Deadpool (Wade Winston Wilson) is a fictional character, a mercenary and anti-hero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool first appeared in The New Mutants #98 (Feb. 1991).
A disfigured and mentally unstable mercenary, Deadpool originally appeared as a villain in an issue of New Mutants, and later in issues of X-Force. The character has since starred in several ongoing series, and shares titles with other characters such as Cable. The character, known as the “Merc with a Mouth”, is famous for his talkative nature and his tendency to “break the fourth wall”, which is used by writers for humorous effect. Deadpool was ranked 182nd on Wizard magazine’s list of the Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time ranked 45th on Empire magazine’s list of The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters, and placed 31st on IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.
Created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool made his first appearance in the pages of New Mutants #98 published in February 1991. Rob Liefeld, a fan of the Teen Titans comics, showed his new character to then writer Fabian Nicieza. Upon seeing the costume and noting his characteristics (killer with super agility), Nicieza contacted Liefeld, saying “this is Deathstroke from Teen Titans.” Nicieza gave Deadpool the real name of “Wade Wilson” as an in-joke to being “related” to “Slade Wilson”, Deathstroke. In his first appearance, Deadpool was hired by Tolliver to attack Cable and the New Mutants. After subsequently appearing in X-Force as a recurring character, Deadpool began making guest appearances in various different Marvel Comics titles such as the Avengers, Daredevil, and Heroes for Hire. In 1993 the character received his own miniseries, entitled The Circle Chase, written by Fabian Nicieza and pencilled by Joe Madureira. It was a relative success, and Deadpool starred in a second, self-titled miniseries written in 1994 by Mark Waid, pencilled by Ian Churchill, and inked by Jason Temujin Minor and Bud LaRosa.
In 1997, Deadpool was given his own ongoing title, initially written by Joe Kelly, with then-newcomer Ed McGuinness as an artist. The series firmly established his supporting cast, including his prisoner/den mother Blind Al and his best friend Weasel. Deadpool became an action comedy parody of the cosmic drama, antihero-heavy comics of the time. The ongoing series gained cult popularity for its unorthodox main character and its balance of angst and pop culture slapstick and the character became less of a villain, though the element of his moral ambiguity remained. The writer Joe Kelly noted, “With Deadpool, we could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be cancelled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.”
The series was taken over by Christopher Priest who noted that he found Kelly’s issues to be “complex and a little hostile to new readers like me’ and that by issue 37, he realized that ‘it was okay to make Deadpool look stupid”.
Deadpool lasted until issue #69, at which point it was relaunched as a new title by Gail Simone with a similar character called Agent X in 2002. This occurred during a line wide revamp of X-Men related comics, with Cable becoming Soldier X and X-Force becoming X-Statix. Simone notes that ‘When I took the Deadpool job, the revamp hadn’t been planned, so it was a complete surprise. Thankfully, we heard about it in time to make adjustments to the early scripts’. It appeared that Deadpool was killed in an explosion fighting the aristocratic (and telepathic) villain known as the Black Swan. Weeks later, a mysterious figure showed up at the apartment of Deadpool’s manager, Sandi Brandenberg. The man took the name Alex Hayden and together they started “Agency X,” with Hayden dubbed Agent X after the company. Most believed that Hayden was Deadpool suffering from amnesia. The title character of Agent X was eventually revealed not to be Deadpool and the climax of that series saw the original character restored. Simone left the title after seven issues due to creative differences with the series editor.
Deadpool’s next starring appearance came in 2004 with the launch of Cable & Deadpool written by Fabian Nicieza, where Deadpool became partnered with his former enemy, Cable, teaming up in various adventures. This title was canceled with issue #50 and replaced by a new Cable series in March 2008. Deadpool then appeared briefly in the Wolverine: Origins title by writer Daniel Way before Way and Paco Medina launched another Deadpool title in September 2008. Medina was the main series artist, with Carlo Barberi filling in on the first issue after the Secret Invasion tie-in.
A new Deadpool ongoing series written by Daniel Way with artist Paco Medina began as a Secret Invasion tie-in. In the first arc, the character is seen working with Nick Fury to steal data on how to kill the Skrull queen Veranke. Norman Osborn steals the information that Deadpool had stolen from the Skrulls, and subsequent stories deal with the fallout from that. Writer Daniel Way explained, “the first thing Osborn does to try and take care of the situation is to bring in a hired gun to take Deadpool down, which would be Tiger-Shark. That would be the standard thing to do, but of course everything about Deadpool is non-standard. So it goes completely awry and Norman has to get more serious about things.” The story also sees the return of Bob, Agent of HYDRA, “I don’t want the book to become ‘Deadpool and Friends’ so characters will drift in and out, but Bob was someone I definitely wanted to bring in. It just had to be at the perfect moment and when I was putting this storyline together that moment presented itself.”. This all led directly to a confrontation with the new Thunderbolts in “Magnum Opus” which crossed over between Deadpool vol. 4 #8-9 and Thunderbolts #130-131. Thunderbolts writer Andy Diggle said, “it’s a natural progression for Deadpool to go after Norman, and for Norman to send his personal hit-squad after Deadpool.” In Deadpool #15, Deadpool decides to become a hero resulting in conflicts with proper heroes like Spider-Man (who he had recently encountered in The Amazing Spider-Man #611 as part of “The Gauntlet”) and leading to a 3-issue arc where he takes on Hit-Monkey, a character who debuted in the same month in a digital, then print, one-shot.
