Deadpool’s got a lot going on these days, even if he did just “die.” Not only does he have a movie on the way in a few months, but he’s also has a few comics coming up in the big post-Secret Wars relaunch. He has a solo series, a miniseries with Spider-Man, and he’s going to be joining the Avengers.
Since his creation by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in 1990, Deadpool has slowly but surely become a pretty big name in Marvel Comics. So much so that at one point he was starring in no less than four ongoing series as well as a handful of miniseries. Too bad those were a creative valley for the character, but it was nice to see that people cared.
As someone who has read nearly every Deadpool appearance, I figure I would rank all the Deadpool writers from worst to best. To make it a nice, manageable number, I’m laying down some ground rules:
These are only writers who have either written a comic starring Deadpool or a team comic with Deadpool as a member.
They also have to have written him for at least three consecutive issues. That means Deadpool Team-Up is off the table and I’m not counting one-shots or guest appearances (sorry, fans of Messiah War).
I suppose I could include 5 Ronin and Identity Wars if I wanted to stretch the technicality, but nah. In those cases, Deadpool was just a guy who made a few cameos until getting his own spotlight issue.
Now to the list.
21. ROB RODI
Identity Disc #1-5
Artist Collaborations: John Higgins
Ah, Identity Disc. A miniseries that appeared to only exist because DC had a pretty high-profile book with “Identity” in the title at the time. Identity Disc is Usual Suspects, but with Marvel villains. I don’t mean that it’s similar. I mean that that’s exactly what it is. Deadpool, Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Bullseye, Sandman, and Vulture are forced to work for a Kaiser Soze ripoff for various reasons. Deadpool’s in it because of his never-before-mentioned-and-never-again-mentioned ex-wife Gretchen. By completing the mission, he would be given information on her whereabouts.
Deadpool’s relationships with the rest of the team are rather odd. His frenemy history with Bullseye is played up, but Rodi chooses to completely ignore the major bad blood between Deadpool and Sabretooth. You know, the guy who murdered Copycat, love of Wade’s life, that one time. And it’s not like it was some obscure part of his history like it is now. It had only happened two years prior.
Honestly, the only decent part I can recall coming out of Deadpool in this mini is when he played air guitar on his katana. That’s all I got.
20. DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI
Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War #1-4, Deadpool vs. X-Force #1-4
Artist Collaborations: Jason Pearson, Pepe Larraz
I’ll always respect Swierczynski for being able to follow the legendary Brubaker/Fraction run of Immortal Iron Fist and hold his own. That said, his Deadpool comics have always been dry and flavorless to me. Deadpool vs. X-Force was just kind of there.
Wade Wilson’s War sticks in my mind because it happens to feature what may be the most painfully unfunny moment in my comic-reading experience. Deadpool is testifying at a trial and removes his mask as a horrifying cliffhanger deal. Then we see that he’s Michael Jackson and proceeds to dance around, punching bailiffs, all while singing “Poker Face.”
It’s taking every bit of willpower for me not to flip over a table just typing that out.
19. FRANK TIERI
Deadpool #57-64 (2001-2002), Deadpool Team-Up #891
Artist Collaborations: Georges Jeanty, J. Calafiore, Chris Staggs
Tieri had some good ideas that just didn’t land. His run lasted for two arcs. The first one had Deadpool join a reformed Weapon X alongside Sabretooth and some less-than-important teammates. It ended with Deadpool’s death and led to a Death and Return of Superman parody (where he’s replaced by a superhero, a lunatic, a murderous vigilante, and…basically The Miz). It could have worked, but just fell apart, especially with the ending that to this day makes no sense.
Okay, so Joe Kelly’s legendary run ended with this reveal that Deadpool isn’t actually Wade Wilson, but a merc named Jack who killed the real Wade Wilson and took his name while the original was reborn as the villain T-Ray. Tieri chose to not only not leave well enough alone by retconning that retcon and showing that Deadpool’s the real Wade Wilson, but he did it in a way that was, once again, completely nonsensical.
