Favorite Deadpool Issues

Posted by No_name_here (1247 posts) - - Show Bio
 This was also the comic that made Ed McGuinness as star.

We’re trying out a regular feature here wherein favorite runs of tiles are discussed and I couldn’t think of a better one to start with than Joe Kelly’s run on DEADPOOL from the late 90s. If the Merc with a Mouth is a major character in the Marvel Universe, now, then this is what started establishing him as such. The character had previously made an impression on fans with a couple of solo mini-series and some guest spots on X-FORCE, but this was the hard battle to win the zombies over in a title that, believe it or not, was fighting every month to dodge the axe. Rooting for an underdog can be frustrating and often heartbreaking, but it's so validating to see him become top dog in the end. 

There’s no definitive name for this saga. Trades have been titled MISSION: IMPROBABLE and CLASSIC DEADPOOL but none of them collect it comprehensively. Fans unofficially called it The Mithras Saga, though that doesn’t account for anything past issue #25. Let’s just call it Joe Kelly’s run, keeping in mind that he worked mostly with Ed McGuinness (this was his first high profile gig,) Walter McDaniel and Pete Woods. To be specific, this is volume three, issues #-1 through #33, with the DAREDEVIL and DEATH “co-star” annuals included.  

As you'll sense, this isn't just one of my favorite DEADPOOL runs, it's one of my favorite runs ever.  It's the one that seriously got me wanting to write comics.== TEASER == 

 A 10-year preview of McGuinness' HULK run.

It got better and better as it went along. The first year’s worth of stories were the regular round of job of the month DP stories that included run-ins with the Hulk and string of lesser-known, easy-to-ridicule guests like Vamp, Sasquatch and the Great Lakes Avengers. There was an inspired issue (#11) where the Pool was gumped into a classic SPIDER-MAN comic and the association was apt, since these issues gave him a regular (though demented) supporting cast like Peter Parker’s. In addition to his techie/toadie Weasel, he got a housemate/prisoner in the acerbic Blind Alfred, and a rival/nemesis in the mysterious fellow merc, T-Ray. He even got his own share of lady problems, torn between between the good girl, Siryn, and the baaaaaad girl, Typhoid Mary. There were also hints of something grander lurking, as Wade was being shadowed and evaluated by the mysterious outfit, Landau, Luckman and Lake, who were eying him for their Mithras Directive.

Things got progressively more serious following THE DROWNING MAN two-parter of issue #12 and #13. More of the Pool’s painful history (pun intended) bubbled to surface with the appearance of Ajax, an armored psychopath who'd been a cancer-suffering Wade Wilson’s sadistic guard in Department K, Department H’s lesser affiliate. Where before we'd only gotten some quick explanations about DP coming from the same Weapon X as Wolverine, DEADPOOL/DEATH '98 ANNUAL revealed that he was a test subject who'd been tortured and mutilated in a program with so many fatal faliures, it was cruely dubbed the dead pool. While it'd be hard to describe Deadpool as a light, carefree character before this, that arc gave some tragedy and pathos to underly the katana-slashing and shuriken-flinging mayhem.

 I botched a math test because I HAD to read this while I should've been studying.

As it turned out, L, L & L was interested in this terrible killer because he was prophesied to save the world (and perhaps even the universe entire) by protecting the arrival of the Mithras. While there was plenty of funnin’ to be had at the notion of Deadpool being a chosen one in any scheme, this gave some serious direction to his oft-struggling attempts at reformation. For the first time in his miserable life, he had to temper his horrible nature to the expectations of a world-saving hero and the role actually did much to elevate his usually-terrible sense of worth. As you’d expect, of course, nothing was as it seemed and this Mithras Saga came to an intense head in the three-part DEAD RECKONING that pitted DP against a hideous alien warrior intent on killing the Mithras.  

Only this monster was actually a good guy. While the Mithras promised bliss, it was a false joy akin to a listless, drug-addled high. Believe it or not, this is when the series tackled the heady issue of destiny vs. free will as Deadpool defied his prophesized fate to stop the destiny the Mithras offered.

This defiance led to one of my favorite moments - - Deadpools kicking Captain America in the junk (a gag he recently got revenge for on the cover of volume 4's 28th issue.) As if to further emphasize Deadpool’s lackings as a hero, Marvel's ultimate clean-cut golden boy had been brought in by L,L & L  to assist the Mithras situation. Of course, since Cap only knew part of the story, he was an easy victim to get possessed by the incorporeal space baby. Outclassed by this ultimate super-solider, DP has to fight dirty for the fate of all free thinkers. Feigning cooperation with the Mithras, he offered to play a friendly game of Rochambeau to bury the hatchet... and you know how that game's played. 

