This famous merc has been running his mouth for the last twenty-four years. In celebration of his upcoming movie, let’s take a look back at his relatively short but explosive history in this month’s ICONS.
Wade Wilson first emerged in New Mutants #98 in 1991. There, he remained primarily as an antagonist to the X-Force until he got his own four issue miniseries, the Circle Chase, in 1993. He was created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, after Liefeld enjoyed the Clint Eastwood movie the Dead Pool; they gave the character a mask similar to Spider-Man to simplify the art. Nicieza told Liefeld he more or less drew Slade Wilson from Teen Titans. The character was named Wade Wilson as as a nod to Slade, and a legacy was born.
Boy did that formula work. Sins of the Past (another four part miniseries), was next, written by Mark Waid. After that, Wade bounced around, playing the cameo game for a couple of years before being placed in the hands of Joe Kelly in 1997 for his first ongoing series. Though Kelly left at issue #33, Deadpool went on to run for 69 issues. Kelly has said part of the success is that everyone expected the book to be cancelled every five minutes, so they could do whatever they pleased. It’s the run that’s considered to have defined the character, introducing the fourth wall breaking shenanigans.
Things got complicated for Wade in issue #69: he’s killed off. This is when famed writer Gail Simone introduced Agent X (2002 – 2004), running for fifteen issues. In the thirteenth, it’s revealed Wade is alive but an amnesiac, being restored by the end of the series. Fabian Nicieza returned to write Cable and Deadpool (#1-50), where Agent X and other supporting cast from that series would appear from time to time. After Cable and Deadpool ended in 2008, Daniel Way had him in an arc of Wolverine: Origins, and then was announced as the new writer of a new Deadpool solo book.
Way wrote up through 2012. It’s worth noting that when X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out in cinema in 2009, Deadpool’s popularity exploded, and since Way’s comics were the only ones on the stands at that point, the “lolrandom, voices in his head” Deadpool was the one the public/most new fans know. Way had four books running at once, and was really the only option for new fans to get to know Deadpool.
His run opened with a Secret Invasion-tie in that was three issues. Then, it had a standalone two issue story before crossing over with Dark Reign and Thunderbolts. Way’s run is criticized for not progressing the character, instead featuring Deadpool on the same adventures over and over again. Way has had little in defense to say for himself:
”Origins went from being sixty issues to fifty and the full writing duties for Dark Wolverine were handed over to Marjorie Liu. I kept Deadpool because, at that point, I could almost write it in my sleep.“
Luckily, the monotony was broken in 2009: Deadpool #900 was a one-shot with stories by various writers published in 2009 as a jab to DC’s milestone with Batman; Deadpool Team-Up ran for 17 issues in 2009 – 2011 and counted backwards from issue #899, after #900 came out earlier; Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth ran for 13 issues in 2009-2010 written by Victor Gischler, and #7 introduced Lady Deadpool/Wanda Wilson; Deadpool #1000 was a spiritual sequel to #900, a one-shot with yet another team of varied writers and artists doing different stories; Prelude to Deadpool Corps was also written by Gischler in 2010 and was the continuation of Merc With A Mouth, it was a 5 issue miniseries; Deadpool: Corps was a direct sequel to the previous miniseries, again by Gischler, and ran for 12 issues in 2010-2011; Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War was a 4 issue miniseries in 2010; Deadpool MAX was a ‘mature’ comic, uncensored and in an AU for the MAX imprint of comics. It ran in 2010 – 2011 for 12 issues, and; Deadpool MAX 2 was a sequel which ran for 6 issues in 2011 – 2012.
There were so many Deadpool titles during this span, at one point four of them were running at once. It’s no surprise the character has had some pretty extensive growing pains – from villain to smart-assed hero, to a reckless merc a load of dick jokes, back towards a slippery hero with a mouth and a fourth wall to sit on. In the past three years, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have changed the character into something closer to what Kelly’s Deadpool wanted to be and they have helped transition him from the goofball merc, who Way left behind, into a three dimensional character closer than ever to achieving his long-time goal.
That goal, you ask? To be a hero, seen as an equal – to the Avengers, X-men, any and every super force with so much credibility. A tall order, considering a running theme through all his solo runs has him as the type of guy people do not want to be seen with. That could all turn around for Wade in October (2015) though, as he joins an Avenger team lead by Rogue of X-men fame in the upcoming Uncanny Avengers volume. His own series will be relaunching at number one, chronicling his time with the Avengers.
After all, the All-Different Marvel event kicking off features Wade as the most popular superhero around, and filthy rich to boot. It’ll be interesting to see how Deadpool fares with everything he’s ever wanted. Kelly is writing a team up book with Spider-Man, slated for this December, and Nicieza is bringing Cable and Deadpool back together in Deadpool & Cable: Split Second, #1-6, and will be a digital-first Infinite comic, released in print afterwards. Marvel is banking on Deadpool having a big 2016.
For now, we wait with Wade. At his side is his wife Shiklah, Queen of the Underworld, introduced in Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet. His daughter Eleanor–Ellie–remains around and loyal to her father from underneath the care of SHIELD Agent Emily Preston, Wade having faked her death to protect her.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the whatevers on high have in store for Deadpool. After such a rollercoaster, the anticipation is a real nail-biter. In the mean time, we have that movie to tie us over.
Which I’m sure Wade himself is totally looking forward to.