When you can survive almost any injury you’re allowed be as sarcastic as you want and take risky chances. The titular character of Marvel Comics “Deadpool” (AKA Wade Wilson) series used to possess a healing factor that made him virtually unkillable, resulting in his status as one of the more annoying and reckless characters in the Marvel U. These days Deadpool is still impulsive and irritating, but in the wake of the recent “Dead” storyline he no longer possesses a healing factor.
Deadpool isn’t about to let a pesky thing like that stop him from going out and continuing his work as one of the Marvel Universe’s premier mercenaries, though, which means the Merc With a Mouth is in for some tough times. In “Deadpool” #55, on sale now, writer Daniel Way and artist Shawn Crystal kicked off an arc titled “Reborn,” where Deadpool will discover that being himself without the safety net of a healing factor is a lot more difficult than he ever imagined. CBR News spoke with Way about “Reborn” and the fallout from “Dead.”
In “Dead,” Deadpool set out to find a way around his healing factor and kill himself so he could allegedly be with his love, the personification of Death in the Marvel Universe. That way came in the form of a serum that, after being injected, robbed Deadpool of his healing factor. For Way, removing Wade Wilson’s healing ability gave him a chance to put his character in genuine peril.
“If you want to tell truly engaging stories something has to hang in the balance. If you can’t put the hero in peril then you have to endanger someone they love or their ideals,” Way told CBR News. “I’ve had a lot of fun writing Deadpool who can go from a Machiavellian Genius to an almost Baby Huey-style character, but at the center of it all you always knew he was going to pull through if for no other reason than he can’t die. He’ll win almost by default. He’ll keep coming back until he figures something out and that’s that.
“I thought taking that away would make for an intriguing story because he’s still going to continue to be Deadpool and do what Deadpool does, but the level of difficulty has finally jumped up for him,” Way continued. “So he can’t do some of the things he used to do like stand there and let his enemies open fire on him. Instead he has to be a lot faster physically and mentally.”
Now that his healing factor is gone and dying is a whole lot easier Deadpool is no longer looking for a way to shed this mortal coil. “It was a huge thing for him to die when he had a healing factor. It was impossible. There’s nothing special whatsoever about dying like a normal human being though, which is essentially what he is now. So what he didn’t realize is that he really only wanted to succeed in being able to die. That was really the impossible thing. In ‘Dead’ it was pointed out to him that anybody can do the dying part,” Way explained. “That’s a call back to a line in our recent ‘Institutionalized’ arc where Wade is really despondent. He’s been isolated and hasn’t had any stimulus coming in. He’s closed off and he mentions that when he was a kid there was a guy who slipped off his porch and died. So he was never impressed with killing people because that seemed really easy, but now he’s gone full circle and realized that dying is the same way.”
Deadpool’s new outlook on living is also partly informed by the fact that his face is no longer horribly scarred. A side effect of being exposed to the serum that robbed him of his healing factor was that his visage was restored to normal. That doesn’t mean Deadpool is ready to do away with trade mark mask though.
“His face may be healed, but Deadpool is still scarred and messed up on the inside. So the mask is still very much a comfort to him because he’s always tried to get people to look at him for what he does, but to have someone look him in the eyes is a very disconcerting thing for him,” Way remarked. “Now when he’s on his own he spends hours and hours staring at himself in the mirror. There’s actually a funny bit in issue #55 where he’s shaving and he hasn’t shaved in years because he hasn’t been able to grow any facial hair. He’s just massacring his face and it’s really distressing him.”
The man responsible for restoring Deadpool’s face and robbing him of his healing factor is the super powered mobster known as Tombstone. Tombstone bankrolled the serum that transformed Deadpool and planned to use it to settle an old score with the Merc With a Mouth. Deadpool and his sometimes sidekick and former agent of HYDRA, Bob, robbed the villain of that opportunity. At the end of “Dead” arc Tombstone vowed to get revenge on Deadpool and Bob, but the Albino gangster currently has his hands full dealing with the Kingpin of Crime.
