Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

Kill Me Softly

This is how I remember first meeting Boba Fett.  He was mysterious, dangerous and didn’t back down from one of the meanest villains in any genre.  It was love at first sight.  Then came the prequels.  The utter horror and dismay on my part as one of my all time favorite characters was reduced to a mere clone has stuck with me for years now.  I used to collect anything and everything Fett.  No longer.  His image and his very essence had been tainted.  By the  man who created him.  And why?  To satisfy fans.

I’m a fan and I did not ask for this travesty.  Yet over and over I see characters get slaughtered by their own writers.   The comic book industry is rife with examples.  (Deadpool being one of the foremost, more on that in a few.) Literature doesn’t escape it either.  I recently finished the Hunger Games series.  I was severely disappointed by how Katniss changed over the three books.  She went from being a total badass to basically reinstating the very regime she’d fought to take down.  How is that character progression?  Is it meant to be an ironic statement by the author?

Then there is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  I loved the first book.  Anita was a total kick ass woman who knew who she was and who she didn’t want to be.  I was appalled and disgusted by the end of the series.   Anita was no longer kick ass and amazing, she was a whore.  She had gone from untouchable to just another bimbo sleeping with vampires.  Is it no wonder I rarely read books with a female protagonist?

So what happened?  Fans.  Fans happened.  Fans are awesome.  I wish I had fans.  But just like the electric kind they can be refreshing or they can blow shit all over the place.  Letting your character get caught by fans reduces them to a bloody splatter on the wall, unrecognizable as the person you brought into existence.  I’m a fan myself.  I’m a huge fan of certain series and characters as you’ve probably noticed.  I’m also a writer.  (Another fact that I hope hasn’t escaped your notice.)  As a writer watching another writer as they let fans dictate how a character evolves puzzles me.

I’m all for fan input, commentary, discussion and whathaveyou, but when it starts to affect how I view my own character it’s time to step back.  I know my characters more intimately than I probably know myself.  Does that mean I need to let you, my dear, dear reader know all those facts?  No.  Does that mean I don’t listen when people remark on certain attributes of my characters?  No.  Does that mean I write to please my readers?  No.  I write to please myself.  If you like it awesome, great, fantastic we’ve got something in common.  If not, no big.

So why do some writers get caught up in trying to please fans?  Maybe they are afraid of what people will say if they don’t.  Maybe they think that appealing to the lowest common denominator will gain them more sales.  Which, while sometimes true, I think betrays the core reason for writing.  Writers write to entertain, to educate and illuminate.  Few single works do all three.  Some can barely manage one.

It is my firm belief that writers have a duty to their story and their characters first, readers second.  If the story and characters are sound, well crafted and compelling the readers will come.  Being consistent when writing a character is paramount.  And that point brings me to Deadpool.

Sure there are other comic book characters who have been rewritten by various writers.  Each writer for a run has their own take on the character and the universe.  A lot like fanfiction really.  Look at Batman or Spider-Man.  Though they essentially stay the same type of character, their core personalities don’t change.  Deadpool aka Wade Wilson has no such luck.  In his first appearance nothing is known about him, his actions and his verbage speak for themselves.  We didn’t need to know his background at that point.  We got it.  He was a killer who enjoyed his job very much and also loved to talk.  He was quite menacing and very obviously a bad guy.

Deadpool’s first appearance in New Mutants #98 published Feb 1991.

After his first appearance he cropped up a few months later in X-Force #1 but only as a character profile.  Slowly but surely he built a fandom and starting getting more appearances.   Finally in 1993 he got to be a headliner in his own one-shot series Deadpool: The Circle Chase.   That series ended and he was back to making short appearances until 1997 when he got his own title.  This started off the Joe Kelly era of Deadpool which is considered by most fans to be the definitive version of the character.  Then we come down to 2008 and a new writer by the name of Daniel Way.  He’d worked on Wolverine: Origins and Ghost Rider, he’s legit.  So why has his take on Deadpool has seen the most virulent derision from the loyal fans who have followed Deadpool from the early 90’s?

