Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Tao of Wade

I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this, but what is up with the sudden burst of Deadpool love? I mean, ok, it's not like he's setting the world on fire saleswise, but three titles, a pretty big internet fan following, and plenty of high-profile guest spots (including the Wolverine movie) have made him into a big deal all of a sudden. So let's look at where it's coming from, and what it might mean, shall we?

Well, I guess the first answer is that Anti-heroes are always popular with Marvel fans, and Mr. Wilson certainly fits the bill there. After all, he's an amoral nutcase with more conditions than I feel like listing who maims, brutalizes, and butchers his way across the landscape. Hey, there's nothing like the catharisis of violence, especially if it's delivered with a certain flair and snappy dialogue, and there's plenty of that to be found in Deadpool. There's also the unleashing of the inner ID that is pretty much second nature to Deadpool; he says and does things that no person, and no superhero, Marvel or otherwise would consider, so there's the concept that he's the reader's voice being filtered through a veneer of pure madness.

Next we can look at the pathos as Deadpool tries (and fails, and then tries and fails again and again) to find some degree of peace, redemption and absolution for the terrible things he's done and maybe to even become a real hero. It's the Charlie Brown syndrome - he just keeps trying and screwing it up. In Deadpool's case, it's because while he says he wants to be hero, the terms on which he wants to do it are always very, well, unheroic to say the least. He says he wants to change, but time and again, his nature prevents him from doing so. There's something to be said for showing that change is rarely something we get on agreeable terms, and how easy it is to backslide into old bad habits.

However, I submit to you, my readers, that these are not the primary reasons for Deadpool's current popularity (such as it is). My own theory is this;
He's funny.
Now, that's not to say that there aren't any funny superheroes; that would just be wrong. But it is easy to say (as Tim O'Neil elgantly has)that most superhero comics are self-absorbed; forever focused on how important it is that the character is the way they are being depicted - what makes Superman so special, or what makes Bruce Wayne so special as Batman, or what makes Steve Rogers so special as Captain America or what makes Peter Parker so special now that he's single etc etc. And while it may be interesting, or even important, it's rarely funny or amusing. Deadpool as a character is static, so instead of focusing on how important it is that he remain this way forever and forever, the story focuses on his adventures being fun.
And I think that makes the difference. What say you?

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