The implication of a five-star rating is a groundbreaking work, or something that is of the undeniable highest quality. I've read some mighty fine comics over the past couple years, some better than this issue in terms of quality and importance, and I have never given any of those books a score of five out of five.
An ongoing hitting #50 (52 counting the Point One issues) isn't normally worthy of much celebration, and Deadpool #50 doesn't make a huge deal out of it either. However, it should be recognized as one of a few successful ongoings launched recently for Marvel. Similarly rare is that the whole thing has been by piloted by a single author, Daniel Way He's enjoyed a pretty good run up until now; his stories are seldom phenomenal but always readable. Way brands "Dead" his ultimate Deadpool story, a tale with a simple premise: what if Deadpool could get what he truly wanted? Death. With a capital D.
In Way's tenure he's paced the mercenary through an era of unrivaled popularity and exposure. His consistency in portraying the character's voice is notably steady. Almost like an improv comic he approaches Deadpool with comedy in the immediate and a general idea of where to deliver the punch line. It shows in Wade's meandering desires, from being to a big time hero, to a space assassin to currently wanting to end it all. The series lacks good running gags, and for some reason Wade pisssed off all of the secondary characters. I really like this run on Deadpool, I really do, but the feeling that some other writer would have developed the character, yes even Deadpool, a little more over 50 friggin' issues shouldn't be too outrageous.
For the first time in a long while it seems like something is going to happen. That's why Deadpool #50 deserves the same ranking as Watchmen and Batman: Year One. Are they equal literary successes? No. But this writer enjoyed the hell out of them in a very similar way.
The 28-page story offers a sufficient jumping-on point for new or returning readers as the only important plot points need knowing are the main character's death wish and that fact that a mystery antagonist has developed a serum that takes away his healing factor. Deadpool, inspired like crazy now that he knows it's possible, begins a Machiavellian scheme involving X-Force, Hydra Bob, Daken, Kingpin, the Hand and others to end his life. Way consistently utilizes a non-linear narrative, a staple of his writing, in Deadpool to highlight a forgotten aspect of the protagonist's skill set: his unorthodox genius. Some of the elements of this issue are extremely refreshing. For one, Way finally touches base on Deadpool's X-Force membership and some his adventures in other series over the last few years. The main-title Deadpool's long ignorance of his own overexposure feels like injustice.
The most consistent contributor to the entire run, Carlo Barberi absolutely kills it this issue. Deadpool can range so radically in depiction, but I consider Barberi to be spot-on. His version of the hero is strong and virile, but twists and contorts in animated positions just as easily. This issue is exposition and dialogue heavy, but the lack of action doesn't equal a lack of energy. Barberi has to enter more serious zones in this issue, and is probably drawing characters he never has before, but he nails it at every turn.
With the numerous guest-stars, Deadpool is in his element. Working amongst strong personalities he is able to put our favorite characters in situations that further reveal the grain of their well sanded groves. Way tackling the Uncanny X-Force, and getting to play around with old toys like Logan and Daken is delightful and a timely reminder of why he has been at the driver's seat of the title so long. He's a near master at violent psychopaths, and this bulky issue is stuffed with them.
I could be wrong, but this feels like the start of a rejuvenating storyline for the most meteoric character of the recent era.
TL;DR: Deadpool is sweet again, and there's lots of swearing!
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.