Have you ever thought, “Gosh, I wish I knew where to begin with Deadpool?” Yes? This list is for you!

If you are reading this list, I am sure that you have already seen the DEADPOOL film starring Ryan Reynolds. If you have, then you have a certain idea of who Wade Wilson is. He’s loud, brash, obnoxious, ridiculously self-aware, and so very heinously violent. Reading that back, none of those adjectives are complimentary in the least. In fact, were I referencing any other hero they would be insulting. With Deadpool, though, they are something of a high praise for a character who’s persona is built on comical irreverence.

Deadpool’s initial creation is a joke itself: originally conceived as an imitation of DC’s Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), Wade Wilson quickly deviated into an original character. Many writers have chosen to highlight various aspects of Wilson, be that his capacity for comedy or the hyper-violent. What has always remained a constant, though, is that, like all of the greatest comic book characters, he is a character all his own.

The list we’ve compiled below is extensive for sure: believe us, we had to make it. But each one adds to the thick-layered lasagna of a character fans have come to love over the past 20-odd years. So dig in and get to know Marvel’s Merc With A Mouth!

DEADPOOL: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY By Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The title should really give you some insight into what you’re getting into. In this sucker punch of a crossover, Deadpool is trying to figure out why he’s being hunted down to be a research subject. Eventually teaming up with fellow Weapon Plus experiments, Wolverine and Captain America, Wade’s taken on a journey that forces him to question the assumptions that he’d made about his life thus far.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY is widely regarded as one of the best modern DEADPOOL stories, if not one of the best ever. It works because Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan understand the best way to serve this character is through balance. The humor can’t be too tacked on, nor can the action be too gratuitous (by Deadpool standards, of course). In order for such a dynamic character to work, there needs to be some pathos grounding him and giving readers someone to invest in. His stories are worthwhile and not just empty-calorie fun because we’ve been convinced into caring about him.

Wolverine and Captain America are great foils to have for how similar and different they are to Wilson. Wolverine’s something of an older brother to Deadpool while Cap’s his personal hero. Including them brings out new, deeper elements in the character that may not otherwise come out, not to mention that all three personalities interacting is an absolute treat. We also have a supremely worthy villain in The Butler that works to round out a stellar cast of characters. Read this one.

DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE By Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Spoiler alert! The title is the endgame of this story. However, like the greatest of Hitchcock’s thrillers, the demented entertainment is not in knowing what will happen, it’s in the spaces in between where the tension builds. You aren’t reading this to be surprised that Deadpool kills everyone you know and love. You’re reading this to see how he’s going to possibly do it. And really, there is no better way of pulling off a story so ambitious.

Imagine for a moment that Deadpool’s…”eccentricities,” as we’ll call them, weren’t funny but just plainly disturbing? Still fun? This book asks you to indulge in some of your more gruesome and macabre satisfactions. After all, we’re watching Deadpool take down an entire treasure trove of historically titanic characters. Strangely enough, we’re pretty okay with Cullen Bunn doing so because it’s just so satisfying to read.

Guilty Pleasures: Deadpool and Misogyny

CABLE AND DEADPOOL vol. 1: “If Looks Could Kill” by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Brooks

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Batman and Robin, The Wonder Twins, Daredevil and Elektra. These are only a few of comics’ classic dynamic duos, but you can add another to your list, Deadpool and Cable. Both are mutants, both are gruesome mercenaries, and both are armed with enough black humor to make Martin Amis blush. But their differences are enough to make such a pair-up nothing short of necessary. Cable (Nathan Summers) is more serious and less vulgar than Wade Wilson, providing an excellent foil to a character known for being the exact opposite.

Fair warning: if you’re looking for a plot-driven beauty, this is not such a story. Over the course of the six issues, the plot gets a bit strained in places. What keeps it all together, and keeps you reading, though, is the chemistry of these two characters. Nicieza writes such a hilariously classic dynamic that it’s no wonder DEADPOOL 2 is taking beats from the series. That’s not to say that the story alone is a drag: it’s just that the clear stars of this book are its stars. The plot gives them a platform to stand on. They’re clearly the gold medalists that make this book shine among all other Deadpool and Cable titles.

