[SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “DEADPOOL: THE GAUNTLET” & “DEADPOOL”]
Most people meet their future spouses online, through friends, or via a chance encounter at a place like a bar. Marvel Comics denizen Wade Wilson, better known to most as Deadpool, is not most people.
The unkillable, motor-mouthed mercenary is one of Marvel’s most offbeat characters, and the way in much he met his future bride is typically non-traditional and epically awesome — by fighting a Minotaur!
The encounter came at the end of the third chapter of the current Infinite Comics series “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” by writers Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn and artist Reilly Brown. Deadpool tricked the actual Minotaur of Ancient Greek myth into ramming a zebra-drawn horse cart carrying a casket he had obtained for the vampire lord Dracula and the resulting crash broke open the casket and released a mysterious female figure who identified herself as Shiklah, Queen of the Undead.
Who exactly is Shiklah, though? How will she come to be Deadpool’s wife? And how will Deadpool’s current employer, Dracula, react to the Merc with A Mouth absconding with the woman he intends to marry? For the answers to these questions and more, CBR News spoke with Duggan about the future Mrs. Deadpool and how her courtship with Wade Wilson will impact the remaining chapters of “The Gauntlet” — the fourth chapter of which went on sale today — and Deadpool’s future as a whole.
CBR News: Gerry, “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” was already a road movie and a supernatural super hero action thriller, but the introduction of Shiklah at the end of the Infinite Comic’s third chapter suggests that this story is also a romantic comedy of sorts as well. Is that correct?
Gerry Duggan: It does appear to be the direction we’re going in doesn’t it? And yes, we are. When we set out to tell this story we didn’t necessarily mean to find the bride of Deadpool, but I think it was a happy accident. We did want Deadpool to sort of tear through the underworld as a change of pace from our normal book and it would allow people who don’t necessarily know much about him to get to know him in this new adventure.
It actually makes some story sense for Wade to want to jump start his life at this moment. He is sort of shocked to find that he likes this woman. I think she likes him. It’s just a question of how do they handle the impending nuptials from her prior engagement?
So on the surface it might seem like a Tom Hanks romantic comedy, but there’s a lot of stuff going on there beneath the surface. It’s been fun to play with that.
Shiklah is a new character. What can you tell us about her and what inspired her creation? Is she a vampire in the traditional Marvel Universe understanding of the word?
She’s actually not. She’s a classic succubus; the monsters that would fly in windows and drain men of their vitality and so forth. We put a couple of twists on her and Reilly Brown did a really wonderful job with a couple of different drawings. I don’t want to spoil a surprise, but there is more to her than meets the eye. You’ll see a different side to her as the story progresses.
â€¨She comes from a long line of monsters. She’s monster royalty and she was hidden away for a long time and forgotten about. The reasons for that will be revealed. Dracula wants to marry her to unite the monster underworld and receive her family’s fortune and lands. So he’s behaving like the classic monarch.
Sounds like Shiklah’s royalty status would also allow you to play with the classic “boy from the wrong side of the tracks” romance trope since Deadpool would probably be considered lower class or even a peasant in the eyes of her family. Is that correct?
Yeah there will be some classism and Deadpool has more of a life than he thinks he does. Coming out of what we do to him at the end of the current arc, he’s in a bit of a vulnerable place. It’s his first chance to really catch a breath since North Korea [the sight of a climactic battle and some traumatic revelations in the recent “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” arc of “Deadpool”]. So when he goes off and does this and comes back with Shiklah there are a few other grenades that go off literally and figuratively. To complicate his life we’re going to give him a couple other things to consider while he’s out being Deadpool.
Let’s talk about the work artist Reilly Brown did designing Shiklah. What sort of details did you give him and what did he add to her design?
Reilly has been tremendous on this Infinite book. I really couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. We knew that eventually we were going to turn the book into a little bit of a romantic comedy and I think the thing that Reilly and all of our Deadpool artists have been able to communicate is the ability to really sell a gag. I don’t think everyone has that really. So we’ve been very lucky to have been paired with a lot of great artists for that and Reilly is no different.
For Shiklah, Reilly turned in one of the sexiest drawings I’ve seen in a Marvel character in a long time. I told him that with the character we wanted to see something a bit more Middle Eastern and we got something back that was not a classic super hero sort of look. I appreciated that quite a bit.
The surprising thing with her, too, is that she has these other sort of tender moments. She is a monster, but she’s a monster that has been locked away for a long time. She’s mirrored a little bit in Deadpool, who for different reasons has lost big patches of his life. It’s not exactly love at first sight, and they’re certainly at odds, but there’s definitely a possibility that a romance between them could work.
You talked a bit about what Shiklah might see in Wade, but I’m curious given what he’s been through recently is there a chance that he’s falling in love with who she is? Or what he wants her to be in his life?
