The clandestine Weapon Plus program has created some of the Marvel Universe’s most impressive super soldiers. The program created it’s first living weapon when it transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. Years later, the program established a separate organization to perfect it’s tenth generation of super soldiers and super assassins. The biggest success of Weapon X was the deadly, adamantium-enhanced killing machine known as Wolverine — but he wasn’t the Weapon X program’s most terrifying creation. Years later, the program gave a highly annoying, motor mouthed, mercenary named Wade Wilson his own healing factor, creating Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth.
This August in “Deadpool” #13, writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn alongside artist Declan Shalvey kick off “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly,” a new arc which finds Captain America and Wolverine reluctantly teaming with Deadpool in order to solve a mystery tied to Weapon Plus. CBR News spoke with Duggan and Shalvey about the arc, which was announced by Marvel yesterday at their “X-Men” panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.
CBR News: Gerry, your second “Deadpool” arc, which began in issue #8, is in stores now. How it sets the stage for “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly?”
Gerry Duggan: There are spoilers ahead for people who have not yet read issue #8. At the end of that issue, we open up a little mystery about something that’s been happening to Deadpool. You see that he’s clearly being bagged and tagged like an animal in a nature documentary, and from the dialogue, we know that this is something that’s been happening for a long time. The people doing this to him mention that he’s been building up a resistance to the process they use to knock him out.
We’re not trying to retcon things too much with this revelation. These have just been incidents that have been happening in between the panels of the issues that you’ve been reading.
I don’t want to give away too much about what’s been going on, but it goes back all the way to the Weapon Plus and Weapon X programs. It has a little bit of a different function though, and that will be revealed in “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.”
In that story, Deadpool gets hip to the fact that something has been happening to him. Having Agent Preston [A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who died in the first arc of this newest volume of “Deadpool” and whose spirit is trapped inside Wade Wilson’s consciousness] inside his head gives him an extra set of eyes and ears, so to speak, and that’s a lot of fun.
I think anyone who’s looking for something either a little bit more serious or a story with a bit more gravity will really enjoy both our second arc of “Deadpool” and this third arc. In between the two stories we do have another Scott Koblish-drawn story that’s going to be a lot of fun. Like issue #7, the story will help tee up the next arc in a way that I can’t reveal.
Declan, you’re joining the “Deadpool” creative team right after issue #7. I know you’ve drawn humorous characters and situations before, but it often feels like with your Marvel work you’re drawing characters in deadly serious situations. How does it feel to be given a chance to draw a book a like “Deadpool,” which is an equal balance of deadly serious and twisted comedy?
Declan Shalvey: It’s strange, I have to credit Marvel; I don’t think having me on “Deadpool” was an obvious choice — it wasn’t to me at least — but the more I get into the story, the more I think it suits me. I think I drew more comedic moments during my run on “Thunderbolts” with Jeff Parker, whereas on “Venom,” I got to work on a darker subject matter, which comes very naturally to me. I think, as long as there’s an emotional core to the story, that’s what really grabs me. It also seems to be what I’m pretty good at drawing.
There’s a moment in the first issue of the arc where Wade really shows some vulnerability and that’s the moment that hooked me. That moment helped me understand where Wade was coming from and showed me the door as to how to draw the book. Essentially it will have a darker atmosphere, yet punctuated
with great comedic elements.
Who is Deadpool to you as an artist? Which of his qualities do you want to capture and bring forward in your art? What’s the challenge of drawing Deadpool now that he has an entirely different character sharing space in his consciousness in the form of Agent Preston?
Shalvey: That’s hard for me to say. I hadn’t been reading “Deadpool” recently; but I liked what Rick Remender was doing with him in “Uncanny X-Force.” I’ve also been enjoying this new Marvel NOW! series. He’s a lot more interesting to me in recent months; he’s like a hurt little boy sometimes and, you know, I feel bad for the guy.
Preston knocking around in his head is going to play on his guilty conscience. Keeping all that in mind, I’m also trying to play up the ninja element where I can. I’m trying to give him a bit more of an edge in how he looks and moves.
In “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Deadpool shares the spotlight with Wolverine and Captain America. Gerry, Cap interacted with Deadpool very briefly in your first arc, and Wolverine hasn’t appeared yet in this new volume of the series. What’s it like writing these three characters together? What do you think they mean to Wade?
Duggan: At the top of “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly” they more or less reject Wade. They keep him at an arm’s length though, and Wade knows that he’s the subject of an experiment going who knows how far back.
