Deadpool and You: A Librarian’s Primer

Deadpool-Movie-Poster1I just got out of Deadpool, a film that created a new avenue for the superhero genre. This film, filled with gratuitous sex, slow motion violence, and a … sweet love story, has created quite a stir among superhero fans (my favorite part of the film watching experience was watching the dad in front of us cover his 10 year old-ish son’s eyes; it got awkward).

While Deadpool is now a household name, his story, and place in library collections, is still a bit convoluted. Deadpool was easy for libraries to miss; this non-mainstream Marvel character with a relatively short history could be easy to miss in professional literature and review sources. But this primer will give you a little background and comics to have in your collection for your Deadpool fan patrons.

Created in 1991 by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool, also known as Wade Winston Wilson, is a tragic anti-hero. As the story goes in the comics, Deadpool was enrolled in the Weapon X program alongside Wolverine, giving them both healing factor and immunity to disease. However, during the Weapon X treatment, Deadpool’s cancer cells were also fortified with healing factor, giving him a grizzly, tumor ridden appearance. He also suffers from psychoses and mental illness attributed to his accelerated healing neurons, causing his brain to overload with emotions, rationale, and impulses at the same time. And, while Deadpool has amazing athletic prowess and is impenetrable to harm, he does not see himself as a superhero, but a “merc with a mouth,” a slightly bad guy whose job it is to see men worse than himself suffer and pay for their crimes.

What makes Deadpool one of the most unique characters in comic books is his acknowledgement of his fictional status. He breaks the fourth wall constantly, speaking directly to the reader/viewer. The comic even uses different narration bubble colors and text for Deadpool’s varying moods. He is also an inherently tragic comedic character, but in a mercenary sort of way, seeing the absurdity in his situation, his profession, and his ability to only think in the now. But what is most progressive about Deadpool is his sexual orientation, which his creators have described as omnisexual, he loves who he loves in the moment and as the situation unfolds.

Created in the 90s, Deadpool has a relatively short career compared to Spider-Man, Batman, or Superman and is more difficult to place in library collections. Deadpool is often cited in the shelving debate of teens vs. adult graphic novels because most superhero titles are for all ages, especially in the Marvel Universe. However, Deadpool carries a parental discretion is advised warning, not a mature rating. If you look at the covers below, you’ll see guns on three of the four covers and a bloody katana on the fourth. There are many hyper violent graphic novels which are recommended for teens, so just make sure to follow your collection development policy with Deadpool. If you don’t have a collection development policy that backs up your decisions of where to place graphic novels, write one now, or right after you order some Deadpool titles.

But, of course, you know librarians stance on censorship, right (Hint, we don’t like it!)?

Overall, Deadpool was a wildly entertaining movie and I’m sure you’ll have some patron buzz about it. If you’re looking for a few core books to add to your collection, here are some classic titles to get you started.

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By Fabian Nicieza, Joe Kelly, Mark Wiad, Joe Madureira, Rob Liefeld, Ian Churchill, Lee Weeks &Ed McGuinness

There are a lot of big comic book names in the byline. Follow Deadpool as he ventures through his earliest sagas and attempts to find love, money, and mischief. A good title for X-Men fans as several of the X-Men crew make an appearance to help out the merc.Deadpool Daniel Way

Deadpool by Daniel Way

By Daniel Way, Andy Diggle, Steve Dillon, Paco Medina, Carlo Barberi, & Bong Dazo

In this Secret Invasion event book, Deadpool faces Wolverine, Daken, the Skrulls and Norman Osborne. While some would consider that a rough day, for Deadpool, it just like any other.

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Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

By Cullen Bunn & Dalibor Talajic

Cullen Bunn is a prolific comic book author with major characters like Captain America and Superman under his belt along with independent books like The Sixth Gun. In this book, Deadpool does exactly what the title says, he kills all the superhero in the Marvel Universe. But is this just Deadpool up to his normal antics, or is something more sinister afoot?

Deadpool: Dead Presidents

Deadpool dead pre

By Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan & Tony Moore

Written by comic book veteran Gerry Duggan and comedian Brian Posehn, the title of the newest volume of Deadpool is again, very literal. Presidents have risen from the grave and only one man can put them back in their place. No average superhero will do because what do-gooder would want to be known publicly as a president re-killer? This is one time when Deadpool’s reputation gave him an assignment to his advantage.