Deadpool is an iconic and interesting figure for Marvel, as he represents a rather different type of character. He’s neither fully a hero or villain. He’s both a protagonist and a comic relief. In fact, his comedic, wacky personality contrasts with his profession as an assassin, giving him his “Merc with a Mouth” title. It’s this specific paradox that is explored in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, as Wade Wilson is stripped of his bright demeanor and turned into a true killer.
The premise of Cullen Bunn’s story is that Deadpool is brainwashed by Fantastic Four villain Psycho-Man, meant to turn him into his minion. Unfortunately, Psycho-Man turns off Deadpool’s humorous brain-boxes and replaces them with the voice of a stone-cold killer. From there, Deadpool goes on to kill Marvel’s more well-known characters – the Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, even the Hulk. It’s a grand show of not just his savagery, but also of his cunning and strategy – he doesn’t just rush out and start stabbing willy-nilly. Instead, he utilizes things like Pym particles, Arcade’s machinations, and Puppet Master’s magic action figures. He manages to take out every adversary thrown in front of him, and by the end, he gets popped into our real life universe, ready to kill the people creating the book. Yeah, way meta.
The turnaround of the character’s goofiness works so well because it’s something that we’ve never really seen before. Sure, we got a taste of a more bloodthirsty Wade Wilson in the Ultimate Universe, but I don’t know many people who stuck with that universe long enough to read that. Out of all the different Deadpools barreling through the multiverse, they’re almost always cracking jokes. It’s the same sort of happy-go-lucky attitude that makes Spider-Man so lovable, and why Deadpool often teams up with the webhead (including their new series!) What makes this concept work so well is that every aspect of the Deadpool we know and love is flipped on its head – including his constant fourth-wall-breaking dialogue. As Deadpool realizes he’s the only person who knows he’s a comic book character, he knows the only real way to kill all Marvel characters – including himself – is to go to the source. It’s why he kills his own writers, and why he tries to kill famous literary characters in the sequel story, Deadpool: Killustrated. It’s what makes this story so deliciously dark – he’s no longer a joke, he’s The Joker. He’s a focused assassin, trying to wipe every hero out of existence, and he’s real good at it.
While Fox’s film, coming out this Friday, seems to be a fantastic take on the character we know and love, true believers should definitely give Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe a read. For those interested, you’ve still got plenty of time to read the full bloody trilogy before this weekend, along with these five other great storylines.