Deadpool Team-Up #899
Disclaimer: This column is an opinion formed by an author who does not have an omniscient knowledge of comics. It also contains a fair number of spoilers for the titular comic. You have been warned.
Deadpool, Marvel’s lovable mercenary with a mouth, the craziest assassin this side of Arkham, has had his fair share of crossovers, largely because it is a lot of fun to force an interaction between him and anybody else just to see what happens. This was, essentially, the entire premise behind the “Deadpool Team-Up” series, which ran from 2009 to 2011 and was basically just an excuse for the writers to pair Deadpool with pretty much every entity in the Marvel universe. In issue #899, he teams up with one of the legends of old, the Lion of Olympus himself, Hercules. Yeah, Deadpool and a Greek god. This is gonna be good.
To give a bit of background, Deadpool is a skilled mercenary and assassin who got his powers when he volunteered as a test subject for Weapon X (the people who made Wolverine into what he is). The procedure was a success and Deadpool, then known as Wade Wilson, got the same healing factor as Wolverine. Unfortunately, the cancer he had at the time got the same powers, so it heals itself and attacks Wade’s body at about the same rate as the rest of his body heals himself. This puts him in a lot of constant pain and has the side effect of making him ugly as sin without the mask. He is highly skilled with the use of most weapons and has minor teleportation abilities. He’s also more than a little crazy. Deadpool has at least two extra voices in his head, he sometimes hallucinates in “Deadpool-vision,” and he is aware that he is in a comic book, so he tends to break the fourth wall on a regular basis, which further cements his status as a nutball with the rest of the Marvel characters. All these powers, abilities, and insanities combine to make Deadpool an effective, unpredictable, crazy, and hilarious mercenary. Hercules, on the other hand, is Marvel’s interpretation of the classic Greek hero. While he is prone to occasional bouts of cleverness and wisdom, he is largely the strong, brave, sometimes foolish, not always particularly intelligent Hercules people know from mythology. His dialect and attitude go back to the bygone era of Greek legends, but he is a man who loves the pleasures of life and while he is still occasionally baffled by life in the modern era, he has grown quite fond of many of its aspects, including indoor plumbing. He is one of the lesser known Marvel characters, but a lot of fun in the hands of the right author.
The comic begins with Deadpool waking from a recurring dream in which he fights an opponent who he cannot seem to beat. After arguing with his voices, which sarcastically suggest stabbing himself in the head as a solution, Deadpool follows the symbols from his dream to a real-life door, which he bursts through to find Hercules. Deadpool immediately assumes Hercules is the figure from his dreams and begins fighting with the confused hero. After they calm down enough to actually talk, Hercules explains that he was lured into this location by a beautiful woman who vanished and left him trapped in a labyrinth – the same labyrinth in which Deadpool is now stuck too. As they attempt to solve the labyrinth with thread from Deadpool’s uniform, they discover that they are simply going around in circles. At this point, Deadpool sees the mysterious figure from his dreams and races out to fight it, while Hercules is faced with a crowd of vengeful children who claim to be the ones he slew in his rage (according to mythology, Hera once caused Hercules to go into a blood rage and murder his children). The voices in Deadpool’s head, which have been strangely quiet throughout this adventure, suddenly make themselves heard again, from the figure he is fighting. Deadpool’s opponent turns out to be the manifestation of his voices. With Deadpool fighting essentially himself and Hercules being attacked by children he refuses to hurt, it looks like the two are doomed to a very short team-up until Deadpool stabs himself in the head on purpose. Turns out, Deadpool had gotten a hunch from his opponent’s taunting that this whole setup was an illusion, so he severed the connection between the two halves of his brain in order to see reality. When he shows Hercules which wall to punch, the duo discover the masterminds behind the situation – Arcade, a man famous for building incredibly elaborate death traps, and Nightmare, Lord of the Dream Dimension, a shadowy figure with illusory powers and a serious grudge against Hercules. The two of them had created a trap that used Deadpool and Hercules’s minds to manifest their subconscious enemies and fears. Nightmare escapes, but Deadpool and Hercules manage to catch Arcade, and after pulling the knife out of Deadpool’s skull and letting his brain repair itself, they decide that such a solid victory deserves celebration. So they head down to Tijuana to indulge in vast quantities of alcohol and hand Arcade over to some rowdy locals looking for a punching bag.
This comic is entertaining. Deadpool and Hercules are somewhat minor characters in the Marvel universe who are often relegated to the role of “screwballs,” and that is okay. Sure, there are some great, powerful stories that can and have come from the both of them when they are taken seriously, but sometimes, it is fun to give an author a chance to let them play off each other and just have some fun doing what they love to do – making stupid decisions, getting in fights, making great jokes, and somehow getting out of any scrapes just fine. The dynamic in this comic is summed up perfectly in some closing lines between Hercules and Deadpool, respectfully: “I learned that it’s my own frailty that proves my worth as a god – that like humans themselves, I am constantly trying to overcome my own failures.” “While I learned absolutely nothing!” The art is solid. While it is nothing spectacular and it does, on occasion, look like the artists were a bit pressed for time in getting this out, it is largely done in a cartoony style that fits the not-particularly-serious, goofball nature of this comic. The dialogue is a bit on the expository side, especially with regards to character background, but that is to be expected. This series matched Deadpool up with a different Marvel character (or characters) every week, so the writers had to assume that some of the audience would not be familiar with at least one of the characters. It is a good way to make sure any new or infrequent reader is not lost and to introduce them to new characters. Deadpool’s dialogue also gets a bit more intelligent and eloquent than is characteristic for him when he saves them from the illusions, but that can be explained away by the fact that he had a knife separating his brain halves and did not have his voices, so he might have almost been sane at that point. Plus, he redeems his out-of-character conversation by responding to Hercules’ question as to whether the knife hurts with “I-think-that-Rush-Limbaugh-and-Sean-Hannity-actually-make-a-lot-of-valid-points.” Overall, the dialogue is entertaining. Deadpool’s conversations with his voices are full of sarcasm and not too overdone. The dynamic between Deadpool and Hercules is enjoyable as well. It is very much a buddy-buddy/comrade-in-arms feel between the two of them. Once they stop trying to kill each other, they get along really well and their nonchalant reactions to each other’s weirdness and occasional stupidity make the partnership both plausible and entertaining. The plot is not anything spectacular, but honestly, this comic was an excuse to see Deadpool and Hercules fight each other, mess around, and then team up to fight somebody else. The fact that there was a coherent storyline that fits in with Marvel continuity and plausibility is good enough for this author. This is not exactly a comic of earth-shattering importance, but it is fun, goofy, has got lots of fighting, and is a good reminder that comics do not have to be incredibly dark, gruesome, and crazily serious to be good. Often, the comics that do not take themselves too seriously are more fun. It is not a must-have for anyone’s collection, but a person who gets a chance to read it should definitely take that opportunity.