BIOGRAPHY - page 2
Wade Wilson joined the Army when he was a teenager in order to get away from home. He excelled in combat training, and eventually graduated to Special Forces work, operating out of an elite unit known as Oscar Zero. Eventually Wilson proved to be "too good" at killing for even the military to accept, and dropped out of the Armed Forces to work as a mercenary or gun-for-hire. He became a world traveler, a veteran of private wars and shadow conflicts across the globe. Wade was well known as a professional, with numerous contacts and established credentials as one of the best. He formed a good working relationship with the young assassin who would become Bullseye, after their first encounter in Baron Zemo's tomb. The respect between them was so strong that, even years later, Deadpool was still allowed to get away with calling Bullseye "rookie." [Deadpool (2nd series) #16, 28, Cable & Deadpool #19]
[Note: In Deadpool (3rd series) #26, Wade experienced memories where he was diagnosed with cancer while still in the Special Forces, going directly to the Weapon X Program without having a career as a mercenary in between. This is at odds with all other tellings of his history, so presumably it was one of Butler's memory implants.]
On one occasion, Wilson traveled to Asia to forget a job gone bad in Tangiers, involving the loss of someone close to him named Frankie. He was hired by a Yakuza oyabun known simply as "Boss." Wilson was given a large sum of money to infiltrate the heya (sumo training school) of a noted wrestler called the Oyakata, and await further instructions. The training was brutal at first because Wilson's existing muscle and moves didn't suit the sumo style. He spent months building mass and finally slapped the Oyakata in a training match, a sign of great skill. The Oyakata's young daughter Sazae named him Chiyonosake, the Wolf of the Rice Wine. Wilson was accepted into the heya and the Oyakata had plans for him to marry Sazae, passing on the sumo school to Chiyonosake when he died. After three years, however, Boss re-emerged and told Wilson his true mission: kill the Oyakata. Wilson felt he could not go through with the assignment, but neither could he stay. He snuck out of the heya in the middle of the night and left, despite Sazae's protestations when she caught him. [Deadpool Team-Up Oneshot]
Wilson's job came with a natural sense of paranoia, so he had no permanent home or address, just safe houses and bolt holes. Still, he found himself returning to Boston, Massachusetts on a regular basis because of a relationship he formed with Vanessa Carlysle. A runaway and prostitute, Vanessa was probably still underage when she first encountered Wade. Their... business relationship... softened over time as Vanessa developed genuine feelings for Wilson. Vanessa treated Wade's time in Boston not as her favorite john passing through town, but her man coming home from war. She even began saving up for a house in the suburbs, a dream of the two of them growing old together. Wade certainly loved Vanessa back, but his own issues meant he insisted on keeping an emotional distance from Vanessa regardless. Still, Wilson began to change for Vanessa, softening in his mercenary lifestyle and becoming less of a stone killer. He started to contemplate whether a happy ending was truly possible for him. [Deadpool (2nd series) #-1, Deadpool & Death Annual '98]
The time came when Wade finally found an opponent he couldn't overcome: cancer. Wilson was given a terminal diagnosis as cancer cells were found propagating throughout his body. The revelation threw off what little moral balance he had found. For a mission in Zaire, he was hired to eliminate a single target in the midst of a British black ops site. Instead of going in quiet, Wilson slaughtered his way through the entire base, but came up short when he met the target herself, an old blind woman named Althea. Wade let her go, for reasons even he may not fully understand. [Deadpool (2nd series) #-1]
Wade wrestled for weeks with his diagnosis, and finally came clean with Vanessa about his situation. Vanessa wanted to stay with Wade, so they could fight the cancer together, but Wade didn't want to drag her down with him. He dropped Vanessa coldly, claiming they had never really been in love, and went off to find a cure or die alone while trying. [Deadpool: The Circle Chase #3, Deadpool (2nd series) #-1]
Wade apparently sunk deeper into the mercenary business, becoming even colder and more brutal than he was before meeting Vanessa. He attempted to find treatment for his cancer, but the chemo made him feel too weak, and so he stopped. Eventually, Wilson's situation came to the attention of Department K, a shadow organization in the Canadian government that intended to revive the Weapon X Program. K had reached out to a number of potential test subjects with nothing to lose, a description that fit Wade perfectly. Wilson was given a pep talk by a general about how the program was designed to produce the best of the best. If successful, Department K wouldn't just cure his cancer... it would turn Wade into a hero. [Deadpool & Death Annual '98]
The details of Wade's initial time with Department K remain vague and second-hand. He was apparently part of a "class" of recruits in the Weapon X Program, much like Team X a generation before them. His teammates included a quadriplegic mercenary turned cyborg named Garrison Kane, Bernard Hoyster (nicknamed Sluggo), and Gregory Terraerton, called Slayback. Despite his injuries, Kane was an optimistic kid who believed in the program and in his chances, in contrast to Wade's cynicism. Wade and Sluggo had a history together as mercs, with Sluggo even dating Vanessa's friend Tina Valentino for a time in Boston. But Slayback was the worst. A privileged dink who had never suffered or been abused in his life, Slayback still developed into a sadist killing machine as an adult. Wade was not only a little scared of Slayback, he was also envious of his upbringing, feeling he might have turned out better if he had the breaks in life Slayback did.