Don’t even get me started on his Deadpool Team-Up issue. Nobody cares about your pet character Mr. X no matter how cool and badass you swear he is.
I will give him credit for the heartbreaking and wordless funeral issue. When you can do an emotional scene with Bullseye, of all people, you’ve done something right.
18. VICTOR GISCHLER
Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #1-13, Prelude to Deadpool Corps #1-5, Deadpool Corps #1-12
Artist Collaborations: Bong Dazo, Kyle Baker, Rob Liefeld, Das Pastoras, Whilce Portacio, Philip Bond, Paco Medina, Marat Mychaels
During the period when Deadpool was all over the place in the late-00s, Gischler was given two ongoings to write: Merc with a Mouth and Deadpool Corps. Merc with a Mouth didn’t set the world on fire, but it was decent enough for what it was. It felt like a fill-in arc was given its own separate series and an extension, for better and for worse. There are some good gags and it plays well with the Marvel Zombies universe before that continuity had completely wore out its welcome. As a plus, Gischler introduced Lady Deadpool.
That series led straight into Prelude to Deadpool Corps. This was a mixed bag if ever there was one. If anything, at least the Kidpool one-shot had some great laughs. The final issue, though…man. That period of time when Kyle Baker was doing all his comic art in Poser was a dark time for comics. Really rough.
Deadpool Corps simply didn’t work. The only thing worse than Deadpool in space is a bunch of Deadpools in space. A team where everyone is a variation of the comic relief (and Gischler never decides to ever get deep within the character) is flawed and the constant Rob Liefeld art doesn’t help. I also roll my eyes that Lady Deadpool’s scarred appearance got fixed and she became hot for no reason.
17. DANIEL WAY
Deadpool #1-63, #33.1, #49.1 (2008-2012), Thunderbolts #1-11
Artist Collaborations: Paco Medina, Carlo Barberi, Shawn Crystal, Tan Eng Huat, Bong Dazo, Sheldon Vella, Salva Espin, John McCrea, Ale Garza, Filipe Andrade, Steve Dillon, Phil Noto
Daniel Way is a unique case where he came in hot and just didn’t know when to quit. Before he wrote Deadpool’s series, he included him in a Wolverine: Origins storyline where he and Logan had a bit of a cat and mouse game going. I’d argue it was one of Way’s best works. He started the new Deadpool volume, tying in with Secret Invasion, and it started out strong.
There was some serious momentum building through that first year, most notably when he was taking on Bullseye-disguised-as-Hawkeye. Hell, THAT may have been Way’s best comic right there.
Sometime after a story where Deadpool attempted to join the X-Men, Way ran out of gas. It became apparent that he really didn’t have a plan for Deadpool, and if he did, it wasn’t a good one. His arcs lacked payoff and would instead lead to the next adventure without giving any kind of acceptable closure. Classic characters from Deadpool’s past would be brought back into the fold and either they would be badly mischaracterized or Deadpool’s relationship with them would be mischaracterized. It just went on and on.
Worse, Way decided to rarely, if ever, give Deadpool an actual supporting cast outside of the occasional Bob from Hydra appearance. Instead, Deadpool would just speak to two inner-voices. At times it would be amusing, but soon you realize that there’s little to be gained from a protagonist constantly interacting with himself and not as much with others.
It hurt that this is who we were stuck with during Deadpool’s surge of popularity, back when the X-Men Origins: Wolverine depiction caused a whole stack of backlash. The core book simply lacked any real meat that in any way helped the character.
Afterwards, Way included Deadpool in his fairly brief Thunderbolts run, which I generally consider to be the only outright bad run that title has ever had.
16. CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
Deadpool #34-41, #43-45 (1999-2000)
Artist Collaborations: Paco Diaz, Gus Vasquez, Andy Smith, Jim Calafiore
I don’t envy Priest. He had it rough. He was handed Deadpool with little understanding of the character right after Joe Kelly wrote a defining run with such a big ending that it was hard to figure out where to go from there.
