Alright, we have the end of the first arc.
Overall, this issue I think is still an improvement over the early issues of this arc, and just may achieve decent-ness yet.
We pick up with Deadpool walking into the clearing that Elektra and Frank were engaging in some personal training in, and he gets in several snide remarks as they decide to head to the underground lab to try and find Ross and Venom. Along the way they kind of split up, but Deadpool follows Frank, and Deadpool not so obliquely threatens to kill Frank.
Ross comes too and initially forgets where he is and Hulks out, about to kill Leader when Mercy reminds him that Ross himself brought the Leader here for a reason, and that reason isn't for him to be dead. Mercy then states she has somewhere else to be, and leaves the two of them alone. Ross does a brief recap of how Leader came to be, both for his and the readers' benefit (I've never read anything about the Leader before, so it was good primer for me). He talks about how Leader had to basically upload parts of his brain to the internet to cope with how much knowledge his brain contained in relation to his physical ability to maintain that knowledge, and that this information can be accessed from several servers across the world apparently. Madman is trying to access the one in Kata Jaya. Ross leads Leader into the underground lab where we find people - children - hooked up to this server. Ross asks the Leader if he understands what it is, and instead of answering verbally, the lights on the server align themselves to read 'Yes'. A kind of creepy and cool moment.
We pick up with Venom trying to take the Madman from the Rebels, who understandably do not want to give him up. The Rebel leader talks about how she and her people are ready to fight venom, and to die if need be. This is when Mercy appears, and grants them with their wish by incinerating all of them. Madman is taken by Venom.
Back in the underground lab Elektra, Deadpool, and the Punisher all arrive, and Elektra reveals that they know that Ross had a hand in the construction of the gamma base on Kata Jaya, and Deadpool takes issue with Ross declaring that their actual job is to take care of the Gamma Base, when their original stated mission was to take out Awa, which was more or less accomplished. This is when Ross notices that Deadpool is wearing the collar that the Madman used, reveals that the collar has no bearing on Madman's ability to transform.
At this point, Venom and Madman arrive at the lab, and Madman hulks out and grabs the Leader. Leader insists that he's not trying to take information away from Madman, but instead wants to give it to him. He whispers something in Madman's ear, and whatever he told him was apparently too much for Madman to process, as his head starts bubbling up, and then his mind is literally blown, to the delight of Mercy (wherever she went to after setting all those people on fire).
Leader states that he knows that whatever Madman was working on, it was something that left the island three days ago and feels like if they don't find it immediately, it could kil millions of people. At this point, the team kind of non-verbally confirms they are still in the game, and Deadpool brings up a sub that he and Elektra saw on their initial failed assault on the palace (and this is also how he traveled back to Ross so quickly in issue 3).
Ross states they'll take the sub, with Venom expressing some concern about all of them being in such close quarters for such a long period of time.
Ok....this is the final issue of this arc, and in the end, I am becoming much more ok with this book. It also makes me feel like I judged some events too harshly and too early, such as Madman's seeming depowerment, when it was really a ruse on Madman's part. We are also kind of presented with the overall big picture and source of their further adventures: Leader has information stored in remote locations that can be used to make and do some bad shit capable of ending many, many lives.
I have to say, I am kinda excited to see where they go next, and this issue restores some of my faith in Way, and that some things that seem nonsensical at first may actually be explained later.
Also, at this point I've become accustomed to Dillon's art and have found a fondness for it, so while I am eager for Noto's take I can already tell it's going to be a jarring transition for me personally.
At the end of the day, I love this team, the story seems to be going in an interesting direction, and I am letting myself enjoy this book much more than I was previously. Here's hoping there's some good stuff to come.