Deadpool (2nd series) minus 1

Issue Date: 
July 1997
Story Title: 
Paradigm Lost

Joey Kelly (writer), Ed McGuinness, Pete Woods & Denton Fang, (pencils), Nathan Massengill & Nathan Lee (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft/KF (letters), Chris Sotomayor (colors), Digital Chameleon (enhancement), Matt Idelson (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Zoe and her boss, Dixon, walk through the hallways of Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare’s out of spacetime headquarters. Zoe is upset for possibly losing her promotion to become expediter. She has one of their inmates, Monty, show possible futures where their target, Wade Wilson, will be their savior. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get many good results. Dixon confirms, and shows Zoe what he discovered earlier. Wilson was hired to rescue a captured man in a jungle. He could have easily finished the job without hurting any flies, but Wade chose to let the flies be the sole survivors of the battle, and killed all of the guards! As Zoe has studied Wade for many years, she refuses to believe this is true and decides to investigate, despite Dixon’s wishes. She learns from Monty that the reason behind Wilson’s change is a girl, a hooker named Vanessa. Zoe infiltrates in the business, and gets Vanessa to help her get settled. During this time, Zoe first gets to meet Wade. However, he feels bad and, thanks to this, Zoe isn’t certain about the situation either. Nonetheless, she doesn’t give up on the merc, as she wants that expediter job. After a while, she and Vanessa are attacked by a strange man. It appears that Wade did rescue his target, though never delivered him to his contractors. They are now upset, and want payback through Vanessa. Zoe refuses to let the girl be killed, and shoots the man! She orders Vanessa to get out of this life, and live happily ever after with Wade. Zoe returns to her headquarters, where Monty reveals that there’s still a whole lot of chance that Wilson won’t be the candidate for their program. Zoe doesn’t understand. Monty shows her a future, in which Wade breaks up with Vanessa because he’s got cancer and doesn’t want to put her through it. Zoe feels sorry about the whole thing and thinks that, thanks to this event, the world has gotten a little colder.

Full Summary: 


Mayday! Mayday! We’re interrupting this month’s storyline with a special, widely-requested look back at the life of Wade Wilson, the mercenary. You better pack a bag, True Believer, because we are going to way back. Even before the Weapon X Program. Before the time Wade got his special powers and even before he developed his somewhat demented sense of humor!

And since there is no bigger fan of Deadpool than Stan Lee, he’s happy to be with us every step of the way as we marvel at a tale spun in the very underbelly of metropolitan life! This is a tale of deception, disaster and destiny. And also, Stan gives us… the Merc Without Mirth!


We begin at a place found at no map. It exists outside of time.

Zoe Culloden angrily walks through the hallways of Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare. Her boss, Dixon, doesn’t think that this will be the end of the world. Zoe can believe that, as it won’t be the end of Dixon’s world. But it will be of hers! Dixon tells Zoe she just needs to find a new charge. Zoe won’t, as she refuses to miss her shot as Expediter again. She knows someone doesn’t get anywhere in this company playing the waiting game.

Dixon corrects that you don’t get anywhere throwing temper tantrums in front of someone’s boss, either. He wants to know what they are doing down there. And he demands to know the whole story. They pass a security guard, and show their ID cards and are allowed through. Dixon asks Zoe if she trusts him. Zoe apologizes, but she doesn’t trust Dixon as far as she can throw him.

Dixon doesn’t know if Zoe is going to believe what he’s about to tell her. He didn’t climb the ranks of Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare by deceiving his people. Not mostly, anyway. Zoe isn’t interested. They open a big, closed door and go through it.

They arrive inside… Fleshwerks! This is where the genetically gifted are encouraged to explore and exploit their gifts. By any means necessary.

Zoe angrily calls out to Montgomery. Dixon doesn’t believe that this is the right way to call the guy, but Zoe ignores him. Monty, sitting in his chair, tells Zoe she can relax. He has just snuck a peek of fifteen minutes into his own future, and he knows that what Zoe did with the ballpoint pen wasn’t pretty. Although, he does feel compelled to tell Zoe that she is, in fact, quite radiant when she’s rabid.

Ms. Culloden isn’t interested in any sweet talk. Monty knows what she wants to hear, and she wants to get it over with, or else! Monty doesn’t understand his captives. They’re like puppets. Don’t they ever act against their predestined roles? But, as he already told Zoe’s Overboss, Dixon, her pet project has entered a flux point in his life… a period of timespace which Monty cannot really define. All he can see are possible outcomes. But, he promises that Zoe’s charge is going to fall. Hard.

