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By Thomas Wheeler

Hasbro has clearly taken its Marvel license to the 3-3/4" realm, with the new Marvel Universe line of action figures. It's no great surprise that one of the "spinoff" lines in the same format and figure type is based on this summer's movie, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", with Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Marvel's best-known mutant.

One of the characters in the movie, no great surprise, is DEADPOOL, a popular character within the Marvel Universe with whom Wolverine has no small amount of history. However, as one might expect, the character's likeness in the movie is not that of his comic likeness. Although there is apparently a movie-likeness Deadpool figure available, there is also a comics-likeness Deadpool figure available, and that is the one that I have chosen.

Deadpool is sort of one of those characters you almost feel guilty liking. He's just so bizarre. He's most often been portrayed as a death-dealing mercenary with a penchant for wisecrackery, running his mouth endlessly, and "breaking the fourth wall", so to speak. He's pretty much the only Marvel Comics character that actually knows he's in a comic book. No one else takes this seriously, regarding it as part of his overall general insanity.

No review could possibly do justice to the background and personality of the character. I've gotten a kick out of him for years, and if his current title wasn't tied up in the same direction as the rest of the Marvel Universe, currently under a "Dark Reign" of excessive political commentary, a distinct lack of heroes, and a generally horrifically grim demeanor, I'd probably still be following it. "Loose cannon" doesn't begin to describe this guy.

I'll try to present a fair amount of Deadpool's origin and background...

Created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool first appeared in The New Mutants #98 (February 1991).

Nicknamed the "Merc with a Mouth," Deadpool is a high-tech mercenary known for his wisecracks, black comedy, and satirical pop-culture references. Like the X-Men's Wolverine, Deadpool is the product of the Canadian government's paramilitary Weapon X program, although his place of birth is unknown. After Weapon X cured his terminal cancer by implementing a regenerative "healing factor" extracted from Wolverine, Deadpool is left disfigured and mentally unstable.

Deadpool was originally an adversary of The New Mutants and later X-Force. Deadpool received two limited series: Sins of the Past and The Circle Chase. He graduated to an ongoing series in 1997, which was known for its slapstick tone and willingness to break the fourth wall. Ryan Reynolds appears as Deadpool in the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Deadpool originally appeared in the pages of the New Mutants and later X-Force, always trying to kill either Cable or Domino (who later turns out to be Deadpool's girlfriend in disguise). The character became quite popular, and eventually received his own miniseries, The Circle Chase in 1993, which was written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Joe Madureira. It was a relative success, and a second limited series, Sins of the Past was created in 1994 by Mark Waid and Ian Churchill. At this point, Deadpool began making guest appearances across the Marvel Universe in titles such as Wolverine, Nomad, Silver Sable, and Heroes For Hire.

In 1997, Deadpool was given his own ongoing title, initially written by Joe Kelly, with then-newcomer Ed McGuinness as the artist. It firmly established his nickname "The Merc with a Mouth" and his supporting cast, including his prisoner/den mother Blind Al and his best friend Weasel. Deadpool became an action comedy parody of the cosmic drama, antihero-heavy comics of the time. The ongoing series gained cult popularity for its unorthodox main character and its balance of angst and pop culture slapstick.

Wade Winston Wilson was born to an army general father and terminally ill mother. After Mrs. Wilson's death from incurable lung cancer, Mr. Wilson began to abuse Wade and turned to alcoholism. The influence of his violent father turned Wade into a teenage delinquent. Around age seventeen, Mr. Wilson was killed by one of Wade's drunken friends in a bar fight and Wade soon dropped out of high school to enroll in the United States Army Special Forces. He was kicked out of the army after a short tenure and then turned to mercenary work, soon establishing a formidable reputation.

This however, conflicts with Deadpool's arch enemy T-Ray and Mercedes Wilson's story of a man believed to be 'Wade Wilson'. In this version, the man met Mercedes in college and eventually married and lived off the land. Eventually a man known as 'Jack' was found in a river near their secluded home. The man eventually betrayed the couple and attempted to kill Wade Wilson and accidentally killed Mercedes. Unable to deal with the grief of killing an innocent woman, he lost his mind and adopted the identity of "Wade Wilson". Deadpool's restored memories revealed this to be a lie; in T-Ray's account Wade was wearing his Deadpool costume, which he did not have until he joined Weapon X.

