The super powered mercenaries of the Marvel Universe often have a tough time deciding which is more dangerous — the work they’re doing or the people paying them to do it. These guns for hire often find themselves in the employ of crime lords, terrorists, would be world conquerors and other seedy figures it might be a fatal mistake to displease.
Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool, the Merc With a Mouth, has a healing factor that makes him virtually unkillable. While he usually has nothing to fear from his clients, every once in a while he lands an employer infamous and powerful enough that they can’t help but make an impression on him. That happens again this January when “Deadpool” co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn go digital with “Deadpool: The Gauntlet,” a new Marvel Infinite Comics series that finds the title character working for legendary vampire lord Dracula. CBR News spoke with Duggan about the weekly digital serial which features art by Reilly Brown and was announced by Marvel yesterday at the “Cup O’ Joe” panel at New York Comic Con.
CBR News: Gerry, what made you want to try your hand at writing a Marvel Infinite Comics series? How does it compare to writing a print comic? Did your overall process and the way you plot out scenes change at all?
Gerry Duggan: For this project I had a security blanket in Reilly Brown. He knows the character of Deadpool really well, and he’s been doing a lot of work in this area with projects like his creator-owned digital comic series “Power Play.” That allowed me to free up and work Marvel style a little bit. I would give him some detailed outlines and he’d go off and flesh them out. Then I’d put the balloons and captions over his stuff. His stuff is just so tremendous that it allowed me to have that freedom.
So he’s a resource that I lean on pretty heavily. We tend to write pretty detailed scripts, and I guess you have to in order to include some comedy. Obviously, any of our artists are free to change things so they can make it better. That’s true of Reilly too, but the other thing I look to him to do is bring my loose descriptions of an action sequence to the tablet.
I think I’m getting better at finding a good way to read the backgrounds. This is very technical and might be too “Inside Baseball” for some, but we have a couple of sequences in the first chapter of “The Gauntlet” that really make pretty sharp use of the medium, which involves changing the foreground and leaving the background or changing the background and leaving the foreground. I think it’s a pretty pleasurable experience. Overall it’s been a treat to be asked to play in the playground of this new format, and I think Reilly had a lot of fun returning to Deadpool.
You mentioned working Marvel style with Reilly. Is this your first time writing in that method?
Brian [Posehn] and I are doing it right now on “Deadpool” #20, which is a very ’60s-flavored “Deadpool” inventory issue. So we thought it would be cool to do that issue Marvel style.
Other Marvel Infinite Comics serials like “Iron Man: Fatal Frontier” and “Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted” have featured two writers as well. Both writers usually come up with the plot together and then one of them scripts the story. Was that the case with you and Brian on “Deadpool: The Gauntlet?”
Yeah, Brian and I worked on the outlines together and then I scripted the story. We did it that way primarily because of scheduling reasons.
One of the fun things about writing Deadpool is that he occasionally becomes aware that he’s a character in a comic and will break the fourth wall. Are you interested in doing that in “The Gauntlet?” Will Wade have some thoughts and commentary on the Infinite Comics format?
We talked a little bit about that. We’re not sure if he’s going to necessarily make any tablet jokes, but there is a possibility. I don’t want to slam the door on it.
How would you describe Wade’s emotional state when the story begins? Will it be informed by the events of “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly,” the current arc of the “Deadpool” print comic?
Very much so. He’s had a really rough year at our hands so the events of “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly” lead to him turning his back on humanity. He’s been treated horribly by humans and has reached the point where he doesn’t want to have any contact with them for a little while. So that’s where he’s at when “The Gauntlet” begins.
In terms of plot and theme, what is “The Gauntlet” about? What can you tell us about the significance of the title?
It’s about a guy who is a little lost. The first year of Marvel NOW! puts him at a little bit of a crossroads, and this is a journey that he didn’t necessarily set out to take. The gig he becomes involved in is not one that he sought out, but it ends up being a worthwhile journey nonetheless. So it is a little bit of a surprise to him and certainly the other folks that he’ll bump into, which will include a couple of new characters of some significance and note.
Let’s talk about the person who sets “The Gauntlet” in motion, Wade’s employer. From what I understand he’s a character famous in both the world of the Marvel Universe and literature?
