So the first official trailer for Deadpool is out and it is glorious. However, non-Deadpool fans and those who have missed the perhaps ubiquitous appearances of the Merc with a Mouth in comics may be wondering: just who is this guy? Well, let me be of service and tell you the whole sordid history of Wade Wilson, Deadpool.
Deadpool first appeared in New Mutants #98 (February 1991), created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza.
New Mutants, at this point, bore little resemblance to how it had started out and would soon transform into X-Force. Liefeld had already introduced the big-gunned Cable (he of the convoluted origin) and quickly introduced more characters with improbably large guns and tiny feet.
In his first appearance, Deadpool was a talkative mercenary, but wasn’t quite the wisecracking, fourth-wall-breaking character he would become. In fact, he took a lot of mannerisms from Deathstroke, arch-enemy of the Teen Titans — in fact, that’s where his name comes from. When Liefeld showed his Deadpool designs to Nicieza, Nicieza commented that he looked like Deathstroke, so he named him “Wade Wilson” after Slade Wilson. Even the name “Deadpool” is a pun...
...after all, you do the death stroke in a dead pool.
The character of Deadpool proved to be so popular that they decided to give him his own mini-series in 1993 (which introduced Deadpool’s sidekick Weasel), which sold well, so they gave him another in 1994 (actually written by Mark Waid, his first work for Marvel). Finally, they gave up and just gave him his on ongoing series in 1997.
His 1997 series was written by Joe Kelly and pencilled by Ed McGuinness and it was with this team that solidified Deadpool’s personality, along with his penchant for breaking the fourth wall. In fact, in Deadpool #11, Deadpool and Blind Al travel back in time to Amazing Spider-Man #47 and impersonate Peter Parker and Aunt May (it’s hilarious and a lot of the panels are nearly shot-for-shot remakes).
Kelly and McGuinness also introduced a number of side characters, such as Blind Al, who acted as both Deadpool’s prisoner and housekeeper. However, Deadpool was always on the verge of cancellation, so Kelly and McGuinness left...and the book was immediately given to Christopher Priest. (Priest had a funny bit in his first issue where Deadpool arrives at a nursing home full of all the other characters from Priest’s own cancelled books.) Priest added onto Deadpool’s fourth-wall-breaking ability, having Deadpool comment that nothing was real and that there was “a man. At a typewriter. This is all his twisted imagination.”
Deadpool actually managed to hold on until it was cancelled with issue #69 — at which point Gail Simone was writing the book and a group called Udon was doing the art. The book ended with Deadpool dying...and then was relaunched as Agent X with a mysterious amnesiac character named Alex whom people assumed was Deadpool (he wasn’t).
Simone’s run was incredibly fun, but the book only lasted fifteen issues before it, too, was cancelled.
The next book Deadpool would star in, then, would be Cable & Deadpool and he would be written again by his co-creator Fabian Nicieza (and this time, only the covers were done by Liefeld). Cable & Deadpool lasted for fifty issues, all of them written by Nicieza. He also managed to introduce Bob, Agent of Hydra.
The next series came out in 2008, written by Daniel Way, with art by Paco Medina. Way’s run of Deadpool was slightly more controversial than the previous ones; for one thing, he explicitly gave Deadpool schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Under Way’s pen, he had constant hallucinations and, well, acted crazy all the time.
This run ended with issue #63 and the very next month it was relaunched under the pen of Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, with art by Tony Moore.
Posehn and Duggan managed to get the right mixture of humor, craziness, and pathos with Deadpool, starting off his adventures with him having to rekill a bunch of undead Presidents. In issue #27, he got married to Shiklah, Queen of the Underworld, and the wedding issue had almost all previous writers return to write a story for Deadpool, including Fabian Nicieza, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Daniel Way, Frank Tieri, Victor Gischler, and Christopher Priest (Priest, at this point, was almost entirely retired from comics).
And then, in a tie-in to the crossover Original Sin, Deadpool finds out he has a daughter named Ellie. And in the last issue, Deadpool #45, Deadpool dies again, this time as a result of the planetary incursion that led directly into Secret Wars.
Currently, Deadpool stars in two books, despite being dead: Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, a look at Deadpool’s role in the original Secret Wars in 1984, and Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos, which stars Shiklah, Deadpool’s wife, and also the ghost of Deadpool. In the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe, Deadpool is set to star again in his own book, as well as be a member of the Avengers Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers, also written by Gerry Duggan.
So who exactly is Deadpool? Well, his origins have always been vague at best: all that’s really known is that he had cancer and went through the Weapon X program which gave him a healing factor, but the healing factor made his tumors grow out of control (hence his unmasked face looking pretty fugly). At times, it’s been stated that he isn’t Wade Wilson and he is Wade Wilson. During Cable & Deadpool, part of his childhood was shown and during Original Sin, it was shown that he was tricked into killing his own parents. Ultimately, all that really matters is that he is a mercenary who tries to do good most of the time and sometimes succeeds.
Also, he once Shoryuken’d Kitty Pryde and kicked Captain America in the nads.