During visits to Boston, he developed a relationship with then-runaway and prostitute and future fellow mercenary Vanessa Carlyle, later known as Copycat. However, he developed terminal cancer within the few following years and having, perhaps deliberately, botched a mission that was meant to end in the murder of his future prisoner/roommate Blind Al. He indifferently broke up with Vanessa, whose love he genuinely returned, in order to spare her the burden of his illness.

Dying and desperate for a cure, Wade volunteered for the second Weapon X program, where his body and mind were altered on a genetic level. The genetic manipulation was initially supposed to grant him a superhuman regenerative healing factor (based on the DNA of former Weapon X experiment Wolverine), stopping the progression of his cancer and greatly enhancing his physique. However, the cancer interacted with the genetic process in unanticipated ways; the process (initially) failed, disfiguring him horribly and making him significantly mentally unstable. He was initially assigned to a field team alongside Garrison Kane, Sluggo, and Terraerton a.k.a. Slayback, who were all deemed to be successful subjects at the time.

Wade quickly washed out of Weapon X and was sent to Doctor Killebrew's "Workshop" at The Hospice, a place for failed experiments, where he was tortured and experimented upon among other washouts. In the Workshop, he became part of a game called "the Dead Pool", where inmates bet on which one of them will die next. As Wade had been chosen as a "special project" by Dr. Killebrew, his odds of dying were very low, making him the leader of the Dead Pool with over nine thousand-to-one odds.

After yet another insane series of events, Killebrew ordered Wilson's execution. It is this attempted execution that finally activates Deadpool's healing factor. The kick start of the regenerative process accompanied by the culmination of his disfigurement (which should have theoretically reversed itself) and the accumulation of the various traumatic events he had undergone to this point caused him to finally snap completely. He managed to escape, taking on the name "Deadpool" and returned to mercenary-for-hire work.

Not long after leaving Canada, Deadpool met Weasel, whom he employed as an information broker and technology specialist and developed an abusive best friendship (on Deadpool's side) with him. Deadpool began work for villains such as the mysterious Mr. Tolliver, Wilson Fisk, and as a stand-in for the first Hobgoblin. His work for Mr. Tolliver initially made him an adversary of Cable and his team of the New Mutants (later and better known as X-Force). In Deadpool's first fight with the New Mutants, he defeated most of them using a combination of hand-to-hand combat and gadgetry but was shot in the back by ex-girlfriend Copycat, who was masquerading on Tolliver's orders as Cable's old partner and confidante, Domino. Cable mailed Deadpool back to Mr. Tolliver.

Eventually, Deadpool became less of a villain and more of a reluctant hero, though the element of his moral ambiguity remained. Although careful to project the guise of an invincible, merciless gun-for-hire, he often showed himself to be an insecure and severely scarred man, emotionally and physically, who used his sardonic, off-the-wall wit to cope with reality and deal with relationships. At some point, he had reacquired Blind Al, and installed her as his prisoner, roommate, and den mother in his permanent base in San Francisco, aptly titled "the Deadhut", a rotting house in disrepair that he disguised as outwardly normal via holographic projection.

Reflective of his attempts at occasional heroism, Wade also once sent some of his own blood to the X-Men when it was thought the cure for the Legacy Virus could be found in it somehow. Sadly, this was not the case.

Wade also eventually developed friendships with some of the staff at the interdimensional firm known as Landau, Luckman, and Lake -- in particular, Zoe Culloden and Montgomery after Zoe and Noah DuBois approached him in person for the first time to inform him of his "great destiny". They had noted his recent string of more merciful and "pro-bono" acts and having engineered a scenario in which Deadpool nearly caused a meltdown at a gamma facility headed by his former psychiatrist Sasquatch that would have harmfully irradiated the entire Southern Hemisphere, they felt vindicated when Wade chose to risk his life to set things right. Rejecting their initial offer as nonsense based on their assertion that he was ready to become a "hero", events would lead him back to them as Zoe refused to give up on him.