 This is the dramatic moment.

The next few issues got back to the early fun with some run-ins with Dr. Bong, Bullseye, the Black Crow and a hilarious send-up of Wolverine that razzed the Canuck’s oft-meandering monologues and his creepy-when-you-actually-think-about-it relationship with Kitty Pryde. However, more drama arrived soon with Mercedes, a beautiful innocent claiming to be Wade Wilson’s wife. Bringing out DP’s neglected sensitive side, she made it seem like this, plus his world-saving, might finally get his life together.  

Then T-Ray, that old pal, returned to show how wrong that notion was. 

 The cover illustrates the dilemma pretty well.

Deadpool maintained that Wade and Mercedes Wilson had been a happily-married couple who'd welcomed a wounded stranger (T-Ray) into their homes after finding him in the Canadian wilderness. Their guest would repay them by murdering Mercedes and horribly scarring Wade (sending him into the downward spiral his life became.) Only that all proved to be a lie in this final arc. Deadpool wasn’t actually Wade Wilson; T-Ray was. All along, Deadpool was really Jack, the murderous stranger, and his fractured psyche had re-written the memory to please him. The real Wilson had turned to the occult to remake himself and resurrect his wife as part of an elaborate, bitter revenge scheme. After all the progress he’d made, Deadpool realized his whole life had been built on a lie. Finally embracing his long-denied nature in a darkly-satisfying conclusion, the Pool went down fighting as T-Ray dropped him into some netherrealm pit where he had to face down every person he’d ever killed.

Deadpool died and, as a reward, he got to enjoy some rest in a pocket paradise with the other woman in his life - - the personified of Death. Much to Thanos' frustration, they were reunited from their earlier dalliance in that Annual recounting DP's days at Department K. This was a premature end to the run, tying up plot-lines faster than planned with the expectation that the book was being cancelled. Even though there may have yet been more to enjoy if the book continued as it was intended to, looking at in hindsight, I think it makes the larger story a true epic tragedy. You a beginning, middle and end that brings the themes of redemption and worthiness to their satisfactory conclusion. If there were ever to be a DEADPOOL: THE END, I can't think of a more appropriate finale for the Merc with a Mouth. 

 And so should yours. Hunt these comics down and enjoy them!
This description makes the series sound quite dark and heavy but, while it certainly was at times, you all should understand that the series was still gut-busting hilarious throughout and even deeply touching at times. Kelly went on to do some great work with STEAMPUNK, M.REX, ACTION COMICS and X-MEN (to name just a few) but I know I'll always have special  fondness for these comics. Like Miller's DAREDEVIL, Moore's SWAMP THING and Ennis' PUNISHER, this was definitely a case of a creator taking a pre-existing character and adding so much depth and dimensionality that said character really became his own. As I mentioned, a lot of this has been collected in those DEADPOOL CLASSIC trades, but I do recommend hunting the remaining issues on eBay or wherever  else you'll find back-issues. It's well worth the effort. 
Do any of you maniacs feel the same way I do about this run? What's your favorite era of DEADPOOL?

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

#1 Posted by Abnormally Warm Guy (1398 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow! Someone who likes the Joe Kelly run! 
There are none of those. 

I really wish he'd come back. We miss you Joe.

#2 Posted by ld12278 (94 posts) - - Show Bio

That last picture made my day!

#3 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29886 posts) - - Show Bio

This is Deadpool's best era, hands down. Way doesn't have sh!t on this run.

#4 Posted by MikeDanger (13 posts) - - Show Bio

the era of Cable and Deadpool was the best i've ever read of Deadpool.
#5 Posted by Mr. Dead Pool (3026 posts) - - Show Bio

Cable and Deadpool by far

#6 Posted by TheguywhothinkshesDeadpool (36 posts) - - Show Bio

Joe Kelly. There will be none like him.

#7 Posted by Dr. Maxwell (676 posts) - - Show Bio

Cable and Deadpool is the best by far, Deadpool Max is turnign out to be alot of fun, and I honestly enjoy the character so far in X-Force

#8 Posted by The Lobster (1711 posts) - - Show Bio

Joe Kelly was the best. His run on Deadpool is one of the greatest Deadpool stories ever written. It had heart, it had humor, it had action....it just had everything. No body understands Deadpool's inner psyche like Joe Kelly.  I've said this once and I'll say it again....
Seriously people, stop reading Daniel Way's run and pick up the trade paperback of Deadpool Classic #1-4. That is how Deadpool is supposed to be written.

