Without a doubt Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness’ Deadpool is a modern classic. Over the years numerous collections of Kelly’s work on the title have been released likely because they sell out and need new printings. An omnibus starting with the 1997 series already exists featuring over 33 issues of material and now Marvel has a brand new edition dubbed the “complete edition.” The new trade paperback houses the first 11 issues of Deadpool Vol. 1, the negative 1 issue, Daredevil/Deadpool Annual 97, and Amazing Spider-Man #47. This first volume is a great place to start with the adventures of Deadpool and the various original supporting characters like Blind Al and Weasel.
It’s funny to think about this series’ main purpose since Deadpool has not only become an Avengers since its creation but become a hero and gone back to being a mercenary for hire. The overarching story in this collection is about an interdimensional organization that has determined Deadpool is going to save the world. Deadpool rejects this idea largely because he doesn’t want to be a hero. In the very first issue, however, Kelly and McGuiness have him save thousands from radiation and cancer after getting halfway through a job-destroying Sasquatch’s work.
Throughout this collection, Deadpool fights all sorts from Taskmaster–who wears one hell of a bizarre red and purple costume–Typhoid Mary, T-Ray (another Kelly creation), and other cooky characters like Deathtrap. Ultimately the narrative is more about Deadpool understanding the hero inside himself and being okay with that. At the point of this series kicking off Deadpool was a rather basic mercenary character that was all costume design and very light on character. Kelly took this character leaps and bounds forward essentially establishing the character’s personality forever and giving him real pathos.
That includes Deadpool’s supporting characters. Blind Al, in particular, is a fun character who is utilized much more than I remember. She even goes on adventures with Deadpool and while she’s still the ever-present roommate of Deadpool she’s also a voice of reason in Deadpool’s insane head. Reading this collection makes you realize there is so much more potential for Ryan Reynolds lead films utilizing Blind Al and Weasel while at the same time it is unmistakable this is the premiere Deadpool.
Fans might be shocked to realize Deadpool didn’t break the fourth wall as much in his first foray into getting a fleshed-out character. The humor is still there, he still talks a mile a minute and annoys folks, but he’s not thinking and talking to himself constantly. In some of the back matter in this book, which collects extras released at the time the book was coming out, Kelly dubs Deadpool a kind of Bugs Bunny. Running with that idea it’s quite clear this is a Bugs Bunny version of Deadpool as he’s a stinker, he’s capable of great violence and surprises, and everything tends to work out in the end. Like a cartoon character, Deadpool can survive great violence too.
This series is the groundwork every following Deadpool story built off of. It was groundbreaking in its own right and if you want to better understand the character you must start here. A modern classic indeed.
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