Deadpool 2 is close to release, and it seems prepared to unleash a whole new wave of Marvel Comics-based insanity upon audiences. No matter how wacky, violent, or extreme the original Deadpool appeared, fans of the comics know that it was deeply rooted in the source material. Everything from the ludicrously named villain Ajax to Deadpool’s propensity for breaking the fourth wall can be traced back to comic books.
Now it looks like Deadpool 2 will be expanding both the cast and scope of the adventure, bringing in a whole new round of influences. The most obvious example is the new antagonist Cable, but the entire squad of X-Force and many elements of the plot can all be connected to comics based purely on the trailers. Looking at everything we already know about Deadpool 2, we’ve assembled a list of eight essential Deadpool (or Deadpool-adjacent) comics that should provide additional insight on the new movie. So whether you’re looking to bone up on your comics knowledge beforehand or explore more after seeing Deadpool 2, these are the comics we recommend starting with.
New Mutants (vol. 1) #98-99
Written by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza
Art by Rob Liefeld
This is a true starting point as it simultaneously provides Deadpool’s first appearance and his first encounter with Cable. Both characters have come a long way from these final issues of New Mutants, but it remains the groundwork for how they function independently and together within Marvel Comics. This also includes some of the earliest appearances of Domino who will feature prominently in Deadpool 2 as well. You genuinely cannot get any closer to the source than this two-parter.
Cable and Deadpool #1-6
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Mark Brooks
While Cable and Deadpool spent a large portion of their careers as antagonists or rivals, this is the pivot for them becoming friends. Bound together due to superhero shenanigans, they are forced to collaborate and slowly gain a begrudging respect for one another. This series has some excellent comedic timing and shows off why Cable and Deadpool are one of the best odd couples to ever headline a superhero series. It also lays the groundwork for how Cable might go from antagonist in Deadpool 2 to a team player in any future sequels.
Uncanny X-Force (vol. 1) #25-35
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Mike McKone, Phil Noto, and others
The grand finale to Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force shows off the best heroic qualities of Deadpool, especially in a team setting. He’s still raunchy and violent, but discovers definitive moral lines that he will fight for in the course of the series. Those center primarily on protecting children, just like in Deadpool 2. His relationship with Kid Apocalypse may provide a key bit of inspiration for the upcoming film and is worth reading on its own as one of the most touching Deadpool stories told yet.
X-Force (vol. 1) #116-120
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mike Allred
While Deadpool isn’t present in the X-Force and X-Statix comics from Milligan and Allred, his spirit can certainly be felt. These series took the team in a much more humor-oriented and absurdist direction, commenting on modern trends of celebrity and reality television. The inclusion of early team leader Zeitgeist in Deadpool 2 also suggests that the comic had some influence on the movie. If there is a Deadpool 3, we expect to see more members of the X-Statix appear as the movies embrace an obvious tonal connection between these comics and Deadpool.
Deadpool (vol. 1) #11
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Pete Woods and Nathan Massengill
This is without a doubt one of the all-time best single issues featuring Deadpool ever published. In addition to providing a clear sense of the character’s humor and style of storytelling, it also makes Blind Al an important figure in his supporting cast. It looks as though Al will play a larger role in Deadpool 2 than a few roommate gags, and this is the best place to learn more. If nothing else, it’s bound to deliver laughs and a good explanation of Deadpool’s enduring popularity in comics.
X-Force/Cable: Messiah War #1, Cable (vol. 2) #13-15, and X-Force (vol. 3) #14-16
Written by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Duane Swierczynski
Art by Mike Choi, Clayton Crain, and Ariel Olivetti
This crossover event features both Cable and Deadpool as essential players, except in this case Cable is attempting to protect a child. In addition to showing off Cable and Deadpool’s relationship and a big X-Force team, it also explores Cable’s nature as a time traveler and how this impacts his approach to being a hero. The number of similarities between this story and Deadpool 2 are striking, and its bound to offer some great ideas as to what fans should expect from the movie.
Deadpool: Bad Blood
Written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers
Art by Rob Liefeld
Rob Liefeld, the co-creator of both Deadpool and Cable, recently returned to Marvel Comics in order to plot and draw a new original graphic novel featuring Deadpool. It’s a return to form for the sometimes controversial artist who delivers the sorts of action and humor that made him very popular during the 1990s. Fans looking for an updated version of where Deadpool and Cable began should turn to this comic to get a better sense of how and why they were initially created. “Bad Blood” also features Domino prominently, providing some additional insight into a possible breakout role for Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2.
Deadpool (vol. 3) #15-19
Written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn
Art by Declan Shalvey
Beyond being a Deadpool comic, this story doesn’t have any immediately obvious ties to Deadpool 2. However, it is one of the absolute best modern Deadpool stories and its influence, along with other work from all of the creators involved, can be felt in both Deadpool and Deadpool 2. This story showcases who Deadpool is as both a teammate and anti-hero. His moral compass is fully exposed alongside the jokes and violence fans expect from this mercenary. It makes Wade Wilson into a heroic figure without actually trying to fully transform him into a superhero. If you’re looking to better understand what makes Deadpool a popular comic book or what sorts of stories likely inspired writers and directors on the movies, this is the absolute best place to begin.