Milestone issues are all the rage in comics right now, even when looming relaunches and new number ones lurk around the corner. This particular milestone, Despicable Deadpool #300, marks the end of a golden era of Deadpool comics- the last ongoing Deadpool title from the character’s most prolific creators Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne. In their final issue Duggan and Hawthorne say farewell to the Merc with a Mouth in one of their absolute funniest issues that sets up a flawless transition into the upcoming relaunch- I mean, “fresh start.”
Ever since Secret Empire ended and Deadpool discovered he’d been woefully misled by an evil Captain America, life has sucked- a lot- for Wade Wilson. Long story short, Wade’s been unable to reconcile with his actions, looking for any way to end his pathetic existence, going so far as to spurn just about every major player in the Marvel Universe to goad them into killing him.
#300 is the climax to Deadpool’s intricate suicide plan, as the Avengers (both Uncanny and, uh, Canny), the Champions, and plenty of other mainstay heroes do their best to apprehend the suicidal former Avenger. The ensuing battles are absolutely hysterical as Deadpool accidentally unleashes a potent alien biochemical weapon on his would be assailants- one that causes them to violently puke whenever they’re within proximity of Deadpool.
Sure, Deadpool could’ve gone to toe with all these heroes, but it would’ve so much more mundane than having everybody puke themselves into a stupor. The gag plays out like a joke from Family Guy– it starts out funny, loses its charm after a bit, becomes annoying, then is suddenly hilarious again. All the while Deadpool spews out line after line of hilarity rife with Star Wars references, shots at grouchy comic readers, and roasts of the ever changing identities of famous heroes. I was straight-up cackling with laughter from all the one-liners Deadpool was dropping.
Mike Hawthorne’s pencils do nothing but intensify the hilarity of every panel, as usually rock solid heroes struggle to hold themselves together- especially once Tony Stark finally succumbs to Deadpool’s new… power. Hawthorne also draws what has to be the funniest Giant-Man splash page of all-time as this fight ends. All these “fights” are so stupid but in the most intentional, funny way.
Deadpool never gets what he wants, so of course he survives the fight, leading him to the passenger seat of Gerry Duggan’s car. That’s right, Duggan pulled a Chris Claremont by writing himself into his own story- and it’s a wonderful surprise. Duggan has written more Deadpool than any other writer, so he’s earned the four pages and great jokes he writes for himself.
This sequence is more than just a funny cameo, it’s a message to the readers. In the comic, Duggan apologizes to Deadpool for all the tragedy he’s put him through, just before Deadpool steals his car and shoots him in the head in classic Deadpool fashion. The apology feels subtlety directed at misguided readers unhappy with Duggan’s Deadpool, while Deadpool’s response sends a clear message of “F--k you, I know Deadpool.”
Around two-thirds of the way through, the story reels back on the humor as the conclusion rapidly approaches, but this is also where the issue starts to stumble. With how emotionally broken Deadpool has been portrayed in recent issues, I expected a much more emotionally impactful finale. Instead, the finale feels rushed over in favor of setting up the relaunch coming in June.
There’s no final encounter between Deadpool and Captain America where the two work through the trauma of Secret Empire, no touching reunion between Preston and Deadpool. In these pages it feels less like a grand conclusion and more like a quick purge to get readers up to speed when Skottie Young takes over next month.
Sure, the literal stroll down memory is bittersweet, reminding readers of the highs and lows of Deadpool’s tragedy-riddled last few years, but there’s just no emotional punch to it. Instead, it’s a cliched mind-wipe finale with such a swift ending that it left me wanting a true finale more than I wanted to read the new series next month. Of course I will be the first to read Deadpool #1 next month, I just can’t help but feel this wasn’t the original ending Duggan had in mind.
Luckily for readers, the first two-thirds of this issue are so hilarious it will be very easy to forgive the lackluster final act. This is the end of an era for a creative team that has affected Deadpool more than anyone, save for creators Rob Liefeld and Fabian Niecza (Editor: And arguably Joe Kelly). Despicable Deadpool #300 is a laugh-out-loud farewell to the merc with a mouth from arguably the best creative team to ever grace the title, and even though the final pages leave more to be desired, it’s still a definitive end that seamlessly sets up Deadpool #1 in June.