So this would be of great concern to Logan, to Cap and really everyone in the Marvel Universe, but convincing them of that is a problem for Wade. They will pretty quickly come around though to the fact that there’s a pretty large issue that needs to be resolved with some extreme force. I think there’s going to be a lot of fun action, and some kind of heartbreaking stuff for the group.
In Wade’s mind, who’s the good, who’s the bad and who’s the ugly?
Duggan: I think Wade would be pretty disappointed to find out that he would be the ugly, but he might shrug and accept the fact that Cap could only be the good and Wolverine could only be the bad. Wade unfortunately can only be the ugly.
Declan, what do you find most interesting about the characters of Captain America and Wolverine?
Shalvey: The fact that I’m a huge X-Men fan since I was a kid and now I finally get to draw Wolverine? That’s pretty interesting! Seriously though, I’ve been a huge fan of Wolverine and Captain America for such a long time. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t delighted that I get to draw them in this arc. I really like how all those characters are steeped in the same origin story to some degree, yet are completely different characters. [They have] very different body types too, so that should be interesting when drawing all these guys.
How does Agent Preston initially feel about interacting with Captain America and Wolverine?
Duggan: Her and Wade have decided to keep her existence secret for the time being. They discuss that in our second arc and decide that they’re going to try and do things Wade’s way before they get any of the powers that be involved. Wade doesn’t want to become someone’s lab rat again. Unfortunately for him, in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” he uncovers information that suggests that experience for him may have never ended.
That’s the real crux of what’s happened to him. Our mysterious antagonists found out that they can’t keep these guys indefinitely in tubes. They get out and stab you with their claws or kill you. So essentially it’s free range Deadpool. When they need something from him they go and get it and then they let him go back to running around.
What can you tell us about the people that knocked out Deadpool at the end of issue #8? It seemed like they could be black market organ dealers.
Duggan: There’s a guy that we’ll introduce in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and he has both a personal and a professional motivation that will be revealed in pretty short order. There’s a weaponization of what they’re doing and he’s got a personal stake.
This character doesn’t have super powers, but can’t believe that anyone would wash out of a program like Weapon Plus. He doesn’t understand why they’d wash out a person you could cure cancer with. So obviously, there are a lot of things specific to Wade, but that comes up too.
Wade is a pretty special individual and if they can put what’s special in Wade into other people they might end up with their own metahuman army. It’s a tough spot for him to be in and it’s a tough spot for the people around him.
This won’t have a clean and satisfying end for Wade. One of the things we talked about early on while working on this book was that it’s enjoyable to hurt these characters and see how they react, I hate to say. [Laughs]
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” sounds like a super powered version of the Bourne movies featuring Deadpool’s unique perspective.
Duggan: Yes there is a parallel there, but of course one of the main differences is that Bourne doesn’t have the rolodex that Deadpool has. [Laughs] That is a pretty good log line for the story, though.
What can you tell us about the identities of some of the adversaries in store for Deadpool during this arc?
Duggan: I want to save that as a surprise. What I can say though is that this story will have old enemies making new threats against Deadpool.
Declan, what can you tell us about the look of this arc? How do you think it will compare to some of your most recent work on books like “Venom?”
Shalvey: I’ll be approaching it in a similar fashion; lots of mood and atmosphere. On this series though, I have the secret weapon of Jordie Bellaire on colors. She’s been recently wowing everyone with her excellent work on “Captain Marvel” and “Ultimate Comics X-Men” and I know she’s going to bring my work up to a whole new level. I can’t wait to see what she does with my pages.
Duggan: Declan and Jordie together are really one of the best one-two punches in all of comics and I don’t think that’s hyperbole.
Any concluding thoughts you’d like to offer up about the tone, scope, or scale of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?”
Duggan: It’s a story that happens in “Deadpool,” but by the time it’s over, it could have implications for the entire Marvel U. There’s something established here that could happen to really any one in the Marvel Universe, not just the products of the Weapon Plus program.
If you’re a fan of either Cap or Wolverine, I think you’ll be thrilled to see their team up with Deadpool in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Obviously, we’re known mostly for laughs, but I think we’re trying to flex some other muscles. There will certainly be some comedy, but we hope this will be enjoyed as a story that explores the origins of these three characters a little further, especially Deadpool. We’re really proud of the arc and we’re very appreciative of the support fans have given our “Deadpool” book
Shalvey: I hope everyone checks out our upcoming arc. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have written a great and compelling story so I hope everyone digs what Jordie and I bring to the book after the great work that artists Tony Moore and Mike Hawthorne have been doing. We’ve big shoes to fill but I think you’re gonna like what we do.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” kicks off this August in “Deadpool” #13.