Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Deadpool #45 (The Death of Deadpool) review

*Since Deadpool #45 went on sale a week ago, this review contains plenty of spoilers. It would be tough to talk about the big moment without using some, after all. Also, this review only covers the main story (which is about 31 pages), not the several extra chapters.*
When a big event takes place in the Marvel Universe, the story usually bleeds into various titles. For example, Civil War had a whole lot of tie-in story arcs as we got to see how the big debate between Captain America and Iron Man was impacting other heroes and villains. Who was on Tony's side? Who was on Steve's side? Who was just trying to avoid all of the craziness? After a few issues or so, these titles would then go back to business as usual. However, Marvel's upcoming event, Secret Wars, is so much more than "yet another" big event. This one is totally reinventing the Marvel Universe by destroying the one we've come to know. Instead of simply appearing in several titles before it fades away, Secret Wars is acting like a genocidal maniac. This upcoming event is the reason several titles are coming to an end (or at least it certainly seems that way) and, as we've all known for awhile now, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn's Deadpool run is one of Secret Wars' victims. But hey, at least they had dozens of issues with the Merc with a Mouth. W. Haden Blackman only had eleven issues with Elektra! Sorry for the tangent, but that still really disappoints me. Seriously, it was such a great series. Anyway, you're here to read about Deadpool's death, so I'll get back to that.

We already know two things going into this issue. One is we're aware this is the final chapter of the volume. The other? Deadpool is going to die. If you didn't already know that, the intro page makes sure to tell you, as does the cover. When the announcement was first made that Wilson's going to die, one of the most common theories was that Deadpool will die, but Wade Wilson will live on. Basically, after all of the nonsense and madness Deadpool had to go through and then seeing how it put the people he cares about in danger, he realizes it's time to walk away from that lifestyle. It's not the most original "death" around, but it's a fitting one for the guy. He's certainly earned it, hasn't he? I mean, how else would U.L.T.I.M.A.T.I.U.M. (God, that's a pain to type) kill the seemingly unkillable anti-hero? Some crazy plot device that negates his healing factor? How original, right? Would you even want that organization to be the one that kills Deadpool (for now)? My answer: no way. Thankfully, co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn avoided the blatantly obvious option and instead offer a death that's both appropriate and serves as hilarious commentary on big events. Secret Wars killed Deadpool's title... and the event kills him, too.
In case you're out of the loop, the Avengers have been dealing with this little thing called incursion. The Marvel 616 Earth and another Earth are going to collide and it's up to Earth's Mightest Heroes to stop that from happening. Well, they failed and these two planets crashing together is what brings about the demise of our lovable lead. That's right, a big event shoved its way into Deadpool's world (something that already happened twice in the series), but this time it's causing the end of the title and the end of everyone in it. To me, that's hysterical because it shows how Marvel's bigger picture can often get in the way of a satisfying story that's going on in solo titles. I imagine this will seem random to some and lackluster to others (I'm sure plenty were hoping for Deadpool going out in a blaze of glory), but the combination of this being funny and heartfelt makes it pretty fitting. Wade does attempt to kill "Deadpool" by walking away from that life when his fight with U.L.T.I.M.A.T.I.U.M. is over and, in his final moments before those worlds explode, he's finally happy. He's surrounded by the people he loves and when that alternate Earth comes racing towards their planet, he doesn't freak out. He doesn't panic. He doesn't scream. In this moment, he's at ease. He simply hugs his daughter and knows what true happiness and love is. After all of the messed up, dark, depressing and violent things Wade has endured in this series (and everything which came before it), I'd say this is a damn good ending for him. For us? Well, that'll obviously vary from reader to reader, but I think it's both funny and appropriate. The dude is literally being taken out by the very thing that's killing is book -- something none of us expected -- and he's getting the "happy" ending he deserves. Even if it's just a few seconds of bliss before everything goes dark, it's well worth it for him. He's endured how many years of torment, after all?

Before Deadpool's demise, we get the chance to see the 616 version of the character unleash one final time. We know he has no problem killing, but a previous big event, Axis, messed with his head and he was really hoping to resolve his conflicts in non-fatal ways. But when an evil organization goes after the people you love and burns down their home? Yeah, the gloves come off. What follows is an absolutely brutal display that paints Wade Wilson as a true killing machine. There's just enough humor in there to prevent things from getting too dark, but overall, this is basically Wade doing his best impression of the Terminator. He's cracking some jokes and there's a bit of levity in the way it all plays out, but the guy is still frightening, cold, and shockingly lethal. This is where artist Mike Hawthorne, inker Terry Pallot, and colorist Jordie Bellaire really grab our attention and all of the mayhem is a twisted joy to witness. Deadpool is downright badass the whole time and these visuals strike a nice balance between horrifyingly savage and humorous. The rest of the issue is consistently animated (the assault on the homes also look good thanks to an unexpected twist) and the final pages allow Bellaire to really escalate the big moment, but this giant war zone really is the visual highlight. Here's hoping Hawthorne gets to illustrate the character in the future because I really love his his work with Wade. No matter what the expression or tone is, Hawthorne makes the merc look good.
As someone who cares about the well-being of this fictional character (because I'm an adult like that), I'm happy Deadpool's final moments were heartwarming and tranquil for him. As the world literally comes to an end and everyone freaks out about it, he simply accepts what is going on and appreciates the fact he's holding onto the most important thing in his life: his daughter. Maybe -- just maybe -- he made that horrifying situation easier to accept for his daughter as well. It sure seems like it. Maybe I'm a total sap for loving that, but I've been rooting for the guy and it's great he gets to experience the joy he deserves. Part of me is frustrated with this ending, though. I think it's a nice blend of heart and humor -- something the co-writers often handle well -- but I'm left wondering what issue #45 would be like if Secret Wars wasn't completely changing the Marvel Universe. Would the series have a few more story arcs for us to enjoy? Or would this still be the end? You know, minus the worlds colliding. I'll probably never know and the fact we already know Deadpool has a limited series post-Secret Wars means Wade Wilson (just not the 616 version, I guess) won't be absent in the comics. Battleworld, the place that'll serve as the new Marvel Universe, will be full of alternate versions of characters, so I'm certain we'll see much more of him. So, when it comes to the bigger picture, his death really isn't that big of a deal. This isn't happening because the publisher is doing a petty move in an effort to hurt Twentieth Century Fox; it's happening because the publisher is setting a whole new stage for (some) of its heroes and villains. But as an ending of this run for comic book readers who know Secret Wars is just around the corner? Yeah, I'd say this is a pretty entertaining way for the run to say "goodbye." There's a whole lot of crazy action, just enough insight into Wade, and a fitting amount of humor and heart. It's not as emotional or as epic as one might expect, but this fan of Duggan and Posehen's run is very pleased. Here's hoping Marvel's smart enough to put the entire run into one mega omnibus. I mean, I wouldn't be able to afford it, but that would be one hell of an awesome gift.

Oh, and as expected, the "lost" issue is a blast. Scott Koblish never disappoints.

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