Did Marvel’s Deadpool Just Invade the DC Universe?


With its latest parody, DC has finally come full circle on the Deadpool / Deathstroke dynamic.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from Robin Annual #1, on sale now.

Damian Wayne’s solo adventure to investigate the League of Lazarus has given him more questions than answers. Some of them don’t even relate to the League itself. In Robin Annual #1 (by Joshua Williamson, Roger Cruz, Victor Olazaba, Luis Guerero, ALW’s Troy Peteri), one of Robin’s most mysterious competitors is a young man named Respawn, and his identity may be Marvel’s most famous (and mouthy) merc.

Respawn caught Robin’s attention because his entire outfit is clearly a nod to Deathstroke, but his red and black color scheme is also suggestive of Deadpool. So is his name, given Deadpool’s famed healing factor, and his penchant for teleportation. As such, everything about the character isn’t just a nod, but a full-throated celebration of both Slade and Wade Wilson. But is this the latter sneaking in through a crack of his beloved fourth wall?

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Deadpool, while also informed by multiple influences, ranging from Spider-Man to Wolverine, is famously known as a Deathstroke pastiche. Both have since grown into incredibly different and popular characters, of course, but there’s really no denying Wade was born directly of Slade, despite the ways Deadpool’s co-creators will try to convince you otherwise. That tribute (or rip-off, depending on who you talk to) began a playful series of parodies of both characters in each other’s respective universe.

Before Respawn’s clear Deadpool wink, there was an even more overt character reference from Harley Quinn’s comic called Red Tool. A deranged power tool enthusiast with an obsessive crush on Harley Quinn, Red Tool quickly became popular in his own way, and stuck around as Harley’s friend. His costume, personality, and over the top violence though were obvious parodies of Deadpool from the Marvel Universe.

Another classic character in the DC Universe who has been retrofitted with Deadpool’s personality and powers, but with none of the surface appearance similarities, is Lord Death Man. Of course, he existed for long before Deadpool was even a twinkle in Marvel’s eye, with his origin taking place back in 1966, but in recent years, he’s become very Deadpool-esque. Interestingly, he has made appearances in the new Robin comic, being the mentor of Robin’s latest ally, Flatline. This character, while not an analog, does have many similarities, such as a clearly unstable personality, and being all but impossible to kill.

RELATED: Who Is Robin’s New ‘Murder King’ and Why Is He So… Adorable?

In the long line of Deadpool analogs, Respawn may be the most serious of them all, having some mysterious grudge against Damian that even he doesn’t recall. Rose Wilson, the daughter of Deathstroke, has theorized that Respawn is tied to her father in some way, but his obsession with Damian is the driving force of his narrative.

As a result, Respawn gets Deadpool a bit closer to the source material, and is something of a unique fusion. He’s also an actually a credible threat, and with Mother Soul’s true identity being revealed, is also the biggest mystery on the island. When Damian ends his time with the League of Lazarus, could Respawn be poised to become his next great villain?

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