At this point, Deadpool had begun frequenting a hang-out spot for mercenaries called the "Hell House" with its own odd cast of characters, such as Patch, the short-statured, short tempered handler of each regular's mercenary assignments and the odd pair of baseball-obsessed Fenway and super-malleable, obese C.F., who was often the target of Deadpool's job-related frustrations. The only significant challenger to Deadpool's "top dog" status was T-Ray, a mysterious, humorless, and sadistically efficient assassin, with whom Deadpool shared a rivalry based on mutual loathing and mockery. Deadpool often ran into other high-profile mercenaries such as the Taskmaster and Bullseye, the latter of whom was a long-standing associate during his adventures.

Really, going into much more than this would require an encyclopedic review. Suffice to say that Deadpool was involved in the "Secret Invasion" storyline, and has found himself on the wrong end of currently dominant character Norman Osborn, who sent his Thunderbolts team to try to eradicate the mercenary. Personally, I don't much care for the direction the Marvel Universe as a whole is taking these days, but as far as Deadpool goes, I highly recommend reading his Wikipedia entry at greater length, as well as tracking down just about any of his past adventures for a better look into the very Weird World of Wade Wilson.

As to his powers and abilities, Deadpool has been artificially endowed with a superhuman regenerative healing factor by the Weapon X program that is at times shown to be superior to that of Wolverine's or Sabretooth's. As Deadpool had cancer at the time of the gene therapy, it has been suppressed by the "healing factor", which continually regenerates every cell in Deadpool's body, keeping the cancer at bay. However, an unanticipated side effect resulted in a rapid acceleration of the tumors as well, causing them to quickly spread across his entire body as soon as his powers fully activated. Though the healing factor keeps them from becoming what would otherwise be a horribly debilitating condition, this causes his body to be in a constant state of flux and regeneration. His powers' full manifestation also appeared to contribute to his insanity, he himself declared awareness of a growing detachment from reality moments after. Removal of his powers would cause him a cancer relapse, as he himself is aware. As a by-product of his healing factor, he possess enhanced strength, agility, and reflexes.

The healing factor enables him to regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue with much greater speed and efficiency than an ordinary human. He can regenerate whole organs and even severed limbs. In at least one instance, Deadpool, after breaking nearly every bone in his body, strapped himself to a rack so his bones set properly. He has survived being decapitated, though his head did not regenerate; it was simply replaced and healed back to his torso.

Deadpool's brain cells are similarly affected, rendering him immune to psychics such as Professor X and Emma Frost. This constant flux may or may not be what causes his irreverent banter and ADHD-type personality. His more recognizable demeanor established itself from the moment his healing factor began working at the Hospice. He is completely unpredictable, which has even extended itself to his physical coordination when he so desires. After checking Weapon X's files, Cable stated that Deadpool's cognitive functions would never be normal as long as the regeneration was in his system, and later used the last vestiges of his telepathic ability to correct the damaged areas of the latter's brain. This allowed greater access to long and short-term memories, but Deadpool's behavior otherwise remained completely unchanged.

Aside from his physical advantages, Deadpool is a superb assassin and mercenary, and an expert in multiple forms of armed and unarmed combat. He is a master martial artist, once fighting Iron Fist to a standstill. He favors using bladed and martial arts weapons to meet opponents in single combat, but will just shoot them if he has a bad day or is in a hurry. His trademark weapons seem to be his twin katanas that he wears on his back when not in use, and his dual-wielded pistols. On occasion, Deadpool comically produces previously unseen weapons from thin air. This was only addressed outright once in a Heroes For Hire story where Deadpool returned Misty Knight and Colleen Wing's various weapons to them through mystery concealment. When asked how, he replied "It involves an awful lot of lubricant".

