1. Deadpool consoles a child that could end the world
Wade Wilson is mostly known for cracking wise, breaking the fourth wall and repeatedly saying the word "chimichangas" until it loses all meaning, but he's got a pretty big heart. Nowhere is this more evident than in Rick Remender's epic run on Uncanny X-Force, which focuses on a team of mutants that go on clandestine operations that the X-Men proper could never touch. In the last arc (drawn by Phil Noto), Deadpool serves as the conscience for Evan, a kid grappling with the fact that the's a reborn version of the evil mutant god Apocalypse.
But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. The X-Force's first mission was actually to kill the reborn Apocalypse -- who again, is still in elementary school. The mutant community knows what a scourge a full-grown Apocalypse can be, that allowing him to grow up might mean the end of the world -- but taking him out means murdering a child. It'sa tough call to make, even for a jaded guy like Wolverine. In the end, the X-Force's resident French bastard Fantomex does what no one else will. Everyone is resigned to the choice that was made -- everyone but Deadpool.
Behind the scenes, Fantomex felt so guilty that he re-ressurected Evan himself, and raised him in a secret farm -- his own virtual version of Smallville for a person who he had hoped would grow up like Clark Kent. It worked, to a degree. Though he came close to the brink, Evan held onto the goodness inside of him long enough to be accepted at the School for Gifted Mutants.
In comes Deadpool, who sneaks in Evan's dorm window while he's studying, like a more vulgar version of Sam from Clarissa Explains It All.
From the get-go, Deadpool has always been in Evan's corner. Even though the kid was raised as Apocalypse, and everyone knows what he's capable of; that's what launched the X-Force's mission in the first place. But after dozens of issues and more than a few close calls, Evan has kept it together like a champ. All the way through, Deadpool (and Fantomex, who "died" somewhere along the way) have kept hope alive with the belief that the right kind of nurture could beat out the worst kind of nature. In their eyes, Adolf Hitler's great-grandson Phil Hitler is completely capable of winning over his capacity for evil in order to manage a string of successful Del Taco franchise locations.
Evan isn't so sure that's the case, especially since he's learned that his "childhood" was all a fabrication built in a fantasy world.
Deadpool has a pretty good point. Whether Evan's upbringing was real or fake, it helped shape him into the kind of person who would rather help than hurt.
The same sort of sentiment applies to superheroes themselves. We know that Batman and Superman and Deadpool are not real, but that doesn't stop us from being inspired by their adventures. When we feel empowered by a superhero facing adversity and coming out on top, we're affected just as though those stories were true; just because something isn't real, that doesn't mean it can't make real change. Evan might be an artificially regrown test-tube, but he's still like family to Deadpool.
Just bringing up the concept of a fart joke during a tender moment already kind of spoils the mood, but we can forgive Wade here. He's just been given the kind of positive reinforcement he never had. For much of Deadpool's history, he's been trying to grapple with the urge to do good but lacking the life skills to properly follow through.
When Wade looks at Evan, he sees the same kind of inner-struggle. Deadpool doled out that constant stream of encouragement not only because he had genuine hope for this kid, but because he wanted to desperately to believe that there was still hope for himself. But when his kindness is finally reflected back at him from the most innocent source imaginable, Deadpool has no idea what to do with it. Hence the non-fart joke, and the uh, study materials Wade leaves behind for Evan.
Deadpool's parenting technique still leaves a little to be desired. I mean, this is what the internet is for.
2. Harley Quinn finally frees herself from The Joker
As far as fictional villainous couples go, it's tough to beat Joker and Harley Quinn. Their rotten romance has fueled countless comics and cartoons, not to mention enough cosplay to drown the Earth in white greasepaint and green hair dye.
Taken separately, Harley and Joker are definitely characters worth celebrating. But together, they're more than a little disturbing. As we've talked about before, these two are terrible as a couple. Specifically, Joker is an abusive shit vortex from which Harley Quinn can never escape.
From the neverending string of insults to the near-constant physical battery, the Joker's horrendous treatment of Harley is eerily close to that of a real-life abusive spouse or partner. It's not as easy as "She should just leave" or "She should fight back" -- anyone familiar with a situation like this knows it's never that simple. On top of that, this is the Clown Prince of Crime we're talking about here; it can't be any easier to escape the clutches of a supervillain.
Though Harley has been on her own in a self-titled ongoing series for some time, she finally confronted her tormentor in issue #25. Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin send our anti-heroine to Arkham Asylum to break out her new beau, Mason. And of course, of course Mason's cell was right next to Joker's. She could have easily ignored the jeering coming from the next door down, but this time Harley decided it was time to face off with her past.
At the time this comic was released, Harley had spent a couple of comic-book-years away from her "Puddin." More than any time in the character's 20-year history, Harley is her own woman, unwilling to be defined as the token sexy henchman for a monster incapable of compassion.
That's not to say Harley has pretended the Joker doesn't exist. He's undoubtedly still in the back of her mind somewhere, a looming pale spectre reminding her of what she once was and who she could be again. That little ember of doubt is what she's here to extinguish. The Joker has never had any faith in her; he doesn't think she's strong enough to get rid of him.
To say that tearing off his bottom lip with her teeth has "freed" Harley of the Joker is probably oversimplifying things. There's no magic switch that will erase everything that happened to her under the thumb of the world's most ruthless criminal. But what Harley can do is reaffirm that she won't let Joker rule her life. The infuriating part is how her tormentor will never acknowledge that she's done with him. He'll always be cackling in the corner, waiting for what he believes to be her inevitable return.
But then it occurs to her. Why not just kill Joker once and for all? There's a gun handy, and all it would take is one bullet to ensure with a 100% chance that this human stain wouldn't hurt her (or anyone else) ever again.
That's just it. If Harley kills Joker, she proves that she's not strong enough to live in the same world with him. To admit that the only course of action would be to eliminate the threat means acknowledging that the threat still exists in the first place. In other words, if he dies, he wins. And if Harley's right -- she now knows exactly how Batman feels. It can't be a great place to be in, but in a way, it's heartening to know that Harley is done feeling terrible.
Harley went through a similar transformation in the universe of Injustice, where a grief-stricken Superman straight-up murdered Joker. After some contemplation (and a super-strength pill), Harl came to a realization during a fight with Lobo.
Violence isn't typically the solution to violence, but sometimes it just feels good to see an asshole get punched through a concrete wall.