Despicable Deadpool Vol 3: The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool RETRO! Pool goes out, as only Pool can
The Despicable Deadpool Volume 3: The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool. Collecting Issues 297-300.
Written by Gerry Duggan.
Pencils by Mike Hawthorne. Inks by Terry Pallot. Colours by Jordie Bellaire.
Pencils by Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli & Mike Hawthorne.
Inks by Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, Terry Pallot, Craign Yeung & Mike Hawthorne.
Colours by Mikc FIlardi, Ruth Redmond & Jordie Bellaire.
Last time around, Deadpool had some scores to settle, and WOW did he settle them. He finally solved the Madcap issue, by being such a wreck of a person that even someone as crazy as Madcap lost interest. He then sort of kinda, more or less, ended things with Rogue. It was totally mutual though. Honest. Finally, things reached their peak with Cap, as Wade shared some harsh truths and asked some uncomfortable questions. To which he notably received very few answers... Now, things come to their horrific conclusion, in the final volume of Duggan's epic Deadpool run! Bring tissues. And a mop...
Issue 297 - The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool Part One: Deadpool crashes a super-villain party, to raise a little cash. Because who really cares if you steal from criminals? He's going to put the money to far better use. Or maybe not...
Issue 298 - The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool Part Two: There's a two million dollar bounty on Wade's head. So, naturally, every criminal in the 616 has come to claim it. But who has the skill, the power, and the anger management skills to take down Deadpool, before he annoys them to death!
Issue 299 - The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool Part Three: The villains of Marvel have tried and failed to subdue Deadpool, so now it's the Avengers' turn! Will they fair any better? Will they be any less embarrassed after Deadpool makes them all look like fools. Probably not. This IS a Deadpool book after all.
Issue 300 - The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool Part Four. Deadpool teaches us about the power of foreshadowing, as he unleashes his final, most powerful, most DISGUSTING weapon! A truly sickening display of power follows and Deadpool leaves the heroes of Marvel queasy, and calling for a doctor! Then, after a brief run-in with a very special driver, and a visit from some old friends, Deadpool faces the only person who can take him down, the only enemy he cannot defeat...
And there you have it, folks. Dugganpool has finally reached its end, and I think we can all agree it was utterly horrific. It took us to places we didn't want to go, showed us things we never wanted to see, and left us as emotional ruins. All told, a rather fun journey, right? I told you you'd need that mop...
Quite the ending, right? While I must admit that Volume 2 really feels like the "Climax" of the series, wrapping up the Madcap arc, finally calling out Steve and so many other great moments, this final volume is the parting twist of the knife; the final chance for Duggan to show us that he can and WILL make us cry with laughter, and then make us sob in pain within a single issue.
There are very few stories that can capture a character's arc in a single issue, but this volume manages it. It's not the issue you're thinking of, though. Obviously the final issue in all its horrible glory is a very 'Deadpool' kind of story, but I'm actually talking of the very first story in this last outing.
Deadpool, a little short on cash, decides his best bet is rob a casino cruise, attended entirely by super-villains. Because that is clearly a great idea. But the whole way through, because he's Deadpool, he can't be serious. He HAS to act the fool, act like he's doing all of this just to be a dick. He can't ever let anyone in, because every time he does, things go horribly wrong. Sometimes for Deadpool, more often than not for the person he opens up to.
So, he storms the boat, takes two million in presumably untraceable notes, and flees the scene. Then he uses the money to put a large bounty on his own head. Essentially, robbing the very people who are now going to attempt to kill him and get their own money back.
And he does all of this, without telling anyone what he's doing, or why. It's the most Deadpool thing I've ever read and I love every single part of the concept.
He robs a bunch of villains, to use their stolen money to put a hit out on himself, so that they can all compete to see who can take him down. Hell if he'd TOLD them that was his plan, they probably would have given him the money, so they could all prove they were the best, so they could say that THEY were the ones to finally take down Deadpool.
