Deadpool has a movie coming out in 2016 and we're going to make sure you've done all of your homework by then! The Merc with a Mouth first appeared in 1991 and the guy has become ridiculously popular. Obviously, the more popular a character becomes, the more volumes they're given and the more cameos they'll make in several other titles. Well, we're here to point you in the direction of the stories that are worthy of your time and will help give you a better understanding of Wade Wilson. Now, get your wallets ready!
Deadpool Classics Vol 1
You might as well start the very beginning, right? The first volume of DEADPOOL CLASSICS of course includes Wade's very first appearance in NEW MUTANTS #98 (by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza). While that issue won't blow your mind or anything like that, it's still an important read since it reveals the mercenary's first appearance, interaction with Cable (although, the recent DEADPOOL VS. X-FORCE messed around with this) and has some amusing action. More importantly, this collection includes Deadpool's first two limited series. The first limited series is by Nicieza and Joe Madureira, and the second is by Mark Waid and Ian Churchill. A comment or two about Wilson's history with the early X-FORCE run may leave you feeling a tad in the dark, but these two stories expand his character, supporting cast, and have him bump into some famous faces. Obviously, they're packed with action -- this was the '90s, after all. Oh, and we can't forget to mention one very appealing part of this volume: it also includes the first issue of the 1997 run by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness!
Joe Kelly Omnibus
It's simple: you need to read Kelly's run if you consider yourself a Deadpool fan. Waid and Nicieza gave him a little more depth, but this really is the character defining run. The "Joe Kelly Omnibus" includes #1-33, #0, #-1, the '97 annual with Daredevil, the annual with Death, Baby's First Deadpool Book, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #47 (so you can better appreciate DEADPOOL #11) & #611, and some of the content from DEADPOOL #900. This collection packs a hefty price tag, but it really is critical reading for the character and many consider it to be the best balanced. It has a ton of energetic action and plenty of levity, but it also includes strong character beats and emotional scenes. If you're a huge Deadpool fan who hasn't read this run and the price tag is just too much, we recommend putting this one on your holiday list.
Gail Simone's run
Deadpool's 1997 run was quite a ride and writer Gail Simone was tasked with bringing it to a close. Luckily for us, she ended things on a hysterical, gorgeous, and engaging note (who can forget the bits with Rhino?!). The follow-up, AGENT X, is an absolute blast. DEADPOOL CLASSIC VOL. 9 is currently available, but the conclusion of AGENT X (DEADPOOL CLASSIC VOL. 10) is scheduled to go on sale November 18. It may not have the same kind of depth as the previous work, but it makes up for that and then some with some exceptional comedy, superb visuals and great character dynamics.
Cable & Deadpool
Many consider Kelly's run to be the top Deadpool experience, and just as many people consider this to be a very close second place. CABLE & DEADPOOL struck a terrific balance between comedy and heart. Nicieza's run is joined by a few talented artists (a majority is by Patrick Zircher & Reilly Brown) and the end result is a ride that's consistently funny and the complicated relationship with Cable brought about some excellent character-driven scenes. Overall, this one has everything you'd want in a Deadpool story and each arc thrives for completely different reasons.
Daniel Way's run
This is without question the most polarizing choice on the list. Daniel Way's run focuses on over-the-top silliness and a ton of comedy. It left many Deadpool fans divided, but if you're not concerned about changes to the character and just want to have a good time, this is likely going to be worth your attention. Sure, there's only occasional displays of depth, but this series is mostly pure fun and keeps you smiling. Where else will you see Wade Wilson wear a "meat armor" against Bullseye or create a mountain of pancakes? If you do end up enjoying this run, we also recommend checking out Way's story The Deep End in WOLVERINE: ORIGINS (#21-25).
Do you simply want to see Wilson interact and fight with Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Punisher? Oh, you do? Well, you'll probably be thoroughly entertained by writer Mike Benson and artist Carlo Barberi's limited series. It's pretty much non-stop action, displays of badassery (Deadpool slicing goons is a joy), and lighthearted interactions between the heroes. It may not have the most complex plot around, but it's a total thrill.
Night of the Living Deadpool
Have you ever thought to yourself, "what would it be like if Deadpool was in The Walking Dead or Dawn of the Dead?" If not, you're probably now thinking about how cool that concept could be, right? Writer Cullen Bunn also thought the scenario could work and thankfully, his limited series with the phenomenal artist Ramon Rosanas is awesome. This love letter to the zombie genre does such a great job balancing horror, comedy, and character. This isn't just Deadpool flipping around and cracking one-liners as he slices apart zombies. Sure, there's plenty of violence and hilarity along the way, but there's also some serious and intense scenes that fit perfectly and Rosanas does fantastic work with everything in Bunn's script.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn's current volume of DEADPOOL continues to impress. Each story arc has left an impact (the latest was unfortunately the weakest, though), but The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is easily the most compelling story yet. Not only is it the standout arc in the volume, but many label it as one of Wade's best stories ever. There's been so much buildup in this volume and this storyline took the book in a dark and completely absorbing direction. Artist Declan Shalvey was the ideal addition to the shocking, twisted and totally engrossing developments. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is absolutely one of the most gripping and emotionally-driven Deadpool stories you'll read. We recommend reading the previous collections from the volume so you can fully appreciate all of the worldbuilding, but if you're working with a budget, this is the one we strongly recommend. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make sure you eventually get around to reading this one.
This pick is more like an honorable mention because Deadpool doesn't play a pivotal role in the series. However, we're including it because Rick Remender writes the mercenary so well. Too often writers think Wade requires a flood of dialogue and the end result is a character that's simply obnoxious. Remender's take on Wade is not only sharply written and humorous, but there's also more depth and heart to the character. He's not just spewing jokes -- there's more to him and it makes us very interested in seeing how the writer will handle him in Marvel's upcoming event AXIS.