Priest’s follow-up was nothing great, but there were some definite hits in there, like the issue where Deadpool believed himself worthy of picking up Mjolnir. The status quo where he lived with a bunch of C-list villains was pretty fun. Deadpool’s brief fight with Killmonger Black Panther is one of my all-time favorite goofball moments.
Otherwise, it had some problems that proceeded to hold it back. Priest really tried to make some catchphrases stick and it says something that no writer after him used any of them. Then there’s the unfortunate space storyline that Priest repeatedly mentioned was editorially mandated, even though Deadpool doesn’t work all that well in a space setting.
The whole thing is middling, but understandably so.
15. DAVID LAPHAM
Deadpool MAX #1-12, Deadpool MAX-Mas, Deadpool MAX II #1-6
Artist Collaborations: Kyle Baker, Shawn Crystal
Lapham has only written the Deadpool MAX books and it’s hard to really rank him amongst all the others. After all, his Wade Wilson isn’t THE Wade Wilson (not in the T-Ray sense, but…you know what I’m trying to say), so his stuff is going to be “same but different.” The R-rated book lacks Deadpool’s healing factor and the only sci-fi plot device is the ambiguous idea that Cable might really be from the future.
The main character of the book isn’t even Deadpool, but Bob from Hydra, who plays the straight man. Deadpool plays off him well and existing as the second banana allows him to be more enigmatic. Much like the mainstream version, he remains highly-capable despite being completely insane, but he lacks the love for pop-culture and breaking of the fourth wall.
The black humor is mainly uncomfortable due to how overwhelming and cynical it is. Like at some point, you realize that that’s all there is to the comic. Outside of Cable and an interesting gender-swapped incarnation of Taskmaster, the supporting cast doesn’t bring much to the table. It starts out strong (the Zemo issue is so fun), but wears itself down that by the time the second volume ends, I didn’t find myself thirsting for more.
14. PETER DAVID
Deadpool’s Art of War #1-4
Artist Collaborations: Scott Koblish
In a perfect world, Peter David would be at the top of the list. The man’s credentials make him the perfect Deadpool writer on paper. David’s an expert at mixing pathos and humor, constantly writing stories that can be absurd and hilarious one second and soul-shattering the next. He easily could have given Deadpool the same treatment he gave the Hulk, though certainly not in the same lengthy timeframe.
David got a lot of requests to include Deadpool in his more modern X-Factor run, mainly because Deadpool’s old flame Siryn was on the team. He refused, eventually only giving him a one-page, off-panel cameo. It’s too bad, since if you dialed Deadpool’s zaniness back just a bit, it would have been a swell direction for him.
David finally wrote a Deadpool story in the recent Deadpool’s Art of War, a miniseries based on Deadpool trying to publish a new version of Art of War by putting it in the context of a Loki invasion. It was a fun standalone story that isn’t going to win any awards, but had a lot of good wit mixed in there.
13. BEN ACKER AND BEN BLACKER
Deadpool Annual #1 (2013), Thunderbolts Annual #1, Thunderbolts #27-32
Artist Collaborations: Evan Shaner, Matteo Lolli, Carlo Barberi, Gerardo Sandoval, Kim Jacinto, Jorge Fornes
The duo mainly wrote Deadpool during the tail end of the latest volume of Thunderbolts where the series was already dying. Since the story is centered around the Punisher, Deadpool rarely gets to do anything, but what’s there is fairly solid. If anything, there’s a borderline sweet moment of mutual respect between Frank and Wade…as Frank shoves Wade’s decapitated head into a vibranium jar.
Acker and Blacker’s best work with Deadpool is Deadpool Annual #1, where they finally give us some context on the narration boxes from the Daniel Way run. Namely, what were they and why did they stop showing up after Way left the book? It ended up being both an amusing issue and an absolutely brilliant retcon that brings back a character from Marvel’s past who has only had a very brief run-in with Deadpool prior.