Zoe demands to know the numbers. Monty first asks Dixon about his opinion. He thinks there’s a fifty-four percent chance that their victim is going to crash the program. Zoe can’t believe that Dixon is going to invalidate five years of hard work because of four points. Monty corrects that actually, it’s fifty-four point six.

Dixon defends that Zoe forgets her place, and that he still is the boss. If he says the subject won’t work, they simply lose it and move on. Zoe refuses to wait another seven years for a promotion. She asks Monty what the cause of the problem is. Monty isn’t entirely sure, since it’s a flux point, but his best guess at the problem is… a girl. It’s a woman their subject cares for very much, but still, Monty likes to add, the future is unclear.

Zoe thinks that’s fine. As an intermediary in the Mithras Directive, she’s executing sponsor’s intervention. She promises Dixon to get his four points, and leaves. Dixon begs Zoe not to do this, but she is headstrong. She wants to make that promotion, even if it means that she has to carry Wade Wilson to the other side of the flux point on her back!

Meanwhile, in Boston…

Jimmy ends his date with his hooker. He thanks her for the sweet time, and mentions that she was a whole lot better than his ex, Vanessa. The hooker says it’s nothing, as she only does it for Jimmy because she likes spending time with him. He agrees, and places money on her desk and leaves. As Jimmy is gone, the hooker wants to make Jimmy pay for having said that, and knows that Wade could smack his brainpan without any trouble. She cries a little.

Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Zoe, in disguise of a hooker herself. She lies that Paolo told her to meet Vanessa, so she could help her out with this business. Vanessa refuses to help settle any more girls, since she has plans of her own. Zoe doesn’t give up, and convinces Vanessa to help her out because they don’t want to disappoint Paolo.

Later, a few blocks away…

They arrive at Vanessa’s apartment, which looks rather fancy. Zoe suspects that Vanessa is holding money back from Paolo. Vanessa corrects that the art of side tripping isn’t dead yet in this town. Zoe takes a look around, and notices vitamins on Vanessa’s TV. Vanessa mentions that they belong to her boyfriend, who’s into body building. But she doesn’t know how much he bench-presses: only his trainer does. Vanessa tries to push Zoe outside her house, wanting to get her out on the streets.

Zoe fakes that she’s scared, as she doesn’t know what’s expected of her. Vanessa explains to Zoe that she has to forget about her identity and that she’s someone’s daughter. She has to be an empty vessel. She simply has to do everything the man she’s with for the hour tells her to, with no questions asked. Or else, he’ll be very angry. Zoe asks Vanessa how old she is. Vanessa claims to be old enough to have seen enough angry men in her life. She gives Zoe some money for a cab and food, and shows her the door. She warns her not to come back before 2 AM, as she’s got a date.

Once outside, Zoe isn’t sure anymore about what she’s doing there. She thinks these people need her help. She gets her thoughts back together on the promotion, and that she has to get Wilson back on his tracks.

Suddenly, a teleportation portal opens. Dixon comes through it, and takes Zoe back to the base, wanting to talk. Zoe wants to know why she has earned the trans-con bodyslide. Dixon wants Zoe to stop this nonsense, as she is putting herself at risk for nothing. Dixon knows, like everyone else at the company, that Wade Wilson should have never been a part of them. Zoe disagrees, and thinks she can change it if he can reach Wilson. Dixon angrily shouts at Zoe to forget about the promotion. He believes that the Psi’s made a mistake this time, and even calls Wade a psychopathic monster. He learned that Wilson is responsible for a whole lot of suffering, and he can honestly not be the next Messiah.

Zoe defends that they don’t know that for sure. Dixon adds that, if Zoe believes her own nonsense, that that isn’t going to be a good way to become the Expeditor. He thinks it’s time for a reality check – literally.

Even before Zoe’s senses fully adjust to the instant dislocation of space and time, something in Zoe’s instinctual mind reels, bombarded by the scents and the silence, left in the wake of a sudden, violent death. Dixon reveals that they are in Zaire. Zoe looks in front of her, and is stunned by the corpses of many dead soldiers. Up until yesterday, this was a thriving British Shadow Ops installation. A holdover from the Kipling days of idealism. It’s not very P.C., but in the current climate, these soldiers were “the good guys.”

