Friday, February 05, 2016

Payback Part 2: The Quick and The Dead (Marvel)
Deadpool #19 When: August 1998
Why: Joe Kelly How: Walter McDaniel

The Story So Far...
From the tortured corridors of The Workshop he came. A hulking marriage of man and machine! Once, he was merely Francis Fanny - The Attending at the Weapon X hospice where he kept failed experiments in check for scientist Dr. Emrys Killebrew.
 When he was unleashed on taunting inmate Wade Wilson, he unlocked the healing factor within cancer-riddled Wilson, and seemingly became Deadpool's first victim.

Resurfacing years later as a cybernetically enhanced killing machine; Francis sets his sights on killing Wade Wilson once and for all! After murdering his way through surviving Weapon X rejects, Ajax finds the reformed Dr. Killebrew in the Swiss Alps. Torturing Killebrew for knowledge, he teleports Deadpool to the Alps to enact a final revenge quest against The Workshop's worst escapee!

Haunted by the ghosts of the murdered Weapon X subjects, Deadpool is sworn to set their spirits free to a great reward by stopping Ajax once and for all! With the life of his recently acquired Swiss hostage hanging in the balance, Deadpool steels himself for the final battle that must be waged. It's go time!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Ajax 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Ajax 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Ajax 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Deadpool 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Deadpool 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 4 (Trained)
Energy: Deadpool 4 (Arsenal)
Pollution: Deadpool 0 (He's a hero!)

Ready, Player One? Player Two has entered the game! We've got a newbie in the ranks this week with the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths debut of Ajax! Long story short: He's a leftover from the days of the Weapon X hospice called The Workshop where Wade Wilson thought he was drooling his final vacation days in front of the window, and Dr. Emrys Killebrew thought he could experiment on failed projects without consequence.

Deadpool Facts:
To remove Deadpool's heart simply hit: back, down, forward, low punch at close range!
Plot-twist: Those wacky Weapon Xers had a mix-up in the luggage department. That meant Wade's life-threatening cancer was sent to LAX, while Wilson picked up his very own second-hand version of Wolverine's healing factor! That meant when Francis The Attending [aka; Ajax] tried pulling his heart out to impress friends at the Weapon X-Mas party, Deadpool got the last laugh -- and gasp of sanity -- by regenerating!

This is probably where Ajax' deep-seated resentment comes from. Which is bad news for Deadpool, cuz Ajax isn't just great for removing stubborn stains! He comes with enhanced extras: superhuman strength, speed, durability, and titanium laced armor chock full of cybernetic tricks n tips.

We've seen Deadpool come up short against another opponent stuffed to the gills with weapons, enhancements and training: The Punisher [Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2]. His flexible perception of reality hurt him in that one. That said, a propensity for unorthodox tactics was shown to be the key to victory against Taskmaster - twice - in Deadpool #2 and Cable & Deadpool #36! Super strength? No problem! Agility and healing helped him take out Hulk [Deadpool #4]!

Deadpool Facts:
Little does Ajax realize - a diet of foraged pine nuts has triggered Deadpool's irritable bowel something fierce! As so often in the wild, the hunter becomes the hunted...
History means there's a special mojo between these two that only arch-nemesis' can have. Ajax is highly motivated and at this stage has already succeeded in temporarily ending Deadpool's life a few times. That means 'Poolman isn't his usual funky fresh self. He may even be a little afraid! As we'll see, though, we're jumping into the pair's final showdown and Deadpool is feeling his zen.

At this stage of the game, Deadpool has no weapons, no shirt, and is still suffering from exposure and injuries incurred in previous skirmishes with Ajax. Can he face his fear and overcome the odds? Lets pretend we don't know this is the final fight between the two and do that fight novelization stuff...

The Tape: Deadpool Ranking: Deadpool (#36)

What Went Down...
With the sun setting and his allies dwindling, Deadpool has a moment of clarity. He has run from Ajax long enough. It has cost Dr. Killebrew and innocent Swiss miss Ilaney Br├╝kner their lives. No more will die fighting his battles. DDedpool will not run from his fate any longer.

Awaiting Ajax' inevitable arrival, Deadpool provokes the mechanically enhanced hulk to come at him! It brings the fast running cyborg right through a carefully laid tripwire -- comedy to Ajax! His enhanced optical sensors detect the trap and allow him to effortlessly evade a swinging log. He knows all about traps!

The stick covered "tiger pit" isn't any more effective. Ajax' enhanced legs leap over the trap with arrogant ease. All part of the plan!

Ajax's willingness to under estimate Deadpool sends him gliding onto prong-two with military precision. Cybernetics can't save him from the snaking, slick sheet of ice hidden on the other side of the pit! He slides uncontrollably, propelled by his own superhumanly fast momentum. Thrashing only sends him head-first into the surrounding rocks of the Swiss Alps!

Deadpool makes further use of the natural stonery - heads up, Ajax!

