This month we get our first taste of the live action merc with the mouth that is actually accurate to the comic book, as well as the video game iterations that have blessed our eyes and hearts with ridiculous over the top action. Deadpool has existed since 1991, but his first debut in his own series was in 1993. Today I won’t be boring you with all of the details. Suffice it to say, a character like Deadpool has appeared on again off again as an antagonist and protagonist depending on what the story demanded. He's most commonly associated with the X-Men, but over the years has teamed up, fought against, and everything in between with almost every single Marvel character ever. That being said, the man in red has Wolverine’s healing factor “graciously” bestowed upon him by a similar group that gave Wolverine his Adamantium, Department K, as well as the same project as Wolverine: the Weapon X Program. In addition to his added healing ability, Deadpool has survivalist skills natural to him as well as training from the U.S. Army Special Forces. He also has tech that he has procured over the years, such as a teleportation device, a cloaking device, and a magic satchel. His preferred weaponry are multitudes of firearms and explosives, as well as two distinct katanas. His backstory and origins shift over the years depending on writer, so I’m going to provide a reading list below that is most in line with the promotional content for the film.
If you click on the comic covers below, they will open amazon store pages for the corresponding comic to purchase if you wish.
X-Men Origins: Deadpool (2010)
To kick off our reading list, I have to say that X-Men Origins: Deadpool from 2010 is a fantastic place to start. I realize it may seem strange to begin with a title that shares a prefix from a less accurate to source X-Men film, however this comic is about the concept that Deadpool hears about the successes of other X-films and knows that his own is on the way. In lieu of that, he seeks out a writer for his own eventual film. After a great setup, the writer he selects asks him his life story. We then get a pretty coherent take on his life before he became Deadpool. From the trailers we have seen thus far, this origin story syncs up well with what we may see.
New Mutants #98 (1991)
The first ever appearance of Deadpool came in the early 80’s with Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza taking the helm. They brought with them the bombastic behavior of the Merc with the Mouth up against the New Mutants led by Cable. His appearance is short lived in this issue, but not as a fan favorite.
Deadpool #1-4 (1993)
In this short series, Deadpool find himself in Sarajevo on the run from everyone out for the location of all of his former employer’s assets. Everyone thinks he has some idea to the asset's location. While trying to find information for himself, he comes into contact with Cain Marko, The Juggernaut, and Tom Cassidy: Black Tom. This is one of the best examples of the Deadpool we will see on the big screen. In more recent years, we have gotten glimpses into the mind of Wade Wilson with a general characterization of multiple voices of different levels of maturity; however in this iteration we see just a mouthy non-stop talker who is a total badass. This Wade takes hits and keeps on going through it all.
Deadpool and Death Annual '98 (1998)
This issue sees one of the first takes on Deadpool's backstory with getting his healing factor, being tortured after washing out of "Hero Factory", and how he develops a love interest in Marvel's physical entity of Death. He exits Department K and enters the "Deadpool", a group of human experiments gone wrong who are on the path to dying. He gets tortured by a doctor feigning his organization as a hospice, and ultimately loses his appearance and mind before escaping rather violently.
Deadpool #33 (1999)
This is the final showdown against longstanding Deadpool antagonist T-Ray. T-Ray accuses Wade of stealing his identity and drags up a bunch of Wade's history. It's neat when you consider how many versions of his backstory are out there. By the end, this story stands out as likely the weakest possibility of being true, but it has a ton of insight into elements of what were actual events within his life.
Deadpool Classic Volume 1 (2008)
The last book I recommend collects a few series; New Mutants #98, Deadpool: The Circle Chase, Deadpool: Sins of the Past Vol. 1 #1-4, and Deadpool (everything from here on is a different font size) vol. 1 #1). It is a pretty consolidated read that brings together the earliest adventures of the Regenerating Degenerate. This will likely provide the most comprehensively unified experience for a solid introduction to the character, and who can really say no to a good trade paperback.
Upon reading the above you should have a general idea of what to expect when you see Deadpool in theaters. In addition, you can check out any other stories from Marvel comics featuring Wade Wilson. Fantastic series include Cable and Deadpool (2004) onward and Deadpool (2012), which features comedian Brian Posehn on the writing staff. I hope you guys enjoy the film as much as I will!
All images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment LLC