Two weeks ago, Wade Wilson was hired by a Middle Eastern agency for a simple personnel elimination. One target. A pro of his caliber could have breezed in, nailed his mark and move on without hurting a fly. Instead, the flies are all Wilson left alive! Zoe is confused. She wonders what could have triggered Wilson to do this, and what it has to do with this Vanessa girl. But, Zoe won’t give up. She is determined to impress the four L’s and make a true hero out of the merc. Dixon is starting to wonder who the truly crazy person is around here: Wilson, or Zoe?

The teleportation portal opens again, and Zoe arrives back outside Vanessa’s door. She bumps into a big man, and calls him names. The man apologizes. Suddenly, Zoe stops. There’s something about the man’s voice… it’s Wilson! She just knows it. She studied the man for five years. She has seen tons of pictures of the man, including watched security video tapes. But now, after seeing Wilson like this, for the first time in her life, Zoe isn’t sure if she knows Wilson at all… or wants to. Vanessa opens the door, and lets Wade enter.

Time passes, until it’s 2 AM. Zoe returns to Vanessa. She claims that the streets she was on tonight were full of surprises. She asks Vanessa how her date was. She admits that Wade wasn’t himself tonight, and seemed stressful. He didn’t hurt her, though; he was just different. Vanessa admits that Wade has never hurt her before, like the other men she has been with, and treats her right.

Zoe wants to know what Vanessa’s boyfriend does for a living. Vanessa believes that it’s best that Zoe doesn’t know too much about the work part, but mentions that Wade is a “professional survivor.” Vanessa thinks that’s an exiting job, and even thinks about Wade when she’s stuck with clients. She sees him doing his job and it helps her get out of her body. She opens a coffee jar, and hides money inside it. She claims that Wade believes that banks aren’t safe, and he can know it. And they aren’t going to stay much longer in this town either. Vanessa is even thinking about going back to school.

Zoe thinks that’s nice, though it might be a whole lot of nonsense as well. Now that Vanessa has shown her hiding place, she wants to know what makes her think she won’t rob her? Vanessa thinks that’s easy: Wade would easily find out, locate Zoe and gut her where she stands, without having a second thought. She wishes Zoe a good night, and goes to bed.

Later, back at L, L, L & L headquarters…

Zoe informs Monty about what she went through so far. She just doesn’t know what to think anymore. A week ago, she would have never linked Wilson to the soldier murders but, after meeting the merc in real, she has felt that the man has really changed. She also worries about Vanessa, who’s real identity is Vanessa. She knows Vanessa thinks she and Wade are truly in love, but she wonders if a guy like Wilson really can feel that way.

Monty doesn’t know what to answer. He has heard people tell him that people in love don’t actually follow the rules. Vanessa may provide a calming surrounding for the troubled soul. Monty even fears that, if something happens to Vanessa, the results could be devastating to the flux point. It will change everything. Zoe recalls Vanessa having told her that Wilson was different, and thinks that he might dump her soon.

Monty takes a look in the past and future. He discovers that parts of Wilson’s past are coming back to haunt him. But at least, the man has done a good thing… somewhere in Africa. The bullet was fired, but never hit the target. Zoe is confused. Monty claims that the golden shot was never marked, and that Wilson’s mark lives. Wilson did not fulfill his contract. And his employers will seek retribution. They will try to hurt Vanessa to get back at him. Monty knows that is a fact, as he has seen it.

But, there is more. He has also seen into the future. And, there’s a problem. If Zoe drops this case right now, she can still make the Expediter promotion in about three years. Zoe stops Monty, as it’s against the rules to tell them about their own futures. Monty knows that, but has to warn Zoe that, if she continues her quest, there’s a possibility that she might not survive it!

The probability that Wilson is going to successfully transverse the flux point has dropped to thirty percent, and so has Zoe’s. There is a seventy percent chance that she isn’t coming back. Monty begs Zoe to let this case go. Zoe thanks Monty for his help, but she can’t wait three more years for the promotion. She promises that she’ll work the numbers to her favor. Monty thinks that might happen, if Zoe only cares about the numbers. He wishes her good luck.

Later, back in Boston, the dark alleys…

Zoe takes a look around, and notices other hookers waiting for their possible dates. She notices that the underworld grapevine verifies what Monty claims, and that Wilson’s employers are less than happy because he didn’t deliver the goods. She is confident that they will want payback, but doesn’t know when it’s going to take place. Vanessa calls out to Zoe, asking where she has been. Zoe lies that she just tried to find some luck. She joins Vanessa, and goes to stand in front of some passing by cars, hoping to get picked up. With that not happening, they call names at the drivers as they leave.

