Over the last two decades, Deadpool has become one of the most popular characters in all of comics, and with the recent critical and commercial success of his first solo movie, he’s quickly becoming a pop culture icon. For those wanting to know more about the Merc with a Mouth’s colorful and chimichanga-filled past, I’ve composed a list of five of the best Deadpool comics that you should most definitely read. Enjoy!
Deadpool by Joe Kelly (1997-1999)
Even though many often credit Rob Liefeld for being the creator of Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth really didn’t become the insane, fourth-wall breaking assassin that he’s known for being today until Joe Kelly started writing him over two decades ago. Saving the character from being a long forgotten relic of the 1990s, Kelly took the former X-Force/X-Men villain and transformed him into an anti-hero. Along with incorporating plenty of humor into his stories and establishing a likable supporting cast, Kelly also gave Deadpool a character-defining arc, introducing the merc’s ongoing struggle with being a killer and a hero.
There’s so much to enjoy about Kelly’s Deadpool, but one of the best and most hilarious stories of his run remains Deadpool #11, in which the crazed mercenary and his roommate, Blind Al, go back in time and find themselves in an issue of Stan Lee and John Romita’s The Amazing Spider-Man. A good portion of Romita’s art is used throughout the issue and features a disguised Deadool as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Al as Aunt May. Along with humorously-skewering comic books of the 1960s and mocking the appearances of Spidey’s colorful rogues gallery (Norman Osborne’s hair included), the issue also establishes the origins of Deadpool’s twisted friendship with the arms-dealer and tech-expert, Weasel.
Cable & Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza (2004-2008)
One of the longest running comic books to feature Wade Wilson, Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza’s 50-issue series, Cable & Deadpool (or Deadpool & Cable), is an extremely important book in Deadpool’s history. Not only was it the series that introduced the weird and surprisingly well-developed relationship between Deadpool and the time-traveling mutant, Cable, but it was also the first series to make Cable an interesting character worth following.
The series delves into Deadpool and Cable’s decade long feud, which started all the way back when the two first encountered one another in New Mutants #98. Though resentful and outright hateful of each other in the beginning of the series, the two anti-heroes eventually form a strong, though unconventional, friendship. Aside from a minor dip in quality when the series briefly became tied-in with Mark Millar’s abysmal Civil War event series, and when Cable’s character-arc was upended due to what was happening in other X-Men stories, Cable & Deadpool remains one of Marvel’s most successful team-up books.
Deadpool: Suicide Kings by Mike Benson and Adam Glass (2009)
Those looking to jump into an easy to read Deadpool story with no continuity baggage would do well to check out Mike Benson and Adam Glass’ Suicide Kings. A five issue mini-series, Suicide Kings is simple in its set-up and premise, with the Merc with a Mouth being framed for a terrorist act and battling longtime Spider-Man/Daredevil villain, Tombstone. Spidey and Ole’ Horn Head also guest star in the series and help Deadpool try to clear his name as well as attempt to uncover the true culprit behind the bombings across New York City.
Some of the book’s best moments involve Deadpool’s scuffles with the Punisher, with the latter believing that the crazed mercenary has been responsible for the terrorist acts. Though the two eventually learn to get along, their initial battle, which features the Punisher using various supervillain weapons such as Doc Ock’s arms and the Green Goblin’s goblin glider, is one of the action highlights of Suicide Kings.
Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender (2010-2012)
Rick Remender’s award-winning run on Uncanny X-Force is highly regarded among comic readers and critics alike, and it also happens to feature one of best appearances of Deadpool to date. Along with Psylocke, Archangel, Phantom X and Wolverine, Deadpool participates in morally questionable black-ops missions on the behalf of the X-Men. While Deadpool isn’t front-and-center in the series, Remender provides a far more nuanced take on the trash-talking mercenary. Though still cracking jokes (much to annoyance of his fellow X-Force teammates), Deadpool actually becomes the moral conscience of the team, and as the series goes on, a father figure and mentor.
It’s through Remender’s incarnation of Deadpool that we get a far more complex and emotional exploration of the character. One of the standout moments in the series features Wade angrily confronting Wolverine over the outcome of a mission. During this brief exchange of words with his longtime rival, we get a much better grasp of Deadpool’s sense of morality, loneliness and maturity as a person since he first debuted in the early 1990s.
Deadpool by Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn (2012-2015)
One of the most recent Deadpool runs featured the writing talents of Gery Duggan and Brian Posehn, and while their first storyline, “Dead Presidents,” which sees Deadpool fighting against zombified versions of U.S. presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, was rather disappointing, the rest of their run features some of the most memorable standalone Deadpool stories in quite some time. Looking past the forgettable first six issues, Duggan and Posehn’s Deadpool acts as a sort of sequel series to Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, in as so much that the Wade Wilson that we see running around in this book has definitely been influenced by his experiences as a member of X-Force. Yes, he still jokes, breaks the fourth wall and professes his undying love for chimichangas, but he’s definitely not the amoral assassin that we see in Joe Kelly’s early run. He works hard to establish friendly relationships with his supporting cast, most notably the X-Men and their mutant students.
The standout story of the series remains “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and features Deadpool teaming up with Wolverine and Captain America to investigate a Weapon X/Plus like-program in North Korea. It’s arguably one of the most disturbing and tragic stories in the mercenary’s history, and in many ways, acts as a proper bookend to Deadpool’s struggle with being a hero.
What about you reader? Are there any specific Deadpool comics that you’re a big fan of? Let us know in the comments below!
Interested in picking up some of the titles mentioned in the article? Please use our Amazon links to do so!