It’s usually easy to pick out Deadpool in a crowd. You either look for the yellow dialogue balloons or for the guy covered in scars. But did you know there are other versions lurking about in the Marvel Universe? Marvel has released a collection of some of his alternate selves and they prove a couple things, most importantly the fact that the original Deadpool is the only Deadpool worth reading.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Meet the Deadpool of the Ultimate Universe – and a few other Multiversal mercs for good measure! When Ultimate Spider-Man visits the X-Mansion, he finds it’s been taken over by his world’s Wadey Wilson -and the Reavers! Will other realities have more delightful Deadpools? Find out in a tour across dimensions that showcases animated Deadpool, MC2 Deadpool, samurai Deadpool and more! But who is the Deadpool of Counter-Earth? And what happens when the Venom symbiote possesses Deadpool?!

Can I jump in easily?

Every iteration in this collection gives you a fresh start for the characters, so most definitely. Will you completely understand who the Exiles are or what the heck is going in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe? Maybe not. Go with the flow, though, and it’ll all make sense.

Reason 1: Ultimate Deadpool is freaky and evil!

Brian Michael Bendis was able to play around in a giant sandbox with the Ultimate universe and even got to introduce us to his version of Deadpool. The character does drop quips, but he’s angrier and leans more towards a mercenary. In the second longest story of this collection, Spider-Man and the X-Men are forced to escape from Deadpool and his fellow science experiment soldiers for the viewing pleasure of Mojo’s audience. There are no heroic bones in this character. He’s angry and very much wants to kill. Aside from the slight costume change he also has a very different type of body scarring, with his head inside what looks like a fishbowl, and underneath that no skin at all. Just brains, bones, and eyeballs. Yuck.

But why did they do this?!

Reason 2: He was pretty badass in Weapon X.

In the second longest story in this collection Judd Winick explores an alternate dimension where Sabretooth, The Spider (another version of Spider-Man), Hulk, Vision, Storm, and Deadpool were on a mercenary style team known as Weapon X. This seven issue arc (which actually jumps from Exiles #5-6 to #12-13 to #66-68) introduces a Deadpool who is quite similar, but on a team. Then he gets his head blown off. He comes back and ends up being the big bad villain — a surprise to be sure. Exiles was a fun series mostly because it played around with character roles and origins and while this version of Deadpool ends up being a bit of a waste, his turn as a villain is a fun story.

Reason 3: There’s a grabbag of different Deadpools.

There are many more versions of this character — be it a Battleworld version that’s like a western (and he rides Devil Dinosaur), animated (with Spider-Man), ancient samurai (he only shows up briefly but it’s still cool), a What If tale where he has the symbiote (and he’s red!) or a Marvel Kids version (he’s tamer for sure), there are a lot of types to take in. It’s a crapshoot on the quality or type you get throughout, though Ryan Ferrier’s Battleworld version may be the funniest. The What If tale is delectably ridiculous (was this comic always straight up comedy) and the Ronin version is pretty badass. Generally the character is either cracking wise or subdued in some way.

The Battleworld story is a highlight.

Reasons to be wary?

These are not the best Deadpool stories on the shelves. It’s neat to see alternate versions, but none of them rework the character in very interesting ways. The Ronin version is particularly suspect since he isn’t even in all five of the issues. He’s also not funny in a brunt of this book due to his seriousness in the Ultimate Spider-Man and Exiles arcs.

There’s also very little cohesion here. It’d be neat if an editor popped in to give us a heads up on what we’re about to read, but instead, each story is slapped back to back and lets you figure it out outside of a cover. Ralph Macchio gives an introduction which speaks to why Deadpool is so great and then goes into detail about Bendis’ Ultimate story and then briefly about the Battleworld story. The fact that he glosses over the rest is obviously due to these stories not standing out. The Ultimate Spider-Man story is certainly a good one — Bendis was on fire with this series — but Deadpool doesn’t stand out in any way. Given this is a Deadpool trade, that’s unfortunate.

Is there a rationale to the reasons?

If you’re a Deadpool fanatic you’re going to want to read this just to see the more obscure iterations of the character. Unfortunately the more obscure the story in this collection the more mediocre it ends up being. Deadpool ends up being the best part of only a handful of pages in this collection and it’s over 500 pages! Still, if you’re looking to get a slice of Marvel history you can’t find anywhere else, or just want to read a portion of Bendis’s great Ultimate Spider-Man run regardless of how entertaining Deadpool is (or isn’t) in it, you’ll enjoy this book.

Deadpool Classic Vol. 20: Ultimate Deadpool
Is it good?
There are good portions and blips of Deadpool here, but it's mostly skippable stuff.
The Battleworld story is a highlight and unfortunately short
Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man stuff is excellent (though Deadpool is pretty blah in it)
Fun to read old stories from 'Exiles' and 'What If'
Deadpool in 'Ultimate Spider-Man' isn't very memorable and the choice to make him uglier is just strange
The 'Exiles' story mostly has a large portion without any Deadpool and the 'Ronin' story barely uses him!
Most of the iterations of Deadpool that are different aren't different enough to be any more interesting

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