Gerry Duggan and Jordan White talk about blowing up Deadpool’s marriage and more!
You know the story: assassin meets Queen of the Monsters; assassin and Queen of the Monsters fall in love; Queen of the Monsters declares war on the city where assassin lives—a tale as old as time, right?
Well, perhaps not, but it has become Deadpool’s life in the crossover event Til Death Do Us Part. Spread over three books—DEADPOOL, SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, and DEADPOOL & THE MERCS FOR MONEY—beginning in March and running into April, the storyline will test Wade Wilson’s marriage, his resolve to be a hero, and the structural integrity of Manhattan’s skyscrapers.
We caught up with DEADPOOL writer Gerry Duggan and editor Jordan White as they packed up their emergency supplies and they kindly spent some time filling us in on the blockbuster storyline.
Marvel.com: Where I want to start might be an odd place to begin considering we are talking about Deadpool, but I want to get serious for a moment. At the heart of this story is the relationship between Deadpool and Shiklah. From a writer and editor’s perspective how do you guys view their relationship? Within the story, how does each character view their relationship to the other?
Gerry Duggan: I’ll take a stab at it and Jordan you can jump in if I’m off base.
I think…look, there are days when being married is the best thing in your life and there are days when it can be work, even for the best relationships, right? For a lot of relationships. I’m happily married for coming up on 10 years and these years have been the best of my life.
The thing about Deadpool and Shiklah is that they…you have to really look at how they approach their commitments. Deadpool is a little laissez faire about commitments. Or can be on some days and then others—he’s so wonderfully consistent about being inconsistent. So, yeah, he’s not a great husband. If this were Divorce Court, I would absolutely raise my right hand and say, “Yeah, she made not a great choice,” in terms of a husband. But there are days when he was the only person she could’ve married.
Sometimes in romantic relationships logic doesn’t always dictate the decision making. There is heart and libido; they’ve burned bright but they have gone back and forth. This is not the first time they’ve fought and I think we’ve shown that when they are fighting that actually excites Shiklah. Everyone knows the sort of couple that loves to fight and this is the couple that loves to fight.
Jordan White: It’s important to remember that Shiklah literally married the first man that she met after hundreds of years left in a coffin. Now it turns out she really liked him. Again, if they had just met and started dating, it would’ve been wonderfully pleasant. Instead, they got married immediately to thwart an evil plan of Dracula’s. As most people who get married do. [Laughs] They got married for that reason and, you know, it’s good to thwart Dracula but it’s not necessarily the foundation of the most solid relationship in the world.
Now does that mean that they can’t be good together? No, they’ve had some great times. But it definitely means that…when Deadpool married her, he had no idea what he was in for and when Shiklah married him, she had no idea what she was in for. They had experienced each other, living on the road together and having adventures, but that isn’t what their life is.
I think Deadpool had no idea she was an actual serious queen with responsibilities.
Gerry Duggan: And that is very much at the heart of it. And the other thing is Deadpool kind of oversold himself. He arrived and said, “Don’t worry. I rule this place. I rule this world.” And she thought that was all very charming, “I’ve met the king of Earth.” He had to walk it back, “No, no. I meant culturally. I’m popular.”
If there was a quickie marriage lemon law, she’d have a case to get her money back.
Jordan White: When they got married, he had spent days and days with her, spending all attention to her, which is what a lot of early relationships are like. But at this point, he’s really more concerned with being an Avenger. Or taking care of the daughter he didn’t know they had when he got married. Or all sort of different things that keep coming up.
And she’s like, “Umm, I’m the Queen of this world, why are you not being here as my consort?”
Marvel.com: It’s Shiklah’s role as a queen where the inciting event of this storyline springs from. Much like Namor stories of old, man has overreached and insulted another kingdom and the ruler feels as though he or she has no choice but to strike back in retaliation. Obviously without spoiling things, can you give a tease as to why Shiklah has felt so offended by the surface world that she feels the need to declare war on Manhattan?
Gerry Duggan: There’s an inciting incident in the first chapter; Deadpool has been up and down with Shiklah for a long time now and what really starts the story off is about humans and monsters, no surprise, not being the best of neighbors. Shiklah has responsibilities as the monarch of the monster metropolis and that brings her into conflict with the surface world.
And then, because she is Mrs. Deadpool in some circles, that immediately drags her husband into it.
Marvel.com: And for the first time, perhaps, Deadpool has some big responsibilities and goals of his own, but also this largely ideal he’s chasing after, to become a hero. What is it like, internally, for Deadpool to be placed in this position where he’s caught between his love for her, his commitment to her, and these new goals he’s begun to pursue?
Gerry Duggan: I think he’s a guy who’s compromised by all these selections. Now there’s been a development recently, in the most recent issues of DEAPOOL, that will further complicate his life and decision making. For a long time now, he was anointed a replacement for Logan on the Unity Squad by Steve Rogers. In Deadpool, I think Steve Rogers saw someone who was at his best when he was receiving orders and was acting the good soldier. He focused a lot of that Deadpool energy to good effect in the pages of UNCANNY AVENGERS.
Now a lot of these things are fraying.