I wouldn’t mind seeing more from these guys.
12. JIMMY PALMIOTTI AND BUDDY SCALERA
Deadpool #46-56 (2000-2001)
Artist Collaborations: Paul Chadwick, Darick Robinson, Anthony Williams, Georges Jeanty, Karl Kerschl
On his own, Palmiotti wrote a three-parter that followed Priest’s run that nearly made me stop reading Deadpool completely. “Cruel Summer” was a stinker of a story that hit the wrong tone. Thankfully, what followed wasn’t in any way similar. Palmiotti teamed up with Scalera for a stretch and we got a good collection of fairly quick stories that never went more than two parts.
Some were better than others. The highlight was the introduction of Kid Deadpool, a short-lived sidekick character with a mixture of admiration and murderous hatred for Wade, who is sadly forgotten about these days. The writer duo also had Deadpool fight the Punisher for the first time and did a rather odd storyline where Deadpool fought a pair of murderous Britney Spears knockoffs. They did a swell job of getting Deadpool back together with Copycat, only to put that genie back in the bottle when it came time for them to leave the book. Frank Tieri killed her off a couple issues later anyway.
One thing rather noticeable about the Palmiotti and Scalera run is how Deadpool wouldn’t get all too much focus for being the title character. The villains and guest characters seemed to get more emphasis, making Deadpool come off as more of a guest in his own series. For the most part, it worked.
11. CULLEN BUNN
Deadpool Team-Up #888, Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1-4, Deadpool Killustrated #1-4, Deadpool Kills Deadpool #1-4, Night of the Living Deadpool #1-4, Deadpool vs. Carnage #1-4, Return of the Living Deadpool #1-4, Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1-4
Artist Collaborations: Tom Fowler, Dalibor Talajic, Matteo Lolli, Salva Espin, Ramon Rosanas, Nik Virella, Jacopo Camagni
When Cullen Bunn started writing at the Big Two, I felt that his stories were mostly mediocre. His work on Captain America and Venom was really lacking and while he wasn’t terrible, his stories never seemed to get much of a reaction out of me. Then at some point, he turned a corner in a major way and decided to be great. For instance, he’s been absolutely killing it with Magneto and Sinestro. That basically explains why when it comes to Deadpool writers, Bunn is right in the middle of the list.
Bunn’s found a spot as the guy who is constantly writing four-issue Deadpool minis at any given moment. That originally meant the Deadpool Killogy, made up of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, Deadpool Killustrated, and Deadpool Kills Deadpool. The first of which was pretty abysmal and started off with a whimper when he had Deadpool immediately heal from having his head blown up from the inside. No, really, Sue Storm exploded Deadpool’s head, looked away for one panel, and then Deadpool popped back up and killed her.
Good to know the guy can’t be put in any actual danger before we read about him for several more issues.
With Deadpool Kills Deadpool, Bunn proceeded to kill off the Deadpool Corps characters while for some crazy reason making sure not to kill Evil Deadpool, AKA the one Deadpool villain worse than Deathtrap. This book was…pretty okay. After that, Bunn’s quality took an upswing and his Deadpool comics have been pretty fantastic since.
My personal favorite of his is Deadpool vs. Carnage, which was one of the better Carnage stories out there. Not that that’s saying much. When you have an overpowered villain who isn’t afraid of pain or death, it’s hard to give the hero a real win because the villain will only shrug off his loss. The same reason I rarely care about the Joker anymore. Deadpool proceeded to destroy Carnage psychologically and shut him up in a way that Spider-Man and Venom never could.
He also used dubstep as a weapon and I’m okay with that.
10. MIKE BENSON AND ADAM GLASS
Deadpool: Game$ of Death, Deadpool: Suicide Kings #1-5, Deadpool Team-Up #898, Deadpool Pulp #1-4
Artist Collaborations: Shawn Crystal, Carlo Barberi, Laurence Campbell
Benson did one miniseries by himself and then worked alongside Glass for another. Since Deadpool Pulp was Glass’ only work with the character, I figure I’ll just lump them together.