Vanessa mentions that she’s starting to like Zoe. It’s just a feeling. She reveals that, ever since she was a kid, whenever she used to hang around someone long enough, she started getting a feeling about them. Like a sixth sense, or something. Deep town into her being, Vanessa feels that Zoe is one of the good ones. Zoe doesn’t agree. Vanessa does, as if it weren’t for the fact that Zoe needed this job to survive, she would be sure that she wouldn’t be used like this. A car stops by, and Vanessa goes to hang on it, hoping to get picked up again. The driver asks if she is called Vanessa. She confirms it. The driver thinks that’s excellent.

Suddenly, he pushes the door open! Vanessa falls back. The man steps outside, and takes out a gigantic sword! He thanks Vanessa, as now he doesn’t have to go through the trouble of finding her apartment. He orders her to stay still, as he wants to carve a message into her back for her boyfriend. Zoe kicks the man. She helps Vanessa up, and they run away together.

Vanessa tries to figure out what that guy wanted with Wade, but Zoe warns her not to worry about it and just keep running. Zoe senses that Monty was right, and that things are falling apart with Wade. He saves a life, and someone else has to pay for it. But she won’t give up on her promotion. At that point, the man sneaks up on the girls and knocks Zoe out. Luckily, she’s still breathing. Vanessa wants to know why the man can’t leave Wade alone. He angrily explains that Wade took some money from them, and also dishonored them by not fulfilling his contract with the man and his friends. And for that, he wants to make Wilson pay and make an example out of him.

Zoe is getting up a bit, and thinks about trying to escape with a body slide, as she doesn’t want to die. She overhears the man and Vanessa talking. She starts to cry, and refuses to betray Wade, because she loves him, no matter what. The man tries to convince her to help him out, as if Vanessa leads him to her apartment, he’ll just wait for Wade to return and kill him, and Vanessa can continue to live, as he’s got no problems with her. Vanessa still refuses.

Zoe stands up, and shoots the man! Vanessa is surprised, and wants to know who Zoe really is. She claims not to care about people. Before this moment, she never killed before but, after overhearing how much Vanessa loves her boyfriend, she couldn’t let the man do that to Wilson, as that kind of love is rare in this world. It’s a percentage point nobody counted on, least of all Zoe. She tells Vanessa to go back to Wade, tell him what she did for him tonight, and live a happy life afterwards. She should also quit this job, as she’s too much of a lady for it. Zoe thanks Vanessa for this experience, and teleports away.

Zoe returns to the base, and happily meets up with Monty. He apologizes, but he still thinks there’s a 98% chance that Wilson will end up a broken man, and an insufficient candidate for the program. Zoe doesn’t understand… No! Vanessa… she and Wilson are supposed to make it! They can survive anything with all the money and happiness they’ve got going on. Monty explains that they can’t survive… cancer. Zoe can’t bear to face Vanessa and tell her this, so she orders Monty to show her what’s going to happen in the possible future. He does as told.

Monty opens a viewing screen, so Zoe can see what he sees. They watch a future in which Wade has been told he’s got cancer. He breaks up with Vanessa, because she’s just a kid and he’s a merciless thug. And he thinks he deserves having this disease. Vanessa refuses to give up on Wade and wants to go through things together, but Wade doesn’t. He walks away, and leaves Vanessa behind.

Zoe cries a little, and feels sorry. Monty does too, and apologizes. Zoe doesn’t feel sorry for the job she lost, but for Vanessa and Wade. Also, because the world they live in has just gotten a little colder, and has lost something special. She leaves Monty behind, and walks out of the base.


Stan mentions that, as we know, the world did lose the glow of Wade and Vanessa’s love. But, at least, the man lived on and, now, years later, he’s a candidate for Zoe’s project yet again.

But that… is another story!


Characters Involved: 


Copycat (Vanessa Carlysle)

Dixon, Monty, Zoe Culloden (all Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare operatives)


various Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare captives, scientists (all unnamed)

in introduction pages:

Stan Lee

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of a series of Minus 1 issues that came out in the same month a normal ongoing issue would be released. The purpose of the Minus 1 stories were that the ongoing title could take a break, and a little more about its characters pasts could be revealed. And like all the Minus 1 issues, this story gets narrated by Marvel creator Stan Lee.

Deadpool becoming a candidate for Landau, Luckman, Lake & Lequare can be found next in Deadpool (3rd series) #1. The story is further explored as of Deadpool (3rd series) #8.

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