But no, Wade couldn't do that. He HAS to be the fool and the villain at the same time. Because any time he tries to be anything else, it ends badly.
So now? It's ON!
But wait! Trying to take himself out of the equation, and let one of the street tier villains build their reputation... does that count as a good thing? Because we ALL know what happens, when Deadpool tries to do a good thing.
Yup, it all backfires. Just like always. After taking down any number of minor villains, eventually Deadpool is subdued by Taskmaster and Bullseye. They then strap him into some giant, Heath Robinson style murder contraption and are milliseconds away from murdering Deadpool once and for all, when, you guessed it: things go awry!
Deadpool gloats that it was him who put the hit out, that dying was his plan all along, and that this is ultimately HIS victory!
So, naturally, Taskmaster and Bullseye switch off the murder machine and tell him to get help.
Because Deadpool has now sunk SO low, that it's not just Madcap that feels sorry for him.
All jokes aside, it's an oddly wholesome scene. Taskmaster and Bullseye realise that all of this is some giant cry for help from someone that is at the very end of their chain and they try to get him to seek help. Sure, they want to be known as the people that took down Deadpool, but not like this.
It's a stark contrast to the way he's treated by the supposed 'heroes' both in this volume and in previous tales. The supposed 'villains' of this story see Deadpool, and they realise that despite all his bluster, he's really hurting and needs help. He's acting out because he's suffering and doesn't know how to handle it. Meanwhile, the 'heroes' are still to busy covering up their own shortcomings and projecting onto Deadpool to realise that he's SCREAMING out for help, and they're just too deaf to hear it.
So, blind to what is clearly RIGHT in front of them, the heroes corner Deadpool and he's left with only one option... The mysterious vial of deus ex machina that he got way back in World's Greatest Volume 9. But what mysterious power does this vial contain?
Well, they say a picture is worth 1000 words:
Yup. This happened.
It turns out that vial (or should I say vile?) is filled with some kind of vomit- inducing pheromone. What follows can only be described as a flood of horror, as the best and brightest of Marvel 616 try to subdue Deadpool, only to collapse into puke-launching puddlemachines. It's as hilarious as it is horrific, which is basically Duggan's level.
Ordinarily, this would be a bit of a deal breaker for me. It COULD feel really cheap and forced. But given its surroundings, it just about works. I've spoken before on Duggan's ability to balance comedy and drama, and this is a great example. In almost any other context, this would feel like a cheap and easy laugh, to pander to the lowest common denominator, but sandwiched as it is between such unrelenting misery, it feels like a release valve has been opened.
This final volume EASILY could have been too dark. It's been pretty bad so far, and is only going to get worse as we bring this tale to its end, but here in the middle we have a small reprise, where we can just relax for a second and laugh at our favourite heroes as they find new and increasingly more disgusting ways to lose their lunch. It's dumb, it's easy, but it's necessary. I think that's where a lot of people get this wrong; it's fine to throw a few jokes in, to keep the mood from getting too dark, but the key is to let the dark scenes be dark, LET them revel in the gloom and then brighten the mood in a later scene, in order to keep everything in balance. That's the key! Let the dark be dark, let the light be light. Balance!
And speaking of dark...
Leaving the Avengers to clear up the giant ocean of puke that has take over Manhattan, Deadpool flees to points unknown. Except, there's only one place this story can end, only one way this horrible tale can conclude.
Because: Duggan is as clever as he is evil. You seen, he makes a point of reminding us a few times, about his vomit-inducing vials of evil, to remind us of all the times that he's foreshadowed their importance. It almost seems odd; why would you draw out attention to them so often? Why not leave it as a surprise, so it hits us all the harder?
Easy answer. Because he's evil. Because this whole thing is one giant smokescreen. Because, LONG before Deadpool went off to find strange new planets and commit interesting new forms of genocide, there was ANOTHER vial of horror, one that has played a very important part in Deadpool's tragic tale. One that he moves back into play, while we're all too busy laughing at all the vomit covered fun.
