(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan
ARTWORK BY: Declan Shalvey
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Jordie Bellaire
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly just keeps getting better, and part three is a perfect amalgamation of all the things that make us love Deadpool. The humor is stepped up a bit in this issue compared to the previous two parts but the tonal shift to darker more complex emotional subject matter is still very evident. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn maintain the weight of the plot as well as the heightened sense of drama while still leaving room for some classic DP wit and one liners.
This issue focuses on Deadpool, Captain America, Wolverine and a malformed, bastardized version of the X-Men made of a mixture of mutant DNA and a dab of Deadpool’s own genetic material teaming up to escape Butler’s prison camp of horrors. The chaotic scene makes for some grimly humorous moments amid some of the most gruesome panels ever rendered. For instance Wolverine attempts to instruct his deformed doppelgänger and the equally cancerous version of Colossus in the finer points of “A Fastball Special”, wherein the corroded Colossus heaves his decaying teammate into a guard tower to make shredded wheat of the unfortunate guard on duty. However miscalculation and an under-estimation of his throwing ability conspire to result in a few hundred yard over-throw. Most of the remaining misshapen X-Men meet similar fates as they are battered or broken in some form or fashion only to rally around DP and company to ultimately overcome their captors. Duggan and Posehn masterfully construct a fist-pumping buddy scene between Wade and Logan as they commiserate over the woes of losing healing ability, Wade tells him to go lie down and heal a bit then he runs off assault rifle in each hand to hunt down Butler.
The most poignant dialogue in this issue is in a conversation between Deadpool and the voice of Agent Preston. Duggan and Posehn dig deep into the character to reveal the insecure inner workings of a wounded and world wearied man alone. One line hit me particularly hard and close to home, when Deadpool says, “When everyone treats you like you’re worthless, you believe it.” I felt a kindred spirit speak to me from the page. I will never look at Deadpool as the mindless catch phrase spewing Merc with the mouth that he once was, Duggan and Posehn have mined this rich untapped psyche to find gold. They have fleshed out a character that is genuine and human, made of the sum of his experiences and the pain, scars and emotions that have resulted from those experiences. Deadpool is now more alive, viable and relevant than ever before and that is thanks in large part to this creative team.
Once again Declan Shalvey delivers the goods visually showing us exactly why he is the perfect choice for this arc. This is perhaps his most brutally graphic issue, one particular panel depicting in detail a character being torn asunder in a cruel game of tug of war comes to mind, but he does it so tastefully and with such aplomb that he elevates violence to the realm of poetry. This scene is so stark in its severe portrayal of such a heinous act that it takes you by surprise. Along with the lyrical interpretation of the carnage Shalvey does one heck of a job rendering Cap and Wolverine, including one especially dynamic splash page of Cap striking an iconic pose while a feral Wolverine crouches beside him and an armed to the teeth DP stands at the ready in the foreground. Throughout this arc Shalvey has maintained a balance between the gratuitous and the sublime with every jaw shattering punch and bone splintering round, each time force is exerted it’s like a flower blossoming or erupting onto the page. He has truly elevated the fight scene to a work of art. Jordie Bellaire perfectly accompanies Shalvey never overpowering his work or stepping over that line between subtlety and looking washed out, he brings just enough color to enhance never augment. He brings a depth and dimension that make this book the total package in much the same way Dean White does on Captain America.
I can’t say enough good things about this creative team especially on this arc, they have certainly hit their stride and they are doing something very special. This is one of those character defining arcs that will be look at years down the road as a classic. As a Deadpool fan I have read just about every story that has featured him, the good, the bad and the ugly (I couldn’t resist, sorry) and this is way at the top of the must read list. So once again Duggan and Posehn have earned a perfect score of 5 out of 5 and my strongest recommendation to not only Deadpool fans but fans of great comic books to pick this up and add Deadpool to your subscription list. Until next time, see you at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629