I have always said the same thing and will probably never change my opinion on this....."If you haven't read Joe Kelly's run on Deadpool, you are not a true Deadpool fan. You are nothing but a poser."
Now, people usually tend to throw this out of proportion so let me explain my feelings and thoughts behind this statement.....Every character has a writer whose run on the character defines that character and is universally praised by critics and fans alike. Garth Ennis nailed the Punisher, Frank Miller defined Daredevil, Ed Brubaker wrote a fantastic Captain America, etc. etc. etc.
These stories aren't just amazing stories for those characters, but in general as well. Even if you're not a fan of The Punisher, you have to admit that Garth Ennis' run is top notch quality stuff.
For Deadpool, that writer is Joe Kelly. There's no contest. So if you haven't read Joe Kelly's run on Deadpool, than in my opinion you haven't read the character at his best. If you haven't read the character at his best, than you're more liable to appreciate him at his worst. Which is why I call those who haven't read Joe Kelly's run, posers. You aren't a true fan until you've read a character at his best, that way your standards are exactly where they should be.
Well; now Deadpool fans can rejoice, cause Marvel has announced that in October, a collection of every piece of Deadpool literature written by Joe Kelly will be collected in one gigantic book. That includes his run on the Deadpool series (issues 1 to 33, -1, and 0), The Deadpool and Daredevil annual, The Deadpool and Death annual, Baby's First Deadpool Book, Amazing Spider-man issues 47 and 611, and his short story for Deadpool 900. That's over 1160 pages, for the price of $125.
Now $125 may seem like a very steep price, but let me assure you that this is worth every penny. Joe Kelly's run on Deadpool is probably the most under-appreciated masterpiece of it's time and maybe even, our time. It's a great story for Deadpool himself; but even on it's own, the story is amazing. It's the holy bible for Deadpool fans. Even those who hate the character of Deadpool would probably have a hard time hating this run. It's THAT good.
Why's it so good you ask? Well that's the purpose of this blog. I want to reach out to all the current Deadpool fans and show them just exactly what they're missing. I'll admit right off that bat. This blog won't be just a review, it'll also be a heart-felt nostalgic look at the Deadpool of old. Hopefully this will inspire some of you looking to read more of Deadpool into picking this up and giving it a go.
With all that said. Let's take a trip down memory lane......
My first experience with Deadpool was in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game. I was maybe 15 or 16 years old, and I thought the character was pretty cool and funny. Something about a man wielding guns and cracking jokes spoke to me (As disturbing as that sounds). I wanted to see more of him. So for the first time in my life, I walked into a comic book shop. The smell of old comic book paper, the crowded claustrophobic lanes of nothing but boxes of comics on each side. I'll never forget it. I walked up to the man at the counter and asked what he'd recommend for the character of Deadpool. He pointed me to the direction of a box full of Deadpool comics. This was where I picked up issues one to ten of Joe Kelly's series. Let me just say.....those ten issues alone.....blew my mind.....
They were funny, they had action, Deadpool pulled off some amazing feats. The ups the downs. I went through it all, and I went through it all right beside him. I had to read more. So I beg my parents for some extra cash, and filled a small box full of as many Deadpool comics as I could afford.
Now I was only a kid at the time (I'm in my early twenties now) and I enjoyed the run for the entertainment value alone. It wasn't till I hit the age of 20 and went back and re-read all those issues, that I realized just how well-written and crafted that series really was under Joe Kelly's penmanship. I'm a college student studying the art of film and screenwriting and I graduated high-school with awards in English and creative writing. Now was the time I could look at Joe Kelly's run through a bit more of an educated lens.....and boy, did I see things I never saw and probably haven't seen since in a Deadpool comic. At least, not of this quality.
Let's break up the things that stood-out to me in Joe Kelly's run, into categories. Just for the sake of making this blog look a little more polished and not just one big clump of text.....
First of all, the character of Deadpool was extremely unique. I never quite seen a character like him before. Joe Kelly basically took a rip-off of a popular DC comics character, and made evolve into his own unique character. If Deadpool had to be placed under any category, it'd probably be the sad clown story. He is a character who uses humor to help him cope with his flaws and insecurities.....but there's a lot more to it than that.