Yup. It's time to pay a visit to our old pal, Butler. Because what do you do, when you're facing a catastrophic crash? You hit the reset button.
Tabula freakin Rasa.
Yup, pressed into a corner, everyone who he has ever loved now is either dead or hates him, what choice does Wade really have? Just the one. Wipe the slate clean. So, he hooks himself up to every bag in the house, and floods his system with enough of Butler's memory drugs to totally fry his brain and send him back to factory defaults.
All of it. Everything that's happened. All the highs, all the lows, all the growth. Gone. Dead. Done.
It's SUCH a brutal ending. I remember the first time I read this book, my friend told me to watch out, because the ending was going to hurt. I got to the part where everyone is throwing up everywhere and I thought to myself "Okay, clearly my friend is insane, because there's no way you can go from THIS to anything sad. It won't happen. I'm sure he was just overreacting." Nope. He was absolutely right.
It's SUCH a heartbreaking way to end the story. How do you kill the man that can't die? Wipe out everything that makes him who he is. He's lost his friends, he's lost his family, and now he's lost his memory. He wakes up in a mental institute knowing nothing but his name, steals a costume from another inmate, and heads out into the world, with no idea of what he's lost.
The part that REALLY hurt, though, was one simple panel. No words needed, just a simple picture. As Deadpool is wheeled away in a catatonic state, Cap reaches down and lifts Deadpool's costume off the floor, and a small photo falls out:
If you've forgotten, this is the picture that was taken at the end of Volume 3 "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly".
So, even after everything he's done, after Deadpool's life was basically ruined for following his orders, because everyone always believes Captain America, even after the guy said NOTHING in his defence, and actively branding him a criminal...
The ONE photo that Deadpool had with him, right until the end, was a picture of Deadpool, Wolverine, and Captain America.
I'd like to think that Steve kept that photo, as a reminder not to be such a dick all the time, and not judge people so harshly. But we all know he didn't...
Thankfully, displaying the balance that made Duggan such an excellent scribe for Deadpool, the final pages of this volume jump forward once more, to Deadpool 2099. We see Old Man Deadpool happily going off on adventures with his daughters and the Preston AI. It's a small light, but an important one. To let us know that no matter how dark things might get, no matter how hopeless we might feel, things will eventually come around. If even DEADPOOL, who has ruined everything, and had everything ruined for him, can find some crumb of happiness, there's hope for all of us, which is nice.
Overall, Despicable Deadpool Volume 3 is a very strong ending to a legendary run for the character. Duggan's ability to balance unrelenting emotional torment, with moments of joy and just the right level of humour, means that whenever you pick up a volume of this tale, you're never 100% sure what you're going to get. Am I going to need tissues when I'm done? Will I need a bucket? Will I need both? Who knows! That's the fun part. I think a lot of writers feel inclined to leave Deadpool as a one-dimensional clown character. Quipping, killing, and breaking the fourth wall. And while this IS fun, it can wear real thin, after a while. Duggan's ability (along with Brian Posehn on the first arc) to write Deadpool as this near-Sisyphean figure, constantly trying to help and only causing more and more chaos in doing so, adds so much depth to the character, and makes him so much more relatable than just another Deathstroke clone, with She-Hulk's wall-breaking schtick. They say that the appeal of heroes is to show us what we can be. To be the ideal of what humanity can achieve, and show us how to make that a reality. But not everyone can be a Superman, not everyone can be a Captain America. But we can all try to be a little more like Wade. Doing our best each day, trying out hardest, and always finding a way to get back up, when we're knocked down. Sometimes, just getting up again can be the most heroic act.
Hope you enjoyed the ride! It was an amazing journey, and I'm glad we could take it together.
If you want to read along, you can find this volume on Comixology, collected volumes on Amazon, or from your Local Comic Shop! Enjoy!