RETRO REVIEW: Deadpool #11 (December 1997)

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Or – “What Is The Deal With Blind Al, Anyway?”

This week’s Deadpool cameo in X-Men got me thinking about his status as a 90’s refugee, generally believed to be the only thing of worth to come out of X-Force.  (That one guy with purple skin who proved that Cannonball was immortal comes in a distant second, followed by “all the other stuff that happened in X-Force.”)  His first appearances are among the few remaining gems of the speculator age, and even those who aren’t fans of the character generally enjoy his wackiness.  I went looking in my back issue bins for interesting Deadpool stories, and I was a little bit stunned at what I found…

DEADPOOL #11
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Pete Woods
Inker(s): Nathan Massengill/Al Milgrom/Joe Sinnott
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Comicraft/Emerson Miranda
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $8.00

Previously, in Deadpool:  The same healing factor that allows Wade Wilson to recover from any wound also keeps his brain tissue in a constant state of revision, leaving him a little bit wacky in the wicky woo, as Stephen might have it.  Back in ’97, an accident with his portable teleporter (developed by his pal Weasel, and triggered by a strange interaction with the powers of Great Lakes Avenger Doorman) has thrown him through a mysterious dimensional portal, a situation which not only leaves the GLA confused, but causes consternation on cosmic level…

Yep… HIM.  (Hanover Fiste???) Deadpool and Blind Al emerge from out of nowhere, knocking May Parker out cold.  The twosome quickly stash the unconscious octogenarian, still unsure of where they are, and Deadpool tries ‘porting back home for backup.  Meanwhile in the present (or, in this case, in the fifteen years ago) the Great Lakes Avengers and ‘Pool’s pal Weasel try to figure out what happened to Rob Liefeld’s most enduring creation…

You know what’s interesting about this story?  Even in 1997, Spider-Man’s high-school years couldn’t have taken place in 1967, and the story clearly knows that (and just as clearly doesn’t care.)  What Doorman’s sour stomach proves in the present, Blind Al figures out in the past (although she does it be checking out what’s on the tube), and Al is actually sharp enough to figure out the consequences of their jaunt…

This issue is funny as heck, as Deadpool searches for a disguise, finally using his image inducer to duplicate a face from the pictures in May Parker’s foyer.  Unfortunately, Mary Jane Watson’s maiden aunt Anna shows up looking for May, causing ‘Pool and Al to try a desperate gambit to fake her out.  “Sorry, I was upstairs in the bathroom, trying to figure out how to shave,” he says through the false face of one Peter Parker…

Deadpool discovers that Weasel has managed to send him a message (by reaching THROUGH Doorman, after which Weas’ is heard to remark “Anybody got some hand soap?  I’m totally skeeved.”) instructing Wade to activate his teleportation belt at midnight.  Sadly, Deadpool’s belt is broken, thanks to a run-in with an angry nun (long story), and he doesn’t have any idea how to fix it himself.  Through a stroke of absolute luck, Deadpool recognizes a familiar face among the fellow nerds in a picture of Peter’s last science fair:  Weasel himself.  Ready to find young Weasel and get back to the future, “Peter Parker” sets out into the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #47…

The saddest bit of all of this is that Deadpool didn’t get to see Kraven’s nipple lasers in action…  Imagine the jokes that might ensue.  Pete-Pool arrives at Empire State University to find his degenerate genius pal, but is shocked to find that the younger Weasel is a clean-cut all-American buzzcut genius with his eyes on the big prize:  a cushy job at Osborn Chemicals, that bastion of the military-industrial complex.  And turns out lil’ Weasel doesn’t really care all that much for our Mister Parker…

Heh.  I have always maintained that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie would have been infinitely superior had they actually done corduroy headpieces for Norman and Harry Osborn…  Either way, Harry’s mod sixties lingo isn’t the only thing that confuse poor Deadpool, and he ends up going native, pretending to be Peter until he figures out a way to fix his belt.  This leads to more humor at the expense of Peter Parker’s supporting cast…

Joe Kelly tells a pretty hysterical story here, with one-liners aplenty, as both Deadpool and Weasel-as-Peter get invited to Gwen Stacy’s party, with Wade planning to get Weasel drunk enough to fix the teleporter, and Weasel planning to finally admit his love for the lovely and doomed Gwendy…

Weasel is grateful that he finally got his shot with Gwen Stacy, but still won’t help Deadpool until the competition for the Osborn Chemicals job is finalized, since Peter is still (in his mind) the main competitor for the job of his dreams.  The way that the story interweaves with ASM #47 is pretty brilliant, and the use of classic John Romita panels (especially his heart-breakingly cute Gwen) seamlessly interweaves with Deadpool’s Marty McFly antics.  And then, Kraven the Hunter shows up and kidnaps Harry Osborn, forcing Deadpool to get involved…

Wade saves the day, saves the Osborn, and sets off to fix the timestream.  Of course, to do so, he has to convince Weasel to help him, something which Weasel has refused to do while the Osborn job is up in the air…

Wade consoles a crushed Weasel with a big bottle of hooch and the promise to teach him a game involving quarters, and fetches Al from May Parker’s bedroom…

There’s a weird symmetry in the fact that Weasel’s screwed-up life is all due to Deadpool’s manipulations of the timestream, but it’s hard to figure out whether he was destined to be a loser or whether Wade’s time-travel adventures created Weasel the way he was so that he could create the teleportation belt that caused Wade’s time-travel adventures to create…  Oy.  My head hurts.  But, this being a Deadpool comic, the return home isn’t going to be a matter of timing and 1.21 jiggawatts…

Vomited back to reality…  I haven’t felt that way since college.  The issue ends with Uatu the Watcher sighing in relief, and a permanent smile on my face.  There are many who complain that Deadpool is an over-exposed character who is a cut-and-paste of Slade “The Terminator” Wilson, Wolverine and Bugs Bunny, but that very thing works for him.  As an amalgamation of pop culture himself, it’s funny to see ‘Pool spouting Family Ties references or mocking Peter Parker’s 60’s fashions, all the while knowing that those same influences helped to shape him as a character.  I’m not usually a huge Deadpool fan, but this issue hits a sweet spot for me, combining comics history, wacky hijinks and time-travel messiness into one big cinnamon roll of fun.  Deadpool #11 is a fine example of the much maligned species known as ’90’s Comics’, earning a dead-solid perfect 5 out of 5 stars overall.  John Romita can sure draw him some gorgeous young ladies, can’t he?

Rating: ★★★★★