(I should probably first mention RIP Bea Arthur because… well, you know. It’s on-topic)
Wade Wilson. Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth. The Deathstroke the Terminator knockoff. Cable’s reluctant sidekick. The would-be mutant. The febrile-minded man who has to deal with outrageous moral quandaries. The man who shot Liberty Valance. The… you get the point. These days are pretty lucrative for the yellow-bubbled anti-hero of Marvel. The character, who as of this writing has been around for 19 years, has gone through many twist and turns in his fictional existence. Enough that I can write up 70 of his best moments. Why 70? Because it’s a week-long series and ten per day is a round enough number on its own.
First appearing in New Mutants #98, created by the team of Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool would follow the cast as the series became X-Force. There, his character, though with attempts at humor, was mostly pretty bland. His appearances usually involved him talking about how great the mysterious Mr. Tolliver was paying him followed by Wade beating the crap out of his girlfriend Copycat. So yeah, not very fun.
Then he got his own miniseries. It wasn’t all that great, though the ending showed that he wasn’t a total piece of shit. Then he got another miniseries and it was better. Then he finally got his own on-going series, which had a great run by Joe Kelly. Once he left, it went for about two and a half years of different writers that made the whole thing seem like a big step down. Luckily, prior to being cancelled at #69, Deadpool’s final issues were a huge breath of fresh air and put some life back into the character… except for the fact that they killed him off.
But then his Japanese Ben Reilly self got an on-going series, which ruled until the original creative team was kicked off. Then it eventually turned lousy and got itself cancelled. Thankfully, Marvel brought the original team back for three issues to both explain the mystery of the main character’s identity and bring Deadpool back from the dead. Hurray!
From there, Deadpool shared a comic with his blood enemy Cable. In a series that played the two off of each other brilliantly, it went on for a respectable run. Unfortunately, Cable joined the X-Men at one point and the series, though still very readable, had jumped the shark. Even worse, Cable “died”, thus making it all about just Deadpool again and robbing the magic of what made the series fun. But hey, 50 issues isn’t bad.
After a memorable stint in Wolverine Origins, Deadpool has returned to form in yet another solo series. Plus a recent one-shot. And a new miniseries. And a role in Messiah War. And a spot in the animated movie Hulk vs. Wolverine. And a Thunderbolts crossover. And a SECOND on-going series coming up in a few months.
Oh, and Ryan Reynolds is playing Wade Wilson in a movie that’s coming out, but apparently has little to do with what made people like the character in the first place. Like Movie Deadpool’s lack of mouth for one.
Now, then. Let’s get this countdown underway.
70) Meeting with the Taskmaster
Deadpool #68 (2002)
Writer: Gail Simone
Having been infected by the Black Swan’s mind virus, Deadpool meets with the Taskmaster, an occasional nemesis, but mutual friend to his secretary Sandi. Oh, they were also in the Frightful Four together, but nobody remembers that. At a bar, Taskmaster tells Deadpool a story of how he worked with Black Swan years back, which ended with Swan beating down Taskmaster and turning their third partner – a hulking badass who crushes skulls with his bare hands – into a braindead mess. Ominous stuff and all, but how does Deadpool react?
“Nut porn is what it is. Disgusting.”
Taskmaster, completely unfazed by this, gets up and leaves after paying his part of the tab. He offers to join Deadpool against Black Swan for the sake of Sandi’s feelings and a little revenge, but Deadpool decides against it.
69) Deadpool Visits the Asylum
Deadpool #6 (1997)
Writer: Joe Kelly
I’m going to let reader Michelle B. take care of this one.
while trying to sneak into a mental hospital, Weasel and Deadpool pose as doctor and patient. Weasel pretends to be a man who thinks he’s Ricki Lake (a dated reference that’s still kind of funny?) and Wade pretends to be his doctor. The real great moment happens shortly after Weasel is admitted: a man stops Dr. Deadpool, claiming his hallucinations have stopped and that he thinks he’s well enough to go home now.
I like it because it’s an actually, genuinely funny moment. It’s just so pointlessly cruel.
Who am I to disagree with that? Even better is the follow-up conversation.
“Hey, what good is a holographic projector if you can’t make people laugh with it?”
“He’s not laughing, Wade… He’s hemorrhaging.”
