Deadpool (2nd series) #19

Issue Date: 
August 1999
Story Title: 
Payback: part 2: The Quick and the Dead

Joe Kelly (writer), Walter McDaniel (pencils), Liversy & Sean Parsons (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors), Digital Chameleon (enhancement), RS/Comicraft/EM (letters), Matt Idelson (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The final battle between Deadpool and Ajax is about to begin. As Ajax attacks Wade, using his super-speed, Killebrew decides to help out. He lights up a tree trench with fire and jumps at Ajax, holding him back so Deadpool and Ilaney can take off. Ajax isn’t happy with this and thanks the doctor by killing him! Wade and Ilaney make it to a cliff though it’s a dead end. The ghost forms of Jacques, Steve, Todd and Worm meet up with Wade and warn him not to run but fight, but Wade ignores them. Together with a frightened Ilaney, he takes the dive. Elsewhere back home in San Francisco, Blind Al is having doubts about leaving Deadpool, though he set her free. She doesn’t notice she is being watched by Zoe and Monty. Monty warns Zoe not to get too caught up in Wilson even though he set Wade up into becoming their Mithras. After all, Wade’s understudy has already been contacted. Zoe doesn’t care about that and decides to keep on doing her job. With her final breath, Ilaney mentions that what happened was an accident and wants to fly again. Then, she dies in Wade’s arms. Ajax finds Wade again, but Wade tosses him back into the river and they continue the fight. Wade doesn’t really want to kill Francis, but knows because of the ghosts he doesn’t have a choice. Wade finishes Ajax off by pulling his body parts away, until only a trail of blood is left. Ajax is finally dead. Wade swims back to shore, but fails to get a response from the ghosts and walks back to Ilaney’s body. The ghosts realize they made a mistake: Wade didn’t have to kill Ajax; they just had to get over their hatred of the guy and would have been allowed to rest. Killebrew is now also a ghost, but colored red and still has to pay for his sins. His first deed is giving Ilaney her life back. Surprised, Wade picks her up and leaves.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, the thin veil between life and death parts, ghosts walk the cold earth and time stands still. Literally.

The ghost forms of Jacques, Steve, Todd and Worm reveal themselves. They want to take a moment and reflect. They want to enjoy the upcoming moment. They can’t believe this is finally happening – freedom. The end of their long curse. Steve doesn’t know what his friends are whining about, because they have already been dead for a couple of weeks. Only Worm has been gone for years. The others defend that they are just nervous. The truth is they don’t blame him, but Deadpool must destroy Ajax to end the enmity between them, and the hate that has infected them all.

But, Ajax seems unstoppable. And Deadpool seems weird. The ghosts remind themselves that Ajax tore through each of them to get to Deadpool. He owes them. Like it or not, Deadpool will kill Ajax and set the ghosts free. Steve wonders what they are going to do about Ilaney and Killebrew. After all, Killebrew made Ajax what he is today. Shouldn’t they be hunting him like they do with Deadpool?

The others don’t thinks so and tell Steve to forget about Killebrew. There’s another plan set in motion for the good doctor. And for miss Ilaney, they just want to count her as yet one more casualty of war. She’s a poor slob who got mixed up in the wrong mess, c’est la vie. Just as long as she doesn’t screw up Deadpool’s focus the ghosts don’t think they’ve got to worry about her.

Ajax grabs Deadpool and shouts that this is the end. This time, when Ajax kills Wade, he shall remain dead. Wade hates to lance Francis’ boil, but four out of five dead would-be assassins agree that he’s always a pallbearer, never the corpse! Still, Ajax can fell free to try his best. Ajax kicks Wade and pushes him at top speed to the other side of the forest. Ajax warns Deadpool that he can stop pounding him, as he doesn’t feel it. He’s wearing titanium laced body armor, and Wade will have to do much better than hit him with just sticks and stones. Not that he’ll get the chance. He tries to slam Wade against a tree but he manages to jump out of Ajax’ arms.

