Wade Wilson was already a highly skilled mercenary and assassin when he underwent an experimental procedure that turned him into the indestructible anti-hero known as Deadpool. It was a traumatic experience that left him heavily scarred, both physically and mentally. It also made him one of the most dangerous men in the Marvel Universe.
This September, in the four issue miniseries "Deadpool Pulp", writers Mike Benson and Adam Glass ("Luke Cage: Noir") and artist Laurence Campbell ("Punisher MAX") show that, even given different circumstances and a different environment, Wade Wilson still becomes a disfigured, unhinged, and highly dangerous killer. CBR News spoke with Glass and Benson about the project, which re-imagines the title character as a costumed avenger in the dangerous decade of the 1950s.
CBR News: So, when readers hear the title "Deadpool Pulp," I imagine many of them are going to make connections to the Marvel Noir line. However, from what I understand, "Deadpool Pulp" is similar to books in the Noir line in terms of mood and tone, but it differs greatly in setting. Is that correct?
Adam Glass/Mike Benson: Pulp comes from the tradition of short stories, magazines and the written word. Pulp fiction gave rise to both comic books and influenced early cinema. One could say Pulp is the original: without Pulp, there would be no Noir. Noir is known for its dark themes of isolation, fatalism, cynicism and violence, whereas Pulp asks its audience to suspend their disbelief a little more to include truth serums, laser blasters, and copious sprays of bullets. So"Deadpool Pulp" is more in the tradition of an Adventure story, where Noir stories tend to be more isolated. We're painting with a bigger brush on this one.
How did "Deadpool Pulp" come about? Did Marvel come to you about reimagining the character in the morally murky world of the 1950s, or did you guys pitch the idea to them?
Glass: We got a call from our editor Axel Alonso asking us if we were interested in taking Deadpool back to the 50's. Because we did "Deadpool Suicide Kings" and "Luke Cage Noir," we seemed to be the perfect fit for this task and we said, "Yes." None of us knew what the story was yet, but over the next few weeks, we worked with Axel, knocking out a story we all really liked. Axel thinks like a writer, which makes the process even better, and we're all fanboys, so we tend to write what we'd like to read ourselves.
Let's talk a little bit about the title character. In terms of personality and background, how is this Wade Wilson similar to and different from the Marvel Universe Deadpool? Is he still heavily scarred? Why has he chosen to wear a costume?
Benson: Wade in "Deadpool Pulp" shares many of the same qualities of his current incarnation. He's an ex-soldier turned hired assassin, however, in our tale Wade is doing his dirty work for the good old American government. And it wouldn't be a character I gravitate toward unless he's certifiably insane. As for his scars, that will definitely play into it. And the costume, well, you'll have to read the book to find out, but let's just say that it plays into his psychological dilemma.
It seems that the world of "Deadpool Pulp" is fairly grounded in reality, so how big of a role does the fantastic play in this story? Does this version of Deadpool have a healing factor?
Benson: Totally grounded, and that was the fun of doing this book. We always used to say that we'd love to write the badass version of Deadpool where he's kicking ass and taking names, and we're doing it here. Even the voices in his head are more serious, a direct result of him being a prisoner of war; they are the only thing that keeps him from breaking under the torture he suffered at the hands of the enemy. He doesn't have his healing powers, but that's not to say he won't get them.
In terms of plot and theme, what is "Deadpool Pulp" about? From what I've read, it sounds like a gritty action packed take on a John Le Carre-style spy story?
Glass: Absolutely. It deals with many different themes, but most of all it asks, who do you really love? Your country? Your ideals? A woman? Yourself? At the end of the day, Deadpool is going to have to figure that all out as he is sent on a mission to kill someone he really cares about. And along the way, he finds out that everything he believed to be true is not. We all live on a belief system that allows us to navigate ourselves through life - what if you woke up tomorrow and found out that was all bullshit? That's what happens to Deadpool and he's not you or me, so his way of dealing with it is kill everyone till you get to the bottom of it - even if that means destroying yourself.
Is this a story that takes place in one main locale, or is this a globe hopping adventure?
Benson: In "Luke Cage Noir," we got to explore Harlem in the 30's, which we loved. But in "Deadpool Pulp," we decided to explore places of interest in the 50's during the Cold War. So, our story starts in D.C., but then takes us to New Orleans (which was a playground for the immoral in a time of such surface morality) and Cuba before Castro, which was a smorgasbord of the mob, politics and movie stars. Then we end back in the Big Apple with our final battle for the heart and soul of this nation and its future. With that said, we recognize that Wade is Canadian, but we have a pretty good explanation on how he ended up working for the Americans.
For the supporting cast, it sounds as though you're introducing plenty of different incarnations of characters from Deadpool comics, including Outlaw, Cable and even Stryfe. What can you tell us about these characters and the roles they play in this story? Are their motivations similar to their Marvel Universe counterparts?
Benson: I'd say they are variations on the already established relationships that exist in current Marvel continuity. Some are dialed up a little more for dramatic effect, and others dialed down. But the core of these relationships and motives are similar
The Marvel Universe Deadpool is a character who is dark and tragic but he's also a pretty funny guy. How big of a role does humor play in this series?
Glass: This Deadpool doesn't mess around, there's humor here and there, but it's more observational humor than jokes, meaning it comes out of the situation versus funny quips by Deadpool. We both come from comedy so I don't think we can ever do a book that doesn't have some humor to it. We're the walking embodiment of yuk, yuk. Which means we're a giant pain in the ass to live with.
I know you guys are both big readers and film buffs and often draw your inspiration from both of those mediums, so what books and movies inspired and influenced "Deadpool Pulp?" I see hints of the film adaptation of "Kiss Me Deadly." Is that correct?
Glass: Man you're good at this. What "Deadpool Pulp" shares with "Kiss Me Deadly" is, each represents the fears of the 50's Cold War and the paranoia of nuclear war that permeated the American culture. Where they differ, is, once again, we're painting this on a much bigger canvas. We want this to have the feel of a Bond story, think more Daniel Craig's Bond. Which by the way is a great segue to describe this Deadpool. Think of this story as the way Wade becomes the Deadpool we all know and love today. His alternative version of "Deadpool: Year One."
For this story, you're working with an artist who does action very well and also is perfect at giving scenes a morally murky, noirish feel, Laurence Campbell. From the preview art, it appears that Laurence is doing something a little different with his art, giving this series a more cinematic feel. Is that correct?
Benson: I don't know if it's all that different. The setting is, and maybe it has more of a heightened noir quality to it, but it's classic Laurence and what we think Laurence does best. To me, Laurence's books are little Michael Mann films. Dark, but slick. He's able to really create a mood that brings such rich texture to the world he draws. That's what makes Laurence so ideal for a book like this. Adam and I are truly in awe of his talents,
If retailers and fans respond well to "Deadpool Pulp," is this a character or a world you'd like to revisit? Are there any other Marvel characters you would like to give the Pulp treatment to?
Glass: The quick answer to that is yes and yes. If we say anything else, we might not make it to the next comic con.
We hope everyone enjoys "Deadpool Pulp" as much as we did writing it. We keep saying this because it's true. We love that Deadpool is saving the American Dream - one bullet at a time.