Also, I just noticed that Deadpool’s disguise is “Dr. Jack”. That’s pretty awesome foreshadowing.
68) Dead Man Wade
X-Calibre #4 (1995)
Writer: Warren Ellis
In the world of Age of Apocalypse, Wade Wilson works as one of Apocalypse’s Pale Riders. His powers are given to him by Apocalypse and perhaps due to the lack of color or art in that world (ie. no pop-culture), he is opposite of the way we know him. He wallows in depression and hates all life because it leads to pain.
Also, Dani Moonstar regularly tortures him for the hell of it, yet when she’s killed for it by Damask, Wade is horrified and confused. He’s legitimately shocked when Damask says that Moonstar never liked him.
Despite his defeated nature, Wade goes into a frenzy upon arriving on Avalon. The place is such paradise and so full of life that Wade wants to destroy it.
Here’s what Joe Samaniego has to say on it:
Even though it was out of character, his representation in Age of Apocalypse was really interesting for me. He shows up in X-Calibre issues 2-3 (maybe 1 and 4, I can’t remember) I think. It showed two sides of him that I had never seen before.
The first was him being a victim to Dani Moonstar’s cutting him, then asking why she was senselessly killed. The second was later when the group finds Avalon and he really cuts loose and tries to destroy Avalon since it stinks of life. He usually doesn’t have a respect for life, but here he hates it so much he tries to destroy it. I dunno if this is more a commentary on Wade’s fucked up nature, or the fucked up nature of the AoA world, but I thought it was neat nonetheless.
When Damask, enthralled by Avalon’s beauty, betrays Wade, Wade shrugs off her attacks while going into a crying fit.
“Look at muhmeee. I am the world… I don’t die… I just regenerate and rot… I-I-I’m a nice man! I am! I just don’t want people to be alive! That’s all!”
His creepiness is ended when Nightcrawler appears on his shoulder, grabs his head and decapitates him via teleportation.
67) Comatose Nathan
Cable/Deadpool #10 (2005)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Cable has set up the superhero community like chess pieces for his big plan. Thanks to mixing it up with Deadpool’s DNA for a bit (no homo), Cable’s telepathy is turned up to 11+. He knows it’s going to go out of control, so he hopes that by staging a takeover of the world, he’ll go out martyred by superheroes.
Long story short, as it delves into a later entry, it doesn’t work out quite like he planned. The Silver Surfer arrives and messes Cable up something fierce. Nathan then has Deadpool use a special tech doodad on him to lobotomize him. This leaves Cable in a catatonic state, with Deadpool left to deal with his silent once-enemy.
And for you wrestling fans wondering, no, that isn’t Kane talking in the narration box.
Deadpool #37 (2000)
Writer: Christopher Priest
Priest’s run on Deadpool is very miss-over-hit, but you have to cut the guy some slack. He wasn’t really aware of the character until he was given the job of writing him. Plus Joe Kelly’s final issue wasn’t the greatest place for the following writer to pick up and move on. That isn’t me saying that Kelly’s final issue was the most fantastic thing ever, but that he did kind of a shit job setting anything up for the next guy.
Priest’s first couple issues are a mess, involving a subplot about Deadpool randomly turning into goo that doesn’t go anywhere and is never resolved, among other things. It leads to a strange reveal where Loki appears and claims Deadpool is his son. He coaxes Deadpool into dealing with Thor. After watching the Odinson save some people, Deadpool finds and grabs Thor’s thrown hammer, giving himself the powers of Thor.
With that, we get a nifty montage of Deadpool using his powers for the sake of… hell if I know.
As it turns out, that was a fake Mjolnir created by Loki to throw off Thor and it all goes to hell. Thor gets his hammer back, Deadpool loses his powers and then he has a big falling out with Loki. The less said about that, the better.
But the more said about this entry by the readers is better still. Readers like googum here:
When Wade picks up Thor’s hammer. Wade so knows it’s wrong, but does it anyway, and flies. That pretty much sums up the character: Pool tries to do the right thing, often does the wrong thing, and very occasionally the wrong thing pays off in spades. Priest nails the Thor/Loki dynamic, too. I don’t think I appreciated those enough at the time, but looking back they’ve held up.