Deadpool began as a wise cracking mercenary who shot first and never thought to ask questions and acted as if the fourth wall was merely a suggestion.  By the end of the Secret Invasion arc things are very clearly leaning in a different direction.   Then came Dark Reign and Monkey Business.  The wise cracking is still there but the wise is slipping.  Instead of real humor there are inane refrences to (then) current entertainment news/gossip.  And Deadpool has lost a whole bucket full of IQ points.  He seems to have traded in his quirky talent for being painfully obvious yet obscure for being painfully dimwitted and trite.  He’s still mouthy, but instead of being funny it comes across more as though a fourteen year old sat in his room dreaming up one liners and who then creates situations in which to use them.

The progression of Wade as a character has stalled.  There is no internal conflict that was present in the earlier series and all the external conflict feels contrived.  There is a fixation on being  a ‘hero,’ but no real motive for this fixation other than wanting to be liked and this isn’t even explored or exploited as well as it could be.  He tries to join the X-Men, of course that fails miserably, he’s not a ‘true’ mutant.  So he tries to follow Spider-Man around to learn how to be a hero.  He’s been a hero, multiple times in earlier incarnations, albeit never acknowledged by the Mavel Universe as one.  Current issues are episodic and have more of a sitcom feel to them with little or no character development.

Sure some issues are funny, most are juvenile and not suited to the more mature audience that Deadpool has garnered over the years.  While I am not a Way-nah-sayer, I do find his run to have been more puerile and much less fun than anticipated.

My main issue with him as the writer of Deadpool is that while he did introduce some interesting elements they were not used to their full advantage.  He chose flash over bang.  It looks like something happened but when the smoke clears, its just that.  Smoke.  Nothing really happened.

So what can we take from this example?  When writing a character, any character you have to fully understand where they come from and their motivations.  Once the action really gets going it can be easy to lose those motivations.  That’s why it helps to step back every now and then and look objectively at what you’ve written.  Is it really working?  Is your character staying true to themselves or are you dictating things to make the story work?  Author intrusion is going to be noticed by the reader and even those fans who have been begging for something to happen will know that you faked it.  Don’t be afraid to write your character as they truly are and definitely don’t listen to fans who blow shit.

Yes, my boy.  You are good.

This Pool is a Little Crowded Part 2

Deadpool (by ReillyBrown on DeviantArt) never seems to take bodily injury or even death seriously.

So last time I was talking about why Deadpool is NOT a hero.  No where does he fit the description of a typical action hero.  So does this mean he’s an anti-hero.  Lets look at that definition.


an·ti·he·ro [an-tee-heer-oh] noun, plural an·ti·he·roes.

a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure,as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

Encyclopedia Britannica  Encyclopedia


a protagonist of a drama or narrative who is notably lacking in heroic qualities. This type of character has appeared in literature since the time of the Greek dramatists and can be found in the literary works of all nations. Examples include the title charactersof Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (Part I, 1605; Part II, 1615) and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749). Some examples of the modern, postwar antihero, as defined by the Angry Young Men,include Joe Lampton, in John Braine’s Room at the Top (1957),and Arthur Seaton, in Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958).

From the beginning of his series, its been established that Deadpool’s first priority in anything is himself.  He joined the military, not out of a sense of duty or patriotism, but simply for the money.  He later volunteers for the Weapon X program simply to try and save himself from cancer.  (As he notes himself in one of the later issues of Cable & Deadpool all origin continuity depends on which writer you prefer, this is the version I think makes the most sense.)  Like a lot of us, he’s made bad decisions compounded by worse decisions.  He has a hard time figuring out what the ‘right’ thing is and then doing it.  Sometimes, his reactions to events are simply that, reactionary and while on the surface seem heroic, it was never his intention to be heroic.  Then other times he’s desperately trying to be what he thinks of as heroic, which rarely works out well for anyone involved.

Cable tries repeatedly to help him rise above his self-inflicted mediocrity.  It has rather mixed and questionable results. After a very public and very messy break up with Cable, Deadpool kidnaps Taskmaster who is a renowned mercenary in order to prove that he’s still a kick ass merc.  After their fight and the failure of Deadpool’s plan this is what Taskmaster says to him:

Excerpted from Deadpool & Cable #36 originally published Jan 17, 2007.

