Where: Deadpool #2 When: February 1997
Why: Joe Kelly How: Ed McGuinness
The story so far...
It's a romantic rainy night at the avier Institute for Higher Learning, where Siryn is one of the many extraordinary homo-superior students who sleep peacefully in the bed.
Having enjoyed the previous night of hanging upside down from a tree outside Siryn's window; Deadpool heads out to visit his buddy and partner in crime, Weasel, only to discover a disturbing absence!
Following Weasel's tracking beacon, Deadpool goes on a romp to Nevada where he runs afoul a secret super-villain ninja training facility run by the notorious Taskmaster! Lucky for Deadpool, this is his book, so he can run head-long into a fortress-like school without a care in the world... Right?... Right?...
Deadpool (#37): Notable victories over the Hulk and Taskmaster.
Taskmaster (#384): Suffered defeat at the hands of Moon Knight and Deadpool.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Taskmaster 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Deadpool 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Deadpool 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Deadpool 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Taskmaster 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Deadpool 4 (Arsenal)
- Taskmaster's "photographic reflexes" give him the inhuman ability to appropriately execute any fighting move or style he is able to observe and study.
- On the basis of his clashes with the Avengers, Taskmaster carries an arsenal of weapons familiar to Earth's mightiest heroes. A shield, sword, and arrows pertain to Captain America, Black Knight and Hawkeye, and do well to compliment his expert hand-to-hand fighting skills.
- So respected are Taskmaster's skills that he has regularly been sought out as a trainer by hero and villains alike. Among his most noted pupils; Crossbones, Spider-Woman, and a man he trained for the US Military to become a replacement for Captain America, the eventual Avenger, John Walker.
- As a graduate of the mysterious Weapon X project, Deadpool possesses a synthesized healing factor modelled on seminal Weapon X subject, Wolverine.
- Though typically assessed as mentally unstable and homicidal, Deadpool has a keen intellect for combat. His regular witicisms and obnoxious pop culture references are all key to his combative style, which regularly frustrates or distracts opponents.
- Deadpool is versed in a variety of weapons and hand-to-hand fighting methods, and comes fully equipped with explosives, guns, swords, holographic projectors, teleportation devices, and kung-fu grip.
The Math: Draw The Pick: Taskmaster
What went down...
Returning from the black haze of unconsciousness, Deadpool awakes shackled in a tiny windowed apartment with a distinctly dungeonesque design motiff.
Oblivious to the negative chi-flow of the barred windows' feng shui, Deadpool makes the grim discovery that his bestest bud is actually considering voluntary servitude to the better tempered Taskmaster.
Unwilling to leave Weasel's loyalties to the test, he takes the decision away, placing Deadpool into one of his Ninja School display sessions to illustrate various counter-fighting styles, as a constructive means of killing him.
Freed of his shackles, 'Pool goes straight to work, opening with a headbutt/mule kick combo that does away with Taskmaster's ninja lackeys.
Taskmaster maintains a running commentary of Deadpool's frivilous fighting antics, while deconstructing them for the viewing class.
TM throws a relaxed kick as a means of highlighting Deadpool's evasive maneuvers. Much to the merc with a mouth's frustration, Taskmaster easily works around his defensives, highlighting a tendency to dodge left, whilst delivering a stiff palm to the base of DP's skull.
Looking to expand the session, Taskmaster returns to Deadpool his sword.
Summoning the skills absorbed from the Black Knight, Taskmaster further engages Deadpool with an irritating air of superiority. He remains clinical in his analysis, commenting upon Deadpool's banter, without being effected by it.
Showing incredible control, Taskmaster strikes back at Deadpool's witicisms with masterful swordery, slicing away one of his fingers with the tip of his broadsword.
Deadpool simmers with rage, but is ripped out of an otherwise predictable onrush by Taskmaster's persistent arrogance. Calling upon his fantastic skill for insanity, Deadpool abandons his more predictable array of moves, instead breaking into a contrary display of contemporary dance. Macarenas were mentioned.
Baffled and disarmed by the sudden harsh change in practise, Taskmaster is left wide open to Deadpool's unorthodox fearless foolishness.