Wade received advanced powers of cellular regeneration thanks to the experiments performed on him by Doctor Emrys Killebrew. The doctor's work was apparently drawn from cell samples recovered from the original Weapon X Program, allowing him to extrapolate a new and enhanced version of Logan's healing factor. The treatment seemed remarkably effective, and Wilson's cancer apparently went into remission. Although reports are vague, it seems Wade and his comrades may have operated in the field for a short period of time on behalf of Department K. Slayback and Wade finally came to blows, and Wilson reportedly killed his rival by blowing him up in a massive explosion. [Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1-4]
However, the full ramifications of Wade's healing factor soon became apparent. Every cell in his body was rendered hyper-regenerative, including the existing cancer cells. His body soon became a scarred and rippling mass of tumors and malignant tissue. Worse, his horrific turn of fate led the Weapon X Program to declare him a failure and toss him to the reject pile of test subjects known as the Workshop. Killebrew made just as much use of the washouts as he did the successes, using the disposable test subjects on hand for a variety of experiments testing the limits of human pain and suffering. He was assisted by the Attending, a handsome and successful graduate of Department K's program who was nevertheless considered too psychological unstable for hero work.
Wade entered the Workshop in a state of suicidal depression. His healing factor no longer seemed to be working, and the tumors made his flesh hideous. He was greeted by Worm Cunningham and the other cast-offs of the Weapon X Program. Worm tried to keep his fellow test subjects' spirits up by hosting "the deadpool," placing odds on when each of the rejects would die in Killebrew's experiments or kill themselves because of their condition. Despite his suicidal tendencies, Wilson got long odds in the deadpool because Killebrew took an early liking to Wade for experimentation. The Attending (the A-Man) frequently had to stop Wade's attempts at killing himself, as one of Killebrew's few rules in the Workshop was that no one was allowed to kill his test subjects but him. Wade Wilson's urge to die became so strong that he actually summoned Mistress Death herself before his time had come. While Thanos famously loved Death as a concept, glorifying her name through the cosmos, Wilson's affection for death was more personal and intimate, leading her to manifest and speak to him in ways she never did for Thanos.
Seeing his death as a beautiful thing to achieve, Wade redoubled his efforts to die and change his odds in the deadpool. He finally found an edge when he learned the Attending's real name was Francis, and that he hated his name. Wade began a campaign of taunts and ridicule designed to push A-Man's buttons into killing him, but the Attending always held back because even he couldn't kill one of Killebrew's test subjects without consequences. An unintended side effect of Wade's efforts was the Attending losing face with the other rejects. He could no longer command the fear and respect he had before Wilson's slapstick pranks and jokes. Wade unexpectedly became something of a hero figure to the Workshop, restoring hope to the cynical cellmates. Still, Wade violently rejected the idea when Worm tried to thank him, insisting that his efforts to die were purely selfish.
