Burdened both mentally and physically by their ongoing conflict with Itsy Bitsy (an eight-limbed, six-eyed, blue-skinned, gender-bent clone created from a combination of their DNA), Spider-Man and Deadpool seek to recoup and assess their very morality in a Westchester, New York church where a special guest star (hint: he’s on the cover) is the presiding priest.
Oh yeah, remember Patient Zero, the evil geneticist who created Itsy Bitsy as the crux for his revenge against Spidey and DP? The question we’ve been waiting to have answered since Spider-Man/Deadpool #2 finally gets one: namely, who the hell he really is…
Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 (Marvel Comics)
“Ich bin kein Mörder, aber dräng mich nicht,” roughly translated as “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me,” is probably what Spider-Man is thinking (especially if he just listened to the German version of “Hail Mary” by Tupac) at the onset of Spider-Man/Deadpool #14, which sees the Webhead sitting in a church pew confessing his anticipated sins to Hochwürden Nightcrawler.
Spidey relates to Nightcrawler the glaring moral dilemma that both he and Deadpool must face, the seeds of which were sown in Spider-Man/Deadpool #13; the dark side of “With great power comes great responsibility” that they don’t tell you about in school; namely, putting a villain down permanently to save lives.
Even though in his 50+ years of publication, Spider-Man has killed before, it’s a line that, much like Batman, he usually goes to all costs to avoid. Which is why it’s so surprising that when it comes to Itsy Bitsy, Spidey is in strong favor of the death penalty while it’s Deadpool who is the merciful and subsequently, the condemner of Spidey’s actions:
“Stopping Itsy — permanently — will save lives!” Spider-Man says as he and Deadpool dispute the matter through a three-way sword duel with Nightcrawler.
“Finding the right way is what you do,” says Deadpool.
“We are out of options and out of time! Why are you fighting me on this?!”
“Because watching you crap all over the core beliefs that make you my personal hero makes me sick?”
Unfortunately, in its continuation of the previous issue’s motif, Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 feels like a bit of rehash; last issue too explored the characters’ shuffling character alignments; last issue too featured the tandem unable to strategize a way to definitively defeat Itsy Bitsy; last issue too featured Deadpool’s struggle to believe Spider-Man might abandon his strict adherence to “good guy” discipline. Notwithstanding, writer Joe Kelly’s usual acuity with characterization and dialogue make Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 a necessary stepping stone. Without it, Spider-Man’s transition to callousness would have appeared too contrived and Deadpool’s attempts to dissuade too inadequate. But thanks to Kelly, we’re led to believe one of the most crucial walls of the Wallcrawler’s moral purity have come crumbling and Deadpool of all people is the sane, rational one that must be counted on to save the day.
Or is he? The revelation of Agent Zero’s true identity, someone who fans of Joe Kelly’s famed first run on Deadpool Vol. 1 will surely remember (and perhaps feel disappointed by for being reintroduced in such fashion), threatens to throw a monkey wrench into the works: “Somehow you’ve fooled the universe into forgetting what a living poo you are,” Zero says in an exchange with Deadpool. “You want to know why I created Itsy Bitsy? Because you’re a monster and it’s high time everyone remembered that! Especially you.”
Deadpool seems fazed. “… People can change.”
“We’re gonna find out. Everyone is gonna find out just how much a person can change.” Zero then drops a huge hint that his “partner with a mutual taste for darkness” harbors such a hatred for Spider-Man that when Nightcrawler later explains to Deadpool that the duo’s next battle could be “for [Spider-Man’s] very soul,” Deadpool believes him.
Artist Ed McGuinness and colorist Jason Keith continue to go off on art. McGuinness’ facial expressions, perspectives, anatomical acumen and savvy for kinetic energy are top notch and his inventive panel structure ensures that each and every page (and nearly every panel) intrigues. The most impressive sequence is the aforementioned sword fight with Nightcrawler, who BAMFs across the page in brilliant flashes of dark purple and takes on both Spidey and DP at the same time in a splash page where his body contorts and he sword slashes with both hands and even his tail. As the fight continues across ceilings and walls, McGuinness’ panel structure takes on the intricate, laddered appearance of an actual spider-web, tracking the teleporting Nightcrawler and Spider-Man in their relentless pursuit of one another. It’s easily one of the most visually impressive fight scenes of the year and a reminder that the top tier art holds its own with Kelly’s first rate narrative.
Is It Good?
Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 further wrests the characters from their conventional roles and threatens to spin them out of control while retaining all the usual humor, intrigue and fun we’ve come to expect from the series. Bottom line: when Kelly and McGuinness are together on this series, it’s a must read.