X-POSITION: Gerry Duggan on Zenpool and the Art of "Deadpool" Maintenance

Deadpool has been through a lot in recent months. He's been reunited with his daughter Ellie, got hitched to Dracula's bride-to-be and undergone a major attitude adjustment as part of the mega Marvel event "AXIS." Now, thanks to Doctor Doom and the Scarlet Witch's personality-altering spell, Deadpool has traded his red and white assassin duds in for a something a bit more yin and yang-y. The Merc with a Mouth has become Zenpool, and while he may not make as many off-color jokes and pop culture references as he used to, he still talks a mile-a-minute.

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In this week's X-Position, "Deadpool" co-writer Gerry Duggan answers your questions about Zenpool, Shiklah and the perks of planning ahead.

CBR News: First up, Killermuggs has a couple of questions about "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" and the long-term planning you do with co-writer Brian Posehn.

You guys first teased Zenpool way back in "Deadpool" #24. How did you know that was coming? Was "AXIS" in motion all the way back then or did things just line up?

Hi, Killermuggs. We play a long game. Rick [Remender]'s event was in motion, and whether or not it was the right moment to explore Zenpool or not, we wanted to plant that seed early. Ellie was first mention in I think issue #8 or #9 maybe? There are some hints of future conflicts in the current "AXIS" issues, too. It's advantageous to try and plot a year out. That way you can try to weave into the opportunities presented by events. "Original Sin" was a great opportunity for this book and I was thrilled with how it turned out. Similarly, Wade's journey through "AXIS" will have a big effect on him moving forward too.

Now that Deadpool has become Zenpool, does this version of Wade present any unique writing challenges that regular Deadpool does not? He sure makes less pop culture references.

Yeah, it's a different muscle group. He's lost his comedic edge, but hopefully the laughs come from him being such a doofus. Remender found a nice vein to exploit when he discovered that Zenpool was really still chatty, and Zen, but his "Zen" didn't really make sense -- like a drunken lama or something. That Zenpool really shows up in the pages of "AXIS."

JackalsIII has some praise for "Deadpool" cover artist Mark Brooks.

Was it your idea to homage "Uncanny X-Men" #210 for "Deadpool" #38, or was that Mark Brooks? Such a great cover!

All Brooks, though I have to say that he's working with [Editors] Jordan D. White & Charles Beacham, and they may offer input and notes on covers. The only cover I ever kinda sorta art-directed was the cover to "Deadpool" #7 and the upcoming "Deadpool" #40. At the time I jotted down my thoughts for that cover, I wanted it to land hard to send a message that we were going back to "Demon In A Bottle," and I had no idea [Kevin] Maguire was going to be the one to draw #7 or I would have been a bit less detailed. I never thought I'd live to see a Maguire cover on a book that had my name. Most times covers show up in my email, and I just get to sit back and be amazed. Mark Brooks has done some wonderful and iconic work on this run and we're thrilled. There's a threat of a very special Mark Brooks cover to come, that will make people laugh, I hope.

JackalsIII also has a question about two fan-favorite X-Men.

Thanks for using Shadowcat and Magik in "Hulk," that was pretty awesome! Can we expect one or both of them in future issues of either series?

Thanks. The two chances I've had to write Kitty I've had a lot of fun. Comics can be a lot of things, but I do believe that comics have to be fun. Seeing her prod around as an amateur surgeon [in "Hulk"] was fun. As for when or where Magik and Kitty show up again in something I write? Who knows? [Sam] Humphries has some fun plans for Kitty in [2015's] "The Black Vortex."

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waynescoating has a question about your partnership with "Deadpool" artist Mike Hawthorne.

Mike Hawthorne is really killing it on these "AXIS" issues, like the Danger Room scene. Now that you've been working with him for a long time, which isn't like a lot of other books where artists come on for an arc and leave, do you put things into issues that you know he'll like drawing, or are you still surprising each other?

Great question; yes to everything. Mike has turned down some pretty wonderful opportunities to stay on "Deadpool" and I couldn't be more grateful. He and [inker] Terry Pallot have contributed to some of the best comic art of the year. The spreads, and in particular the way we had Zenpool escape the Danger Room through Wade's noggin and being able to see through the illusion -- the way they visualized that was tremendous. Jordie Bellaire's protege [colorist] Ruth Redmond really showed up with some amazing work, too. Mike has become the spine of this book; he's an amazing storyteller and it's a thrill to try and write material that he will just come in and destroy on. I try to surprise Mike all the time, and he's always quick to call or write when he gets a new script, but these days I try to set him up and then get out of his way. I don't think our artists get enough credit, and specifically I'm not sure if readers are aware of how funny they are. There's a good chance that the gag you're laughing at is from the pencil of Mike, Scott [Koblish] or any of our very talented artists.

tl/dr; Mike is a legend.

