Aside from “Who would win in a fight?”, no debate gets comic fans more heated than the question of whether or not superheroes should marry. In this mini-feature, former Bride Rebecca Henely-Weiss and Bride-to-Be Kayleigh Hearn take a trip down memory lane to the most significant times comic companies took the plunge and got their characters hitched! Did we like the couple? Did we like the dress? And more importantly . . . why did (or didn’t) the marriage last? Today we look at the wedding of Deadpool and his Mystery Bride!
The Couple: Wade Wilson and . . . ah, forget it. We can’t keep this up. It’s Shiklah, Queen of the Underworld.
The Issue: Deadpool #27
Published: April 9, 2014
Today: After Shiklah declared war on Manhattan, Deadpool raised her original fiance—Dracula—back from the dead to help stop her, but they ended up reuniting in the process, leaving Wade single.
Rebecca: Deadpool may be one of Marvel’s few pansexual heroes, but the Merc with a Mouth is better known as a fighter than a lover. Despite that, Marvel gave Deadpool his own big wedding issue a couple of years ago, complete with a Guinness World Record-breaking 236 characters on the cover. It’s . . . not bad. I feel like this storyline probably turned out to be a three-year version of one of those “superhero marries a monster” stories that we read last month, but the comic was amusing, if a bit forgettable.
Kayleigh: Looking at the cover, I expected Deadpool’s wedding to be 100% gimmick, since a parody of wedding events feels like it would mesh perfectly with Deadpool’s brand of “lol random” humor. So it was a surprise that the wedding was part of a long-running storyline, with their entire relationship, from wedding to honeymoon to separation, written by Shiklah’s co-creator Gerry Duggan. That makes their relationship pretty unique among other comic couples we’ve covered, who had their marriages wrecking ball’ed (“Heh. Balled.” Hey, get out of my parentheses, Deadpool!) by later creative teams.
Rebecca: While Deadpool is the star of one of my all-time favorite single-issue comics (Deadpool #11 from his 1997 series, where he invades a Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man comic), I’ve never been a huge fan of Wade Wilson. I like breaking-the-fourth-wall characters more in theory than in practice—allow me to be one of the heretics who thinks John Byrne’s famous Sensational She-Hulk run doesn’t hold up at all—and Deadpool’s schtick can run dry pretty quickly. Shiklah I hadn’t heard of before I read this comic—it seems like most of the lead-up to the marriage took place in a maxi-series titled Deadpool: The Gauntlet. I basically enjoyed her here, though. “Hot woman who is also a hideous monster who doesn’t understand human norms” isn’t the most original joke, but writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan still made me laugh when she becomes convinced grab-ass is as common as a handshake.
Kayleigh: Deadpool is . . . fine. Objectively, I know there are good Deadpool stories, and some have wrung genuine pathos out of Wade as a father, cancer survivor, and someone who’s been on both ends of a katana, but that “lol kersplodey chimichangas BEA ARTHUR fourth wall whut” humor just bounces right off my skull. He’s like the Doritos Blaze of comic book characters.
Rebecca: Most wedding comics we’ve read have been a culmination of an ongoing storyline, but given that the bride was ostensibly kept a secret from the readers, this story feels more like an unsure beginning. Deadpool announces his marriage to his buddies—S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Emily Preston and Scott Adsit—in the midst of a gunfight. Luckily, Shiklah’s waiting outside in a limo—horns, fiery wrath, and all—to help decimate the stragglers. After some introductions and a quick trip to the underworld, the rest of the comic involves Wade struggling to gather together the bare scraps of goodwill he’s earned from other superheroes to get a ceremony together. Nightcrawler offers to be the minister (after three other people turn Deadpool down), Thor prevents rain from spoiling the Central Park ceremony, and Blind Al unfortunately ends up at a gang member’s funeral instead of the wedding—but that leads to probably one of the best gags of the book when she asks if the corpse is hot. In the end, though, the bride dips the groom, the reception sports a taco chafing dish, and Deadpool has a rare moment of happiness in his life. Although considering the track record of superhero weddings, to me that final line came off more as an ominous warning than a promise. Maybe I’m just prejudiced against devil women.
Kayleigh: I wish I had more to say about this comic other than “It’s fine.” It’s a perfectly well-drawn comic that balances humor with genuine emotion, though it’s hard for me to really buy Wade and Shiklah’s romance. And maybe I’m not supposed to? I didn’t laugh reading this comic, which isn’t to say it’s unfunny, but I’m Teflon to the Deadpool #brand and just . . . couldn’t really care if Wade got one good day or not.
Rebecca: The comic’s big selling points were the mystery bride and the huge amount of characters on the cover, which includes everyone from the Fantastic Four and Daredevil to Fin Fang Foom to Devil Dinosaur, plus the writers and artists of the comic. The actual ceremony isn’t as populated—I counted about 14 people including the bride, groom and the ghost of Ben Franklin (he was apparently a recurring character in the run), but to be honest I think the cameos were some of my favorite parts. I dug seeing Northstar and Kyle dance intimately together, Blade showing up to be the grumpus who can’t punch out of work, and the casual throwaway reference to Daimon Hellstorm (Deadpool: “Who invited the Son of Satan?” Shiklah: “I did!”). I got the impression that most of the guests were probably more there for the food than to wish Deadpool well, but then that works for Wade’s position in the Marvel Universe and who’s to say a lot of people weren’t showing up to Reed and Sue’s wedding for the bragging rights?
