There’s not much I can say about the conclusion of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars that I can’t also say about the entirety of the run: it’s fun, goofy nonsense that never quite lives up to the promise of its hilarious premise. But, if I’m a little disappointed by this issue, I’m certainly not disappointed by Tony Harris’ cover. Look at that rugged hunk and his corny mustache. I love this cover.
Anyhoo, I’ve been reviewing DSSW for four issues now, and I haven’t talked much about the various romances happening in Deadpool’s wacky alt-version Battleworld… mostly because I wasn’t sure where writer Cullen Bunn was going with them. For what it is (a snarky ret-conn-y satire), DSSW is stuffed absurdly full of love affairs. The Lizard falls in love with the Wasp. Wade and beautiful alien healer Zsaji are in love, but Colossus is also in love with her. And then (now?) Wade and Janet hook up after Zsaji’s tragic death.
That’s a lot of romance! But what’s it all actually for, in the end?
All the lovemaking and heartbreak certainly don’t make this story any more interesting, because they’re neither particularly funny nor particularly moving. Bunn doesn’t milk the love polygon for all the comedy that it’s worth, nor does he expect us to take it particularly seriously.
But, for some reason, it’s romantic love that ends up driving the culmination of the story. After heroically sacrificing his handsomeness and helping the heroes defeat Doctor Doom, Wade realizes that, unlike Zsaji, Jan doesn’t love him when he’s ugly.
Wade’s love and grief for Zsaji inspire him to use the last of the Beyondor’s wish-juice to make all the other heroes forget that he was part of Secret Wars at all. Before he returns to earth, he also wishes Zsaji into a new, happy life on another planet.
Essentially, if there’s one thing that makes Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars a bit of a wash, it’s that it never seriously put Deadpool’s heroism on the line. When he first got to the Battleworld planet, Wade felt ashamed to be grouped in with Earth’s greatest heroes, and worried that they’d discover his true identity. In #4, it seems to be love for Zsaji that’s driving his heroic actions, but we can’t even take that seriously, because their relationship was never developed, and because she’s so easily wished back to life.
There’s no antiheroism to be found here: the Deadpool of DSSW is unequivocally a hero. He sacrifices his good looks and his shot at true love to save the other heroes. He never hurts anyone who doesn’t deserve it, and he’s not particularly confused, morally or otherwise. This isn’t the blood-soaked, anti-heroic, subversive Merc With The Mouth. This is a half-hearted in-joke.
I guess that if there’s anything that really takes the fun out of an intergalactic bloodbath, it’s an unwillingness to really commit to something: comedy, tragedy, irreverence, whatever. Anything. When I pick up a Deadpool comic, I want something that pushes the envelope a little.
From the very first issue, I’ve loved the idea behind Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, but I’ve been disappointed by it too. When it was funny, I wanted it to be funnier. When it was violent, I wanted it to be more violent. When it was sad, I wanted it to be more sad.
Give me gory violence or campy cheese or biting satire. Give me tragic deaths or adorable romance or self-referential quips. The real beauty of the Deadpool character is that, ideally, absurdly, you should be able to give me all those things at once.
Written by Cullen Bunn
Drawn by Matteo Lolli and Matteo Buffagni with colors by Ruth Redmond
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Mad Moll Green writes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She loves horror movies, comic books, and ironic spandex.