First of all, I never thought of Deadpool as crazy or psychotic. Nowadays it's all "Oh Deadpool, he's sooooo crazy!!! He tried to shoot with his feet. HAHAHAHA"......But back then, not so much.....Sure he did a lot of outrageous things, and even some things that were deeply disturbing. But there was always a method to his madness. He talked a lot to throw off his opponents, he dances in the middle of a fight with Taskmaster so that Tasky wouldn't be able to guess what he was doing next.....stuff like that.
But if anything, the only real mental handicap he had was a severe case of AD-HD. But how do you explain things like locking blind old ladies in a dark room with sharp pointy objects? Well simple.....in the past, Deadpool was wronged. He was used and thrown away after his purpose wasn't needed. In his mind, the world owes him. He thinks that because the world dealt him a crap-hand in the past, that he deserves a get-out-of-responsibility free-card. In Joe Kelly's arc, Deadpool does something horrible to his roommate/hostage Blind Al and basically takes out his frustrations on her. It's not the first time he's done something bad to her, but it is the first time Blind Al refuses to let him forget that he did it. It tears Wade apart inside, he tries to sweep it under the rug, he tries threatening her, he tries leaving the house and wanting nothing to do with her, he tries everything BUT admitting that what he did may have been wrong. Deadpool is a character haunted by his past. He's haunted by his position in the world. There's this great moment where Deadpool tells Cable that he's destiny's garbage man. It's a really disturbing look into the way Wade Wilson sees himself. He's not really fond of who he is and what he does.
That's what many writers today seem to miss when they write Deadpool......Deadpool's not psychotic or crazy, he's just an a-hole with a very harsh view of the world (Although Brian and Gerry are also doing a good job capturing this aspect in my opinion).
A hero is often defined by who he hangs out with. One of the best things about Joe Kelly's run was that he crafted a group of characters who each bring out a part of Deadpool. That is what good side characters are supposed to do, after-all. That's why they're side characters. Blind Al and Weasel will always bring out more in Wade Wilson, than any superhero guest star ever could.
First of all, Weasel is just a hilarious character. He act's pretty much as Deadpool's punching bag and it's quite sad but also quite touching. There's a scene in the Deadpool and Daredevil annual where Weasel breaks down crying in a bar because of Foggy's relationship with Daredevil and offers to "trade friends." Although that doesn't mean he hates being Deadpool's friend; in fact he respects Wade, and at one points sees that he means a lot to him (Enough to beat down Taskmaster and his army of stooges). Even though he suffers a lot of wedgies and wet-willys, he puts up with it and takes it with a grain of salt. Maybe out of some knowledge that it's better to be Deadpool's friend than his enemy.....or maybe, it's because he can see that even though Deadpool is an a-hole, he also values and would do anything for his friends. It's not till Deadpool hit's his lowest point in Joe Kelly's run where Weasel decides to run away for fear of his own life.
Blind Al on the other hand, is very much the opposite of Weasel. They share a lot in common, but go about things in a very different way. Blind Al is the mother-figure in Deadpool's life. Which is odd to say seeing as how she's also his sorta hostage. It's a bizarre relationship and would take a blog of it's own to talk about. I'll never forget a scene where all of Deadpool's effort to become a better person shatter, and all that he has left is to curl up into a ball and cry into Blind Al's arms....and she helps him. This is the man who has been making her life a living hell, and she helps him when he needs it. Because she knows deep down inside, that's all he needs. Someone to help him, to show him that he's not alone.......It's a touching scene. I'll admit, I cried the first time I read it. Weasel runs out of fear for his own life, but Blind Al doesn't. Blind Al is a fighter, and there's a great point where she decides that she's not going to let Deadpool bully her anymore. Blind Al deeply cares for Wade and is probably the only person who isn't afraid of him. Throughout the entire series she is trying to help him become a better person. She's the angel in Deadpool's life......I heart Blind Al.
Joe Kelly's entire run on Deadpool deals with a lot of themes. being a big one and probably the main one. How far down the pit can someone fall and can they climb back up out of it. Deadpool is a character haunted by his past, he's a killer and "destiny's garbage man." He's not a good person. The very fact that Joe Kelly actually makes you care for this kind of deeply disturbing person is astounding. This is a character who throws blind old ladies down a flight of stairs to make himself feel better, and yet you still want to see him succeed in becoming a better person (Probably because you know that he desperately needs it). Which makes it all the more tragic when he actually fails at times. That's Deadpool's goal from beginning to end. To be a better person. He doesn't have to be a hero or anything to do that, he just wants to be a respectable human being. That's his goal and the major theme of Joe Kelly's run.
