Deadpool and Spider-Man may not have the biggest brains in the Marvel Universe, but they've definitely got the smartest mouths. This November, in “Amazing Spider-Man” #611, the two verbal gunslingers will face off in a duel to see who truly is the world’s biggest smart-ass. Penning this verbal and physical showdown is Joe Kelly, a writer who's proven he knows Spider-Man and whose three-year run on “Deadpool” in the late '90s is thought by many to be the definitive take on the character. CBR News spoke with Kelly about the story.
Coming back to Deadpool was both an unusual and fun experience for Kelly. “I love Deadpool. He's the corner stone of my career. In a lot of ways I got my writing chops from working on the character. He's fun as hell to write,” the writer told CBR News. “As a general rule I don't go back to things. Once I finish a book I move on and don't even tend to read it; not for any reason other than I become focused and want to move forward. I've always felt, though, that Deadpool was one of the characters I missed working on. The comedy is there and for lack of a better term I love the pathos of the character. In my mind, he's a guy who's hardwired to be bad but desperately wants to be good and that's a great character to write. Then you add into that mix his smart mouth and indestructibility and you have a fantastic character to play with.
“So when Steve Wacker, my editor on 'Amazing Spider-Man,” and I were talking one time he asked me, 'What do you think about doing a one-off with Spidey and Deadpool?'” Kelly continued. “Spider-Man is my favorite character as a kid and Deadpool in a lot of ways is my favorite character that I've ever worked on, so I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Joe Kelly admits it’s weird to be back with Deadpool, though. “It's like somebody you were really close to and haven't seen for a long time and you want to get back into a groove. You know it's not going to be the way it was before but you are looking forward to what it is going to be now.”
In a lot of ways, Deadpool is still the same character Kelly penned all those years ago, but subsequent creators have developed new methods to help illuminate Wade Wilson's insane world, like his three dueling inner monologues and “Pool-O-Vision,” whereby readers see the world from Deadpool's unique perspective. “I think all that stuff is funny. I really like it,” Kelly said. “I've been playing a little catch up on where the character is at now and I love the idea that Deadpool breaking the fourth wall gets exploited by different writers and I like how they experiment with it. I haven't quite decided how much of that I'm using and what aspects are going to play out but I think it's all cool.”
For Kelly, another other appeal of writing an “Amazing Spider-Man” issue where Spidey and Deadpool face off was the character dynamics. “When we did 'Deadpool' #11 [in the first volume of the series] we did a 'Forrest Gump' take and had Deadpool go back into the old Spider-Man book,” Kelly recalled. “That was sort of me thinking, 'Let's get these two characters together but not really,' because we knew it would be a big deal and back then we were still living in the land of 'our book will probably be canceled any second.' So we didn't have any real push to do a big Spidey story, but I had always wanted to put those two guys together because of the idea that Deadpool is sort of a dark reflection of Spider-Man; in a lot of ways he's a road that the character could have traveled. Plus both are smart asses, so they're just two good to not put together.
“In this particular case we're doing a one-shot story so we're not going to do something huge with them, but there is talk of a bigger project with both characters. For this quick story though I wanted to see these two guys get into a fight that very quickly degenerates into a 'your mother is' joke contest.”
Joe Kelly sees Deadpool as a character that will make the “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” decidedly less friendly. “I described the dynamic the other day as if you went to a comedy show and there's this comedian who's doing an okay job and he's trying to keep things clean but there's this heckler that's just driving him crazy. That's going to become a very ugly confrontation,” Kelly stated. “That's the dynamic you get here. These guys are both funny and they both can't keep their mouths shut but for different reasons. It's like Spider-Man gets pulled down this dark path because his comedy is a little lighter, bouncier, and sure it's sarcastic, but it's not mean.
“Then you have Deadpool where it's like how mean can you be? He can slice you apart with his words. So these guys together will make for some good comedy and I'm looking forward to seeing how they drive each other nuts. The flip of that is going to be, if Spidey is so smart and Deadpool is so instinctive where does Spidey's wit take him in order to cut down Deadpool?”
The Spidey-Deadpool confrontation in “Amazing” #611 falls under the banner of “The Gauntlet,” an overarching plotline of interconnected stories that pit the Webslinger against his oldest foes. In this issue, though, the only enemy Spidey tangles with is Deadpool. “The Deadpool story is a standalone and certainly works by itself but does tie into the bigger story,” Kelly confirmed. “You'll see a subplot that starts in 'Amazing' #600 and it pops up throughout the various stories after. It plays out a little in the upcoming Black Cat story I'm doing. And in the Deadpool story the gig that Deadpool gets hired for is part of the long game.”
Much of “Amazing Spider-Man” #611 is devoted to Spidey and Deadpool's showdown, but Kelly was able to include several important supporting characters into the story as well. “I just saw a really awesome splash page with some of the hottest chicks in the Marvel Universe, so there's a few cameos there,” the writer said. “The story also brings back at least one character that's part of the extended 'Spider-Family.'”
The confrontation between Spider-Man and Deadpool is bound to be hilarious, but it will also have a certain edge to it. “To me, that's a Deadpool thing. If it's straight up comedy I think it can get a little flat, and quick,” Kelly explained. “I think the fact that this ties into 'The Gauntlet' story and Spidey's mindset at being confronted by somebody like Deadpool, who will blow stuff up for a laugh, adds the kind of gravitas it really needs to put an edge to things.”
Drawing “Amazing Spider-Man” #611 is Eric Canete, an artist Kelly has wanted to collaborate with for some time. “The first time I saw his art I wanted to work with him,” the writer remarked. “Periodically we'd cross paths or he'd do something with Joe Casey but to finally have him for a whole issue is just glorious. I love his stuff and his Deadpool is so gangly, nasty and awesome.”
“Amazing Spider-Man” #611 isn't the only Deadpool story on Kelly's plate, but the writer isn't sure yet if he wants to do something more with the Merc with a Mouth. “I am doing a short story in the big Deadpool special that Marvel has coming out and that was fun,” Kelly said. “After that, I don't know. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a bigger Spidey-Deadpool story that might happen, but doing that would be a combination of timing and schedules. At this moment the amount of bandwidth I have for mainstream projects is heavily occupied by Spider-Man, which is fantastic. Spidey has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid and the other guys working on the book have been fantastic. So if I was to do more Deadpool stories it would be something along that road.”