Deadpool #7

Contrary to his name, Deadpool has refused to die, and now we've reached the character's 25th anniversary after years of Mercing, Mouthing, Mutant Mania. That we're here at all is as perplexing as Wade Wilson himself; Deadpool is the living embodiment of the '90s, with pouches full of attitude, pockets full of shells and a penchant to shoot first and ask questions (if he remembers to do so, that is). In celebration of the eponymous hero's anniversary, Gerry Duggan and Scott Koblish give us a light story full of quips before setting up a new tragedy in "Deadpool" #7.

The lead story has a great structure, where the name of the game is fun. Duggan gives new fans who may walk in from the movie a tour of Deadpool's current status quo. We get a cutaway diagram of his Avengers headquarters, complete with unmarked rooms and multiple secret entrances. Bouncing from Hydra to Hand, he empties guns and lodges swords in cannon fodder. Throughout, Duggan teases Wilson getting closer and closer to the one memory that still eludes him. Nothing here really moves the continuity needle, but it's a good encapsulation of the character.

The light bulb moment at the end hits hard because of the lightness of the rest of the story. Duggan builds and heightens the lunacy, letting it rise higher and higher, for information makes a bigger impact when dropped from a greater height. So, once Wade wises up and declares his intentions, we as the audience accept the revelation and its importance because it's so opposite of the fun we've been having. Duggan finds the balance and knows just when to deliver.

I needn't have worried about the jokes in the series after Brian Posehn left; if anything, they're stronger in this volume. There's a flashback scene involving Deadpool waiting for the sixth "Harry Potter" novel, and it's one of the funniest Deadpool scenes I've read. It's non-sequitur, but there's a harmony between creators that makes this moment chuckle-worthy.

The tragedy of the end reveal is that, much like the story in "Old Man Logan," Deadpool is about to embark on a misguided quest for vengeance that will only result in deeper heartbreak for the character. I'm not saying I like a wallowing Wade, but it makes for a stronger character when there's a balance. It's been a while since the writer gave 'Pool a real kick in the shame. With this catalyst, we're not too far from seeing something tragic befall the character. Duggan and Koblish split the absurdity and the intensity very well.

This is a pretty loose issue. Even Koblish's art is more cartoony. It's a little scratchier, a little more contorted. Duggan gives him a few flashback scenes so he can show off his chameleon art skills, like mimicking Ed McGuiness' '90s style in a scene with Doc Samson and the Hulk. He can adapt his style to the scene, not just the era. This is critical when looking at, say, the first page -- a fun montage of the many ways Deadpool has sustained a concussion -- and the last page, a low-angle shot made up of sharp lines and menace. It's the same character, just different shades of the man.

There are six backup tales in this book covering the Heroes for Hire. The stories are fun and help fill in some of how the characters arrived on Wade's doorstep. If you're hesitant about the $9.99 price tag, hink about "Deadpool" #7 like this: a Deadpool Anthology. There's a lot of great entertainment between these covers.

For instance, Terror's story is a "this is who I am if you forgot 1992" walk through his past: he's cursed; he steals people's body parts until they rot. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook both turn out a nice creepy tale about the character here.

Bens Acker and Blacker give Slapstick a few good jokes and an interesting dilemma: rescuing a woman who is forgotten as soon as she's not seen. Danilo Beyruth draws 'Stick as a deranged cartoon, and it's a good look.

Amy Chu and Emilio Laiso take Foolkiller to college in a short tale that would make an amazing webseries.

Stingray (he used to be an Avenger!) gets a behind-the-scenes story from Tim Seely and Mike Norton, which gives the character a good reason to be on Deadpool's team.

Masacre gets an origin story written and illustrated by series artist Mike Hawthorne, which will remind readers of the old "Wolverine" stories where Logan was a force of nature in someone else's life.

Duggan also writes a Solo story with artwork from Phil Noto that will make readers demand Noto on a "Deadpool" arc -- or a Deadpool/Black Widow OGN.

So here's to you, Wade Wilson. You've survived so much -- pulled yourself from the floor of the Marvel Universe to become one of their most viable cash cows. You're confusing. You're insane. You smell terrible. And you might just become the hamburger face of the company. Not bad for a 25th birthday.

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