Deadpool has to hand it to Francis, when he upgrades a festering carcass into a killing machine, he pulls out all the stops. But, Wade wonders, can Ajax hack through Iron Man’s brasserie and still slice the skin of a tomato? Ilaney panics and asks Killebrew what they are going to do. That maniac is unstoppable. Killebrew doesn’t know Ilaney’s German language, but he digs her meaning. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to run to or to hide. Wade, who continues to dodge Ajax’ attacks, tells him he may have a hoity-toity union suit, but that’s nothing compared to what he’s packing, because he is strapped with a six-shooter of one-hundred percent pure celestial justice!

Wade jokes he’s got j-u-ice with the spirit world, and by the laws of the universe, and most Clint Eastwood flicks, that ensures victory for yours truly. Wade suggests they just roll over and call it half a day. Wade’s got a date for drinks and midget wrestling at the rainbow room. Still moving at top speed, Ajax recalls that Wade just said ‘celestial juice.’ That’s okay to him, if that means Wade can dodge his great speed. Deadpool, not having heard what Ajax said at top speed, gets confused and hit. Ajax informs Wade he’s now got floating ribs pushed up into his liver. Ajax punches Wilson again, giving him a sternum long pop. Ajax continues to hit Wilson at super-speed.

Ilaney panics when she sees Ajax killing Deadpool and asks Killebrew what he’s doing. Killebrew doesn’t know if Ilaney is screaming for them to run for the hills or to Wilson’s aid, but if it’s the former, Killebrew apologizes, but he needs to do something that should have been done a long time ago: something that Deadpool, of all people, made him realize. So if Ilaney can excuse him, Killebrew thinks it’s time to break the cycle he began. He lights up wooden stick on the ground with fire.

Ajax stops pounding Deadpool, who wonders if that’s all Ajax got. Killebrew, holding his torch ready, tries to warn Ilaney to prepare to run away with Deadpool and don’t look back. Ilaney panics and hopes Killebrew won’t do what she thinks he will. Killebrew is sorry they hadn’t met sooner, as it would have been nice to have Ilaney as a neighbor. Ajax, standing triumphantly over Deadpool, notices he doesn’t seem to have much fun. Choking on his own fluids when he’d rather be shouting insults isn’t nice. Ajax remembers the feeling well.

Wade, coughing, claims to have had worse sewing accidents. All this gurgling is just to give Francis a falls sense of security, so he warns the guy to back off or to feel the righteous might of Wade’s foot up his butt. Ajax notices that Wade seems to be deluded to the end. He had hoped for more begging. But, since they don’t want to delay this moment and let Wilson’s ill-gotten healing factor kick in, Ajax suggest they go over to the main goal of this fight. He grabs Wade’s throat and tells him to prepare for the movie version of the ‘Death of Wade Wilson’ take three. Killebrew sneaks up on Ajax and threatens to kill him with his torch!

Ajax’ entire body catches on fire! Wade laughs. Ilaney asks Deadpool if he can walk. Wade can, as soon as his spine grows together. Wade tries to move but another ribs breaks. Killebrew falls down. Ajax survives and angrily shouts at the doctor that he made a mess of his helmet and doesn’t think this was a very nice thing to do. Wade is already healed enough now to stand and suggests they grab the doctor and get out. But, he notices Killebrew still lying down near Francis and wonders what he’s doing. Wade realizes and panics.

Ajax grabs Killebrew by his throat. Ajax mentions that he was going to save the doctor for last, as a professional courtesy, but obviously his time at Killebrew’s side wasn’t as appreciated as he would think. Killebrew tells Deadpool that leopards can change their spots. Monsters can shed their scars. It’s never too late to break the cycle and live. Wade panics. Killebrew cries and tells Wade he’s sorry and shouts at him to run. Ajax asks Killebrew if he’s finished. Killebrew is, because for once in his miserable life he acted like a man and not like a monster. Ajax spins around at super-speed in a circle and starts killing the doctor.

