunter is a big step up from Dead Presidents. The first volume is a bizarre tale that shouldn't work, but does. It's funny, and crass, and gory, and everything you could want from the regenerating degenerate.
Soul Hunter takes that basic premise and adds some real heart and depth to the whole situation. Sure, the jokes are still there, the gore and violence are still on pretty much every page... but this is where you start to see that there just might be more to this tale. Volume 1 gets you reading, but this is where you realise why you need to KEEP reading. Because there is a fantastic story coming your way, and this is where you start to see the first breadcrumbs of it all.
So, if you're ready for some real pain, come back next time for Marvel NOW! Deadpool Volume 2: The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly, collecting issues 13-19: Aided by Wolverine and Captain America, Deadpool uncovers some horrifying truths about his past.
If you want to read along, you can find this volume on Comixology, collected volumes on Amazon, or from your Local Comic Shop! Enjoy!
Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.