“Kingpin is not going to let the events of the ‘Dead’ story line slide. Tombstone kicked off this whole thing. He then was very dishonest with Kingpin and got him involved, which caused the Kingpin to take a lot of hits. He got chased out of his own building. That was a personal and professional slight. So yeah, Tombstone is going to have his hands full,” Way told CBR. “It will be awhile before Deadpool makes his way back to New York and if Tombstone comes after him I think that makes for a good story down the road, and if Tombstone comes after Bob that also makes for a good story.”
Deadpool was very grateful for Bob’s assistance in pulling one over on Tombstone and helping him achieve his dream of being able to die. It deepened the relationship between the two characters and gave Deadpool a better, albeit temporary understanding of what friendship actually means.
“There is some selfishness in the way Deadpool views his friendships, but it’s a childlike selfishness where you don’t necessarily realize your behavior is self interested. Deadpool is just so walled off emotionally and in a lot of cases mentally that he just doesn’t know how to allow someone into that space where friendship really exists. Sometimes things don’t occur to Deadpool until they really hit him in the head. That was the case this time. Bob was the one that helped him realize a dream and gave him guidance. Deadpool appreciated that,” Way stated. “Now it’s probably going to be a fleeting thing because Deadpool tends to be someone who doesn’t learn very well from his mistakes, but in the short term, yeah. They’ll always have this moment.”
Deadpool and Bob may be best buds at the moment, but that doesn’t mean Bob will have a larger presence in the book. “Bob is going to take a little break from the book. He went through a pretty stressful series of events, so he’s going to cool it for awhile and lay low and Deadpool is keeping an eye on him to make sure he’s safe for as long as it stays in the forefront of his mind,” Way explained. “We’ll pick his story up later. I don’t want Bob to overstay his welcome. Deadpool and Bob are a great dynamic that’s funny in small doses. The book is not ‘Deadpool and Bob,’ though. I want Bob’s appearances to be special. I really like the character and I remember doing interviews before the series launched and a lot of people asked about Bob. I was very honest and said, ‘Bob is going to show up when only he could show up.’ So he’ll play his part, have some big moments, and then leave with the crowd cheering.”
When “Deadpool” #55 begins Bob has left and the titular character is enjoying his new lease on life. “He feels really good coming out of ‘Dead.’ Now that he’s sort of cheated death he’s getting the same euphoric feeling that almost anyone would get. He’s almost born again, which is why ‘Reborn’ is the title of the story that begins in #55,” Way remarked. “He’s kind of big on himself because he really accomplished something. In the past he’s always had some victory and a huge loss. This time it was like a double victory, which hasn’t happened to him in quite a long time, but he’s about to find out that the high that he’s coasting on is going to lead him off a cliff. Because he’s terribly out of shape when it comes to the mercenary work he used to do. It never occurred to him that he still wouldn’t be at the very top of his game. So the take off for this new chapter of Deadpool’s life is not going to be very smooth.”
In “Deadpool” #55 Wade Wilson decided to celebrate this new phase of his life by getting back to the one thing he does best — military style missions. He chose to sabotage the latest scheme of the super villain think tank known as the Intelligencia as a way of advertising the fact that he’s back in the mercenary game. “He thinks, ‘Who really deserves my full attention?’ And it’s the Intelligencia. They’re like the ultimate bad guys operating in the shadows. And it’s also fun because they’re such a cerebral threat and Deadpool is not known for that type of thing,” Way said with a laugh. “He thinks, ‘They’re just a bunch of nerds. I’m going to go put them in their place.'”
Unfortunately for Deadpool, the exact opposite happened. He was put in his place in “Deadpool” #55 thanks to a vicious beat down from the villain generally viewed as the Intelligencia’s weakest link, The Trapster AKA Paste Pot Pete. That blow to Deadpool’s ego causes him to seek out his fellow mercenary, the Taskmaster.