Benson’s miniseries Suicide Kings was a huge breath of fresh air. In a time when our choices were Gischler and Way, Benson did a five-issue take on Deadpool that worked. Granted, it could have just as easily been a fill-in arc and nobody would have noticed, but everything clicked. Deadpool teamed up with Daredevil, Spider-Man (back when that was rare), and the Punisher and played off each of them perfectly, all while connecting with nearly-forgotten supporting character Outlaw and dealing with Tombstone. It doesn’t have a major hook to make it too memorable, but it’s an incredibly solid trade.
For a time, Marvel was doing a bunch of period piece re-imagined stories based on heroes being noir characters. This led to Deadpool getting his own take called Deadpool Pulp and these guys knocked it out of the park. It found a way to map a powerless Deadpool into the 1950s as a haunted operative living on the edge of the Cold War, meeting up with counterparts to Cable, Outlaw, Weasel, and even Stryfe. The two writers even found a way to take the tired dual-inner-voices gimmick and make it into an incredibly badass scene, all laced with 50s tough guy jargon.
9. CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS
Fear Itself: Deadpool #1-3, A+X #8, Deadpool Annual #2
Artist Collaborations: Bong Dazo, Reilly Brown, Jacobo Camagni
Christopher Hastings is the man behind Dr. McNinja, which is like having “Most Likely to Write Deadpool” in your high school yearbook. With Fear Itself being a dud of a Marvel event, Hastings got to shine with his three-issue Deadpool tie-in which ultimately had very little to do with the main story. Instead, it was about Deadpool trying to make a name for himself by giving F-list Spider-Man villain the Walrus a bedazzled sledgehammer so that everyone would think the Walrus was part of the Worthy. Then by easily taking the Walrus down, Deadpool would be seen as a total badass.
Hastings’ take was a good time and looked like it would get his foot in the door for more Deadpool comics down the line. Since then, he’s written a story in A+X where Deadpool teamed up with Hawkeye. Despite only being half an issue, it blew away the Fear Itself tie-in, mainly because the two brought some amazing chemistry to the table. Plus Hastings introduced Deadpool’s exploding Hulk Hands arrow, which has since shown up elsewhere.
Hey, how about we give Hastings a Deadpool ongoing down the line and see where that gets us?
8. TIM SEELEY
Deadpool vs. Thanos #1-4
Artist Collaborations: Elmo Bondoc
Sometimes major aspects of a character quietly change over time and are forgotten about. It’s nice when a writer can pay it some lip service from time to time. For instance, Deadpool’s will they/won’t they relationship with Siryn was a huge part of his story, but then Marvel stopped caring about that for years. At one point, Peter David decided to call it out by doing the aforementioned one-page scene in X-Factor where Siryn came to terms that she and Wade were never going to work out.
Similarly, Deadpool’s had his romantic relationship with Death that he’s seemed to grow away from. Also, Frank Tieri’s run ended with a reveal that Thanos was magically keeping Deadpool alive for the sake of keeping him away from Death’s embrace, which was never brought up again. Many years later, Tim Seeley decided that there was a good story in there and got to work.
Seeley’s Deadpool vs. Thanos miniseries is a great ride. He takes two very, very different characters (who both happen to have big movie roles coming up) and finds a way to work them into the same story while constantly playing off each other. Even though he brings in some choice bits from Deadpool’s past, such as a returning Ajax, it’s mostly about putting Deadpool in a story that’s way bigger than his pay grade. Thanos doesn’t lower himself into existing in Deadpool’s world, but Deadpool ascends so he can hang with the more cosmic concepts.
It works for everyone involved and even that doofus the Black Talon comes out looking better. Plus there’s an Easter egg mixed in there that suggests that Deadpool was responsible for killing DC’s Hitman star Tommy Monaghan.
