Get ready to laugh, cry and puke.
Gerry Duggan’s long Deadpool run has tended to work best when the humor takes a back seat to pathos and tragedy. Duggan knows how to put Wade Wilson through the wringer. It’s fitting that his run comes to a close in an oversized issue that emphasizes both comedy and tragedy in equal measure. It’s a suitably downbeat end to an influential series.
Duggan and his artists work the humor out of their systems in the first half of this issue, which basically involves the Avengers struggling and failing to take down the fugitive Deadpool after Wade has gained the ability to make anyone around him vomit uncontrollably. This is a real “your mileage may vary” sequence. If gross-out gags are your jam – especially gags that go on long enough that they stop being amusing and then circle right around to being funny again – then these pages won’t disappoint. Everyone else may find it a tough slog. It is pretty entertaining to see just how many different ways there are for superheroes to shower innocent bystanders in puke.
Thankfully, the gross-out humor eventually recedes in favor of a more intimate look at a man running from his own life. The tragedy kicks in once it becomes apparent what Wade is trying to accomplish here and what he stands to lose if Captain America and Agent Preston can’t bring him down in time. Duggan highlight’s Wade’s self-loathing qualities, with the constant one-liners serving as a flimsy cover for a man who’s simply given up on a life that’s disappointed him one time too many.
On some level, there’s a sense that Duggan is cleaning house for the next Deadpool relaunch, ridding the series of many of the supporting characters it’s acquired over the past six years. But rather than coming across as a cheap attempt to reset the game board, there’s a real sadness in seeing Wade forcibly walk back on all the progress he’s made as a superhero, a family man and a human being. We want to believe our heroes can grow and evolve, but in Wade’s case, it’s clear that sometimes they simply can’t be better versions of themselves without throwing it all away in the end. There are a few beats towards the end that I wish Duggan and his artists had explored in greater depth (including a certain movie parody sequence), but the conclusion hits the right emotional notes.
The series closes out with three mainstay artists – Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli and Mike Hawthorne – having one last go with Deadpool’s world. Koblish really nails the disgusting physical comedy in the opening battle. It’s quite something to watch Ms. Marvel struggle and fail to hold in a torrent of super-powered vomit. And all three artists hone in on the quiet tragedy of Wade’s final adventure. Unfortunately, with so many inkers and colorists joining in, this issue is never able to achieve a truly cohesive look and feel. The frequent stylistic shifts are just noticeable enough to be jarring and detract slightly from the overall experience.