Deadpool, or the Merc with a Mouth, is one of the leading characters of the modern Marvel Universe. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in the last days of their classic New Mutants run, Deadpool has gone on to star in many of his own stories and steal the show in hundreds more. He is also one of the only people in the Marvel Universe who knows that he is in a comic book. He keeps up a running dialogue with his audience, who he can see reading his adventures. This is very confusing to the other characters around him. His adventures proved to be popular with the fans and his notoriety slowly grew through the 1990s and continues to this day.
Deadpool's first appearance was as a minor antagonist in New Mutants #98, during Rob Liefeld's legendary turn on the book. Writer Fabian Nicieza joined the book for the first time, using his clever dialogue to improve the flow of the dynamic stories that Liefeld crafted. The issue hit the stands in February of 1991 to a rapturous reception and Deadpool first met the world. A few of the most important things about him were apparent from the very first instant. His costume then remains his costume to this day, though there have been important improvements and variations. Equally important, his attitude was there from the very beginning. Deadpool was tough, he was fast, he was mean, and he was funny. He appears from nowhere and tries to capture Cable, the mysterious new leader of the New Mutants who seems bent on transforming the team into a paramilitary group, on the behalf of an equally mysterious individual named Tolliver. It has been more than twenty years since their first combat, and the precise relationship between these three characters is still not known. No matter why they fought, Cable overpowered Deadpool and the red-clad rebel skulked away to report defeat. It would not be long before he was back.
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So Who Exactly is Deadpool?
Wade Wilson is a mysterious mercenary with a terribly scarred face and super powers who fights under the name of Deadpool. He is sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, and always a problem. Deadpool was a test subject of the famous Weapon X experimental program, the same underground weapons testing lab that created Wolverine and Sabretooth. Little else about his past is known, and what is known is subject to change. Dressed in his trademark scarlet jumpsuit with full mask and a plethora of pouches, he is a deadly combatant who can be equally comfortable with swords, guns, fists, and improvised weapons. Deadpool is an extremely powerful character. He has an amazing healing factor that allows him to regenerate from nearly any injury he suffers. One time the Hulk smashed his entire skull and it grew back without difficulty. However, his face is hideously scarred and only rarely regenerates back to his handsome original appearance. Deadpool is amazingly fast, as agile as Spider-Man, and sometimes super-strong as well. It all depends on what the writer wants him to do. However, Deadpool's greatest weapon is always his razor-sharp wit. He uses his verbal theatrics and humor as Spider-Man did before him, to distract his opponents in combat, explain the action, and entertain the reader.
X-Force #2, arriving in 1991 only a few short months after the end of the New Mutants and the launch of the new title, featured the second appearance of Deadpool in a knock-down drag-out brawl with Garrison Kane. This is the first time we see Deadpool use one of his favorite gadgets, a personal teleporter. He uses it to zap himself away from the combat when things get too intense, but he will return and they all know it. This is also the first time that the story drops tantalizing hints that he is in some way linked to the Weapon X project. X-Force #2 is also known for one of the locations in which they fight, Rob Liefeld's creative version of the World Trade Center, often cited by comics historians as one of the signature moments of his early career.
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In 1993 Nicieza brought him to life on his own in a four-part series called Deadpool: The Circle Chase. One of the stranger things about Deadpool is that his word balloons are always distinct. They began, in his first appearance, with a red border. Then the border turned yellow, then the balloons themselves became yellow with a hard black outline, then he began to develop different voices in different lettering styles. These voices tended to argue with each other. Nobody is sure what all this means, but one thing is certain. Deadpool talks a lot. He talks to the people around him, he talks to himself, and he talks directly to the reader. Often described as Breaking The Fourth Wall, this technique involves the Character acknowledging the reader through the imaginary barrier of the comicbook page itself. This quickly became Deadpool's trademark as he talked his way out of the pages of X-Force with a series of guest appearances in Heroes for Hire, Daredevil and the Avengers.
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In 1997 Deadpool received his first official ongoing series. Displaying his characteristic irreverence, the book began with issue -1, then went to issue 0, then finally started after three months with issue 1. Joe Kelly started as the writer, and he brought the full bag of self-referential tricks with him. Deadpool began to take part in plots taken straight from popular movies, experience bizarre segues and side-sequences that veered far from the story, and converse directly with the creators who brought him to life and the audience that was following along. It was also around this time that he began to gather a stable of supporting characters, such as Weasel and Bob the Agent of HYDRA.
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Why is Deadpool so Popular?
Comic book historians agree that Deadpool is one of the characters who best symbolizes the 90s. He is violent, mean, garish, fun, liberally festooned with pouches, impossible to shut up, and full to the brim with self-referential jokes. This sums up the Image era of comics so completely that it's no wonder that creators and audiences alike love to see Deadpool apply his uniquely ultraviolent brand of humor to every situation. Although he is a native of Earth-616, the universe most familiar to readers of Marvel Comics, he has traveled to many other dimensions and appeared in many other incarnations. There is even a zombie Deadpool from the future whose head was decapitated, given the ability to fly, and turned into a popular character on his own known as Headpool. Deadpool has no consistent back story, other than murky involvement in the Weapon X project. He is not exactly a hero or a villain. Although his primary motivation was shown to be money, especially early on, it would be more accurate now to say that he is an adventurer in search of fun and entertainment. He will fight on the side of good, evil, or himself, depending on the mood of the story and the way the jokes run. What's more, he knows it.
Deadpool is one of a very few characters in the canon of superhero comic books who knows that he is inside a comic. He can see the reader, and sometimes reads ahead or reads other comics to find out what is going to happen. Since Deadpool knows he is in a comic book, what do you think he should do about it? Leave a comment and let us know.
Full Name: Wade Winston Wilson
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 210 lbs
Occupation: Mercenary, Government Operative, Assassin, Comedian
Affiliations: X-Force, X-Men, Weapon X
Origin World: Earth-616
Created By: Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld
Article First Published September 6th, 2008 @ 10:21pm