Being clobbered with a small boulder leaves Ajax dazed, in agony, and waist deep in Greek metaphor with a busted cybernetic ankle. It's Icarus, it's Achilles, it's chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, onion, feta, olives, seasoned lightly with oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. A whole lot of bad time of his own making!

"RAAAR! Idiot! I don't need my legs to kill you! I'm superior in every way!"

Deadpool Facts:
Because of Chef Deadpool's sabotage, Chef Ajax will have to make his Greek Chicken Salad out of chicken crap. #evilicious
Ajax claimed he was too strong, too fast, and too smart for Deadpool. Claims systematically and irrefutably disproven! Deadpool broke Ajax's super-strong ankle, he tactically stalled his super-fast attacks, and as they glide for a large body of water with a cyborg's electrical system showing - the tournament of minds smart kid scholarship will undoubtedly go to Deadpool!

When they hit the water, all sound fades to silence. Is it the natural muffling of the water, or did Deadpool's eardrums burst in the initial impact? It hardly matters. While the electric shock blisters his skin and kills an untold number of innocent byswimmers (fish) - Deadpool finds another moment of Zen.

With his legs wrapped around Ajax's neck and his junk resting tenderly on his scrotum-like scalp, Deadpool ponders his situation. He doesn't really want to kill Ajax. He wants to be the good guy and do what good guys do: leave the crook tied naked to a flagpole with a quippy note from "your friendly neighbourhood Deadpool". Alas; that's somebody else's shtick - and the 'Poolman is honorbound to some restless spirits who want the cycle of death to end.

So with a spurt of blood and a sickening "KRAKKT" Deadpool ends it.

Because he was Ajax' superior - and all he needed was his legs.

The Hammer...
Uhhh... I guess if you just skipped to the end section to find out who won you might be surprised to learn Deadpool wins! FATALITY!

Exactly how Deadpool did the deed isn't shown, but I do like the implied detail that he probably snapped his neck with his legs. It's a nice double back to Ajax claiming he didn't need his legs to finish Deadpool.

It's also the kind of detail you don't usually see in reviews and recaps of issues like these. So make sure you choose Secret Wars on Infinite Earths as your #1 source for superhero smackdown summaries - and tell your friends! [Shhh! You can take the credit!]

If you remembered that Deadpool was supposed to be helping out some dead Weapon X guys who've become ghosts who're harassing him from beyond the grave - well done, you! Ajax's death didn't help them move on, proving two deaths (or six) don't make a right. Deadpool's Swiss Miss hostage Ilaney did get a reprieve from the spirit of the late Dr. Killebrew, though. She lives! Wunderbar!

Ajax - not so much. He first appeared in Deadpool #14 and hounded the Merc' With a Mouth pretty good for a few intense issues before biting the big one in #19. Ajax lived a short comic book life, but he shined bright. I hear he's made a couple special comeback appearances as Deadpool's worst nightmare, but for the most part remains crossed off the hit list since this final encounter. A rare example of an effective arch-nemesis who lived only to die.

You'll probably be hearing more about Ajax now that he's about to hit the big time in the Deadpool movie. It'll be interesting to see just how movie Ajax measures up. He won't get headlines, but he seems like a good villain for a non-traditional superhero movie. A bad guy who can tie into Deadpool's origin and drive a traditional storytelling device to its conclusion. If they adapt this issue in any recognizable form, I'll be surprised and impressed. If they don't - at least you now know what really happened!

Deadpool Facts:
Cyber broke Wolverine's claws and made him cry like he couldn't find his mommy. We'll get to him, eventually.
Ajax kinda reminds me of Wolverine arch-nemesis Cyber. Not just because he's named Cyber and Ajax is "cybernetically enhanced" - although it's a big part of it. It's the fear factor. You can get pretty used to superheroes being pretty cavalier about their adventures in life and death - especially when they have a mutant healing factor that heals most wounds. It's an interesting change of pace to have a villain who actually inspires fear in a hero!

It's amazing to think it was around this twenty issue mark that cancellation started to be the frequent talking point! Now Deadpool's well on his way to being a household name!

Deadpool has become pretty well known for his comedic side through internet memes and the like, but these Joe Kelly stories really stand above and beyond for being both funny and engaging stories. They deserve a lot of credit for really fleshing out the reality of Deadpool, contributing some of his most memorable friends and foes: Blind Al, Taskmaster, DD, The Great Lakes Avengers - all here!

If you checked out the first Old Comics Wednesday for 2016, you may have already familiarized yourself with a couple of Deadpool's classic encounters from this run.

Next week we'll be venturing even further into the past as we continue to celebrate Deadpool and his theatrical coming out!

Winner: Deadpool
(+10) #26 Deadpool [+1 kill]
(new) #769 Ajax

Deadpool Facts:
By clicking Amazon links provided at the bottom of each feature fight, you not only get an easy one-click reference for a collection containing this issue - but also help Secret Wars on Infinite Earths continue the good work that it does! You can also find more interesting entries by clicking the tag links below, or visiting the Issue Index Archive! Yay!

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