Deadpool is one of Marvel's most notoriously shocking characters, and the actor who plays him, Ryan Reynolds, just shocked the world big time with the reveal of a release date for Deadpool 3 - and the even more surprising announcement that classic Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman will come out of retirement to pop his claws one more time in the film.
We've covered the best Wolverine comics, but this is all about Deadpool - and the Merc With a Mouth has his own list of the best Deadpool stories that feature all the madcap mercenary action you love from his hit movies.
10. The Circle Chase
(Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1-4)
After appearing as a regular character in X-Force for a while, Deadpool received his first miniseries in 1993 by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Joe Madureira. The plot is very tied up in what was going on in the X-books at the time but the series still stands on the merits of Joe Mad’s art.
This is still the intense muscle bound, gun-slinging action that defined the 90s but with a bit more of a skilled hand. Wade Wilson wasn’t quite the wisecracking warrior that he’d become under Joe Kelly but Nicieza’s murderous mercenary is still a worthwhile read.
9. Dead Presidents
(Deadpool Vol. 3 #1 - 5)
Gerry Duggan has written more Deadpool than anyone and the beginning of his run with co-writer Brian Posehn and artist Tony Moore shows exactly why. Ol’ DP teams up with the ghost of Benjamin Franklin (ya know, the one from Steve Englehart’s run on Doctor Strange) to kill the now-revived former Presidents of the United States who are looking to destroy the country.
It’s just crazy enough and just stupid enough that it makes for a really fun Deadpool story that deals in the character’s trademark action-comedy with a healthy dose of weirdness. Tony Moore is the perfect fit for this story as he’s very adept at depicting the madcap violence. Just like Deadpool, he makes the guts and gore a lot of fun.
8. Healing Factor
(Deadpool Vol. 1 #65 - 66, #68 - 69)
Gail Simone’s run on Deadpool was fairly short but Healing Factor stands as a testament to Wade’s ingenuity. Sometimes the greatest asset he has is something that wouldn’t be considered an asset by literally anyone else - his mind.
While facing off with Black Swan, an assassin who can read minds, Wade does the one thing you generally shouldn’t do when fighting a telepath: he lets him into his brain. Fortunately, Wade’s fractured psyche proves to be too much for the treacherous telepath allowing our hapless, harebrained hero to win the day.
7. A Kiss, A Curse, A Cure
(Deadpool / Death Annual '98)
Joe Kelly and Steve Harris used this annual to give Deadpool’s backstory some much-needed depth. They introduced Wolverine to Wade’s origin by explaining that his healing factor is based on Logan’s.
And they gave Wade something of an unrequited love interest: the Marvel Universe’s personification of Death. Deadpool’s dalliances with Death have proven fodder for many stories over the years and it’s an interesting direction to take a character who famously can’t die. Plus it puts Wade in a love triangle with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.
(Deadpool Vol. 2 #10 - #12)
Daniel Way’s run on Deadpool coincided with the character’s huge boost in popularity and while some of his work is derided for dumbing the character down into meme-shell of his former self, 'Bullseye' is a perfect example of what drew people to the series.
Set during the 'Dark Reign' era that featured Norman Osborn leading his own Avengers, Bullseye is in many ways the precursor to all of the various Deadpool Vs. miniseries we’ve seen in recent years. Way has a lot of fun showing us all the ways that these two madmen set out to kill each other and Paco Medina delivers on the arc’s various set pieces. Given Deadpool’s cartoony qualities, this is like a violent Looney Tunes episode and that works for it.
5. If Looks Could Kill
(Cable & Deadpool #1 - 6)
Riggs and Murtagh. Bonnie and Clyde. Deadpool and Cable? If Looks Could Kill is the first arc of Cable and Deadpool’s unlikely team-up book and Fabian Nicieza makes a case for why they are one of the most dynamic duos in comic books history.
Sure, they may have been forced into a situation that left both of them mostly melted, needing to meld together before Cable vomits up Deadpool’s regenerating body but some of the best partnerships have messy beginnings.
4. Whatever Happened to the White Caption Boxes?
(Deadpool Annual 2013)
One of the hallmarks of Daniel Way’s run on Deadpool were the multiple voices in Deadpool’s head constantly making things more difficult for the maroon mercenary. But when Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn removed that aspect of the character, many wondered just where they had gone. Enter Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Doc Shaner.
With this annual, they explained that the white caption boxes were actually F-list Captain America villain Madcap who had been combined with Deadpool by a bolt of Thor’s lightning. Their ensuring separation is one of the funniest Deadpool comic books on record and one of the most inventive retcons in recent history.
3. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
(Deadpool Vol. 3 #15-19)
Deadpool’s capacity for great pathos is something that only certain writers have been able to tap into effectively. Duggan and Posehn may have started their run off in a fairly silly fashion but they knew how to cut to the heart, too. This story sees Captain America and Wolverine teaming with Wade to figure out who keeps drugging him and harvesting his organs.
It’s an interesting look at how something as commonplace in comics as experimentation greatly altered the lives of three of the Marvel Universe’s biggest characters and how that trauma still defines them to this day. What’s important in this story is Cap and Wolvie gaining a deeper understanding of Wade along with the reader and realizing that he really tries to be a hero in spite of himself sometimes. Plus Declan Shalvey really sells the tone of the story with his somewhat darker take on Deadpool.
2. With Great Power Comes Great Coincidence
(Deadpool Vol. 1 #11)
Joe Kelly’s penchant for innovation helped define Deadpool before he was a household name and this issue is exactly one of the reasons why. Blind Al and Deadpool find themselves transported to the pages of 1967’s Amazing Spider-Man #47 and use DP’s image inducer to blend in... as Aunt May and Peter Parker!
Pete Woods handles all of the new art but this issue remixes the original pages by John Romita Sr. right in. It’s a really ridiculous premise but it works so well for a couple of reasons. First of all, Woods does a really killer Romita Sr. impression that makes the concept work. And secondly, it’s a clever way to show how Deadpool compares and differs from one of Marvel’s flagship heroes. Despite his quips and similar costume, DP’s got more of an edge that Peter Parker could ever hope to have and that plays out in his crime-fighting methods as well as his metacommentary of just about everything in the issue.
1. Dead Reckoning
(Deadpool Vol.1 #23-25)
Dead Reckoning stands as the real climax of Joe Kelly’s run and the template for Deadpool’s potential as a character. Wade’s always been a pretty elastic character, one able to fit into a myriad of stories that greatly vary in tone. When pressed to do what’s right, Wade Wilson generally steps up to the plate. And sometimes, what’s right is kicking Captain America right in the ‘nards in order to save the world from an alien invader that threatens it with... world peace?
Yeah, Wade ends up deciding that people having their free will is more important than them having eternal happiness. And he’s not even sure that he made the right call but he recognizes that there’s got to be some bad with the good. The choice to do good and to be good is powerful and that’s the throughline that has made Deadpool such a resonate and long-lasting character despite all the silliness.