Writer: Gerry Duggan
Penciler: Matteo Lolli
Inker: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Colorist: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release Date: 5/31/17
Before the events of Secret Empire #0, Deadpool gets a call from his childhood hero – and recent Avengers colleague – Captain America. Turns out he’s been recruited for a secret mission: find Phil Coulson! Considering that that Steve Rogers is the sterling example of everything good in the world, what could go wrong?
Plot: Wade drops by to visit Agent Preston and ask her if she knows the location of Coulson’s safehouse, but Preston won’t budge until Deadpool promises not to bother her for the rest of the summer. Meanwhile, Coulson himself is transmitting in the dark with the hope that someone will pick up his message and learn that Captain Rogers is compromised.
From there, an all-out battle arises between two men who both idolized the same man as children and now find themselves on opposite sides because of him. Of course, Marvel heroes often find themselves fighting against each other for various reasons – but it’s not usually a fight to the death.
Story: This issue of Deadpool was incredibly poetic in many ways, and made great use of its role as a Secret Empire tie-in. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fan of this event, but Gerry Duggan excels at using surrounding events to explore Wade’s character even further, and this week’s book is no exception. The peek into his childhood, soon juxtaposed by him dropping in on his daughter’s home, was a great reminder of the lengths Duggan has gone to in order to humanize Wade Wilson. It’s also a great way to lay out the rug for readers before ripping it out from under them.
Parallels abound between Wade and Coulson, especially surrounding their admiration and undying loyalty to Steve Rogers. Deadpool’s affinity for the once-lawful good hero is a very interesting aspect of his life, considering just how chaotic Wilson himself tends to be. And yet, in this story it is he who is unquestioningly following orders while Coulson must break away from his norms for the greater good. The narrative theme was spectacular, but if there’s one complain I have it’s just that the chase between the men went on for longer than felt necessary. I understand that it’s setting up for Secret Empire rather than continuing it, but it might have been nice to include more of Deadpool’s antics before he found Coulson – or Coulson’s before he was found – to pad out the plot.
The tension is high throughout the issue, and the climactic ending is a huge change for both Deadpool’s recent growth and the Marvel Universe at large… if it sticks. I don’t want to spoil the twist just in case, so I’ll just say I have a hard time believing it really happened. That doesn’t negatively affect my view of this issue, though, because it still speaks to Wade’s mindset and will inevitably be a huge turning point for him if and when he learns the truth about Captain America.
Art: Matteo Lolli, Christian Dalla Vecchia and Ruth Redmond make a great team and helped to create a very cinematic feel for Deadpool #31. Their work on the flashbacks is particularly poignant, managing to convey just how similar Wade and Phil are at heart without even needing their narration to drive the point home. The blurred visions of childhood rooms followed by mostly black-and-white memories hone in on how our minds brush over the past with, which doubles as a metaphor for Wade and Coulson’s now-shattered idealization of Captain America.
There are several actions sequences in this week’s Deadpool as well, and while they may be slightly less polished than the character-building or family scenes of the issue, they still do the trick. The bright flames of Lola’s destruction nearly leap of the page, and the many shots and explosions that go off during the story may feel repetitive but at least they don’t look it.
Verdict: As previously mentioned, there was a small amount of lag in the middle of Deadpool #31. But from a character perspective, the issue was excellent, and I can’t wait to see how Wade is affected in future issues. Whether or not the climax of this week remains canon in the Marvel Universe or is magically undone by a Cosmic Cube, our favorite mercenary is going to have to do a lot of re-evaluating when it’s all over.
Star Rating: 4.5/5