Prancing around like an idiot, Deadpool sends Taskmaster's obsessive compulsive analysis into overload, recalling, "... the "dancing on the ceiling" style of kung fu taught by sensei Lioenel Ritchie..."
Calling upon every ounce of his anti-hero extreme prowess, Deadpool closes in for the finishing blow, throwing his strength into a conventional left that fells the thoroughly disarmed ninja school master.
As the final insult, Deadpool makes snide reference to Taskmaster's wardrobe, "open a copy of vogue for pete's sake..." Some would say this was the greatest insult of all, but then, those people probably fight with floppy wrists and open palms, and have never tasted the smothering pain sauce of a punctured lung.
He won the fight, he won Weasel, but most importantly, he won our hearts. He's the merc with a mouth, Deadpool!
Now comes the inevitable invite to ABC's Dancing with the Stars, with the Joey Fatone incentive that is sure to win legendary chubby-chaser Deadpool over. Legs may be humped.
The Deadpool/Taskmaster relationship has become one of those legendary equations in comics, and it's just thoroughly absurd to think it's an association that was defined a decade ago, by the team of Joe Kelly and then relative head-lining new-comer, Ed McGuinness.
Things have been a little slow around the Infinite Wars the past few weeks, and pining for new comics has perhaps distracted from the "classic" brand of discussion we've been bringing in the busy months. What finally got me over the hump was getting around to seperating Deadpool from his alternate universe counterpart, Swordsman, by way of a special little rule we like to call the superboy-prime directive. One of these days I'll get around to elaborating...
It seemed like an appropriate to revisit the unusually overlooked Deadpool, and one might say this seminal issue was a long time coming. Particularly as we'd done things a little backward, by going first with the then-released issue of Deadpool's current starring vehicle, which featured a solid rematch. [Cable & Deadpool #36]
What can you say about Deadpool that hasn't already been said?
He's overcome humble beginnings as a Rob Liefeld creation to become intentionally funny, exibiting a fourth-wall breaking insanity that may make him one of the most cosmically aware characters in the Marvel Universe!
I think from a characterization perspective, there's a tendency for Deadpool to dangerously straddle the realm of obnoxiousness, but one inevitably looks back upon Joe Kelly's redefining run on the character with rose coloured glasses. Or, in our wildest fantasies, with Rose McGowan strapped to our heads. What? Don't look at me like you weren't thinking it too...
We'll probably follow this up sometime in the near future with a look at one of the infamous Great Lakes/Deadpool interactions which have built on the original encounter fostered by Kelly. It's perhaps on the strength of that history alone that it becomes impossible to deny Kelly's mark on the modern comics scene.
There have been a lot of fan-favourite moments in Deadpool's history, including an oft-referred to run with Gail Simone and the Agent X character, but I don't think I'll ever get past these first issues. These early scripts just have such a brilliant balance to them between comedy and superhero antics, carrying through lines like the comedic romantic angle with Siryn, and the manic relationship tendered with Blind Al. Likewise, the character has ever looked as good as he has under the bold pencils of superstar cartoonist, Ed McGuinness.
If you haven't already, you've got to go back to [Deadpool #4] where you get but a single panel glimpse of Ed McGuinness' superb treatment of the Hulk.
There's no grand point to be made in this review.
There's no specific grandious significance to these issues, nor any ground breaking characterization I can try to spin creative insights off. This is the brilliant fun of superhero comics, boiled down to the pure essence of cause and effect. It's a done-in-one story, it's a whole lotta action, and it's gags aplenty.
I wish I had something brilliant to tell you, but this post possesses a similar conceptual simplicity. Consider it a valuable history lesson to all the newbies out there, who've been bumping, humping, and lady lumping on the Deadpool bandwagon without ever witnessing the second beginning.
... Actually, that's probably the third beginning, because you'd probably count the first appearances seperate to the mini-series... Yeah...
The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5
[Deadpool remains a cult mainstay of Marvel's less prominent titles, with a dedicated fanbase that saved the character from cancellation many times, and a flair unique enough to attract the interests of Hollywood. If it were up to this writer, the Deadpool movie would start with a white room credits intro, and more fourth-wall breaking discussion than you could poke a stick at!]