“Taskmaster trains bad guys and he’s very familiar with Deadpool’s fighting style and tactics. Deadpool goes to him to get his game ‘tightened,'” Way explained. “Taskmaster is going to help Deadpool as long as Deadpool helps him. There’s been a job out there that Taskmaster is interested in, which is incredibly difficult, but has a huge payday attached to it. So when Deadpool comes to him kind of hat in hand Taskmaster realizes he can get something out of this. Deadpool wants to be trained? Well, he is going to get some on the job training as they try to steal something very valuable from S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Way is not the first writer to pair Deadpool and Taskmaster together, but he’s had the two characters work together before and enjoys writing the organic and business-like dynamic between the two characters. “They’re both mercenaries so they both have that free floating sense of allegiance. That makes for a lot of great push and pull. Because they can both get hired by the same guy and work together or they can get hired by separate guys and be pitted against one another. At the end of the day though, when it all wraps up, it’s just work; it’s just a job,” the writer explained. “They don’t take the big action stuff between them personally, but the personal stuff when they talk is what dictates whether or not they’re on good or bad terms.”
Deadpool and Taskmaster’s adventure in “Reborn” is essentially a heist story, which means the characters will often be lurking in the shadows trying to avoid detection. Way feels the inked style of Shawn Crystal makes him the perfect artist to render such a story.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate with the artists that I’ve gotten to work with on this title,” the writer said. “Shawn is just killing it and he’s one of my favorite artists out there. His story telling is really, really great. He’s a huge draftsman, and his layouts are incredible. Shaun is also an excellent inker, which is really becoming a lost art. For various reasons a lot of guys are getting away from inks, so Shawn is a bit of a throwback. He’s a lot like my buddy Nick Dragotta in that even though they have very modern sensibilities they have this old school mentality. If you look at Shawn’s original pages they’re full of ink and all these great textures. They’re beautiful.”
Besides a variety of beautiful art, the other thing that has characterized Way’s run on “Deadpool” has been the title character’s ongoing struggles. The writer has built several mega arcs revolving around Wade Wilson’s larger desires. “Reborn” kicks off a big story about Deadpool wanting something very simple, to survive.
“Coming out of ‘Dead’ what you’re going to see for quite awhile is something that I don’t think fans have ever seen; Deadpool fighting for his own life. What happens in ‘Reborn’ is that it becomes known that Deadpool is vulnerable and he’s a guy who’s pissed off a lot of people,” Way explained. “So when it becomes known that he is no longer untouchable they’ll be coming out of the woodwork to come and get his ass. So this is Deadpool literally fighting for his life.”
Deadpool’s fight for survival intensifies in August’s issue #58, which kicks off a new arc titled, “Blacklisted.” “‘Blacklisted’ is when the genie is fully out of the bottle. ‘Reborn’ is where Deadpool’s blood hits the water. ‘Blacklisted’ is when the sharks show up. There will be a lot of fun nemies out for his blood.”
Way kicked off his “Deadpool” run in 2008 with the first issue of this latest volume of the series. He’s thoroughly enjoyed working on the title and, now that he’s begun plotting out the final stories in his run, he’s especially appreciative of the book’s dedicated fan base.
“There is an end in sight. Plans are in motion for me to transition away, but that’s going to be quite awhile as far as publication time is concerned. I’m very far ahead of our publishing schedule,” Way told CBR. “This has been a pretty lengthy run and I continue to be very grateful to the fans for supporting the book because we’ve taken a lot of chances and our fans have always been there and haven’t walked. I haven’t had a chance to go to a lot of conventions in recent years, but when I do and I get to meet Deadpool fans it’s great. I love that they’re getting the humor. I end up meeting a lot of people that I would have hung out with and talked to even if we didn’t have that in common. So it’s been cool to meet a lot of like minded individuals, which probably is kind of frightening and indicative of an unhealthy trend in American society,” the writer concluded with a laugh.
“Deadpool” #56 by Daniel Way and Shawn Crystal, and featuring a cover by Dave Johnson, goes on sale June 13.