Deadpool has been through a lot over the past year. He’s lost loved ones, died at one point, and is now working out his new identity as one of the Avengers.
In this all-new, post-Secret Wars arc, he has even bigger problems: some unknown villain is masquerading as Deadpool in order to ruin the life of Wade Wilson. Worse, this same villain has hired a group of mercenaries who dress as Deadpool and often go out to help morally questionable—and sometimes downright bad—people.
There are a lot of layers to sort through here. Within the group of mercenaries—called the ‘Mercs for Money’ after being ordered a cease and desist for using the name ‘Heroes for Hire’—are a wide range of people with varied moral compasses. One is feeding information to S.H.I.E.L.D., another is a creature struggling with bizarre health issues, and others have families they’re just trying to support. Even Madcap, the unstable maniac, routinely shows up uninvited to join the team.
Some of these mercs take a more pragmatic and cold approach to their work, waving off any reprehensible acts and excusing them as mere “jobs” for money. The varied motivations create an interesting drama that grows steadily more human, despite adding a bit of murk to this arc’s already-convoluted waters.
It’s sometimes difficult to balance the different aspects of the story as they unfold, but the visuals of this series work seamlessly in tandem with the writing to clearly communicate what’s happening to the reader. There is not an inch of wasted space in these books; each uses unique cinematic angles, and every panel serves a very specific and important purpose.
Even better, the art itself conveys the twisted and semi-macabre personality of the Deadpool books. People are made to look like toothy, uncanny creatures, random characters are decked-out in Deadpool memorabilia, and even the things taking place in the background help give the comic a living, breathing feel.
The real mystery is at the heart of this giant conspiracy. Who is this masquerading villain? What is their motive? Why go through all of this effort to torture Wade Wilson? Each issue ends with a tease, but nothing has yet been revealed. It’s an intriguing development, much like the mystery of the woman wielding Mjolnir in the all-new Thor. As intriguing as it might be, however, hopefully this villain is unmasked soon. Three issues in is fine for a build-up, but the first act of this arc will fizzle out quickly if it continues to merely tease.
It’s the real Deadpool, however, that changes the dynamic of everything. He’s different; likely beleaguered and beaten down by the effects of his previous adventures and encounters. Rather than the devil-may-care attitude and penchant for wisecracks and gory violence we’re used to seeing from him, Wade Wilson is instead more introspective and grounded. He’s a bit clumsier, and his gleefully murderous ways only occasionally make a weak appearance. During issue three he openly admits to losing his edge, and his performance as a hero, fighter, and mercenary is suffering because of it.
Stories of heroes at their most vulnerable tend to be very effective. We idolize and hold our heroes in high esteem because of what they’re able to do. Take that away, and they’re without an identity, forced to find new ways to deal with their demons. This is especially interesting for Deadpool, a hero whose veiled morality is often hidden deep beneath a shell made of immaturity and irreverent behaviour. Now, he feels opened-up, lacking his once willfully destructive behavior. How this will affect Wade remains to be seen, but it’s paving the way for a great comeback story fueled by vengeance.