Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist)
In Sarajevo, Deadpool stops a group of mercenaries sent to kill him. Deadpool’s friend Weasel tells him that there’s a price on his head to prevent him from collecting his former employer Tolliver’s estate. Kane shows up, wanting to know where to find Deadpool’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa. Deadpool’s also been looking for her. They fight for a while until they realize that neither one knows where she is. Kane tells Deadpool that someone called Slayback has returned and wants him dead. Meanwhile, Juggernaut retrieves Black Tom from a genetic research facility in France and learns that his body is now drastically altered. In India, Nyko sends the Courier orders to have the Executive Elite kill Deadpool for his role in Pico’s death.
Not surprisingly, this limited series is a follow-up to a lot of the previous events in X-Force. Tolliver was Deadpool’s employer from earlier issues of that series. Pico was a midget stooge of Tolliver’s who was killed during Deadpool’s fight with Cable. Black Tom was critically injured by Cable and rescued by Deadpool on Tolliver’s orders. Kane and Deadpool know each other from a later iteration of the Weapon X project.
Weasel, Slayback, Nyko, and the Courier all make their first appearances here. The Executive Elite are also mentioned but not seen. Many of these characters would continue to show up on the fringes of X-continuity, almost exclusively written by Fabian Nicieza.
This issue has a cardstock cover with raised Deadpool figure.
Not only is this the debut of yet another X-related limited series from 1993, but it’s the second one to star a villain. Deadpool was still a new character at this time, having only appeared five or six times over the course of two years. I’m not sure why Deadpool was chosen to headline his own limited series, but Marvel was pumping out as much X-product as possible during this summer, so Deadpool was probably considered a strong enough personality to at least carry a few issues. There’s no attempt to reform Deadpool in this issue, but he never comes across as villainous either. He spends most of the issue defending himself from people who attacked first (which describes a typical X-Men adventure, if you think about it). The story ties together the various X-Force subplots relating to the mysterious Tolliver, which implies that maybe someone had a plan for some of this stuff after all. Even though the story relies on a decent amount of continuity, Nicieza maintains a steady pace throughout the issue. Deadpool, even as a paid killer, comes across as more likable and less annoying than many of the actual heroes in the X-books during this time.
This is Joe Madureira’s first major project, even though it seemed to have been forgotten after Madureira exploded with Uncanny X-Men (this mini might not have even made the ranks of a Wizard “Hot Pick”…can you imagine?). His work on this limited series impressed Erik Larsen enough to offer Madureira an issue of the short-lived Vanguard series to draw for Image Comics. Supposedly, this inspired Bob Harras to give Madureira the job on Uncanny out of fear that Image would recruit another hot Marvel talent. With his cartoonish, exaggerated figures and rubbery anatomy, Madureira would’ve been a good fit at Image, although his work is thankfully devoid of a lot of the ugly crosshatching of this era. I loved the art in this comic as a kid and still think it looks pretty good. Deadpool is a bizarre choice to carry a series (a hideously deformed assassin with a wacky sense of humor?), but Madureira’s cartoonish art takes some of the edge off the premise. Most of the Image-style art popular at this time was either directly or indirectly inspired by Michael Golden and Art Adams. Madureira owes something to those guys, but he also draws heavily upon Golden and Adams’ original inspiration, manga. Madureira’s art would move further away from Western comics, and within a few years, his influence led to the rise of faux-manga work in American superhero comics. Even though he was probably the most popular artist of the late ‘90s, Madureira’s recent return to comics wasn’t exactly met with a very favorable reaction. I realize that most of the ire of Ultimates 3 was over the writing, but Madureira’s art didn't seem to be generating the same old excitement either. Even if a lot of fans have moved on, I don’t see his early efforts as embarrassing at all, and can certainly understand why he became so popular.