7. MARK WAID
Deadpool #1-4 (1994)
Artist Collaborations: Ian Churchill, Lee Weeks, Ken Lashley
Mark Waid’s a hard one to rank. He only wrote a four-issue Deadpool miniseries way early in the character’s existence (as well as a nothing backup in the Deadpool wedding issue) and has open disdain for the character. Or at least did upon finding out who Deadpool was after already agreeing to the writing project.
You can’t discount how important Waid’s take on Deadpool was, though. True, Nicieza did the Circle Chase miniseries before him, but that ultimately painted Deadpool as a scumbag villain with one moment of mild redemption. Waid’s miniseries actually made Deadpool likeable and heroic. Through the story, Waid introduced Deadpool’s relationship with Siryn as well as introducing Dr. Killbrew.
If anything, Waid’s duty molded the prototype that would become Joe Kelly’s definitive take on Deadpool.
6. CHARLES SOULE
Artist Collaborations: Steve Dillon, Phil Noto, Jefte Palo, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Carlo Barberi, Paco Diaz
When Charles Soule took over Thunderbolts from Daniel Way, he had Deadpool on the team to play with. Even though Deadpool was never the focal point of the series, Soule wrote the hell out of him and made him what he should be in a team setting: the wild card. At the worst, Deadpool would do something stupid and fail in a humorous way. At the best, he’d go do something that seems stupid and come out on top.
Venom best describes Deadpool with, “He’s nuts, but he’s good at what he does. You don’t think he’s going to come through, and then somehow he does. Sometimes.” Then minutes later, Deadpool proceeds to outsmart the goddamn Devil.
Then there’s Deadpool’s ridiculous pizza adventure, which found a spot on my list of best Thunderbolts moments.
5. GAIL SIMONE
Deadpool #65-69 (2002), Agent X #13-15
Artist Collaborations: Some folks from Udon
As far as I’m concerned, Deadpool and the Agent X spinoff are Simone’s best work. There was a time when Simone was the only Deadpool writer comparable to Kelly and it’s kind of insane because she really didn’t write him for all that long. After Tieri left the series, Simone wrote five issues before Deadpool was cancelled and then did Agent X, where she wrote ten issues with only three having Deadpool in them.
Those few issues are so well-regarded because they’re seriously entertaining and dense with comedy. Simone introduced a strong new direction with Deadpool Inc. and the supporting cast that came from it, which continued into Agent X. Coincidentally, the one supporting character who didn’t make the jump is one of the main reasons the Simone run resonates with me.
Simone introduced Ratbag, a mentally broken homeless man that Deadpool hired as a biographer. He was played for laughs, but when Deadpool’s own mind was falling to pieces, he went on a suicide revenge mission against the telepathic Black Swan and forced him to fix Ratbag’s mind. It wasn’t the usual anti-hero way of doing the right thing we’d usually see out of Deadpool where he’s deep in a situation and makes the moral choice. He straight up went out of his way to bring back Ratbag’s sanity and dignity and it ruled.
Coincidentally, Ratbag’s official name is Erik Nicieza. Cute.
4. FABIAN NICIEZA
Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1-4, Cable/Deadpool #1-50
Artist Collaborations: Joe Madureira, Mark Brooks, Patrick Zircher, Staz Johnson, Lan Medina, Reilly Brown, Staz Johnson, Ron Lim
Nicieza co-created Deadpool and wrote Deadpool’s first solo title, the miniseries Deadpool: The Circle Chase. That one was not great, but notable for laying down some good foundation. Nicieza didn’t really hit his stride with Deadpool until years later when he got to do Cable/Deadpool (or Cable & Deadpool if you’re nasty).
Many would claim that to be the best run with the character and it’s hard to disagree. For one, it’s a rare long-running series that stands on its own and doesn’t have to survive on crossovers. Sure, there are tie-ins for stuff like House of M and Civil War, but there’s enough context that you don’t have to read the event stories themselves. Just ride the wave and pay attention to the exposition.