Deadpool can’t win for losing.

Ouch, buuuurn.  But therein lines the crux of the problem.  Deadpool has no idea what he’s doing.  He’s highly trained and extremely dangerous but completely unfocused.  He basically just does whatever strikes his fancy.  So . . . that leads us to the next topic.  Is he a villain?

Definition of VILLAIN

2: an uncouth person : boor
3: a deliberate scoundrel or criminal
4: a character in a story or play who opposes the hero
5: one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty <automation as the villain in job … displacement — M. H. Goldberg>

Examples of VILLAIN

  1. He plays the villain in most of his movies.
  2. She describes her first husband as a villain who treated her terribly.
  3. Don’t try to make me the villain. It’s your own fault that you’re having these problems.

Origin of VILLAIN

Middle English vilain, vilein, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin villanus, from Latin villa

First Known Use: 14th century

Related to VILLAIN

While most everyone who knows Deadpool say’s he’s an idiot most understand that he’s not a complete reprobate.  He doesn’t like killing innocents or causing undo mischief without reason(reason being money).  At one point he lost his hired gun job with King Pin because he chose to save innocent bystanders rather than taking the opportunity to kill Bullseye.  So does that mean he’s an anti-villain?
TVtropes.org has this to say about anti-villains.  “The Anti-Villain is a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and virtues. Their desired ends are good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are evil, but they are far more ethical or moral than most villains and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be downright heroic on occasion. They reach a kind of critical mass that makes them more good than normal villains but not quite heroes, blurring the line between hero and villain the same way an Anti-Hero does.

Anti-Villain is an attempt to humanize, to lighten up, a villain as opposed to Anti-Hero, which has a tendency to darken the hero. Side by side, it can become hard to tell them apart. The only reason some would even be considered evil at all is because they’re the Designated Villain. Despite this humanizing characterization, they are rarely less dangerous; heroes won’t know what to expect when their enemy offers cookies and then attacks their reputation, without giving them an excuse to rationalize killing them.

They are probably well aware that what they’re doing is “evil”, unlike the blinded Knight Templar, but strive to maintain a facade of good PR. They’ll see it as a viable means to a (possibly) good end.” (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiVillain)

So what do you think? Which camp does Deadpool fall into, if any?  Are there any other notable anti villains you can think of?

This Pool is a Little Crowded

So, by now most you understand my fandoms, n’est pas?  Well, along with revisiting my Tron love, I happened to find a box of my old comics.  (I’d boarded and bagged all of them prior to storage of course, I’m a true fangirl after all.)  I still miss my Spawn comics.  Cannot forget that #6 Todd McFarlane cover.  Relatives should never be allowed to go through your things when you move.  Ever.  Sigh.

But I did find my full series run of Dark Horse’s Boba Fett comics that came out before those dreaded prequels.  You know, back when Fett was bad ass and sounded it.

Gorgeous, isn’t it.  Mine is in near mint condition too.  I also have the entire run the Ultimate Spider-Man series.  I had a subscription as any good fan does.  What I realized I am missing though are my Deadpool comics.  I only had a few and none of his series, mostly just random times when he’d show up in other titles.

So, I decided to start re-reading them from #1, online since my local comic book store is woefully short of the titles.  The early runs starting in 1994 (The four book outing with the main series starting up again in ’97) are remarkably different from the ‘Pool we see in comics today.  Oh, don’t get me wrong he’s always been ‘the merc with a mouth.’   The earlier runs had him struggling to become a ‘hero’ and questioning if he could ever live up to that title then there were the times he vehemently denied even wanting to be one.  Good stuff.  He’s quite the poster boy for internal conflict and conflicting motivations.  He can be incredibly violent and nearly sadistic and then turn around and do something totally unexpected and borderline heroic and make you agree with Al that somewhere under all that filth there is a good soul.  By the way, Al or Alfred is the elderly woman Deadpool kept prisoner in his house.  Needless to say their relationship is ultra complicated.

