I remember first reading about Deadpool in the early 2000's in my X-Men anthology series. The picture next to his profile, if I remember right, was DP kicking ass while talking about GI Joe. I remember thinking it was weird and flipping the page, not really giving it a second thought. Longshot was my favorite mutant.
Fast forward to now, when the "Merc with a mouth" has skyrocketed to geek fame. Cons are flooded with geeks in suits, he's in video games and, yes, even children's programs.
So with all the hype of the potential movie on the horizon, you may be toying with the idea of getting into Deadpool. For those people, I have a collection of everything you need to know. Where you need to start reading, basic character background, etc. Let this be that little push you need to dive right into his twisted world!
Deadpool first arrived on the scene in 1991. Artist Rob Liefeld penned the character and his abilities (killler with super agility) and sent it off to writer Fabian Nicieza. Nicieza, after viewing the character, contacted Liefeld and told him he “literally created Deathstroke.” Liefeld, a huge fan of the Teen Titans series, took this as a compliment and named the character Wade Wilson after Deathstroke’s real name, Slade Wilson.
Deadpool made his debut in New Mutants #98 where he was hired by a man named Tolliver to kill Cable and crew. Deadpool ended up with three knives in his back and was mailed back to his employer. This Deadpool was very serious, calculated, and a lot more villainous than the Deadpool we know today. It can also be noted that his movements were very Spider-Man-esque.
It wasn’t until writer Joe Kelly that we got the style of Deadpool that we still see today. Kelly was charged with writing the first Deadpool series ever and immediately made some changes. Where Deadpool was initially seen as a villain, Kelly’s incarnation was characterized by being “morally ambiguous” and had as much focus on comedy as it did kicking ass. This 1997 series is viewed as the bible for all writers of Deadpool and most Deadpool fans. Hilariously enough, the randomness and over the top attitude of the comic came from Kelly’s frustration with Marvel…
“With Deadpool, we could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be canceled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.”
Kelly said frustration came from the fact that, unlike now, very few people were reading the series. Every third issue he wrote, he was getting a note saying they would be cancelled. This led to very choppy storylines and a lot of half-baked ideas that never came to fruition. After issue 33 Kelly departed to work on other projects, but would later return to work on a Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover.
Other popular series for those looking to delve into the comic world of Deadpool are Deadpool Corps, Merc With A Mouth, and Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe.
Powers And Abilities...
Long before he was a mutant, Deadpool was an assassin. Highly skilled in the art of killing, his life was pretty good until he got cancer. Desperate for a cure, Wade Wilson joined the Weapon X program where he was infused with Wolverine’s healing factor. The boosted healing factor cured Wilson's cancer, but at the price of severely scarring his body. Thus he donned the costume he wears today and joined Weapon X.
While his healing ability comes from the manipulation of Wolverine's genes, Deadpool’s healing factor is much more extreme. His mind is in a constant state of healing, which makes him invulnerable to any psychic manipulation. The healing of his cancer did, however, make him insane, or maybe heightened his sense of reality, it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to question the sanity of a character who knows he’s part of a comic book world.
Deadpool’s healing ability is mentally driven. This means he can heal at will, as well as focus his healing on different parts of his body. This gives him superhuman stamina, reaction time, and a boost to the already deadly strength and abilities he had prior to the procedure. His reaction time has been noted to be faster than the finest human athlete.
Chopping off Deadpool’s head will not kill him. Wade Wilson is completely capable of surviving independent of his body, and can reattach his head once it is found. While it has not been officially acknowledged in canon, there have been instances where DP’s head has been destroyed, and he just regrew it. There is also a dispute as to whether Deadpool has an extended life cycle due to his healing, or if he has become immortal through his own healing. Whatever the case, the X-Force stumbles upon him 800 years in the future relatively unchanged.
Deadpool has a lot of cool gear he’s amassed over the years. Most who have a base level understanding of the character know of his two katanas and pistols, but he’s also got a magic satchel! This satchel contains a litany of weapons at any given moment, usually just what he needs. DP’s specialty is the use of blades, but he shoots a fair number of guns as well.
Deadpool has a teleporter, which can teleport him away from or into danger. It can also disguise his identity, which he has abused several times throughout the years to look like other heroes, innocent bystanders, etc. At one point he even had a time machine, where he went back in time to meet and ruin the lives of past Marvel superheroes.
An Almost Impossible Backstory...
Deadpool’s confusion about his own past is practically a meta joke between the writers who have helmed him. So many storylines have been retconned, rewritten, or flat out ignored that it’s really hard to give a legitimate telling of the character's past. In one telling he was a discharged American soldier, but in another he claims to be Canadian. He’s killed the entire Marvel universe, but then everyone’s still alive, He’s also teamed up with other incarnations of himself that exist in different multiverses, like his zombie self, Headpool.
The most common canon to the character recognized by readers is the Joe Kelly incarnation. Once again, as all fans will say, if you want to get acquainted with Deadpool, this is where you start. It’s what Frank Miller is to Daredevil, if you will, the creme de la creme of Deadpool. The gold standard. You get the picture.
Great Cast of Characters...
Deadpool is only one of the cool parts about reading his comics. There’s Blind Al, the roommate/hostage old woman in his apartment. There’s Hydra Agent Bob, who, as his name would imply, is an agent of Hydra who teams up with DP. Then there’s all the variations of Deadpool like the zombie Headpool, Kid Deadpool, Lady Deadpool, Dogpool... etc. This doesn't even cover the numerous superhero team ups he's done, which are always fantastic.
Seriously, if you are a fan of superheroes and you haven’t picked up this series yet, do yourself a favor. Deadpool is just as great as the community makes him out to be, and provided you start off reading the right way, you’ll agree. Now get out there, buy his comics in bulk, and feverishly beg for the movie!