DEADPOOL CLASSIC vol. 1 by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Joe Madureira, Robert Liefeld, Ian Churchill, Lee Weeks, and Ed McGuinness

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

I think including this goes without explanation, but we’ll explain anyway. What better way to get familiar with the Merc With A Mouth than by reading some of his original stories? As we said before, Deadpool has changed a lot over his relatively short life. Just as it’s important you know his deranged partnership with Cable, it’s equally important that you get to know where it all started. That’s why this collection is here.

As the title indicates, CLASSIC VOLUME 1 collects many of Deadpool’s earliest stories in a neat package making it a great read for those unwilling to scavenge for early issues. There’s many of the things you’ve come to love (or at least hilariously indulge in) about Deadpool here: mischief, mayhem, money, and a whole lotta heart at the center. The stories here are by some of the best Deadpool writers. If you’re going to specifically start anywhere, let this be the place.

DEADPOOL: SUICIDE KINGS By Mike Benson, Carlo Barbieri, and Sean Crystal

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

This book asks you to suspend your disbelief for a moment. In SUICIDE KINGS, Deadpool is framed for blowing up a building which kills a lot of people. The thing is that he didn’t do it! Don’t beat yourself up for believing that he did it: so do Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Punisher. Really, everyone just assumes Deadpool did it, so it’s up to him to 1) Avoid being apprehended and/or killed, and 2) Do so long enough to clear his name and find whoever did.

Like the very best Deadpool books, it has a ridiculous premise, snappy dialogue, hilarious interactions, and some extra grit just to make you feel a little bad for laughing so hard. Mike Benson does a great job crafting a story that is outside the main Marvel universe and thus allowed to really spread its wings in terms of its ambition. The appearances by other Marvel characters provides ample opportunity for Deadpool to shine. It’s always a treat seeing how his antics play against “sane” characters. Carlo Barbieri and Sean Crystal help out by giving some sharp illustration that thankfully doesn’t get too artsy or involved. There’s a certain ease to it that suits Deadpool and this story.

DEADPOOL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION vol. 1 by Daniel Way, Anthony Diggle, Steve Dillon, Paco Medina, Carlo Barberi, and Bong Dazo

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Deadpool is a character about balance. That said, if you find yourself looking for a big ol’ wise-ass and hold the drama then Daniel Way’s DEADPOOL is for you. In this collection of his tenure on DEADPOOL, Way takes the comic elements of the character and dials them up from a hearty 7 to a scale-breaking 11 (we’re working on a 1-10 here). Each situation Wade Wilson finds himself in is more ridiculous than the last: his cracks and asides become more unhinged. In short, this book is less of a roller coaster and more of a non-stop adrenaline thrill. If you like your comics gut-punching and funny, then you’re welcome. Just call us your comics concierge.

DEADPOOL vol. 1: “Dead Presidents” by Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan and Tony Moore

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Have you ever had the itching desire to know what would happen if several deceased former presidents of the United States were suddenly reanimated like a George A Romero flick? Well, even if you haven’t, I bet you’re curious now. Luckily, to quell that curiosity comes the first arc of Brian Posehn’s DEADPOOL run so aptly named, “Dead Presidents”. When other Marvel heroes can’t stop them (heroes don’t kill presidents, right?), Wade Wilson must be the one to kill our deceased former heads of government. I mean, if you’d believe anyone would do it, it’s him, right? So there you go. Watch as the Merc with a Mouth has it out in in the ring with Abe Lincoln and battles Reagan in space!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll scratch your head wondering who thought of this ridiculous idea and whether they should be on the no-fly list! Most importantly, though, once completed, you too will have a slightly tilted moral compass. So say your pledge and count your stars because this one’s a doozy!

Sitting Down With DEADPOOL Mo-cap Artist Greg LaSalle

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEADPOOL by Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Okay, okay, we know: zombies are so 2013, but hear us out. Amidst the deluge of beautifully bad horror films, THE WALKING DEAD television show and comic, and more flesh-rotting memorabilia than can fit in the bedroom of your parents’ house, there is this comic. It is a simple comic, a humble comic. It’s just Deadpool fighting a dearth of the undead. Wade Wilson wakes up from a food coma only to find out that the zombie apocalypse has stricken Earth. Keen to avoid being Dead-gruel, our intrepid also undead-but-it’s-different wise-ass must face these ravenous foes. Unlike “Dead Presidents,” though, this one ain’t no laughing matter. It’s downright serious: dire, some might even say. To make that point clear, it’s even in black and white. And everyone knows black and white is only funny if Groucho’s around.