Yep, it’s Dracula. [Laughs] Part of that was because we were looking for a character that would create some interesting sparks when paired with Deadpool. The other part really was that this is how we envisioned this story. “The Gauntlet” was one of our initial pitches to Marvel. So it just as easily could have been in the “Deadpool” print comic but it really ended up working out nicely after we retooled it.
The kernel of the story is still there and it lends itself nicely to the tablet. We worked really hard to make sure that it feels seamless. Even though it’s a different medium it will still feel like the same “Deadpool” comic you’re used to.
The one caveat to that is that we want people who aren’t “Deadpool” fans to be able to use “The Gauntlet” as an on ramp; not just into “Deadpool” comics, but Marvel comics. If you’re not reading them we want you to be able to enjoy them.
What’s the dynamic between Wade and Dracula like? What about Wade and the other vamps in the story? Will his perspective on those characters lend itself to some pop culture satire?
The thing about pop culture stuff is that it can be hard sometimes to make those references and feel like you’re making a comic that will age well, so we wrestled with that quite a bit. I lean toward wanting something to be evergreen so that ten years from now you don’t need to know who someone like Ke$ha was. Having said that, if there’s a great joke that we do want to make, it is a comic of the period. So we’ll take those shots from time.
I think the overall story of “The Gauntlet” is that after “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly” Deadpool has to run what the title implies; a physical race against a lot of interesting old foes and new ones. That’s because he’s been recruited as a courier for a package he needs to deliver to Dracula. This isn’t some shot in the dark or random choice for him. Dracula has several reasons why Deadpool is the perfect candidate for this task.
Then the theme of the story is about a guy who tried to find his place in a human environment and didn’t. So now he’s walking another somewhat darker path, but he’s still got his sense of humor. That’s his torch. It will light the way for him when it’s darkest.
Tonally it sounds like “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” is somewhat similar to to Rick Remender’s “FrankenCastle” story line from his “Punisher” run. Is that an apt comparison?
Yes it is. In “The Gauntlet” we’re actually going back the Monster Metropolis that was first seen in that story. That will be an important setting. Deadpool feels that he looks like a monster so it should be interesting to see what happens to him there.
What else can you tell us about the supporting cast that Deadpool encounters on his journey in “The Gauntlet?” Will we see some familiar faces for Deadpool fans or does his isolationist attitude mean it will primarily be new characters?
You’re going to see some familiar faces for the first time in our run. I’d like to leave it at that, but that is a resounding yes.
Finally, how closely tied will the weekly digital “Deadpool: The Gauntlet” series be to the monthly “Deadpool” print comic? Will the end of “The Gauntlet” have an impact on the print series?
You’ll see Deadpool reference the events of the last year in these chapters. This isn’t a reboot or anything like that. He’s on a stand alone adventure that pretty quickly sweeps him up into the action. When it’s all over you’ll see that the end of “The Gauntlet” leads back into the print run with April’s “Deadpool” #27. So “The Gauntlet” is very much its own story, but it will also lay the groundwork for a bigger story to come in the “Deadpool” print series.
I think if you’ve been enjoying what we’re doing in the “Deadpool” print comic you’ll enjoy what we’re doing in this story. “The Gauntlet” and the print comic have been designed by us to work really well together. It’s written by the same guys and edited by the same guys.
People thought we were doing 18 issues of “Deadpool” this year. We actually did 19 print issues and then we’re doing 13 for the tablet. “The Gauntlet” doesn’t start until January, but we’ve been working on it behind the scenes pretty tirelessly so it’s fun to talk about now. I think Deadpool fans both new and old will find that it’s a pretty pleasurable experience, I hope. And if you haven’t been reading our book I think this has a real shot to make you a Deadpool fan.
If you’re reading this interview you’re either a Deadpool fan, a comics fan, or a fan of new content for iPads [Laughs], but this story is a chance for us to expand the audience. There’s no real great way to have someone get introduced to comics anymore. When I was a kid they were in checkout lines, gas stations, five and dimes, and newsstands. Now, comics are gone from those places for a lot of reasons. For a lot of people the best place to get exposed to comics is on their phone or their tablet. So this is an important story for us because we want there to be a healthy audience to keep it all going.
We put a lot of thought into “Deadpool: The Gauntlet,” and I think it’s a lot of fun. If you’re on the fence about trying it, please give us a shot and allow us the chance to impress you.
Stay tuned to CBR news for more on “Deadpool” and other news out of New York Comic Con.