For the past fourteen issues, Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan have had Deadpool poked, prodded, set on fire, shot, stabbed, and even had some vital organs stolen. Most of that’s just a typical day for Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth, but the whole organ harvesting thing – that’s something special. And in this month’s Deadpool #15, he’s going to get to the bottom of it.
“If you've been reading Deadpool, you'll know there's a shadowy group that have been harvesting organs from Wade,” says artist Declan Shalvey, who’s joining the book for this arc. “Deadpool’s finally copping to this and decides to get some answers as to who is doing this. And why.
In a five-part arc titled “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” Wade Wilson follows the bloody trail of his stolen insides as it leads straight into a past he shares with two unlikely brethren, Captain America and Wolverine. That past is the super soldier program – Weapon Plus. Let the writers explain.
“Well, we’ve established that Deadpool has been continually subjected to tissue harvesting, and even abducted, experimented on and then released for many years by a man named Butler,” says Posehn and Duggan. “Agent Preston deserved some of the credit for being a very capable set of eyes in the back of Deadpool’s head. Now that Deadpool knows, he’s angry and he wants answers. The aggressor sets the tone for the confrontation, and matters are coming to a head now because Butler’s program has reached a critical point. Butler has two objectives: the first is to deliver on his promises that seem to somehow involve Deadpool, and the second is a bit more personal to him.”
Butler’s program is an offshoot of the Weapon Plus program that created super soldiers like Cap, Wolvie and on through to Fantomex and more. Butler’s taken the lessons learned from that program and went into business for himself, and that’s bad for everyone in the Marvel according to Posehn and Duggan.
“It’s the logical heir to that program: a privatization of some of those efforts. Butler’s in business for himself now, and he’s offered his services to an entity that will be revealed in Deadpool #16. It would be in the best interest of Cap, Wolverine and really, everyone in the Marvel Universe if Butler and his allies were unsuccessful. Obviously, Wolverine and Deadpool have more in common, with the events of Uncanny X-Force still rippling through the Marvel Universe. Captain America’s involvement solidifies like adamantium to bone at the top of Deadpool #17.”
Despite their uneasy ties, getting these three heroes on the same page – and in the same room for that matter – isn’t an easy matter. To do it, Wade is resorting to some unorthodox tactics – unorthodox for him, at least.
“Deadpool begins this story doing something he doesn’t often do: asking for help,” the writers reveal. “These three men obviously have a shared thread in their similar origins, but once the gravity of the situation becomes clear, they set aside their differences and focus on the common goal.”
Another wrinkle to this idea of Deadpool being abducted multiple times over the years to harvest his organs is this: if they can do it to Deadpool, who couldn’t they take?
“If you have abducting Deadpool down to practically a science, who else are you capable of kidnapping without their noticing?” Duggan says, teasingly. “That fruits of Butler’s labor are so grotesque and tragic that Deadpool, Wolverine and Captain America will be duty-bound to finish the fight. Butler’s dark creations were only possible with Deadpool’s tissue samples. That’s why we always described this story as “Weapon Plus-adjacent”...Butler is sort of like a guy that leaves Apple or Microsoft and begins working on his own start-up. He’s not just doing it to “be evil” He thinks he’s the hero of this story. To him, Deadpool is simply an important resource. Butler needs to be successful in business for his family, and there is someone very special to him that he’s trying to save. That’s what’s motivating him. “
Deadpool’s back-story isn’t something that the Merc with a Mouth – or his creators—have been too concerned with developing over the years. But now with Duggan and Posehn finishing out their first year on the book with this arc, they’re comfortable pulling back that curtain – to a degree.
“Sometimes when you reveal too much, you can knock some of the luster off a character. Mysterious characters are fun to write for. We think strong hints are better than obvious answers,” explain the writers. “We’re hoping this arc is the “rug that ties the room together” to borrow a line from The Big Lebowski. Deadpool’s past is mysterious...and messy. There are different interpretations of the same events, and even events in his past that seem to negate one another. We hope what you learn in “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” fills in those cracks and offers an explanation for the pieces that don’t go together. Best of all, it doesn’t invalidate any previous stories. By the end of the arc you’ll understand why that is, why’s Deadpool’s mind has been a mess, and why he’s not always taken himself so seriously. If you don’t see him as a tragic figure before this story, you absolutely will by the last page.”
