Deadpool has a movie! The fact that Deadpool has only been a part of the Marvel Universe for 25 years, and yet he's beaten more tenured characters, like Doctor Strange, to the big screen, is a testament to his popularity. If you feel like his popularity has snuck up on you and want to study up before going into the movie, the best Deadpool storylines from his comic book appearances are the best place to start.
So who is the "Merc with the Mouth?" He was born Wade Wilson (or at least he thinks he was), and became a well-regarded mercenary. When cancer threatened his life, he was saved by the Weapon X program (the same jerks who gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton). They infused him with Wolverine's healing power, but it made him a bit screwy and left his face permanently scarred. He's fast, strong, clever, heals as well as Wolverine, and possesses teleporting technology, but he's also insane to the point where he thinks he's living in a comic book. Since he is living in a comic book, it's also possible he's just too sane for everyone around him. His obnoxious personality and constant sarcasm are the bane of the rest of the Marvel Universe.Deadpool can often be found on the periphery of stories starring Marvel's more established roster, most frequently the X-Men, but he eventually weaseled his way into the hearts of readers and his own ongoing title. Deadpool's best story arcs come in both team and solo books and are joined on this list by a few wacky alternate universe interpretations. Please enjoy this ranking of the best Deadpool storylines that comic books have to offer, and enjoy the movie starring Ryan Reynolds in February 2016!
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Story Found In: Deadpool Vol. 3 #15-19
This is Deadpool's greatest team-up. The story follows through on a comedic motif where Deadpool is repeatedly waking up after being drugged and having his organs mysteriously removed. Since he is able to regenerate them, he doesn't think much of it at first. When he finds out his organs are being used to create a new weapon, he enlists the aid of Wolverine and Captain America to solve the mystery of his missing organs.
It's not just a ploy to get three of Marvel's most popular characters on the same cover. It draws an interesting parallel between its three main protagonists, all of whom have endured experimentation and physical modification through the Weapon Plus program and responded in their unique ways. Captain America has embraced patriotism and valor, Wolverine murder and darkness, while Deadpool has fallen to madness.It's a more dramatic storyline than most Deadpool arcs, but it doesn't skimp on the comedy having been written by veteran stand-up Brian Posehn.
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe
Story Found In: Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe #1-4
For all his popularity, being the Marvel Universe's comic relief has earned Deadpool a lot of losses. That's why it's nice to see him succeed in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, in which (spoiler alert), he kills the Marvel Universe (an alternate one, at least).
When a brainwashing experiment goes wrong, he kills the Fantastic Four and Uatu the Watcher, which is fairly unsettling, since Uatu has always acted as a kind of surrogate for the reader. As if that wasn't bad enough, he directly threatens the reader before he begins his rampage in earnest.
He alternately uses trickery and brutality to dispatch heroes and villains alike. His regenerative powers are at their peak when his body reassembles it's self after being torn apart by the Hulk. Deadpool then decapitates Bruce Banner in his sleep.It's a sickeningly satisfying revenge yarn in which an outsider character who is constantly belittled, sidelined, and dismissed as insane enforces his will on his tormentors. Sadly, it's also a bit of a dead-end storyline, because by the end, there's no one left to kill... except a regenerated Wolverine.
The Final Execution Saga
Story Found In: Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1 #25-35
Uncanny X-Force centers on a team of X-Men spun off to become a proactive hit squad. With his background as a mercenary, Deadpool is an obvious choice and begins to feel a sense of family and camaraderie he's never experienced among X-Men before.
That's why it tears at him so badly when he is forced to turn against the team when their final mission is to kill a child version of the mutant super villain, Apocalypse, unfortunately known as Kid Apocalypse (though his codename would later be improved slightly to Genesis). Deadpool breaks with Wolverine and company to save Kid Apocalypse, and the team eventually accepts the young mutant as a new student when X-Force dissolves.As the series concludes, Deadpool plays a pivotal role in guiding Kid Apocalypse away from his despotic destiny, instilling him with the notion to embrace the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and to learn to use his vast potential for good. It's a poignant but powerful moment that betrays the regrets that Deadpool suffers in his moments of sanity.
Deadpool Develops "Comic Awareness"
Story Found In: Deadpool Vol. 1 #0, 4, 20, 28-30
Deadpool's original power set included a Wolverine-like healing factor, telepathic immunity, and super-athleticism. It was a solid, but bland set of skills, and when writer Joe Kelly launched Deadpool's first solo title, he felt the constant specter of cancellation. Instead of getting conservative, he got weird.
Deadpool started to manifest a "comic awareness" where he would break the fourth wall and either speak directly to the reader, reference real-world events, or speak about the Marvel Universe as if it was a fictional construct within the real universe. In short, he knows he is a comic book character and he reads his own books. In issue #4 he references the theme song from The Hulk TV show and in issue #20, he talks about Marvel's financial situation. In issue #28, when Bullseye asks him when they last met, Deadpool replies "Issue sixteen," and the power is in full force.It's not the most desirable power, since to every other character, Deadpool is considered unreliably insane, but it does lend credence to his care-free attitude and let him take risks with his life knowing that none of it is real. Unfortunately, it also sends him on suicidal benders from time to time.