Eventually, Francis found a way to get revenge on Wilson. He instituted a new displaced punishment standard, declaring that Wade's defiance and disobedience would be taken out on his friends instead. The Attending had Worm Cunningham strapped up to a lobotomy machine, and tried to force Wade to tow the line. Worm refused to give in, though, and he rightly told Wade the Attending was going to axe him anyways. Wilson remained defiant and mocking of Francis, and so Worm was lobotomized. Wilson mercy-killed his friend so he didn't have to live in suffering, which was Francis's plan all along. Wade had killed a test subject and, because of Killebrew's own rules, Wade now had to die. Francis and the doctor performed one last experiment on Wade, until his heart was literally ripped from his chest.
Wilson was finally reunited with Mistress Death, but his death didn't take. His unprecedented rage at Francis and the situation reignited his will to live and (more importantly) his latent healing factor. Wade turned his back on Death in order to take revenge on the Attending, and his mind snapped as a result. He abandoned his previous identity as Wade Wilson and named himself the final winner of the deadpool. While Wade was twisted and damaged by circumstances, Deadpool was truly insane. He armed himself and brutally took out the Workshop guards, pressing on to confront Killebrew and the Attending. The doctor fled, but Francis remained and Deadpool blasted out his chest with a pair of automatic machine guns. With the side of Department K blown open during the melee, the surviving rejects and test subjects escaped into the world thanks to Deadpool. Francis seemingly died at Deadpool's feet, but he died laughing. The A-Man pointed out that, even though his healing factor was active, Wilson's face was still a mess of tumors and scar tissue. He would live, but he would live as a freak. [Deadpool & Death Annual '98]
[Note: There is some discrepancy over when Killebrew and Wade met. Early appearances credited Killebrew with being responsible for Wade's healing factor. The above annual, however, seemed to indicate they only met after Wilson washed out of Hero School and entered the Workshop. Of course, it's possible Killebrew did conceive Wade's healing factor and they simply were never formally introduced until he reached the Workshop.]
After escaping from the Workshop, Deadpool stumbled his way to freedom. He was hospitalized for a time as his healing factor stabilized, but soon left the hospital, stole an ambulance and brutally murdered his way through a local police station filled with cops who were on the take for Killebrew. It was after this incident that Wade was found by a man named Butler. Formerly of Department K, Butler saw how remarkably shortsighted the Weapon X Program was to cure cancer and then wash out the test subject simply because he wouldn't work as a super-soldier. Butler foresaw great use for Wilson's regenerative powers and allegedly offered Wade a deal. Deadpool would be a "free range" test subject, provided financial support by Butler in exchange for regular "check ups" where Butler would extract blood or organ samples from Wade to further his own research.
It appears as if Wade initially agreed, but later tried to change his mind and leave Butler's program. Unfortunately, that was no longer an option. Once he was in the program again, Deadpool was repeatedly subjected to a drug known as Tabula Rasa, which drastically damaged his short- and long-term memories. Anytime he changed his mind and tried to leave, the program gave him another treatment that wiped his memory of wanting to go. Furthermore, when Butler's organization needed Deadpool on site for extended periods, they put him under in virtual reality simulations that replaced or overwrote the memories damaged by Tabula Rasa. As a result, Wilson had no reliable memories about his past before the Workshop, and the things he did remember often contradicted each other. [Deadpool (4th series) #16, 19]
Once Butler's program began, Wilson was given the illusion of freedom and found his way to New York City. Adrift and without purpose, Wade eventually began a career as a henchman-for-hire, working for Hammerhead and various super-villains or criminal agencies as a freelancer. He even served as one of the Hobgoblin's body doubles, albeit not very well. While carrying out an execution, he was approached by the Wingless Wizard as a new recruit for the Frightful Four. Deadpool wore a costume for the first time alongside his fellow members Constrictor and Taskmaster. They infiltrated the Baxter Building on a mission to kidnap Franklin Richards, but the entire affair turned into a debacle, and the group was driven off by the Thing. Seeing the value of a costumed identity, Deadpool visited a costume dealer and found what he could afford in the reject bin. And that fateful night, the legend of Deadpool was born! [Deadpool (2nd series) #34-36]