The 5 Comics You Have to Read Before Seeing Deadpool
Based on the Deadpool trailers alone, you know who the Merc with a Mouth is: irreverent, violent, and completely aware that he is a fictional character. Since his debut in 1991’s New Mutants #98, Wade Wilson has gone from wisecracking his way through action sequences to becoming comics’ very own Bugs Bunny—albeit a Bugs who’s weirdly OK with murder and into the worst kind of mischief.
But if the idea of Ryan Reynolds snarking his way across the screen intrigues you while also leaving you wondering “Hey, who is this Deadpool dude, anyway?” then we have something for you. Just read the comics below and give yourself a nice crash course in who Deadpool is—and why you should care.
Deadpool Vol. 3 #1-33 (1997-1999)
The third solo outing for Deadpool—his first ongoing monthly comic book, after a couple of trial mini-series—is considered to be the core text by many Deadpool fans, and with good reason: Writer Joe Kelly takes the basic elements of the character and molds them into the Deadpool fans know and love today, while also coming up with some of the best superhero comedy the genre’s ever seen. (#11, in which Deadpool travels in time and ends up in the middle of an old Amazing Spider-Man issue, is absolutely … well, amazing.)
How to read it: Available digitally and in print collections as Deadpool by Joe Kelly Omnibus or individually as Deadpool Classic Vols. 2-5.
Cable & Deadpool #1-6 (2004)
Ryan Reynolds has teased that any potential Deadpool sequel might involve Cable, the time-traveling no-nonsense son of Cyclops who’s part cyborg and also telekinetic and … you know what? We’re going to leave that for X-Plain The X-Men to handle. Cable and Deadpool both debuted in New Mutants (and from the pen of artist Rob Liefeld) around the same time, so the two are often linked in many fans’ minds. In comic book terms, their pairing in this opening storyline from a series that ran for a number of years tells you everything you need to know about how the two interact: tersely, but with great buddy-comedy timing.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Cable/Deadpool Vol. 1: If Looks Could Kill print collection.
Deadpool Max #1-12 (2010-2011)
Let’s say that you’re looking for something that’s a little bit more in keeping with the R-rated movie. While most of Marvel’s material is purposefully rated T for Teen or thereabouts, this short-lived series by David Lapham and Kyle Baker is an exception that’s likely to entertain. Less purposefully wacky (and far more violent) than the regular version of the character, the series sees Deadpool become a good guy accidentally, as he’s recruited by a Hydra agent who’s secretly an undercover agent for the US government. Anyone who wants to see Deadpool take on the KKK? This is where you should turn.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Deadpool Max print collection.
Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1 #25-35 (2011-2012)
Things get serious in this storyline from the critically-acclaimed X-Men spin-off series, as a group of antiheroes have to struggle with a super-powered version of the “Would you kill Hitler as a baby?” conundrum. Writer Rick Remender’s more sober take on Deadpool in this entire series is recommended, but what he does with the character in this climactic storyline is definitely a must-read for any ‘Pool fan.
How to read it: Available digitally and in print collections as Uncanny X-Force: Final Execution Vols. 1 & 2.
Deadpool Vol. 5 #13-19 (2013)
The recent “Marvel Now!” series featuring Deadpool was consistently entertaining, with writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn working with a number of artists to bring even more of a comedic edge to the character. These seven issues, which comprise two separate team-up storylines (with Power Man and Iron Fist, and with Wolverine and Captain America), are a particular highlight, giving Deadpool some much needed straight men to play off while also reminding readers just how funny the regular superheroes can be when given the chance. (As a plus for the continuity-minded, there’s also some Deadpool origin business in there, too.)
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Deadpool: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly print collection.
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