Kayleigh: The cover is an interesting glimpse into the Marvel Universe of 2014 and who were considered big and/or promising characters at the time—Hi, Ms. Thing! Hi, Agents of Atlas! Kamala Khan was only three months old when this comic came out, the wee babe. God, 2014 was so long ago. *stares silently out the window for four hours*
Rebecca: This is the only time other than Storm’s African art-inspired cream dress that the bride has worn something other than a traditional white gown, her superhero costume or a variation of the same. I dig the idea of a demon woman not wearing white for her wedding day, but I’m not that into the generic red “let’s go clubbing” dress and gladiator heels that artist Mike Hawthorne created for her—you’re a queen! Go big or go back to hell! However as much as I liked the red-and-black suits and bridesmaids’ dresses on the cover (Steve wears an American flag tie! Domino is still wearing holsters!), Hawthorne does give some variety to the male and female wedding guests’ clothes, and even draws some adult women in more conservative dresses, which I appreciated. Still, I have to give the best dressed award to . . . well, Storm again. I actually dug her sparkly silver dress with her mohawk the most.
Kayleigh: Oh yeah, there’s no way Shiklah wears white. I liked the wine-dark red color of her dress and the long skirt connected to her bracelets, but it did feel too casual. Will any comic bride ever wear the four-foot-tall, eight-pronged Kirby headdress of my dreams? This was the first time I really appreciated the groom wearing a simple black suit, because a much lazier creative team would have stuck Deadpool in a tuxedo t-shirt or rainbow clown wig or something. Dare I say it? Deadpool kept it classy.
Rebecca: We also get a snippet of the couple’s wedding song. It’s, um . . . Paul McCartney’s/Wings’ “Live and Let Die.” I guess it works given Wade’s violent past and his sick sense of humor, although I never expected Wade or Shiklah to be a fan of Macca’s solo work.
Kayleigh: Speaking of McCartney, what was up with that Abbey Road album cover homage when Deadpool and his groomsmen are crossing the street? Or the couple’s first kiss being a gender reversal of the famous V-J Day in Times Square photo? Mike Hawthorne’s art is pretty on-point and I liked it a lot, but some of the references were distracting.
Rebecca: Finally, this issue also featured several short stories of Deadpool almost or very briefly tying the knot with various women, all of which were written by a previous Deadpool series author. I loved the idea of this and there were some impressive names in the credit list—Joe Kelly, Gail Simone, Fabian Niceza, Christopher Priest, etc. Still, none of these really stood out to me. Most of them followed the “drunken night in Vegas or somewhere similar” format and were too short to leave a solid impression. And I’m very surprised Simone wrote the story where Wade tries to marry a so-inebriated-by-a-mysterious-flower-she-can’t-stand Dr. Betty Swanson with the help of a witch doctor because yikes. Even “The Niagara Bride,” which tries to do something different and tell a story of a terminally ill woman who marries Deadpool so he can kidnap her and help orchestrate her suicide, didn’t really work for me because it was told in a strange format of overlapping monologues where it was hard to follow what was going on.
Kayleigh: To be honest, I thought these stories were awful. They show that even for experienced comics professionals, writing a five-page story is hard, with most of them feeling too rushed, too ambitious, or too vague. It doesn’t help that Deadpool’s “brides” are depicted as bitches or sexy props—Gail Simone’s story is especially damning (Headpool makes a fucking rape joke!), and it’s not even the only story where Deadpool “accidentally” tries to marry a woman who’s incapacitated! (The vignettes where Deadpool’s seduced by lying shapeshifters aren’t great either.) And considering how Deadpool’s pansexuality has been acknowledged by the Powers That Be, it’s a bit of a shame to look back at all these weddings and see how heterosexual they are.
Rebecca: Deadpool #27 is a decent comic, but I think if this was going to be an event wedding they should have gone bigger with the main story. There’s a lot Posehn, Duggan, and Hawthorne could have done to parody the tropes of superhero weddings in general with Deadpool—at least have him self-awarely talk about the cameos or the potential for a supervillain battle—but as it is they go for something more sincere and thus somewhat forgettable. I can’t imagine the Powers that Be are ever going to want to tie down Deadpool anytime soon, but if they ever do want to have him walk down the aisle with Siryn or Cable, I hope it’s a lot more fun the second time around.
Kayleigh: Deadpool’s wedding doesn’t go for high camp but it doesn’t feel like a love story either, with Shiklah’s characterization limited to “hot demon lady” and lackluster back-up stories about Wade’s previous “marriages” blunting its impact. It feels less like an event than one part of a larger story—not a bad thing, but with this issue-specific column there’s often a chance we’re missing a larger context. For a book named after such an outrageous character, Deadpool #27 is rather average and forgettable, so much so that I’m having trouble figuring out how to end this. Um . . .