DEADPOOL KILLS DEADPOOL by Cullen Bunn and Salvador Espin

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Part trois (that’s 3 for the non-French inclined) of the “KILLOGY” which also includes DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, comes the Comedy Central Roast of all comics: DEADPOOL KILLS DEADPOOL. I suppose the only difference in this case is that Deadpool, being the self-deprecating narcissist that he is, is both roaster and roastee. What a marvel of character innovation technology: the self-roaster. Okay, not entirely. An alternate reality Deadpool has started wiping all other Deadpools from existence. Our Deadpool must team up with other versions of himself to stop another version of himself. Okay so not totally a roast, but more like some sick pulp nightmare full of endless snark and self-awareness. It’s sharp, fun, razor-sharp with wit, and yet still surprisingly tender like a tangy, multi-colored steak with a nail sticking out of it (see adjectives above to follow lunacy).

UNCANNY X-FORCE vol. 1 By Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, and Leonardo Manco

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Sometimes the best stories for a character don’t come from their individual titles, but from a team book. This holds true for the Avengers, the Justice League, and most certainly with Deadpool as well. UNCANNY X-FORCE finds Wolverine forming a secret team to once again take on the fresh-faced reborn threat of Apocalypse; no, not the biblical one, the character, En Sabah Nur. This team of sort-of heroes (call yourself what you like, Deadpool), must face off against the Horsemen and Apocalypse himself. The only problem is, the X-Men don’t kill so how do you stop an immortal everlasting threat to humanity without totally destroying it? Well, you make a specific strike force of a team with blurrier morals.

As much fun as it is seeing Deadpool have free reign in his own title, if given the right story, a team-up lets him shine just as much. Thankfully, Remender provides such a story. He understands the character of Deadpool enough to know how to include him without having him monopolize the story. Psychlocke, Archangel, Deadpool, Wolverine, and Fantomex all give equal contribution to what is a beautifully gruesome team dynamic. The real strength, though, is that Remender doesn’t treat this as some novelty team-up: he doesn’t settle for the gimmicks. He gives us a great team and then an even better story that pulls you in and keeps you captivated until the final page. It’s not strictly a Deadpool book, but it captures an essence of the character not always found in his solo stories.

DEADPOOL MAX #1-12 by David Lapham, Kyle Baker, and Sean Crystal

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Not for the faint of heart, DEADPOOL MAX takes fans on a wild ride into explicit territory. You thought Wade Wilson couldn’t get any more crass? Think again! But that’s got nothing to do with why it’s included in this list, though you better be comfortable with it if you’re going to read this. Due to nudity and cursing it is definitely for more mature readers. What this does, though, is bring new depth to Deadpool in different – if slightly unconventional – ways and open new avenues for storytelling. It isn’t like Deadpool is known for conventionality anyway. Right?

So, what’s the story? Wade Wilson’s gone corporate! Well, he’s gone federal working for the government as an agent. Thing is, knowing that he’s an unstable sadist, the feds have given him a Bob (everyone needs a Bob, right?). Bob’s job is to make sure Wade gets his missions done: whatever it takes. Unfortunately for Bob, Deadpool treats him like a sidekick rather than a partner. So, of course, he’s always taking one for the team. Poor Bob.

DEADPOOL vol 10: “Evil Deadpool” by Daniel Way, Salvador Espin, and John McCrea

Deadpool
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It is a common trope in comics to have to, through some narrative gymnastics, face off against your figurative self. But never one for convention, Deadpool must face off against not just his anti-self, but his literal self. A collection of Wade Wilson’s discarded body parts have joined together to create an evil clone in some terrifying science fiction undead starfish scenario. Then, through a complicated series of events, the NYPD, Interpol, and Captain America all become involved. Deadpool has to prove that, no, he’s not the hyper-violent psychopath committing a series of hyper-violent crimes. He may be a hyper-violent psychopath, but even he has his limits.

In Conclusion

Deadpool’s runaway success should really come as no surprise to anybody. His quick wit mixed with infinite meme potential makes perfect sense why he’s seen such an uptick in mainstream popularity in recent years. Still, no matter what medium he finds his spotlight in, Deadpool’s comics are where he can shine best. If ever there were a medium so accepting of the unconventional, of the weird, and of the ridiculous, it would be comic books. After getting through this list, you’ll see that, in comics, there’s boundless narrative and artistic potential for Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth. These books are his home, and in keeping with his self-referential lunacy, he knows that.

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