By Emily S. Whitten
Let’s talk about Deadpool. After all, I never tire of talking about him, and thanks to the lovely folks at Tonner, I now have a new place to do that! Well, and also we should talk about him because he is my favorite comic book character, and maybe if you know why, he’ll become yours too.
But before we get to that, you’re probably wondering who the heck I am. For the purposes of this post, the most apt description would be that I am a Fan. With a capital F. Which is like a fan, but one who gets really absorbed in their particular fandoms. I’m betting some of you here can relate to that (show of hands, please. Yes, I thought so). As a Fan, when I find a fandom I truly love, I might sometimes maybe tend to go a wee tiny bit overboard in getting involved, which is how I ended up co-organizing two North American Discworld Conventions for best-selling author Sir Terry Pratchett, and why I started (unofficially) writing and tweeting online as Deadpool. And how I eventually ended up being cited as “the most passionate Deadpool fan we’ve encountered” by a movie news website and have now published a bunch of comics about Deadpool and other comic book characters. (The second one in my current series of three hits MTV Splash Page today (Wednesday), so if you’re excited about The Avengers movie, check it out! The first one is HERE. ). I also tend to start collecting fannish items and discussing them, which is how I met some Tonner folks. So, you know, that’s me.
So now, who the hell is Deadpool, other than just another Marvel character? Well, he ain’t really much good as a lover or a dreamer or even a friend most of the time, but he sure is a fighter;
and I bet for all his failings, he’d still identify with the first verse of that random Michael Peterson song that’s stuck in my head right now (trust me, you’ve heard it too, even if you don’t know you have – look it up). He desperately wants to be a hero and a tough guy, with money and success, and sometimes he almost gets there –
– but inevitably, even when he’s sitting on a pile of money after saving some innocent from a gruesome death, something will stop him from triumphantly riding off into the sunset. Generally it’s Deadpool himself. Yep, story of his life.
Speaking of which, he’s got a damn cool origin story. Written by the amazing Joe Kelly, it bears a somewhat uncanny resemblance to Ken Kesey’s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but that only makes it better (and darker). I’m not going to re-hash the whole thing here, but in a nutshell, when a mercenary named Wade Wilson gets cancer, he volunteers for a Canadian super-soldier-esque military program that promises to cure it. Unfortunately, even after they try to give him a version of Wolverine’s healing factor, he’s still dying. So they chuck him in The Hospice, a.k.a. Reject Central, where all the failed “projects” are sent to wither and die. That’s where things get truly Kesey-an, and by the end, the cruel Nurse-Ratched-like Attending has ripped Deadpool’s heart right out – which, along with his need for vengeance, causes his healing factor to finally kick in, re-grow the heart, and save him. Unfortunately, the healing factor also begins a constant regeneration of every cell in his body (including his brain) in order to keep his cancer at bay. This results in permanent terrible scarring from the cancer, as well as what is both the best and worst part of the newly-christened “Deadpool” – his insanity.
Okay, I’ve just thoroughly depressed everybody here, right?
IT GETS BETTER, I SWEAR. Because Deadpool’s insanity is the kind that results in a) dark humor; b) constant pop-culture references; and c) breaking the fourth wall, i.e. Deadpool actually knowing he’s in a comic sometimes. The result of all this is generally bizarre hilarity: he offs a businessman by tying his shoelaces together so he trips out a window; he takes out a foe like a sniper while singing Barbie Girl (because why not?). He harangues his editors and writers from the page and answers his own fan letters. He has a sheep gun (maybe best not to ask).
He talks a mile-a-minute and pretty much all of it’s funny. And that’s one thing that makes him great. But the other thing I really love about Deadpool is that underneath it all there’s still that dark psychological undercurrent of his broken, messed up origins and brain. Like I said, he’s a fighter – actually possibly the best in the whole Marvel universe, even above Wolverine (one time he even saved the entire world, although he’s ashamed of it now and never mentions it in company). So he does the mercenary thing because that’s what he’s good at; but what he really wants is to be a better person (sometimes) (depending) (well mostly). And reading the stories of his truly human struggle between success and failure (while also laughing out loud at both on occasion) is what makes him a worthwhile character.
So, have I indoctrinated you into the way of the Deadpoolite yet? No? Then maybe you should try the method that first got me hooked: reading Deadpool #14 (from the Joe Kelly run of the ’90s). The first time I read a Deadpool comic, I was standing in my favorite local comic book and used genre book store, which is small and crowded and full of little nooks and generally everything a bookstore should be (shout-out to Hole in the Wall Books in Falls Church, VA, hey-yo! Support your local shops!). I picked up Deadpool #14, the only Deadpool comic they happened to have, and flipped through it. As I read, everything fell away – the little noises of other customers, the fact that I was standing in the middle of a store – and I was just absorbed into the story. If you read #14, you’ll understand why. Here is an issue in which the main character spends 99% of the story buried in a snowdrift, with just one motionless hand sticking out, while two of the satellite characters discuss him with each other for the first time, and it is riveting. And I thought to myself, “If the story is this good when Deadpool’s not even talking, how awesome must the rest of the issues be? I must have them!”
Thus I became a collector of his comics, and thanks to that, of the various action figures, dolls, etc. that they’ve put out over the years. Which brings me to my next point, which is: how very cool would it be to see Tonner make a Deadpool doll? Not only is he a totally bad-ass, cool-looking character, but I’d love to see how they’d do it, and I think it’d be a fun kind of a challenge for them, too.
In some ways, Deadpool would be easy. Like my Tonner classic Harley Quinn (whom I love dearly, because she is so pretty and poised and perfectly Harley), he wears mostly black and red spandex. On the other hand, Deadpool wears a lot of accessories that are essential to his character and superhero/mercenary powers, and have a history of their own – things like his harness and teleporter belt with all the pouches, his guns and grenades, his katanas and sais, and his combat boots with the Deadpool symbols on the soles, at the very least.
I think creating those would be a little bit different than what’s been done for a lot of the current dolls, whose costumes are primarily cloth. However, given Tonner’s recent awesome foray into steampunk with Imperium Park. which features a lot of cool accessories too, I’m sure they could do it.
I’d also be curious to see what decisions they might make about his face. As mentioned, Deadpool is terribly scarred, though it’s almost never seen due to his mask. With other Deadpool collectibles, often they will either not make the mask removable, or sell interchangeable heads with and without the mask. I honestly don’t know what I’d like to see if Tonner tried Deadpool; but if the mask was removable, I think they’d have to do his scary, scary face, which is such a central part of who he is. Hmm.
Either way, I’d love to see them take on the challenge, especially since, if rumors can be believed, he is finally, eventually going to be starring in his very own movie one day soon (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE).
I’d also love to see more people become fans of my favorite character. So if you’re not sick of hearing about him yet, feel free to stop over here and flip through some pages.