It would be incompatible to have a wife who is waging a war on Manhattan and an Avengers ID card and he knows he’s got to tie this one off.
Marvel.com: To broaden the focus a bit, this storyline will also feature Spider-Man and the Mercs for Money. How do they specifically end up getting pulled into this mess, as opposed to any number of other New York based heroes?
Gerry Duggan: Deadpool has their phone numbers, which is a huge bummer. We actually have a gag of Deadpool reaching out and ringing for help. Not everyone answers the call, but…
I should say Parker Industries, too, has a specific plot point that would’ve brought in Parker regardless of his connection to Deadpool.
Deadpool: Til Death Do Us Part by Reilly Brown
Jordan White: Also, Shiklah is definitely making a bit of a ruckus and that attracts people’s attention.
They are people he has a pretty close relationship with. In SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, him and Spidey have actually—well Deadpool has always liked Spidey a lot, but Spidey is almost starting close to respecting him which is interesting.
Then over in MERCS while they don’t all necessarily respect him, they do work with him on the regular. So they are definitely all people he can count on. Although, like Gerry said, there are some other people he was thinking he can count on that he can apparently count on a little less.
Marvel.com: How is it to write with Joshua [Corin] and Christopher [Hastings]? What has the process been like, to collaborate together on this project, to craft this storyline?
Gerry Duggan: It’s always fun to write comedy in a group and these are guys who are very funny.
But they are also writing very serious character stuff too so they’re wonderful additions to this team. As are the artists who are doing tremendous work. And Reilly [Brown] who originated Shiklah is doing amazing work on the covers. Tremendous, tremendous work.
I’ve always been very lucky on collaborators for DEADPOOL and that’s true again here. I always liked being surprised and having ideas thrown out there that I wouldn’t have had to make the story better and we’re really very lucky to have that again, coming from every direction.
Marvel.com: With the artists—Scott Koblish, Salva Espin, and Iban Coello—are they all paired with a specific writer, on a specific book, or is this some rotating around?
Jordan White: The creative teams stay on each book. So Gerry is working with Salva Espin on DEADPOOL, Joshua Corin is writing the SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL issues with artist Scott Koblish—Josh did the recent DEADPOOL: TOO SOON? series as well as the Monsters Unleashed issue of SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL—and then [for the] MERCS FOR MONEY issues we turned to Christopher Hastings who’s been writing GWENPOOL for us and taking over from Cullen Bunn for these, but it is the regular artist Iban Coello who’s sticking with us.
Gerry Duggan: GWENPOOL is so fun that it has been really neat to have [Christopher] onboard for this.
Jordan White: I love that book.
Gerry Duggan: Yeah, it’s great. A lot of fun.
Marvel.com: Have you gotten to see any of the art coming down besides Reilly’s covers?
Gerry Duggan: Yeah. It’s really amazing work.
Jordan White: It’s really really good so far.
Marvel.com: You mentioned the balance between Deadpool as a typically humorous character—that’s a trait that’s very important to his stories—and serious character work. From a writing standpoint—and an editing standpoint—how do you find that proper balance?
Gerry Duggan: Sometimes the jokes present themselves early, sometimes the jokes aren’t there until you are doing the lettering polishing pass and sometimes the jokes don’t show up at all, they just take the day off.
All these stories are about characters being portrayed as real people. Even though Shiklah is a demon and Deadpool is a superstar unkillable mercenary, I feel like their story, their relationship has a real feel to it. They have highs, they have lows. They love each other, they fight like hell against each other. It is Sid and Nancy-esque but it helps ground it. The gags sort of take care of themselves if you write a real story about real emotions, in my estimation.
Jordan White: I think Gerry’s been very good at that for his entire run, writing very funny stories that always have a real emotional base, a real—the ability to punch you in the gut. Like…one of the big ones was the issue when Deadpool was trying to find his daughter and the woman who gave birth to his daughter and he finds the woman’s dead body. He makes a few jokes but then it gets so serious and so upsetting and real. It was an amazing impressive issue and I feel like he’s pulled that off a number of times throughout the series and it’s always really great.
Yeah. Gerry, you’re good. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: What do you want to make sure the reader knows so they put this on their pull list because they are not going to want to miss it?
Gerry Duggan: Hmm…hmm…hmm.
I think if you are a Deadpool fan or a Shiklah fan or a fan of both, I think you are going to want to see these two characters who love each other very much but are opposing each other. I think you are going to see a story with real emotion and a lot of guest stars. We’re in the entertainment business and we have to entertain even when bad things are happening to good characters and I think we are accomplishing that here.
Shiklah’s arrival in the Marvel Universe felt a lot like—you know, downhill, out of control, no breaks. I think we’re capturing that again. This isn’t the death of Deadpool or the death of Shiklah, this is a new road for their relationship to explore. Even though not great things are happening to their marriage, I think they are great things for these characters and a lot of fun for the fans.
Jordan White: This is just the beginning of the Deadpool’s suffering.
Gerry Duggan: Those are the words Jordan has in stone outside his office, actually.
Til Death Do Us Part takes over Deadpool’s life and his books beginning in March!