Deadpool wants to go rescue him but Ilaney holds him back, not thinking there’s anything they can do. Wade hears Killebrew screaming and his bones breaking and doesn’t know what to do. Ilaney reminds Wade that Killebrew did this for him so he could live. Ajax finishes Killebrew off, and Deadpool and Ilaney start running away. Once he stopped spinning, Ajax angrily shouts throughout the entire forest that Wade is going to be next. Deadpool and Ilaney run through the forest but has to stop, as they made it to a cliff.

The ghosts meet up with Wade. Wade jokes it’s worse than the I.R.S here. Ilaney asks what they are going to do. The ghost tells Wade this doesn’t look like fighting to them. This looks like running away. Wade thinks that the ghosts must be brain damaged or something. They saw what Ajax did to him and to Killebrew. There’s nothing broken here but Wade’s head. He suggest the ghost haunt his Underoos and spook his corn flakes for eternity if they want to, but right now they can butt out as Wade is trying to think.

Ilaney, not seeing the ghosts, think that Wade is talking to himself and must have gotten completely insane. She fears she’s going to die with a crazy lunatic. Wade, holding hands with Ilaney, tells her she’s got him half right. He just hopes it’s the half regarding his mental state. Ajax arrives, so Wade moves over to his plan and he and Ilaney jump off the cliff, into a river!

Meanwhile, a world away in the shiny San Francisco, Blind Al is happily packing her suitcase, content she will never come back. After all, Deadpool said she was free and he meant it. Now she’s got freedom, Al wonders where she will go. Of course, if she goes, who’s going to take care of the jerk? She doesn’t think she can possibly leave now, he’s just starting to see his potential.

Back at Landau, Luckman and Lake, Zoe and Monty are observing Al through their monitors. Monty thinks this is completely unacceptable. They can’t get a lock on Deadpool, so they get his prisoner? Zoe defends there’s some sort of interference; tech says something burned out the psi-circuits. Zoe can’t believe Al doesn’t just leave, as she can be his buddy after he saved the universe. Zoe tells Monty this is what one calls an “unhealthy codependence.” Wilson has treated Al like a slave for years and when he finally offers her the chance to run, she’s indecisive?

Monty thinks Al has her reasons. He sees a penance to pay, a debt to live down. As opposed to a certain over-achiever currently in the employ of Landau, Luckman & Lake, this Monty knows who continues to support that psychopath with an almost fanatical zeal. He tries to tell Zoe that Deadpool is going to get her killed. Zoe wants to know what’s supposed to mean.

Back in Switzerland, Wade and Ilaney have made it to the shore. Ilaney is unconscious so Wade gives her CPR. She’s alive but Wade warns her to take it easy. He tells her she’s a sly chippie. Most dames who want to play a round of tonsil hockey with him, they go subtle, like poetry, a nice dinner and bullfight, but not Ilaney. Ilaney is cold. Wade is too and apologizes. This isn’t his idea of having fun. He would much better like to hang out in Florida with Cindy Crawford. The ghosts show up again and warn Deadpool to leave Ilaney as Ajax is coming. Wade shouts he can’t leave her, as Ilaney needs help. And unless the ghosts got a Saint Bernard with a sauna trapped under his chin, they can leave.

The ghosts don’t think Wade is understanding it. None of this matters. Ilaney doesn’t bind the ghost to the earth, Wade does. And his time is near. They can sense an end coming and Wade must prepare. Wade doesn’t give a high holy about the ghosts. He thinks that if they are so lost in this vendetta that they’d let an innocent woman die, that makes them as much as dirtbags as Francis is. Hesitant, the ghost tells Deadpool that Ajax is coming there and he can’t escape his destiny. They know that Wade will fight. The same way they knew about Killebrew. Deadpool tells them to shut up and not to mention Killebrew’s name. Ilaney tries to say something but Wade tells her to take it easy promising he’ll take her someplace safe. Ilaney, talking about a colonel, says she doesn’t want to be safe anymore, as she’s done that to death. Wade doesn’t understand what Ilaney is saying and reminds her who he is.

