You don’t become Marvel’s premier mercenary without a bold, signature style. If you’re Deadpool, you also do it with a mouth that literally won’t quit and an unhealthy dose of eccentricity. The Merc with a Mouth recently assembled the Mercs for Money, his own team of like-minded and outlandish guns for hire, and while Deadpool is in no way qualified to lead a team whose ranks include bizarre and mercurial misfits like Slapstick, Terror Inc., Foolkiller, Solo, Massacre and Stingray, the Mercs have allowed Deadpool to cash in on some of his biggest scores ever.
After appearing in the ongoing “Deadpool” series and starring in the current “Deadpool & The Mercs for Money” miniseries by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Salva Espin, the Mercs for Money are about to get hired on a more permanent basis this July when Bunn and new series artist Iban Coello launch a new, ongoing series by the same name. CBR News spoke with Bunn about how having more time with his cast of mercenaries will allow him to explore their strange psyches, and the writer teased some characters and concepts from his previous Marvel work that readers should keep an eye out for. He also discussed specifics from his initial “Deadpool & The Mercs for Money” storyline involving some of Marvel’s most radioactive characters.
CBR News: You’ve written several Deadpool miniseries including the current “Deadpool & The Mercs for Money” miniseries. How does it feel to finally get a chance to do more long form story telling with Wade Wilson? What do you find most interesting about writing Wade in this role as a leader and a businessman?
Cullen Bunn: The potential to write a longer story, something with plot lines and character arcs that can be teased out over a number of issues is pretty exciting. I love writing so many of the various Deadpool limited series, and I hope to continue to do so, but this ongoing series gives me a chance to really dig in with good ol’ Wade (and the other characters) in a different way. There are several stories that I can take my time telling now.
Deadpool as a team leader, let alone as a businessman, is something that fascinates me, because I’ve always felt like Deadpool can barely function as a member of a team, let alone as the guy in charge. He has an incredible sense of self-worth and an incredible lack of self-awareness. That makes for poor leadership. And it will bite him in the rear as this series progresses.
Of course the other draw of the series is the the titular Mercs for Money. I knew you were a fan of a number of these characters before you started writing this mini and you seem to be enjoying the chance to bounce them off of each other. Are there any personal dynamics, friendships, or rivalries you’re especially interested in exploring among the Mercs?
There are a number of team relationships and interactions that I’m excited about exploring, but I don’t want to give away too many specifics. To do that would spoil something major that’s happening relatively early in the series. But, yes, I’ll be digging a little deeper into the various team members and how they interact. Initially, you’ll be seeing how Wade handles growing unrest with the team and how the team unites against him. This unrest is going to come to a head very quickly and very explosively. In the aftermath, there’s going to be an entirely new set of team dynamics — new friendships, new rivalries, new enemies — taking shape.
This cast and their modus operandi means you have a book that lends itself to almost any type of story. Are there certain genres you’re especially interested in exploring with these characters or anything you think they’re particularly suited for?
Obviously, a team of mercs like this works well in the action and action/comedy genres. But I think there’s lots of opportunities to play around in other genres. That’s one of the benefits of an ensemble book. The different characters can help pivot the direction of the book in various ways. Terror, for instance, is perfectly at home in darker territories, and he can bring the rest of the team along with him. Slapstick could very easily fall into really strange dark comedy territory, and then we’d get to see how the rest of the Mercs react to such a tale. I think these characters can work in almost any genre. If it twists and turns assumptions and expectations, I’m all for it!
Both Deadpool and the Mercs are fixtures of Wade Wilson’s solo book written by Gerry Duggan. I know both you and Gerry want these books to stand on their own, but will there be some interplay between this title and the “Deadpool” ongoing for fans who read both?
Gerry and I were just talking the other day about how our books might intersect and complement one another down the road. Yes, we want these titles to stand on their own. We don’t want readers to feel like they are missing something if they don’t read all the titles. That said, this is a shared universe, and when the opportunities arise to tell great stories by working together, then that’s what we’re going to do!
The second issue of your “Mercs for Money” miniseries features some elements from your previous Marvel work in the form of Caroline le Fay and Mephisto’s mention of The Descent. Any chance we’ll see more of those characters and concepts in the “Mercs” ongoing?
It’s always possible (he said, speaking through a sneaky smile). When it makes sense, I’ll circle back to some of those concepts and characters every now and then. There are a couple of characters I’ve created that I’d love to incorporate into the story in a much, much bigger way.
The ongoing series format also gives you the opportunity to explore your cast’s relationship with outside supporting characters. Is there anyone you can confirm will show up in the first arc or two? Might we see characters like Solo’s wife and child, or maybe some new supporting players?
New members of the supporting cast will appear early on in the series. Initially, Deadpool’s going to be turning to some fan-favorite characters for guidance in how to deal with his team. These supporting characters will play a huge role in the series to come. And every member of the team will have their own baggage — er, I mean supporting cast. The nice thing about an ongoing is that it gives me plenty of time to dig deep into those character ties.
Iban Coello has done a variety of Marvel and X-Men work including the recent “Secret Wars” miniseries “Age of Apocalypse,” and he’s bringing the ongoing “Mercs for Money” to life. What do you enjoy most about his style?
Iban is a terrific artist and a great partner for this type of book. His page layouts are energetic. He brings action to life, but his style leans into fun rather than the gritty and dark, At the same time, there are some more serious aspects of the story that he handles like a champ.
I understand the initial story you and Iban are working on has “Deadpool and the Mercs for Money” targeting the Marvel Universe’s “radioactive villains.” Is that radioactive in the literal sense of the word, or figurative as well?
That’s radioactive in the literal sense. The Mercs are hired to apprehend individuals with radioactive powers. That means characters like Radioactive Man will be in their cross hairs, but there are some new and unexpected characters who will also find themselves trying to escape Deadpool’s team.
In the first issue, we’ll see the team going after someone I doubt anyone will really be expecting to see. The introduction of this character into the series will go a long way to defining how different this book will be from the limited series. A different dynamic will begin to surface, as well as a different tone.
What else can you tell us about your initial arc?
From saloons in Mexico to suburbs in California to the jungles of Africa, the Mercs will be pursuing extremely dangerous targets in a variety of locales. Of course, Deadpool has gotten the team into something much bigger than any of them are suspecting, and it will lead them to the crime nation of Bagalia.
While this is happening, though, Wade will be struggling with growing dissent among the team members. If he doesn’t make amends and take control, he might very well be on his own again. Again, this book is going to go in some very unexpected directions, and the resolution to Deadpool’s leadership troubles will follow suit.
One word of warning to readers — something huge is happening around issue #4 of the series.
The ongoing “Deadpool and the Mercs for Money” series debuts July 20 from Marvel Comics.
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