#9 Posted by MannyMAR (17 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm with you Joe Kelly wrote the best Deadpool hands down. Nicieza was pretty good as well, he was probably the closest to capturing Kelly's DP. Daniel Way's DP is interesting, but to me it feels like someone dressed up as Deadpool trying to be a Hero when they're clearly not. 
Plus, you had to admit that T-Ray was Deadpool's perfect foil, there was a bit of an Old Boy feel in their rivalry.

#10 Posted by MatKrenz (1516 posts) - - Show Bio

I would love nothing more than to own Kelly's run on Deadpool but for some odd reason in wake of Marvel's Deadpool fever that is still going on,they haven't thought of the brilliant idea of releasing the rest of Volume 1 in trade.I mean they released an over sized trade that collect the last 3 trades of Cable & Deadpool (not that im bashing the series,I enjoy it) and not the best of the character ?
#11 Posted by zzax (50 posts) - - Show Bio

I will join the chorus here. While Deadpool has had plenty of good moments since;   Joe Kelly's run on the book is the definitive arc. Kelley was able to strike the perfect balance with the character. Sure he was a selfish bastard, but Kelly set him up in these situations were he unwittingly (or sometimes  knowingly ) did the right thing in the end. The conclusion of the run was brilliant and ties together all the elements he had laid out during his run. 
As The Lobster said, this is a must read for any recent or casual Deadpool fan. 

#12 Posted by fACEmelter88 (688 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm giving u a standing ovation and a modest fireworks display because I feel the same way about this volume. I loved the the final confrontation in the 2 parter with Ajax and Killibrew but i really dug the "funeral for a freak" and "agent of weapon x" arcs plus the stuff with Loki claiming to be his dad and telling him he is a comic book character plus the issue where he gets "thor's" hammer is awesome. also the last few issues/arcs drawn by UDON and written by Gail Simone are amazing.

#13 Posted by -Vigil- (385 posts) - - Show Bio

Truly incredible stuff. Too often since then, Deadpool has been shown simply as a psychopathic killer without a conscience. Without his struggle to be a hero, he's still funny, but not a very likable or compelling character.

#14 Edited by ckal (1116 posts) - - Show Bio

Joe Kelly's run was unbelievable and I'm sure will always be known as one of the best runs out there for probably any character.
Joe created the perfect balance in that character. Meaningful emotion and character depth, plot/story, humor, bad ass action, and just pure fun.

#15 Posted by JonesDeini (3859 posts) - - Show Bio

This and all those other Iconic runs you mentioned are things I need to read asap.

#16 Posted by Meteorite (3479 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article! You should do one on Peter David's run on Incredible Hulk in the future, that was a FANTASTIC run.

#17 Posted by SystemID (448 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes! Volume 3 was by far the best run. It was what made me fall in love with the character.
That being said though... I have loved the Danial Way run thus far..

#18 Posted by goldenkey (3033 posts) - - Show Bio

I remember picking up the trade for the first 5 issues and LOVING it.  I like what Way is doing now, but DP was a just so much more of a bad ass when written by Kelly.  He was actually feared.  Hope they bring that back a little more.  Maybe with Uncanny X-force. 

#19 Posted by WhoDunnit101 (72 posts) - - Show Bio

The second solo mini-series was the best. 

#20 Posted by Man of Lengend (1019 posts) - - Show Bio

joe kelly run cable deadpool and i like pulp as my top 3

#21 Posted by Eyz (3187 posts) - - Show Bio

Ah! Come on... no love for the original Pool' writer? 
Fabian Nicieza!!
Anyway, I love most of the run of the original Deadpool series, from Nicieza to Jo Kelly, Palmiotti, Gail Simone/Udon etc.. 
And then the Agent X and Cable & Deadpool series...
All those were so much better than Daniel Way's current Deadpool-era and his 100+ spinoffs...
At least Deadpool was deadly yet funny, breaking the 4th wall more cleverly than now with his pool-o-vision... I mean, the ol' Deadpool could give Wolverine, the Hulk, Spiderman or most "mutants" supervillains a run for their money!
If I had to pick a fav issue...without looking/checking out the exact issue numbers..
I'd pick either the "Tom Cruz" story arc or the Punisher vs Deadpool 2-issue crossover.
Or when Deadpool was living at an ol' Doc Ock's hideout...
Or when he became Thor!!
Or when he used the sheepgun/working for L,L & L (Ha! I remember this issue...it was #15 or 16!)

