For a decade now Marvel has been doing a superb job of shoving Deadpool from the back rows of 90’s violent superhero excess to the front-lines of meta-comic fame. (I hear there’s even a movie or something?) Created by Rob Liefeld (the most creative anatomist since Henry Gray) and Argentinian writer Fabien Nicienza, Deadpool is Wade Winston Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth, the Regenerating Degenerate, the Sensation with a Registration, the Alliteration Assassination – all depending on how a writer for a particular issue feels. Deadpool’s barely-there sanity is really split between the Bugs and the Daffy of “Duck Amuck.” Half of him is valiantly trying to roll with the punches sent down by whimsical, vaguely malevolent, off-panel creators. The other half is busy being the creator of his own in-panel reality, controlling it via humor, tangential hallucinations, or landscape-altering explosions.
Daniel Way guided Deadpool through self-aware adventures for 63 issues. “The Complete Collection Volume 1” covers the first 12 or so, with additional stories about Deadpool’s attempt to eliminate fellow Weapon-Xer Wolverine. Mostly Wadey battles for AND against invading Skrulls; antagonizes Norman Osborn at the former Avengers Tower; and collides with the Thunderbolts (his crush on Black Widow is hilariously pathetic.) But Way truly hits his stride with the Deadpool / Bullseye storyline. Bullseye (a.k.a. the mean Hawkeye) is the perfect soul-less mate for Deadpool, and this arc shows the emotional potential in giving the Merc an actual frenemy, someone who operates at the same wave-length of irreverent awareness, rather than the usual dumbfounded Marvel Universe villain trying to puzzle out Deadpool’s schizophrenic utterings.
Trigger warning for the chicken soul: “Deadpool” unwittingly deals with mental health in a flippant, mocking manner that will no doubt be seen as very problematic within the decade. (You missed out: you didn’t see me cringe with discomfort as I forced myself to type out the word “problematic,” one of the most cowardly, idiotic adjectives to ever infect our collective conversation.)