Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hero of the Week #17: Deadpool

Real Name: Wade Wilson
First Appearance: New Mutants #98 (February, 1991)
Group Affiliation: X-Force (upcoming)
Gaming Credentials: X-Men Legends II (2005); Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006); X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009); Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #56

In the scheme of things; Deadpool is still a relatively new character in the world of Marvel comics. Despite debuting some thirty-years after many of his popular Marvel contemporaries, you need only take a tour of the internet to see just how ingrained in the culture the character has become. Even a dubious cinematic debut -- which deviated drastically from popularized versions of the character -- served only to energize what has already been a growing phenomenon that far exceeds the guest-villain status of his early appearances.

Co-created by infamous nineties penciller, Rob Liefeld; Deadpool was far from the crowning jewel of the company when he first appeared in New Mutants. Resembling an unremarkable mish-mash of DC's Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) and a dark Spider-man, the villain developed a special place in his scarred heart for menacing the young mutants led by Cable, who soon became X-Force.
After a string of recurring appearances as villain, Deadpool earned two four-issue mini-series in '93 and '94 that allowed talent such as Mark Waid to add new material, before eventually gaining a true foothold of popularity in 1997 with the first issue of an on-going series.

Some of the best known comedic beats were established with the first issues of the nineties series, written by Joe Kelly, where he built strong ties with other secondary Marvel characters (ie; Taskmaster), and played heavily with references to mainstream and obscure pop culture, including elements unique to the comics themselves.
It's these traits that have endeared the character to a broad audience of both comics fans, and others, such as gamers, who were readily included in Kelly's gag-filled mining of pop. He bridged the gap with non-comics readers with simple and classic comedy, initiating running gags that would continue as other writers took over, and a decade later would become internet "memes."

Deadpool joined the cast of Ultimate Alliance 2, reprising his role from the previous game, which itself carried over from appearances in X-Men Legends II. This recent return to form -- not to mention the previously referenced farce of his role in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine spin-off -- makes him a must-have HOTW for 2009!

The game not only features the quip-heavy dialogue you'd expect, but also capitalizes on the unforgettable addition of the character's legitimate superheroic skills. Armed with a healing factor borrowed from Wolverine and an arsenal of lethal weaponry he wields with little regard for others; this merc' with a mouth can kick butt with the best of them, and still has a tendency to fall into line with the other heroes, like so many other popular bad guys turned anti-heroes.

Of course, his moral compass isn't the only thing that's changed as Deadpool has gained popularity...
The comedy of the character has arguably suffered dramatically in later iterations, as Deadpool, at times, becomes an obxious parody of himself. Many late-coming fans have been oblivious to the things Deadpool has mocked, creating a self-fulfilling indulgence of bad internet humor, and shlocky gimmicks, like the recently added Alley McBeal-esque, 'Deadpool Vision.'

This (de)evolution of the character has made navigating comic appearances a minefield, compounded by the company's recent expansion of series and guest-spots, so be warned newbs!

Fortunately; Marvel have also begun to reintroduce previous runs of the series through trade paperback collections, and in amongst the thoroughly average work, there are still occasionally digestable helpings.

Deadpool: Suicide Kings was a mini-series that recently wrapped, and had DP on the run from The Punisher - framed for a bombing he did not commit! Though not terribly complex, the action-packed mini had Deadpool team-up with fellow urban heroes, and Ultimate Alliance 2 playable characters, Daredevil and Spider-man, as well as the Punisher himself, in their battle against super-strong mobster, Tombstone. All in all, it was a fun romp, and a soft and cushy entry point into the world of Marvel comics.

Deadpool of parallel Earth-2149 also dropped in for some fun, terrorizing heroes posted in Florida near the Nexus of Realities in Marvel Zombies 3, before spreading the plague as a decapitated head in Marvel Zombies 4!
"Z-Pool" now stars alongside the original in, Deadpool: Merc' with a Mouth, but as much fun as a decapitated zombie head might sound, you might be better served checking out MZ3 and MZ4.

No matter how you slice and dice it, Deadpool is one of comics' newest icons. With this success comes promise of a solo-film starring Ryan Reynolds, and with a bit of luck, a long awaited forray into gaming. With so many unique reference points, a Deadpool film and game has the potential to do the comedic equivalent of Arkham Asylum. Here's hoping we get that same irreverence and reference-filled mania that made the character great to begin with! The possibilities are endless!

Remember! For your chance to win a PlayStation 3 Slim, Marvel Civil War comics, and a copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, all you have to do is blog about where your allegiances lie -- Captain America, or Iron Man? I know who I'm with! For more information about the competition, dare to register, and visit the competition page!

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