REVIEW: “Deadpool” #18

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

WRITTEN BY: Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan
ARTWORK BY: Declan Shalvey
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Jordie Bellaire

Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have written the “Pagliacci” of comic books, in the pages of their “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” story arc beats and breaks the heart of Marvel’s merry mercenary. However Duggan and Posehn have shown us that Deadpool is much more than the sum of his body count. They have delved into the character and found at his core Wade Wilson is a good man, a good friend and perhaps potentially even a good father. This has been a journey of discovery that we have been fortunate enough to be brought along on and to see a character reach a level of depth and develop much more fully into an actualized personality. They have diminished the comedic aspect to a degree that allows the inner workings of Deadpool’s psyche, like his involvement in the Weapon Plus Program and the physical as well as the mental damage incurred there, to take center stage.

In a story arc that has been quite dark this penultimate issue is the darkest yet. The graphic portrayal of the skirmish in which Deadpool, Cap, Wolverine along with the genetically altered, laboratory created pseudo-X-Men as their new allies face the North Korean army in a blood soaked mêlée is recounted almost poetically in all its carnage creating glory like a battlefield ballet. Duggan and Posehn did an amazing job of endearing the team of mutant miscreants to us as viable characters with absorbing and heart-rending backstories in relatively few issues, especially in the cases of Kim, the faux Nightcrawler who fights so gallantly and Park, the faux Wolverine who battles courageously beside Logan only to end up the victim of his own substandard healing ability. I really cared about these guys, they were like the Island of Misfit Toys, they had so much heart and drive to overcome and belong. These guys and their combat contributions were an undeniable highlight of this issue. Cap also has a genuine display of valor in the face of insurmountable opposition as he faces down an entire platoon to save the prisoners in the mines of Camp 23. This scene is one of those fist pumping moments when you realize just how deeply immersed you are in this story and in the fate of these characters.

The somber tone of this issue continues and intensifies as the final page approaches. Deadpool is running like a man possessed into a pit of brutally destroyed bodies searching for Eleanor and Carmelita only to slip on the gore and fall sobbing on his back as Cap and Logan come to lift him from the pile of slaughtered humanity. Deadpool’s heartbreak is palpable; he covers his face with both hands and heaves heavy sobs of self-accusation, as he now appears to be very much a man who cannot forgive himself. He is primed for vengeance as we head into the final chapter of this epic story arc.

Declan Shalvey delivers another visually stunning issue. His dynamically textured style is the perfect fit for this grittier material however Shalvey has proven to be so versatile that he could no doubt handle the conventional Deadpool stories as well. Although I hope that after the growth Wade undergoes in this arc that some of the more cerebral and introspective aspects carry over into the subsequent stories. Shalvey has an amazing aptitude for choreographing action sequences; his fight scenes convey a kinetic energy that pushes his storytelling to a level of artistry lacking in many super hero comic books today. He employs a sort of Jack Kirby dynamic to his battles that really intensifies the action and you feel as much as see what’s going on in every panel and the impact of every punch. In my opinion they couldn’t have gotten a better artist for this arc and I would love to see him stick around long after this story is told.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has been one the most emotionally complex, intelligently written and flat out entertaining stories of the year bar none and this issue is indicative of why. Duggan and Posehn have written a defining piece of Deadpool’s history forever elevating the character to a level that would have been unthought-of of prior to them becoming the writers of record for this series. So, just as I have done for the previous three issues of this arc, I am giving this issue a perfect 5 out of 5 and my highest, most sincere recommendation, if you are not currently getting Deadpool I suggest you pick up the last four issues and enjoy one heck of a great story. With that I will leave you until next time, see you at the comic book store.

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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