Deadpool uses his continuous, off-the-wall banter to distract, insult, frustrate, and infuriate his opponents. Even when losing, he has refused to keep quiet and his constant chatter has even slightly muddled Daredevil's enhanced senses. Domino has claimed this to be the most dangerous aspect of his combat style, since he can appear to be completely distracted and disorient his opponent while still focusing on the battle.

So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. It's surprised me that there haven't been more Deadpool figures over the years, given the character's popularity. There was never a Famous Covers Deadpool figure. To the best of my knowledge, there's never been a cloth-costumed Deadpool figure. There was a 5" Deadpool figure as part of Toy Biz's X-Men line, as well as a 10" Deadpool figure that was part of Toy Biz's Marvel Universe line -- this being one of the scarcer Deadpools. Not that any of them are that common. There was a Marvel Legends Deadpool figure from Toy Biz, that always struck me as a little excessively detailed, but wasn't too bad. And now we have this offering from Hasbro.

This figure may well be the most impressive Deadpool to date. It's well-detailed, certainly well-articulated, and well-designed and proportioned. Although the Marvel Universe line is regarded as 3-3/4" scale, most of the figures are coming in around the 4" height. This includes the X-Men Origins: Wolverine line that Deadpool is a part of, which is entirely compatible with the Marvel Universe line.

In the comics, Deadpool wears a bodysuit that is predominantly red with black trim. The all-covering head made is red with two large black ovals around the eyes, which appear as blank spots of white, akin to Batman and other heroes that can get away with this look.

The front and back of his costume are red, with black to the side and over the shoulders. The arms and legs are mostly red. Deadpool is wearing a grey harness over his shoulders and down his front and back. This end at a belt with several equipment pouches strapped to it. The buckle looks like a stylized Deadpool face, and this has generally been indicative of his teleportation device. Deadpool also has black bands around his wrists and ankles, and a holster on his right leg.

The detailing is excellent, as is the paint work, which can't have been easy on some of the smaller details, especially the belt. Given that in the past I have criticized Hasbro for sloppy paint detailing on some of their other figure lines, including G.I. Joe and Star Wars, I'm pleased to see such neat work carried out here.

The harness is not removable. It sits reasonably well, although I believe the circular area on the chest should be positioned somewhat lower than it is. This isn't so much something that needs to be adjusted on how the harness sits on the figure, as how the harness was designed in the first place. There's nothing really to be done about it, and it's not too bad.

Deadpool's basic design structure isn't too dissimilar from that of current G.I. Joe figures, with the exception that Deadpool (and other Marvel Universe figures) has an extra rotation point in the upper leg, and lacks the traditional leg screws. There may be some other structural differences internally that aren't apparent. But the figure isn't a bad fit if you're a collector of the current G.I. Joe figures and are inclined to do some sort of crossover. Which side would Deadpool join? G.I. Joe? Cobra? Or would he just show up and drive everyone bonkers?

Deadpool's articulation is excellent. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. My one criticism of the articulation is the same one that I have about this articulation style on other Hasbro figures -- I don't agree with the removal of the waist articulation. Hasbro apparently feels that the mid-torso articulation is a fair trade-off, but I disagree, and there are some figures on whom the mid-torso articulation doesn't look very good. On Deadpool, it works, but I still wish the waist was also articulated.

Need it be said that Deadpool is very well accessorized? The harness he wears has two long knife sheaths attached to the back. This piece is removable (at least I think it was supposed to be removable) if one so desires. Deadpool comes with two long swords, a large katana, a machine gun, and a pistol. The swords and the pistol can readily be carried on his person in the sheaths and the leg holster. This leaves his hands free to carry the machine gun and the katana. This, one would think, would make just about anyone think twice about picking a fight with this lunatic.

So what's my final word here? Whatever my opinion of the current events in the Marvel Comics, Deadpool is still a cool, if bizarre, character. And there really haven't been all that many action figures of him over the years. This is a good one, working well within the current format that Hasbro is seeking to establish. Even though he's technically part of the line devoted to the upcoming movie, the figure is entirely compatible with the main Marvel Universe line. And certainly he's popular. If you're collecting any Marvel Universe figures right now, you should try to look him up.

The X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE figure of DEADPOOL (comics version) definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!