65) Ultimate Deadpool Unmasked
Ultimate Spider-Man #94 (2006)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
This is the lone appearance of Ultimate Deadpool on the list. It isn’t that he’s an awful character… well, at least to me. There’s still debate here and there about Wade’s Ultimate self. I just think that the big problem with him is that he’s only shown up once.
Regular Deadpool is a horrible, vile stain of a human being who over time grew to become something more and redeem himself. Sure, he’s a wacky anti-hero now, but when he started, he was guilty of stuff that can’t be so easily forgiven. Starting a character out as a man who hates mutants so much that he’s let people experiment on him for enhancements? Sounds good to me.
I was going to say, “Now do something with it!” but then I remember who’s in charge of the Ultimate Universe. Crap.
Anyway, the real cool part of Ultimate Deadpool’s short tenure is when Spider-Man unmasks him. For the four issues of the arc, you have to wonder just what they’re going to do about Wadey Wilson (yes, Wadey)’s face. 616 Deadpool’s face is scarry mush. How can they possibly go farther in the Ultimate line?
Whoa! Maybe 616 Wade should be counting his blessings after all. Damn.
64) The X-Men Go Mental
Cable/Deadpool #8 (2006)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Deadpool’s dressed up in a fake X-Men suit that Beast and Wolverine use for gambling (betting on whether Deadpool vomits or genuinely believes he’s part of the team). They then go into the meeting room to join Cyclops in discussing the Cable situation. Deadpool, noting the sausage fest, asks about Emma Frost. She’s busy shielding their conversation from Cable.
Deadpool’s craziness has a biological component to it that keeps Cable – as well as all psychics – from reading his mind. Emma goes with it and the X-Men have a rather amusing conversation about thongs, doohickeys and whether they can trust Deadpool or not. I’m not sure if Deadpool even realizes that they’re all having a powwow in his skull or not, as he talks about how quiet it is all of the sudden. To fight the boredom, he starts singing “My Sharona”, which snaps everyone out of their conversation.
You know what? Put Nicieza on Astonishing X-Men. I’d be all for that.
63) The Garbage Men
Deadpool #22 (1998)
Writer: Joe Kelly
I love that issue with Cable where they talk about being “garbagemen” – the unpleasant necessities of civilized society, butchers vs. shepherds, et cetera. It’s nice because it’s worth remembering that Deadpool fundamentally DOESN’T like himself, as much as he pretends otherwise to be fun and happy-go-lucky – which explains a lot about the character.
In the issue prior to Dead Reckoning, Wade Wilson is broken up over realizing that after months and months of lead-up about how he’s going to be this great hero for the world by working for LL&L, his big job is nothing more than a super-powered whacking. He’s tried to be something better, but in the end, all they want is a murderer. He goes to mull it over at the X-Mansion while looking over a sleeping Siryn, but Cable pops in and tells him to get outside.
Cable talks down at Deadpool for a bit, but Deadpool talks back enough to goad Cable into a fight. At the time, Cable is without most of his powers and is currently dying, so the ideas of destiny and legacy are on his mind as well. The fight screeches when Deadpool’s makeshift mask (a cardboard box with holes cut out) comes off and he needs to hide his face. Cable gets into Deadpool’s face about responsibility and lets it slip that he’s going to die soon. Suddenly, neither guy really feels like fighting. We get the first moment where Cable and Deadpool aren’t at each other’s throats.
From there the conversation is about the reward of being life’s garbage man. Deadpool thinks it’s a big crock and that he and Cable are getting shafted. All that work and for what? Cable finds himself realizing the scale of his own heroics and leads Wade into a lesson about how their job is the reward in itself. The idea of finding his own worth before it’s too late rings with Deadpool, who leaves the scene to go take care of the Mithras thing.
62) The Murder of Fake Bin Laden
Cable/Deadpool #14 (2005)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Everything was finally going well in Deadpool’s life for the first time in a long while. He had friends. He had a beautiful home. He didn’t need to be a gun-toting mercenary to make ends meet or to make it through the day. Yet, one of his biggest characteristics became his biggest flaw and undid what was a good deal. That flaw being his insanity.
