Thanks to a recently announced Fox feature film, Deadpool is about to become a movie star. Even if you have no idea who Deadpool is, odds are you’ve seen his iconic red, black, and white logo plastered all over t-shirts and pint glasses. If you’ve been to a comic convention — any comic convention — you’ve probably seen at least a half dozen Deadpool cosplayers roaming the show floor, doing everything from planking to the Macarena to high fiving everyone in sight. For a character with just one inaccurate and regrettable movie appearance on his resume, Wade Wilson has defied the odds to become nearly as ubiquitous a Marvel character as Spider-Man.
If you’ve missed out on all of DP’s comic book exploits, his over two decades of back issues might seem daunting. After all, this is a guy who has teamed up with Galactus, stolen Daredevil’s guide dog, annoyed Dracula, and killed the entire Marvel Universe. With a feature film in the works, though, there’s no better time to get acquainted with the Merc with a Mouth. To make your back issue hunt easier, we’ve taken a katana to the character’s bibliography and carved out these super-accessible jumping on points.
The Merc With A Mouth (“Deadpool Classic” vol. 1)
You can always start with the beginning. Deadpool first appeared as an assassin for hire back in 1991’s “New Mutants” #98. The issue itself has become a collector’s item, but Marvel’s since reprinted the tale — along with all Deadpool’s first two solo limited series — in one affordable and easily-findable trade. These stories will introduce you to a number of Deadpool’s most enduring traits: his ruthlessness, his deadliness, his irreverence, and his wordiness. While this is where the character got his start, Deadpool has actually grown a lot since these early outings. These stories might resonate more when paired with pretty much any other entry on this list, just to illustrate how much Marvel’s jester has changed.
The Anti-Hero With A Mouth (“Deadpool” by Joe Kelly Omnibus)
If you’re really looking to invest in learning everything there is about Deadpool, this massive collection — including well over 30 issues from Deadpool’s first ever ongoing series — is your best bet. Writer Joe Kelly took on the unenviable task of transforming a fast-talking joke character into a three dimensional leading man with this series — and he succeeded. This run puts some of the funniest Marvel comics ever published right up against the darkest ones, as Wade Wilson struggles to become the hero he knows — or at least thinks — he can be. Unlike other entries on this list, this heavy collection also contains a complete beginning, middle, and end for ol’ DP.
The Merc With A (Daniel) Way (“Deadpool: The Complete Collection” vol. 1)
After the end of his previous ongoing series, Deadpool fell into obscurity for a few years. He shared a well received title with his arch-rival Cable for a while, but this series rocketed him into the subversive superstardom he currently enjoys. Writer Daniel Way turned both the jokes and violence up to eleven during his run, as ‘Pool became the foul-mouthed, bazooka-packing, Looney Tunes-style character fans have spent the last decade wearing on t-shirts. While this series may lack the dramatic heft of Kelly’s run, it more than makes up for it in irreverent referential humor. The “Deadpool” test footage that’s already leaked feels very much in this vein.
The Merc With A Team (“Uncanny X-Force” by Rick Remender vol. 1)
If you’re looking for some Deadpool training wheels, it might be best to experience him for the first time in a team setting. Deadpool joined up with a group of X-Men that shared his enthusiasm for sharp objects in Rick Remender’s “Uncanny X-Force.” This black ops X-Team, led by Wolverine, found themselves put in a number of moral dilemmas on their quest to preemptively take out threats. Deadpool provided comic relief for the team, with Remender giving the merc some of his most absurd non sequitors to date, but the writer also hinted at DP’s inner depth. If you’re looking to get a small but potent dose of Deadpool, this run is your best bet.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent With A Mouth (“Deadpool” vol. 1: Dead Presidents)
Deadpool recently kicked off a new ongoing series, with his new adventures penned by stand up comedians and comic book writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn. These two brought the funny to ‘Pool in a major way, creating a book that became universally praised — even by people that had been previously put off by Deadpool’s fourth-wall breaking antics. This series also grabbed attention from the get go because it immediately put DP up against the reanimated — and super angry — corpses of every dead American president. S.H.I.E.L.D. hired the mercenary to kill every zombie president in sight, thus beginning a strained relationship between the loose cannon and the super spy agency.
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