Ilaney says she wants to fly again as she’s a good pilot. She tells her colonel she tried to safe them but that it was an accident. She couldn’t sleep because she heard them screaming, smell burning, but hiding isn’t good anymore as she wants to fly again. She knows that Killebrew changed and got what he wanted; she wants to change and have her life back and fly again. Deadpool, sadly, tells Ilaney she can fly. Deadpool turns around, telling the ghosts that somebody has to get what they want out of this mess, and maybe Ilaney can save him a seat in the cockpit. He asks for Ilaney’s opinion, but doesn’t get a response. She’s dead.

Zoe asks Monty not to play vague, as it’s not his style. She wants to know if he saw something from her future. Monty hasn’t, not yet that is. But if he did, he’s afraid that Zoe would pay him no mind! He picked Wilson to be the Mithras, so Monty knows he’s partly responsible, but at least he’s willing to admit his mistakes. He asks Zoe if she remembers that “Susan Lucci” debacle. He informs Zoe that, eighteen years from now, she and their septuagenarian friend Al, however, are both so hell-bend on seeing Wilson evolve into something special, that he thinks Zoe is blind to the data that lies right in front of her face.

Zoe thinks Monty is saying she lost her objectivity. She claims she hasn’t. Then Monty takes it Zoe is aware that Dixon has arranged a meet with the second string? Deadpool’s understudy? Seeing no reaction of her, Monty now thinks Zoe understands what he means. She is too focused on Deadpool. Monty is concerned that myopia will bring her harm. Monty touches Zoe’s arm and she tells him about it. Monty knows. Zoe doesn’t say anything. Zoe thanks Montgomery for the information and promises to keep it close to her vest. In the meantime, she suggests that Zoe does what he always does and keeps her informed. Monty promises, and Zoe walks away.

Meanwhile Ajax continues his search for Deadpool and tells him to come out of hiding. He knows the merc can’t keep this up for much longer, as the chill must be beating through that tumored hide of his. Ajax bets Wilson aches for a little heat and he can give it to him, he can rub Wade’s hands together so fast they burst into flames, like in Boy Scouts. Or, he can snap open Wade’s lady friend, like friction boil her blood, ruby shower in the snow… Ajax thinks that would be nice. See, he really is trying to help Wilson, before there’s too little of him left to help in one piece! Ajax finally finds Deadpool.

Wade is ready. He tells Francis he isn’t running anymore. He finally realized that some of them don’t have a choice in how things play out. He knows destiny is a greedy ex-wife always on your hump about back karma-support, but Wade’s in it for the long haul. Ajax looks around, and notices Ilaney missing. He wants to know where she is, mocking she must be afraid of him. Wade denies that. Ilaney isn’t afraid of Ajax anymore. She’s dead. Wade wonders if Ajax knows how hard it is to dig a grave in frozen ground with no tools. It sucks big time. Hopefully, Ajax will appreciate the handiwork when Wade drops him in the second grave.

Ajax thinks it’s fitting, that a man lying on borrowed time should spend his last moments with the dead. Ajax hopes it gave Wilson some peace, because it cost him his life. Time is up! Ajax runs at Deadpool at full speed. Wade wants to get this over with. Ajax dodges a gravity trap and runs over a tiger pit as well. He thinks it’s pitiful, as Wade must have known he would easily jump over it. Deadpool confirms, but he also knew that would mean Ajax would land on the ice beneath the trap! Ajax trips and starts falling down, trying to uphold his balance… but he fails. Wade picks up a big rock and hits it on Ajax’ head, but he’s still alive. Deadpool has had enough. He finds an opening and decides to take it, and pushes himself and Ajax into a river!

As they are down into the ice-cold water, Wade thinks it’s nice there as it’s quiet. Water mutes the sound of his skin crackling and the fish popping, though it could just be his eardrums having blown with the initial jolt. Either way, it’s very peaceful and Zen. It gives a body pause to think with a degree of clarity. Wade doesn’t really want to kill Francis. What he wants is to beat Ajax in a twitching pulp, tie him naked to a frosty flagpole and leave him for the authorities with a note that says “Ajax just had his clock cleaned by your friendly neighborhood Deadpool!” Just like a good guy would do. Wade wants to break the cycle without breaking Francis’ neck. He wants to shed his scars with Killebrew and fly into the skies with Ilaney, but then zen kicks in again and it hits him in the chops.