In Cable’s utopian island Providence, they let pretty much everyone in. This includes terrorist leader and lover of cave bases Haji Jin Barat, who seems a bit taken in by the place. He’s later found dead with Deadpool and Irene Merryweather trying to figure out who the killer is. Irene is reluctant to say it, but Deadpool soon discovers that he himself is the murderer.
Later, he speaks with Cable about the situation. Deadpool figures he must have had a reason to kill Barat, but can’t for the life of him come up with it. It’s then that Cable brings up a file he read on Deadpool’s biology. As long as he has his healing factor, his mind will be messed up. He’ll continue to suffer memory lapses. Of course, without the healing factor, he’ll die of cancer.
Deadpool seems understandably bummed about this conversation, but Cable has to leave Providence and refuses to leave Wade unsupervised. One more time, he asks him why he killed Barat, but Deadpool just can’t give him a straight answer.
Deadpool leaves Providence and seeks out the villain Black Box so that he can finally die. Poor guy.
61) Scream for Sabretooth
Deadpool #57 (2001)
Writer: Frank Tieri
No matter how bad the movie version of Deadpool turns out, I can at least rest easy knowing that his comic self can potentially riff it to hell. Come on, you know there’s going to be a story arc where Deadpool suddenly gets optic blasts. That can be hilarious if done right.
Similarly, during the Weapon X arc in Deadpool’s solo series, he’s surprised by Sabretooth, who shoves Deadpool against a window by the throat and tells him, “Scream for me!” Obviously, a reference to Tyler Mane’s towering hobo performance in the first X-Men movie.
Haha, oh fun.
That’s enough for the countdown for now. We’ll pick it back up tomorrow. But before then, I’m going to be doing an extra 5-piece countdown for each of these articles. Today, it’s the TOP FIVE OBSCURE DEADPOOL COMIC APPEARANCES YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF!
5) Secret Defenders #16-18
Man, you’d think a comic about Luke Cage and Deadpool teaming up would be awesome, but not here. These three issues involve the two of them more as background dressing than main characters, as we get a story about Dr. Druid going up against Dr. Strange. Meh.
4) Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #23
It’s especially painful to read Deadpool when the writer is really unfunny and Gregory Wright is a good example. Yikes. Deadpool is hired to take out Silver Sable, but the armored Daredevil gets in his way. In the end, they disarm Wade and Sable pays him enough to cancel out his job and tell her who hired him in the first place. Sable then puts him on retainer.
3) Heroes Reborn Remnants
Hey, I haven’t even heard of this comic before this. In this continuation of the Heroes Reborn world, a wacky team of teen heroes are sent to go up against Deadpool, the last Avenger. Deadpool has become aware that their world is the mental creation of Franklin Richards and has responded by losing his mind and eating a lot of fatty foods to the point of obesity. Then, rather than take the kids on in a climactic battle, he dons a cowboy hat, rides a nuke and dies Dr. Strangelove style. Joe Kelly, sometimes I wonder about you.
Hey, remember J2? The son of Juggernaut as a superhero in the same future as Spider-Girl? No? Well, he had a series for a while by Tom Defalco.
In one adventure, he accidentally gets pulled into a mysterious island where some of the older martial arts superheroes like Iron Fist and White Tiger are entered in a fighting tournament. J2 trains under a blind Howard the Duck and later stumbles upon the truth about the tournament. In reality, it’s held by Deadpool, who uses this as a way to keep in shape at his old age. Surprisingly, Blind Al is still alive during this.
The others go into a mass beatdown on Deadpool and… it kind of just ends.
1) Deadpool Almost Destroys the Marvel Universe
Well, there’s probably a good chance you’ve heard of this one, but I might as well give it a mention somewhere in here. Jim Calafiore had an idea for a Deadpool comic in the chronological style of Memento where he teams up with a whole bunch of New York-based heroes to fight off an alien invasion. It wasn’t all that bad, but it never saw the light of day.
You see, DADtMU was made to be an emergency fill-in. Just in case one creative team was being delayed, they’d toss this guy in. Hey, that’s how the Mr. Fish issue of Luke Cage worked out. The problem lies with how Marvel didn’t need an emergency fill-in after all. Plus Deadpool wasn’t selling enough to warrant it to be released as a one-shot.
Calafiore ended up releasing the uncolored art to the internet, along with a Word file of the dialogue. Go on, Google it. It’s a fun ride.