Another ongoing Deadpool series, Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth launched in July 2009, written by Victor Gischler, with art by Bong Dazo. In it Deadpool teams up with the head of the zombie Deadpool from Marvel Zombies 3 and 4.
A special anniversary issue titled Deadpool #900 was released in October 2009. It features stories written by several authors, with the main feature written by the original Deadpool series writer Joe Kelly and drawn by Deadpool’s creator Rob Liefeld. A third Deadpool ongoing series, Deadpool Team-Up, launched in November 2009 (with issue numbers counting in reverse starting with issue #899), written by Fred Van Lente, with art by Dalibor Talajic. This series features Deadpool teaming up with different heroes from the Marvel Universe in each issue, such as Hercules. Deadpool also joined the cast of the new X-Force team.
Another Deadpool series, entitled Deadpool Corps also by Gischler, was released in April 2010. This series featured alternate versions of Deadpool, consisting of Deadpool, Lady Deadpool (who debuted in Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #7), Headpool (a.k.a. The zombie Deadpool head), and two new characters; Kidpool, a kid version of Deadpool who uses lightsabers, and Dogpool, a dog version of Deadpool. The series lasted 12 issues.
Marvel also published Deadpool titles through the Marvel Knights and MAX imprints: Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War, by Duane Swierczynski and Jason Pearson, and Deadpool MAX by David Lapham and Kyle Baker respectively.
Powers and abilities
Deadpool’s primary power is an accelerated healing factor, depicted by various artists and writers with varying levels of efficiency. Artificially endowed by the Weapon X program, this enables him to regenerate any destroyed tissues or organs at a super-human rate as well as making him immune to known diseases and infections. An unanticipated side effect was a rapid acceleration of the cancerous tumors he was suffering from at the time, causing them to quickly spread across his entire body as soon as his powers fully activated. Because of this, his healing factor super charged his cancer, resulting in massive scar tissue causing his appearance to be severely disfigured. Deadpool’s brain cells are similarly affected, with dying brain cells being rejuvenated at a super accelerated rate. This allows Deadpool to recover from any and all head wounds, and it renders him nearly invulnerable to psychic and telepathic powers, as the altered or damaged brain cells quickly regenerate to their original state. It is also the cause of his psychosis and mental instability. Deadpool’s healing factor is strong enough that he has previously survived complete incineration and decapitation more than once, though in each of these occurrences, his head had to be reunited with his body to heal the wound instead of his body growing a new head (or vice-versa). Unlike Wolverine’s natural healing factor, Deadpool’s is mentally driven to a partial extent. Similar to Wolverine, his healing factor also affects a number of his physical attributes by increasing them to superhuman levels heightening at least his endurance and stamina. Though it had been said in earlier years that he also had super-human strength, that detail has apparently been glossed over, if not forgotten, as of late. Deadpool’s body is highly resistant to most drugs and toxins. For example, it is extremely difficult, though not impossible, for him to become intoxicated. He can, however, be affected by certain drugs such as tranquilizers, if he is exposed to a massive enough dosage. Deadpool’s healing factor also provides him with an extended lifespan by slowing the effects of the aging process to an unknown degree which cannot be measured as of yet, since he is not old enough to see any effect. However, his life span is extended to such a degree that he is still alive as Deadpool 800 years from the present as shown when the new X-Force encountered him in the future.
Aside from his physical advantages, Deadpool is a superb assassin and mercenary, an expert in multiple forms of martial arts, an expert swordsman and marksman. It has also been discussed that, while his psychosis and dissociative identity disorder is a handicap, it is also one of his greatest attributes as it makes him an extremely unpredictable opponent. Taskmaster (who has photo-reflexive memory which allows him to copy anyone’s fighting skills by observation, thus making him their equal in battle) was unable to defeat Deadpool due to his chaotic and improvised fighting style. Over the years, Deadpool has owned a number of personal teleportation devices. Also, during Deadpool’s first ongoing comic, he possessed a device which projected holographic disguises, allowing him to go undercover or conceal his appearance. In addition, Deadpool is multilingual and has demonstrated the ability to speak German, Spanish, and Japanese. Occasionally, Deadpool has also been shown as having a magic satchel, often pulling weapons out of nowhere.
The character’s back-story has been presented as vague and subject to change, and within the narrative he is unable to remember his personal history due to his mental condition. Whether or not his name was even Wade Wilson is subject to speculation since one of his nemeses, T-Ray, claims in Deadpool #33 that he is the real Wade Wilson and that Deadpool is a vicious murderer who stole his identity. There have been other dubious stories about his history – at one point the supervillain Loki claimed to be his father. Frequently, revelations are later retconned or ignored altogether, and in one issue, Deadpool himself joked that whether he is actually Wade Wilson depends on which writer the reader prefers best.