Wade recalls he never left anyone for the authorities… because he has never been allowed. He has never been allowed to walk away. Turn the cheek. Lie low. Take the high road. Be good and do right. Wade doesn’t want to kill Francis, but upon remembering the ghosts, Wade knows he doesn’t have a choice, because he knows in his life, what he wants doesn’t amount to squat. Deadpool finishes the battle and breaks Ajax’ neck and breaks his arms off his body, until nothing but a trail of blood is left.

Wade swims back to shore, and takes a few minutes to catch his breath. Wade thinks this is it. He calls out to the ghosts and asks if he did some good, but, after a few minutes of waiting, he doesn’t get a response. What a bunch of ungrateful spectral ether suckers. Wade decides to take off and go home to play songs of New Kids on the Block or something. As Deadpool takes off, the ghosts arise. They are still here! Steve doesn’t understand it: he thought that after Deadpool killed Ajax, they could finally have their deserved eternal rest.

Worm thinks it’s obvious and tells Steve to look at the facts. Francis is dead. Dead, dead. The justice they called for has been served. Deadpool finally, definitely broke the cycle, but the ghosts are still here, still stuck to the earth. That means they played the wrong angle. Went down the wrong path. In fact, Worm thinks the only one who had a real clue was Killebrew. Worm thinks he had the answer all along. The ghosts continue to look Deadpool walking away, and notice Killebrew’s ghost watching over him. Though, unlike they, Killebrew’s ghost form is red colored instead of blue, and he’s chained.

The other ghosts still don’t understand it as they think of Killebrew as a jerk. Worm too, but only to a certain point. But he saw something they didn’t. Worm thinks the bond keeping them here, it wasn’t just hatred between Ajax and Deadpool. If it were, Killebrew would have been part of their little party when he died, but he isn’t. The key isn’t justice: it’s just them.

Worm adds that, in the end, Killebrew was ready to go. He changed and made peace with himself. And, while he’ll still pay the price for his sins, the doctor has moved on. But the ghosts didn’t. They thought they would find peace only when Ajax was dead, but they haven’t. It’s all them, as they can’t let go of the hate. They can’t break their own cycle. Until they let go of that hate, they won’t ever transcend and never get better and move on.

Todd thinks that, by the way Worm is saying it, Deadpool didn’t have to kill Francis. He didn’t have to break his oath. Jacques thinks they need to go apologize to Wade or something. Worm doesn’t think so, because in the end, Wade did help them, just not in the way he thinks. He just hopes that in showing them how to end their suffering, they haven’t condemned Wade to a lifetime of his own. The ghosts vanish.

Deadpool walks over to Ilaney’s open grave. Suddenly, Killebrew’s read ghost appears above her, but Wade can’t see him. Killebrew gently places his finger on Ilaney’s head, and she’s alive again. Startled, Wade picks her up, and together with Ilaney takes off.

Characters Involved: 



Dr. Killebrew

Ilaney Brünker

Zoe Culloden, Monty (all Landau, Luckman & Lake)

Jacques, Steve, Todd & Worm (the ghosts)

Story Notes: 

Ajax earlier thought he had killed Deadpool in the Deadpool/Death Annual, but he was soon brought back alive to finish Ajax himself.

The reason why the monitors of Landau, Luckman & Lake are broken, is because of the psi-attack of the Shadow King in X-Men (2nd series) #77.

Wade set Blind Al free at the final page of Deadpool (2nd series) #18, right before he disappeared.

Clint Eastwood is an American actor who first came to fame during the “spaghetti westerns” of the sixties and dozens of film,s since.

Underoos are children’s underwear, which generally depicted cartoon characters on them. They were immensely popular during the 1980s.

Cindy Crawford is the famed supermodel, best known for her mole on her left check.

Susan Lucci is the award-winning soap opera actress, best known for her character of Erica Kane on ABC’s Guiding Light.

New Kids on the Block was a boy band of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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