That’s the million dollar question and he won’t have that answered for a long time. I think people get married for one reason and they might stay together for another. I’m, luckily, happily married now for many years and there’s not too much correlation between what my marriage is and what Deadpool’s is, but everyone wants love and security out of a marriage and these two aren’t different.
Whether or not they find that is another thing, and she’s already very, very old. She doesn’t look it, but she is and her idea of a marriage to a “mortal” man might not be what Deadpool’s is, and that’s something certainly that no one in this short amount of time has considered. [Laughs]
I also imagine some of the attraction on Shiklah’s part is Wade is a man with a healing factor? He’s a guy that she can have a physical relationship with that won’t end in his untimely death, correct?
They’re very well paired on the surface, that is true. And certainly she’s found something in Wade that she’s never found in any other man. It’s funny that Deadpool isn’t exactly running into this, but she’s such a powerful character that he doesn’t feel the need to look over his shoulder as much anymore. So that’s where some of that security comes in.
â€¨They will have a place in the Marvel Universe. It will be a very accessible place and a preexisting one. I’ll just say it’s under Manhattan.
Before they get there, however, they still have to deal with the wrath of the vampire monarch Dracula who I’d guess is probably quite upset over Shiklah and Deadpool’s romantic relationship.
Yeah Dracula might be angrier than any Deadpool villain ever before.
What exactly can Dracula bring to bear against them? How dangerous is he to them?
You’ll see some new threats in the mix. Dracula deploys all of his forces, and he has some non-traditional forces as well. Then there are some other interested parties. Any fight like this might draw some other spectators.
That happens and I think the fun thing is that there are some other cards that Deadpool can play. He’s got the same rolodex and I think long time Deadpool fans will be very happy to see who turns up.
One of the outside forces coming into complicate things was teased in the third chapter of “The Gauntlet” and that’s Blade. Have Blade and Deadpool met before?
That’s an interesting question. In the course of the writing of those scenes it does seem they have crossed paths. I imagine it must have happened, but I can’t for the life of me think of a story where it did. So in our story it may have happened off panel.
Earn yourself a No-Prize, guys. Let us know in the comments.
What made you want to bring these two characters face to face? It seems like physically they’d make for an interesting match-up, but what were some of the other appealing elements of bringing Blade into “The Gauntlet?”
Blade would know from hunting the underworld that some big thing is happening and that of course is the wedding of Dracula to this monster queen. So his goal is very simple. He wants to stop it from happening in the same way that that the Punisher would want to stop a mob truce. He wants these guys to keep killing each other off. So Blade is there with some very specific requests. Basically these guys kill each other off all the time and he wants that to continue.
Finally, the introduction of Shiklah makes “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” a pivotal chapter in your Deadpool run. What made you guys want to introduce her here in an Infinite Comic?
I’ve been very curious about digital comics. The thing about Infinite Comics that I think are pretty wonderful is they do things that are unique to the medium. As part of my job now I read a ton of comics in PDF form, but that’s not what this is. If you haven’t tried an Infinite Comic yet I think you’ll be surprised at what all the team at Marvel does. Reilly and the art team especially have been great at using the tablet as a new way to tell a story. It really is an evolution of reading these comics.
It’s not a motion comic. It’s not animated, and yet it’s not a traditional, flat, paper comic. It really does belong on the screen. These do get collected in print, but some of the experience is lost. You really need to try these digitally to see what I’m talking about.
The first one I read was the Nova one-shot during “Avengers Vs. X-Men” and I was really impressed, but Reilly has been able to find a whole new gear on this stuff and everyone that’s worked with him on this did a terrific job.
Then to be honest, and forgive me if I’m saying this again to you, but there are no new places to get exposed to comics. They’re gone from the checkout lines and newsstands. Everyone has a phone, or an iPad, or a screen that they use. This is a chance to hook new readers not just into “Deadpool” but to comics in general. So we really wanted to have a strong step forward.
We had been told that an Infinite Comic for “Deadpool” was coming and this was slated to be an arc or two of the regular Marvel NOW! book. So we ported it over because we thought it was splashy enough to make the most of the tablet’s surfaces. After that I really went in and put some steroids into the chapters and made sure that we’re ending with sort of a classic cliff hanger. We also wanted to make sure we had some big guest stars. There are some other guest stars following Blade’s appearance that I think everyone will be very happy with.
I know people say, “Why don’t you wait a year to buy a present?” But it’s okay you guys can go ahead. Deadpool and Shiklah’s relationship looks like it might be stable. Send all gifts to me care of Marvel. [Laughs] I’ll make sure they get to Deadpool.
“Deadpool: The Gauntlet” #4 is on sale now via comiXology. And re-read the first issue with this opening credits theme song by editor Jordan White!