Alucard2099 has a question about the stability of Wade Wilson's home life.

In the latest issues with the "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" tie-ins, it seems to me that Wade's marriage is in a lot of trouble, which I think makes for some really great storytelling. But what I want to know is, is the marriage going to be over this soon? Because Wade just had a good streak: first he found a loving wife and now a daughter, and for the marriage to be over this soon seems kind of rushed.

Relationships have rhythms. This is definitely a downbeat moment for Wade and Shiklah, but I think it would be wrong to assume that they're done. Wade's been married many times before, so if anybody knows how hard it is to make a marriage work, it's Wade. I wish Wade and Shiklah the best, too. They have a unique, tough road ahead, but lots of fun times, too -- just like a real marriage.

With the domestic question answered, Alucard2099 also wants to know who we'll get to see Deadpool cut loose against next.

I enjoyed Deadpool's fighting prowess that you showcased in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." I'm wondering if there will be similar action -- not just against no-name thugs but against some real established heroes/villains.

Does Omega Red count? If so, "Deadpool" #42 will be relevant to your interests as [artist] Salva Espin returns to Deadpool.

JD Boucher has a serious question about one of the darker -- and worthy of a trigger warning for sexual assault -- elements of Deadpool's past.

So in "Hawkeye vs. Deadpool" #2, it seemed like Typhoid Mary is flirting with Deadpool, but it really threw me off since back in an earlier [issue] "Deadpool" #13, he was sexually assaulted by her. I know Deadpool has lost a lot of his memories, and this isn't something from your run, but I also know you haven't shied away from dark and adult topics in your comics so far either. Will we see Deadpool deal with what happened with Mary in your run? Sorry for the downer question, I love the work you and Brian are doing!

Hi, yeah, Deadpool made a joke about seeing Mary again, as is his usual M.O. -- joking to hide the injury. Deadpool and Mary have a much different moment in the final issue of that minseries that is much more serious, however it does not resolve the situation. I am writing that miniseries to be like a multi-camera sitcom in the M-U, so the tone of that book didn't allow us lean too hard into that situation, but rest assured, Deadpool hasn't forgotten the pain that Mary caused.

X-POSITION: Duggan Makes "Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool" "The Odd Couple"

Since his very first limited series twenty years ago, Deadpool's always had a solid supporting cast. Haulin_Oates has a question about the players you've amassed during your run.

Since the launch of the series you've introduced a ton of new supporting characters. How hard is it for you to give them all panel time? What I'm trying to say is: more ghosty Ben Franklin!

"Deadpool" has been not-so-secretly a team book since the first issue. It can be hard to find enough panels for everyone, but I think we have the right balance at the moment. As for good old Ben, he has one of my favorite moments in the run coming up in "Deadpool" #45. It's not just a gag; it's a really badass moment for Ben.

In-between major arcs, "Deadpool" publishes seemingly done-in-one issues done up in the style of comics from different eras. Astrakhan has a specific idea for a future "inventory" issue.

The inventory issues are the best thing about this already awesome Deadpool run. One thing I'd love to see is what Deadpool was up to during "Infinity Gauntlet." That was only a short time before his official debut so I think there are some great possibilities.

So do we. Keep reading. Specifically keep reading this Spring.

With Deadpool being such a delightfully deranged character, CoolGuy1 has a question about how you get into Wade's mindset.

Do you have any ritual you partake in prior to writing for Deadpool? With him being such a complex character, equal parts loonie psychopath and unlikely hero with heart, I would imagine it requires a certain mindset prior to scripting.

I'm lucky to be as busy as I am, so I never look at a blinking cursor on a blank page anymore. If I'm motivated and in the right mood to write some "Deadpool," I do that. If I'm feeling angry, I open my "Hulk" scripts, if I'm feeling optimistic about the world, I write some "Nova." Being honest, sometimes being in a foul mood is the perfect time to write "Deadpool." Don't forget the gallows humor.

Thanks for all your kind words and questions.

Special thanks to Gerry Duggan for taking on this week's questions!

Next week, X-Position goes corporate with "All-New X-Factor" scribe Peter David. Have a question for Peter? Go ahead and send 'em in via an e-mail with the subject line "X-Position" or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. But get 'em in quickly, because the deadline's Friday! Make it happen!

The week after next, we're doing our second annual New Year's round-up X-Position, and we want to hear from you -- the fine readers of this column! Go ahead and send in a few words answering one, some or all of the questions below and we'll print the best responses in our final column of 2014. To keep all of your responses a surprise to your fellow X-Po readers, we will only accept those sent in via email. All submissions need to be in by Sunday, December 28.

What was your favorite X-Men moment of the year and why?Who should win X-Character of the year and why?Which series are you most looking forward to in 2015 and why?Which character are you hoping makes more appearances in 2015?

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