#22 Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir (19148 posts) - - Show Bio

Joe Kelly 
Gail Simone 
Daniel Way

#23 Posted by ShirEPanjshir (605 posts) - - Show Bio

Fantastic article. And it's so true that Joe Kelly's run is, by far, the best Deadpool run out there. That's why I keep on hoping that people who don't like the character now, or can't seem to see why so many people read it, should read Joe Kelly's run on Deadpool.

#24 Posted by NXH (1031 posts) - - Show Bio

My personal favourite Deadpool arc has got to be The Circle Chase mini series and Suicide Kings aswell.

#25 Posted by JayCB (4 posts) - - Show Bio

The whole run of Cable & Deadpool was probably my favourite. Watching them go from enemies to pals and clashing in-between was great, as was seeing Cable trying to better Wade from the shadows. Oh and of course Wade's whole interaction with the Xmen was hilarious.

#26 Posted by DarkCanuck (34 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think I fully agree with the crowd on this one, though I've not yet managed to hunt down all the originals yet (I've read most of them though). I think the problem is mainly that Way hasn't done any major or important story arcs yet, which is unfortunate.
If you look at issues #15 and #16 of the current run (the story where Wade seems to be out to royally screw over the X-Men but he ends up hatching the whole crazy scheme simply to help give the X-Men a major PR boost when they need it the most) it gives you a pretty good indication that Way can do a phenomenal job of seeing into Wade's screwy brain...I wonder if he is just limited in how big he is allowed to take his story arcs. I suspect Way is not the problem.
Plus, the Deadpool vs. Bullseye story (starts in #10) is so damn good!

#27 Posted by longbowhunter (8848 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the Deadpool & Death annual is my all time favorite Deadpool book.
#28 Posted by CrimsonComedian (339 posts) - - Show Bio

Those who have said Cable & Deadpool and Way over Kelly... please leave this discussion, as your opinion is no longer plausible and will be read out to you at the moment of your hanging by Kelly's Deadpool himself. Have a nice day! 
Anywho~ Kelly got under Deadpool's skin at the right moments, but kept him in character even when he was upset etc... So many references that made the character what he was (today he's a joke, no... a proper joke and someday when Kelly comes back - he will make jokes on that joke). Kelly for the win!

#29 Posted by weapon154 (377 posts) - - Show Bio

Deadpool vs Bullseye was a master piece.

#30 Posted by fajkimajki (19 posts) - - Show Bio

Thanks for the article!

#31 Posted by Dark Cell (454 posts) - - Show Bio

All Deadpool story's are great....except Deapool corps :P

#32 Posted by Hadez (172 posts) - - Show Bio

I love the first issues with Mr. Pool  but issue 1 from the 1997 run is the best deadpool issue every he takes out powersuits South America and fights Sasquatch in Antarctica and starts to shoe his Antihero side also you get to start to see the relationship with Blind Al and you find out that Deadpool only likes Samoans from the girl scouts and their delicious cookies.

#33 Posted by Wonderchild (35 posts) - - Show Bio

Favorite Deadpool iss is X-Force #2. He and Kane are fighting at the start of it and I laugh every time I read it.

#34 Posted by lordypaul (3 posts) - - Show Bio

Great points brought up here.

Joe Kelly made Deadpool for me.  Priest made a valiant attempt with his own self-contained story-arch, but it really fell apart for me after that.  I can't read Deadpool now because he feels like an empty husk without Kelly behind him.  Kelly set so many things up that I'd like to see revisited, but only if he were to pen them.  It was nice to see him return to Deadpool through an issue of Spider-man, though it only made me want more.

#35 Posted by council elite (600 posts) - - Show Bio

idk who had the best run cause i'm fairly new to comics & don't really follow deadpool. but as far as arcs go, when he had to team up with spidey to take down the hit-monkey was hilarious. i loved every moment of it.

#36 Edited by Nosfistis (34 posts) - - Show Bio

All volumes are pretty different and have their own ups and downs. I think that's something good for the character so that he never gets old and dull (see "Wolverine"). If i had to pick, i'd say Cable/Deadpool run, cause he got to do something that mattered and he also had some good "character revelation" moments. Yet my favourite arc is from current run, where he fights Bong and gets to punch Cap and throw in some fireworks too. Man, that was epic.

#37 Posted by Jake Fury (21456 posts) - - Show Bio

Just read DPTU with Iron Fist, it was brilliant.

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