Nicieza is very unique and has his strengths and weaknesses in his works throughout the years. His biggest weakness is his overcomplicated plots that I can never seem to get a grasp on. For instance, I can tell you that the first arc of Cable/Deadpool is about a cult that turns people blue, but I can’t for the life of me explain how that happened or how they fixed it. It’s like that for nearly all of Nicieza’s stories. Stuff happens, but the hows and whats are always headscratching, no matter how many times I read the recap page.
Luckily, he’s so good with everything else that it doesn’t matter. His character work is phenomenal. Yeah, I can’t remember the details of how Cable and Deadpool got joined together on a genetic level, but I can tell you the details of how they went from hated enemies to reluctant best friends, only for said friendship to collapse and gradually rebuild itself.
Deadpool is at his best when he has somebody to play off of and nobody plays off him better than Cable. Which makes sense that the comic becomes aimless the moment Cable is written out of the series. Still, their final meeting together is one of the all-time best Deadpool moments and brings a tear to my eye.
“Thank you. I’m proud of you. Goodbye.”
3. RICK REMENDER
What If Venom Possessed Deadpool?, Uncanny X-Force #1-35, #5.1, #19.1
Artist Collaborations: Shawn Moll, Jerome Opena, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Greg Tocchini, Mike McKone, Phil Noto, Jack Opena, Julian Totino Tedesco, Dave Williams
Remender hasn’t written much solo Deadpool. Just a short story and a fun What If issue where he got to rant about anyone who had a problem with Frankencastle existing (which I fully support because Frankencastle was such a beautiful thing). He mainly wrote Deadpool in the pages of Uncanny X-Force and of the main cast, Deadpool got the least amount of spotlight, which is why I can’t rank him any higher.
That said, Remender knocked it out of the park. The first arc had Deadpool mostly play up the comedy with Wolverine regularly abusing him, both verbally and physically. It wasn’t until the first follow-up issue that we got what may be the most important – and arguably best – Deadpool moment of all time. Deadpool stood up as the team’s conscience, showing that he was disgusted with their actions and when Wolverine tried to act like he was the morally superior one – citing Deadpool as a no-good mercenary – he found out that Deadpool was actually working on the team for free, as he never cashed any of Angel’s paychecks.
If you weren’t reading Marvel around the time, then I can’t emphasize enough how major this was. For several years, Deadpool was all over the place with a bunch of ongoing comics and miniseries going on at the same time, but the quality didn’t match the quantity. For the most part, Deadpool was written as a two-dimensional joke machine. Jokes are great and all, but he felt flat and pointless. The fact that Daniel Way made him a raging asshole with few redeeming characteristics didn’t help.
Deadpool spent the rest of the run in the background, but he was always golden. Although it was never talked about, Wolverine started treating him with respect and would even – no pun intended – humor him. He verbally annihilated the Punisher so hard that even Garth Ennis had to feel it. Then it was his compassion amongst a team of extremist anti-heroes that saved everyone in the end.
2. JOE KELLY
Deadpool #1-33, #-1, #0, Daredevil/Deadpool Annual ’97, Deadpool/Death Annual #98, Deadpool & Widdle Wade Team-Up, Baby’s First Deadpool Book, Encyclopedia Deadpoolica
Artist Collaborations: Ed McGuinness, Kevin Lau, Bernard Chang, Shannon Denton, Pete Woods, Walter McDaniel, Steve Harris, James Felder, Anthony Williams, David Brewer
Joe Kelly is to Deadpool what Chris Claremont is to the X-Men. He didn’t create the character, but damn if he didn’t invent him. In the mid-90s, Kelly was given the opportunity to write the first Deadpool ongoing and he knocked it out of the park. He took the ideas introduced by Nicieza and Waid and built an amazing run that lasted 33 issues, plus a whole bunch of one-shots and tie-ins.
While it’s a little rough at times in the re-reading, Kelly’s run feels almost unfair to Christopher Priest, who took over in issue #34. Kelly’s time on the book was so character-defining that it felt self-contained. Like there wasn’t really anywhere else to go with him. Deadpool went through a major arc where he started as a creep, started becoming something better, faltered, revealed himself to be more of a monster than the readers realized, improved upon himself, became a hero, then had to deal with the fallout of all the horrible things he had done.
