WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man/Deadpool #43 by Robbie Thompson, Jim Towe, Sean Parsons, Brian Reber and VC's Joe Sabino, on sale now.
The character of Deadpool has never hesitated to break the fourth wall when executing a joke. Wade Wilson is the Merc With a Mouth, and that mouth is used as a verbal weapon to lay waste to all segments of pop culture, whether it's in the comics or on the big screen when he's portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.
Deadpool is at his best when he has a partner to bounce his jokes off of, which is what makes Spider-Man/Deadpool a pretty entertaining comic. The duo is currently stuck in a corner of the Negative Zone inspired by the legendary comic creator, Jack Kirby. Of course, Deadpool is the first person to notice that the new character Jannor has a striking resemblance to DC's Big Barda, who just co-starred in Tom King and Mitch Gerads' Mister Miracle.
And speaking of King and Mister Miracle, the prolific writer has made no secret of his admiration for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' use of the nine-panel grid in Watchmen, and has utilized the technique in much of his DC work, including Mister Miracle. The 12-issue miniseries landed Gerads an Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker, while King won for Best Writer.
Can you guess who else would love to win an Eisner? If your answer is Deadpool, you would be correct! They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and Deadpool takes it to the next level by pausing the action in Spider-Man/Deadpool #43 to set up a nine-panel grid guaranteed to win some awards.
Since Spider-Man doesn't know he lives inside a comic book, he has no idea what a nine-panel grid even is. Just to make sure fans are aware of who Deadpool is taking a shot at, the second panel is a black background with the two words, "Deadpool Is." Mister Miracle had many "Darkseid Is" references, and Deadpool was obviously paying attention and taking notes.
"What was that all about?" Spider-Man asked. "No idea," Deadpool replied, "But I think it means we'll win awards now. Work with me, webs."
It remains to be seen if Spider-Man and Deadpool's Negative Zone adventure is taking place in Marvel continuity, or if it's another case of Deadpool borrowing from Mister Miracle and the story existing in a false reality. Since Deadpool is one of the hardest characters to kill in comics, we can assume he didn't commit suicide like Scott Free.
Fans quickly noticed the not-so-subtle jab at Mister Miracle and made sure King was aware of it. Being a good sport about the ordeal, King let it be known he was impressed with the homage. While this doesn't mean the Spider-Man/Deapool creative team of Robbie Thompson and Jim Towe should start making room on their shelves for Eisner awards, they would certainly win the made-up category for Best Joke In A Superhero Comic.