[Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Spider-Man/Deadpool #10.]
Spider-Man and Deadpool always make a dynamic duo of a different sort, but their latest story arc has pushed their unique brand of ‘friendship’ to its boundaries – including that whole ‘oops’ moment where the Merc with a Mouth killed Peter Parker (unaware of his alter-ego). Of course, he brought Pete back to life. In the prior two issues, Spidey and Deadpool confronted the mysterious Patient Zero, who’s been making life miserable for both of them, only to watch him to escape in a hail of glass. After putting down the enjoyably-goofy z-list menagerie, the "Hateful Hexad" a new threat, the murderous Itsy-Bitsy, throws their bromance off-kilter.
However, before they can make sense of their last encounter, a scared Patient Zero pays them a visit, and the pair is once again confronted by their demented foe – a hybrid nightmare created from their DNA.
After the Web-Head invites the very cause of their troubles into his super-secret man-cave, Patient Zero is rapidly dispatched by Itsy, right before revealing his true identity (he’ll probably come back again, since he just finished explaining his deal with Mephisto). Once again, with Ed McGuinness’ eye-popping panels and Jason Keith’s startling colors, Joe Kelly’s clever quips come fast and creepy – as Itsy proves a chip off the old blocks (at least she's not a clone).
During the “Itsy-Bitsy” story arc, readers continue to get the impression Spider-Man is acting out a bit as well. More and more Spidey has been emulating Wade's Daredevil-may-care attitude (and wearing a black, Venom-reminiscent costume in SM/DP #8), while Deadpool is looking a little more squeaky-clean than normal. In addition, his regular sarcasm has been replaced with a downright mean streak at times. During the battle he even admits that his Spidey-sense doesn't work on Itsy. He also notes to himself that their nasty new nemesis brings out a “blinding” hatred which he’s never felt before.
As the issue comes to a surprisingly bland – especially considering its otherwise enjoyable plotline – and explosive conclusion, it’s difficult not to wonder whether there’s a good deal more to Itsy-Bitsy beyond genes. Is it possible Spidey and Deadpool have had some of their very essences removed and implanted into this dangerous new adversary? Unfortunately, those answers will have to wait for a moment, since Spider-Man/Deadpool #11 will be scripted by Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller (the magical pair will also guest-star). Peter and Wade's deadly ‘daughter’ will probably hit the back-burner for a moment.
As hokey as she initially sounded, Kelly has whipped up a genuine doozy of a villain (any Typhoid Mary fans?) – despite his self-reflexive Deadpool quip about her being an “alternate universe transgender Spideypool with an ear for screamo music who shops at Hot Topic.” Her dialogue, which apes Spidey and DP’s at times, is a off-putting yet oddly charming at the same time, and her character brings a genuine skin-crawling menace to the darkly funny series. Still, she seems a little short on backstory at this point. Hopefully, Kelly will flesh her out during her next engagement with the boys.
Kelly’s Pete-Wade banter is also spectacular here – especially when ragging on Patient Zero. It will be interesting to see how the worm turns as this kinder, gentler Wade (with a Peter Parker-y resemblance to his new face?), as well as extra-nasty Spider-Man head down a road which will, in all likelihood, reveal the source of their role-reversal. Only the future will reveal if and how their “Bromance” arc will end. In the long run, the whole mess probably has something to do with Mephisto.
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Spider-Man/Deadpool #10 is currently available online and in print.