[Contains SPOILERS for Spider-Man/Deadpool #14.]
Since early in their latest conjoined adventures, both Spider-Man and Deadpool have felt a little off. Perhaps it has something to do with Deadpool's fully restored face (thanks to a gene and power-stealing experiment in Spider-Man/Deadpool #8). Or maybe it's the way their core personalities seem to be shifting in subtle yet noticeable ways, a change which has afforded Deadpool a shocking amount of common sense, and given Spider-Man a major case of blood lust when it comes to his personal white whale (or blue spider-woman), Itsy-Bitsy.
A combination of both heroes’ genetic material and superpowers, the nursery rhyme-monikered adversary was created by the mysterious Patient Zero to destroy the unlikely duo. Despite eventually turning on her maker, Itsy has proved incredibly potent against Spidey and Wade: she's endowed with spider powers, Deadpool's amazing healing factor, and an appetite for murder. Worst of all, she can neutralize Spider-Man’s combat leg-up, his spider-sense. In preparation for their next tete-a-tete with their new nemesis, and also as a way to deal with Spidey’s newfound savagery, Wade calls in a specialist, who also doubles as a priest, Nightcrawler. As Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 unfolds, it becomes less and less clear which aspect of the BAMF-ing mutant Spider-Man will truly need.
Spidey Gets His Rage-On
Throughout the Itsy-Bitsy story arc, Peter Parker clearly coming unglued. Faced with an opponent who seems to match them at every turn, and also kills people in their names, his utter frustration has lead to an unhealthy obsession with making her dead. Deadpool, on the other hand, has already been forced to remind him that Spider-Man doesn’t kill. He also realizes that he might not be the best man to dissuade Spidey from his lethal intentions, which is why he calls in a favor from X-Man Nightcrawler (a.k.a Kurt Wagner): to talk the Web-head down from his killer instincts, or at worst, hone his deadly proficiency for their next confrontation.
Overall, Peter finds their training (mostly high-octane sword fighting) unnecessary, pointing out his technologically advanced spider-suit and insisting that time is of the essence. Wade then reality-check's Spidey, reminding him of their a big fat zilch in the win column against Itsy. Plus, Kurt and his instantaneous teleportation (ah the perks of mutant-demon life) offer them one heck of a combat session.
The mock-battle heats up, Peter and Wade's brawl escalates once again over the wall-crawler’s unhealthy murder streak – something which Nightcrawler initially assumes is one of Deadpool's bad jokes. The Web-head's unbridled anger becomes readily apparent as their spat turns deadly serious, when Wade innocuously mentions breaking necks among other methods of execution. The reference sparks Peter's memory of his former love, Gwen Stacy, and her tragic accidental death. He snaps and runs the Merc with a Mouth through with a sword.
Of course, this only sets Wade off, who further pushes Spider-Man until he decapitates his “life partner” (Deadpool’s words) in a fit of rage.
Patient Zero Finally Revealed
Fortunately for Deadpool, death is a problem he’s overcome on many occasions. So, as Nightcrawler's impish Bamfs reattach his head to the rest of his body (via duct tape, of course), Wade enjoys a brief jaunt into the afterlife. Once there, he also reunites with his estranged wife Shiklah. Although relations seem pretty frosty between them – hinting at an upcoming “marriage counselling” brawl in forthcoming Spider-Man/Deadpool issues – she at least offers him a brief meeting with the now-returned Patient Zero.
Folks playing along at home may recall that the architect of Itsy-Bitsy later sought amnesty in the Deadpool Cave. Just before he unmasked himself (in SM/DP #10), though, his twisted creation killed him very dead. As Wade awaits his return to the land of the living, he confronts the vengeful geneticist. Deadpool is shocked to learn that Patient Zero is actually his former sidekick Weasel (a.k.a. Jack Hammer) . It seems that years of almost constant disrespect and abuse soured him on his former companion. After failing to permanently kill Deadpool, bounty hunter Macho Gomez killed Weasel. He then made a pact to escape hell and remind the world of what a scumbag his former pal is.
As time runs out on Wade’s excursion, Weasel also reveals he had some help returning from Hell, which means that Spider-Man could have some major enemies in low places.
To Kill a Spider?
While Wade takes a trip through the afterlife, Peter and Kurt engage in a philosophical debate of their own. Kurt reminds the spider-enhanced hero of all the reasons he holds himself to a higher standard, but Spidey can't seem to escape his funk. He seems unconvinced that killing Itsy-Bitsy isn’t a special case of the needs of the many justifying the death of one. When Deadpool finally revives, he discovers that Peter has departed without him. Recalling all the new madness from his trip to Hell, he confers with Nightcrawler, before both come to the realization that Spider-Man’s very soul may be at risk.
If the wall-crawler’s ever-lovin’ essence is truly in trouble, though, Weasel's hellish team-up could pin the tail directly on the demon. All of Spider-Man’s devilish dealings of late – especially since his poorly received swap of matrimonial bliss with Mary Jane Watson for the life of Aunt May (see: Spider-Man: One More Day) – revolve around Mephisto. When Wade was duped into killing Peter Parker in Spider-Man/Deadpool #5, Parker once again encountered the brimstone master. Despite Mephisto's little pact with Mary Jane about forgetting the past, it seems the hellion can recall everything now, including Peter's alter-ego (he is a demon, after all).
During their recent surreal encounter, Mephisto also claimed to be the “architect” of Spider-Man’s downfall – a pretty cheeky claim for anyone but an arch-demon to make. Although True Believers know Peter Parker would never willingly kill, his darker mood and vengeful mentality of late suggest continued tampering by Mephisto. Apparently, it's up to the Merc with a Mouth to chase down his friend and become the angel on his shoulder – a sentence no Deadpool fan ever thought they’d hear. Ever.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #14 is currently available. Spider-Man/Deadpool #15 arrives on March 1.