Although, Deadpool's not the only character to try and redeem himself throughout the series though. At one point, Dr. Killebrew (The scientist who experimented on Deadpool in the warehouse) contacts Deadpool. He wants to redeem himself in Deadpool's eyes, and helps him cure his screwed up healing factor. But Deadpool would rather just slice open Killebrew's throat and be on his merry way..... and if it wasn't for Siryn, he probably would have. Siryn teaches Deadpool that you can't defeat a monster by acting like one. It's a great moment, and it sends shivers down my spine every time. Especially when Deadpool's only response is "Move" as he still wishes to murder Killebrew. Creepy stuff. I won't reveal whether or not Dr. Killebrew redeems himself in Deadpool's eyes, but I will say it leads to one of the most saddest moments I've ever read in a comic book. Beautifully poetic.
Although there are other themes in the run as well, one of which being that of. Deadpool is told at one point that he is destined to save the world, at first he dismisses it. But eventually the offer sounds good and he tries to better himself as a human being in order to follow that destiny. The big thing being that he wants to stop killing people, and he actually does at one point. He starts taking missions that don't involve killing targets. At one point he goes on a mission with Bullseye who remarks that all of the people Deadpool fought are still alive and that he's losing his edge. Deadpool succeeds and actually feels better for not killing people......But than he finds out that he's destined to save the world, only by killing an alien life-form bent on eliminating free-will. It absolutely ruins him mentally, and Blind Al actually ends up standing up for Deadpool and actually chews out the people who pushed him into that scenario. It's great stuff.
To say that Joe Kelly's run on Deadpool was a roller-coaster ride of emotions is an understatement. As I've said before. Throughout the arc, Deadpool goes through a lot of ups and downs. For every step he takes forward, the world just seems to push him two steps backward. That's probably what makes him such a lovable character. The world continues to push him down, but he refuses to let the world get the better of him. He's not going to let the world or other people's perception of him get in the way of doing what he thinks is right.
There's a great moment where he tells T-Ray that his life is pretty much exactly like the squirrel in the old Chuck Jones cartoon. He's just a little squirrel out to make a living, when all of a sudden he comes across the mother-load of acorns (A coconut). He tries everything to crack open that nut and eat what's inside. He tries a jackhammer, he tries rolling it down stairs, but nothing can crack that nut open. Until finally he decides to toss that nut off the empire state building. It works! Only it cracks open to reveal, another coconut inside it.....The comparison of himself to that squirrel is practically dead-on and I wonder if that was Joe Kelly's intention and source of inspiration going into the series.
I can't really say much more about this, but take my word for it. If you aren't teary eyed or slightly terrified at least once during this run, than you might want to go to a doctor cause you might not have a heart. Joe Kelly really pulls on your heart-strings with this run, and the fact he can do it with such a disturbing character is fantastic. I dare you, I DARE YOU to read the first five issues and not get teary eyed by the fifth issue....it's THAT well written. The other 28 issues are chock fulls of moments like this as well.
FINALLY, THE CONCLUSION!!!!
Now I could keep recommending this run for hours and hours, but in the end. The only way to know if it's as good as I say it is is by reading it yourself.
If you're a Deadpool fan.....actually if you're just a fan of comics in general, I beg you. I beg you to give Joe Kelly's Deadpool run a shot. Just read the first 5 issues and if you don't see any potential, you can at least say you gave it a shot.
As a Deadpool fan I'd say the writing quality is on par with some of the greatest comic book stories ever told. For me personally, it's just as bit as good as The Dark Knight Returns and maybe even Watchmen. As a general comic book fan, it's still really good stuff and is truly underrated. The fact more people don't know about, really brings a tear to my eye. I mean; there's a reason so many of the people who HAVE read it, say nothing but great things about it.
I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed.
Thank you for reading this really lengthy blog, I hope I've at least made you somewhat interested in the masterful Deadpool run that Joe Kelly has written. I can not recommend it enough. If you're interested, pick up Deadpool Classic volumes 1 to 5 for about $20 each or the upcoming Joe Kelly Omnibus for $125, if you have that kind of money. Like I said, it's worth every penny