For Declan Shalvey, the Irish artist joins the book fresh off a stint doing another blood-thirsty street level warrior; two in fact, with both Venom and Conan The Barbarian. When asked about the company he keeps, Shalvey isn’t apologetic in the least.
“How dare you! I outta take you out into the street and have a shadowy, dynamic, violent and action packed confrontation with you!,” Shalvey said jokingly. “Hmm... maybe you're onto something there. Truth be told, my favorite character at Marvel are the street-level ones, Punisher, Daredevil, Wolverine, Venom, etc. They all give me the opportunity to draw superhero character while still getting to tell stories in a moody, atmospheric way. I get the best of both worlds with them. Deadpool definitely fits into that category too, so it's great to work on another book in the same vein with great writers like Gerry and Brian.”
In these penciled preview pages, readers will notice that the artist is making strides to depict the Merc with a Mouth as more meant for acrobatic pursuits than the standard muscle-bounded body-type some heroes are drawn in.
“A muscle-bound Deadpool makes no sense to me,” Shalvey says matter-of-factly. “He's a wire-y character, so to me his physicality is much more lean and expressive. I actually based my take on him off a Deadpool cosplayer that I thought looked especially great. I see him as less Rainier Wolfcastle, and more Wile E. Coyote. It gives me the opportunity to draw his costume more like a body suit; one that sags and creases as its worn. I just can't imagine him being capable of stealthy mercenary missions if he's lumbering through with pumped up muscles, so I decided to make him a little more realistic. As you can see, he's still muscular, but he doesn't have a six-back bursting trough his costume. This arc has a little more edge to it too, so I wanted his mask to look a little more intense, so I tweaked the black shapes of his costume to make him look a little more intense. Overall, I wanted to showcase his ninja attributes a little, so I hope I accomplished that with all the above.”
In addition to the ninja-fied Deadpool, Shalvey is also getting to put his stamp on two Marvel stalwarts with Wolverine and Captain America. Although he’s drawn them before in his far-ranging career so far at Marvel, this is the first time he’s been able to play with them extensively and it’s part of the reason he signed up for this book.
“I can't lie; getting an opportunity to draw Cap and Logan was a huge selling point for me,” admits the artist. “I've always wanted to get a proper opportunity to draw those characters and I'm really enjoying it. I actually spent a lot of time trying to get Wolverine right before starting the arc; I hate it when artists draw him tall and lean so I tried to make sure he looks like a little Rottweiler; short and stocky. Actually, having Cap and Wolvie in this arc worked really well, as the physicality of these characters are all very different and they play off each other in a visually interesting way is quite enjoyable. I'd love to draw them again down the line, given the chance.”
Deadpool, Captain America and Wolverine – quite a team-up, not unlike the movie for which this arc takes it’s name, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. When asked about analogies between that iconic team-up and this one, the three creators were unanimous – even if Deadpool wouldn’t agree.
“We think Deadpool think’s he’s Eastwood, when in fact he’s probably Eli Wallach,” said the writers.
“Definitely Eli Wallach,” Shalvey concurred.
The title’s homage is both a literal reference to these three most famous alumni of the Super Soldier program and, according to the writers, indicative of Deadpool’s life as of late.
“Wade’s life has been pretty heavy on the ‘bad and ugly,’” the writers say, “but light on the “good” so far…”
However you’d classify Wade’s life, it’s been adventurous and well-read since Posehn and Duggan took over the Deadpool series with Marvel NOW. Now one year in (and counting), the writing duo have more in store for the Merc than just guns and giggles as the book rolls on.
“It’s been fun for us. The year flew by,” said Duggan. “We’ve had laughs, tears, big action and (we hope) some heart, but it ends in heartache, anger and I think -- hope. Life is beautiful, but life is also cruel and unfair. Life cheats you. Deadpool has missed out on much of life’s beauty and pain. He’s left a trail of bodies in his wake, but he’s lacked the emotional attachments that cause the worst wounds: ones that a healing factor can’t erase. This is the story of Wade Wilson paying for that.”