I can hear you mumbling, yes I’m getting to the point okay.  I don’t ramble like Deadpool.  Usually.  Though I do talk to myself or rather to my other selves.  That’s a whole’nother blog though.  I’m getting distracted again.  I blame this yummy rotisserie chicken and The Fray.

So, can someone like Deadpool who has been a killer/murderer for hire for years, be a hero.  Short answer.  No.  Long answer forthcoming:

First, what is a hero?

Webster’s Free Online Dic says:

Definition of HERO

a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descentendowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one who shows great courage
a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
plural usually he·ros : submarine 2
4: an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
Examples of HERO
  1. He returned from the war a national hero.
  2. the hero of a rescue
  3. She was a hero for standing up to the government.
  4. His father has always been his hero.
  5. He has always been a hero to his son.
  6. A motto of his hero, Thomas Edison, is inscribed on a favorite sweatshirt : “To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” —Britt Robson, Mother Jones, May/June 2008
  7. [+]more
Origin of HERO
Latin heros, from Greek hērōs
First Known Use: 14th century
Related to HERO
Synonyms: godidolicon (also ikon)


Other Mythology and Folklore Terms
Rhymes with HERO

Feel enlightened yet.  Yeah, me neither.  By definition #4 anyone can be a hero to someone.  So what makes someone a hero.  Selflessness?  Compassion?  Willingness to act when other’s won’t?  Standing up for what is right?  Sure those are all good things.  Maybe even heroic things.  But where is motivation?  If the motivation is wrong is the action still heroic?  What makes an action heroic?  It’s like the age old question.  Are you brave or stupid?

I’ve always been a bit against the classical archetype of the hero.  I like to see people get beaten down by life and struggle to find a way to rise above it.  I guess that’s why I like our dear old Deadpool so much.  He’s had the snot kicked out of him more times than most Marvel heroes and villains.  Yet, he’s only ever once really gotten to the point he wanted to end it all.  Not that he can all that easily.  Healing factor and all.  But still, you gotta like a guy who loses limbs, gets decapitated and suffers all kind of bodily harm yet never shut’s the hell up.  Well only when he gets ‘really serious’ then its game over. A quiet Deadpool is an oxymoron.

DP is also unique in a few other ways.  He’s not afraid to address his reader directly. Yup, he is notorious for breaking the fourth wall and spouting his own observations about what’s happening in the comic.  In fact, he’s so excited about the upcoming Deadpool video game that he wrote the press release himself.  It’s quite epic and I use it in my class about how to write press releases.  Yup, it’s that good.  Here is the link.  Link.

Another unique thing about our red spandex clad anti-hero, he’s crazy.  Certifiable.  As in hears voices and has full blown hallucinations.  Quite like myself, but that’s my other blog.  I have to admit I find it quite endearing.  He’s so cute when he’s talking to his selves.

The 'Pool is Full

Is it dissociate identity disorder or schizophrenia? My vote is on the later.

When you’ve been through all the stuff DP has then you’d get your sanity link severed too.  It’s really too bad that this character doesn’t get the attention he deserves.  In fact just yesterday/today the artists who’ve worked on DP over the years were called D-listers as in Marvel wouldn’t put A-list talent on a crappy title like Deadpool.  And this by DP’s creator to add insult to injury.

Helloooo . . . waitagoshdarnminute.  Crappy?  Deadpool?  As DP might exclaim: “Exsqueeze me?”   Oh wait, here’s the explanation and honestly, can’t argue with the man on this point.  Linkage.  Rob is right Deadpool is amazing even in spite of, or maybe  because of the fact that he never gets A-list talent.  A-listers have images to uphold.  They can’t be seen slogging through DP’s filthy mind.  D-listers on the other hand have no such inhibitions.  Anything goes as long as they get to work.  And I think that’s one of the reasons Deadpool works.  He’s crazy, violent, chaotic and not afraid to call the reader out on shit.  And that’s why I love him.


End of line.  (Crap wrong fandom.)  (Who cares just post it already.)