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Deadpool #68

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: UDON with Arnold Tsang, Andrew Hou, Eric Vedder, Onar Dogan & TheRealT!

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Deadpool writhing on the floor in pain, and surrounded by a group of gun-welding goons. In a bid to end the pain we see him force one of these men to shoot him in the head. The book then jumps back eight hours where we find Deadpool having a meeting with fellow mercenary, the Taskmaster. We then see the Taskmaster has shown up to tell Wade about an encounter that he had with the Black Swan, where he witnessed the Black Swan infected a man with the same virus that Deadpool is currently suffering from, and this earlier victim is now an a near vegetable in a hospital. As Taskmaster offers his help if Deadpool is planning on taking on the Black Swan, we see Deadpool turns down this offer, saying that this battle is one he needs to fight alone. We then follow Wade on another job, as he's hired by the father of a mutant child, to kill a business rival who is planning on releasing the information, and causing the man's ruination. The book then finds its way back at the start, where we see the bullet only grazed Deadpool's head, and after he finishes the job Deadpool learns some disturbing news.

Comments:
This issue is largely devoted to developing the Black Swan as one bad customer, who is very likely to become the most dangerous enemy that Deadpool has ever faced, though given Deadpool's a regular lame villain magnet, I'm not sure how much weight this assessment carries. Now this issue does a pretty nice job using its flashback to create a sense of very real danger, as the Taskmaster offers up a story that makes it clear it doesn't pay to get on this guy's bad side. Oh sure the Taskmaster fan in me was a bit annoyed by the almost casual defeat that the Taskmaster suffers at the hands of the Black Swan, but then I reassured myself that it's not like he was beaten in hand-to-hand combat, so I'll chalk it up as simply the Taskmaster being unaware of his opponent's abilities. In any event, the book does a pretty credible job developing the Black Swan as this arc's big threat, and I'm looking forward to the eventual showdown that Deadpool is going to have with the man. Plus, since this book is slated to undergo a change of direction with its new title, one has to be a bit concerned about Deadpool walking away from this encounter.

I'm a big Taskmaster fan, so this book was already had me wanting to enjoy it, and thanks to a fair amount of genuinely funny material, and a nice, ominous flashback that has Taskmaster recounting his own run-in with the Black Swan, this issue left me quite happy. Now the slugfest hungry fanboy in me wanted to see a rematch between Deadpool & Taskmaster, which we sadly don't get. I was also a bit disappointed when Deadpool turned down the Taskmaster's offer to help, as this would've been a fun pairing, and it's always a shame to see the Taskmaster cast back into comic limbo, especially when he being handled by a writer who seems to understand the character's inherent coolness factor. However, this issue does offer up a pretty solid exchange between Taskmaster & Deadpool, with my favorite part being Taskmaster's response when Deadpool asks if he's seeking a rematch as payback for his previous defeat. Plus the final page does offer up a surprising development that I can easily see drawing the Taskmaster back into the story, as it looks like the Black Swan has taken an action that would tick the Taskmaster off.

Udon Studios turn in their best looking issue yet, as the elements that I don't care much for (e.g. the uniform appearance of the background characters, sparse backgrounds), are starting to be overshadowed by the elements that I do like. I mean the opening pages of this issue do a wonderful job pulling the reader into the story, as the pain Deadpool is suffering from is nicely realized, as is the building tension, as Deadpool physically forces one of the bodyguards to shoot him in the head. The art also does a nice job on the books' more amusing moments like Deadpool's attempt to look cool on his little motor-scooter, and the reaction shot that Deadpool has when he sees his client's son. I also had to smile at the way that Deadpool did away with his target, as it's a perfect Deadpool moment. The little action sequence in this issue is also well handled, as the Evel Knievel style entrance he makes into his target's office is a particularly nice looking action shot. The cover to this issue is also a wonderful looking shot of Deadpool & the Taskmaster.

Final Word:
A large chunk of this issue is devoted to developing the Black Swan, and the issue does a fairly solid job of it, as by issue's end I was quite eager to see Deadpool have it out with this guy. The issue also makes pretty good use of its guest-star, the Taskmaster, as it nicely acknowledges the past encounter these two characters had, and in a fairly curious gesture, we see the Taskmaster has feelings for Deadpool's assistant Sandi, and this leads him to offer Deadpool a hand. The book also manages to develop a fairly strong opening scene that really grabs one's attention, and when the book catches up with this opening scene, we get a pretty entertaining sequence where we see Deadpool successfully pull off a hit, in spite of the crippling pain he's suffering from. We also get a nice ominous look at the future, as the future sight of the mutant child has Deadpool lying dead at the feet of the Black Swan. The book also has itself a fairly shocking cliffhanger that arrives out of the blue, and has me eagerly awaiting next issue.



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