There are so many brilliant moments in under three years. The Spider-Man time-travel issue where he became one of the first Marvel characters to marvel over how weird Norman Osborn’s hair is. The way he defeated the Taskmaster by being far too unpredictable. The heartbreaking origin story where he had to kill Worm, the one man who believed in him. Watching as Dr. Killbrew – the horrible doctor that made him what he is – die a heroic death, spending his final moments trying to redeem himself as Deadpool looked on, overwhelming with emotion and confusion. The final issue, where he points out that he knows that he can never truly make up for his crimes, while explaining that he’s still trying and that’s worth more than giving up.
It can’t be overstated how important Kelly is to Deadpool’s existence. Nearly everyone who followed, including Nicieza, seemed to be trying to reinvent the wheel at best. But you know what? It’s possible to do so…
1. GERRY DUGGAN AND BRIAN POSEHN
Deadpool #1-45 (2012-2015), Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1-13, Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #0-4, Uncanny Avengers #1-present (2015)
Artist Collaborations: Tony Moore, Scott Koblish, Mike Hawthorne, Declan Shalvey, Reilly Brown, John Lucas, Salva Espin, Matteo Lolli, Ryan Stegman
The opening six issues of the last Deadpool volume doesn’t really hit as well as it should. Many decided to give it a shot and decided it wasn’t for them. I don’t blame them. The storyline about zombie US presidents (foreshadowed in Uncanny X-Force, funny enough) goes on too long and runs out of gas, even if it does introduce the much-needed supporting cast. But once that’s all done with? Man, you’re talking about one of the finest comic runs in recent memory. The Duggan/Posehn Deadpool run is SO GOOD.
It’s a total package of what makes him work. You got your humor. You got your fantastic supporting cast. You have pathos up the ass. You have great action and scenes of pure badassery. New villains. Deadpool moving forward in new ways. Expert uses of fourth wall-breaking. A wonderful gimmick where we’d get “flashback” issues in-between certain story arcs and see what Deadpool was up to back in the ’70s or ’80s. While Kelly’s take was about Deadpool overcoming what he’s done, this is more about Deadpool overcoming what’s been done to him.
One of the most fitting things in all of this is how we see Deadpool kill the villain Butler at one point. It’s one of the most cathartic kills in Marvel history and we don’t even know the full story of what Butler had done to him over the years. Through the flashbacks, we learn about Butler’s actions after the fact and it becomes apparent that revenge won’t make things better. What’s done is done and it will always haunt Deadpool, even if he doesn’t quite remember it.
Yet his innate goodness leads to those who try to help him overcome. He has the ghost of a good woman living inside his mind to bond with him and she’s able to see that he’s ultimately a decent man. He finds out he has a daughter and makes sure she’s well-protected. He continues to mentor Evan from Uncanny X-Force. Captain America learns to respect and befriend him. He even gets married to an anachronistic succubus who loves him for who he is. No matter how uncomfortable happiness makes him, he’s learning to accept the idea that he can love and be loved.
I was bummed when I discovered that the run was ending. Luckily, Duggan also wrote the incredibly charming Hawkeye vs. Deadpool miniseries and moved on to doing Shiklah (Mrs. Deadpool)’s Secret Wars tie-in series. While Posehn is gone, Duggan will not only continue writing Deadpool during the post-Secret Wars relaunch, but he’ll be including him in the pages of Uncanny Avengers. The run has been so fruitful that it’s essentially made Duggan one of the architects of the Marvel universe.
Not bad for a comic about a Deathstroke knockoff.
Agree with the list? Disagree? Sound off in the comments! But let’s be honest, you’re probably only going to comment if you disagree.
Gavin Jasper is wondering what Monty the skinless psychic is up to these days. That guy was great. Follow Gavin on Twitter!