Joe Kelly and Walter McDaniel’s “epic” Deadpool story is really only three issues, with #21 and 22 being prologues to it.
This was the story that tried to pull together two years of Deadpool stories into a thematic closure. Way back in #1, we watched representatives from the intergalactic firm of Landau, Luckman and Lake take an interest in Deadpool as the key to the future of the universe, and a hero who would bring about paradise. This messianic role has been the main source of conflict in the series, as Deadpool struggles between being a killer and a hero.
When Zoe and Montgomery show up to recruit him for the mission, he doesn’t have his mask on, and he’s drunk.
He has to put a box on his head, and wears it during a brief fight with Cable.
Deadpool meets Cable, not for the first time, but for the first time in Deadpool’s own book.
After they have their fight, they have a conversation, and it sows the seeds for the Deadpool/Cable book that would come five years later. Cable, like Deadpool, has the thankless job of killing for the greater good. Deadpool sees this as a curse, something he doesn’t want and makes him not a hero. Cable sees himself as a garbage man.
Cable’s main goal is to get Deadpool to stay away from the X-Force team because Deadpool is, quite obviously, a bad influence. Since Dead Reckoning is about Deadpool becoming a hero, it’s actually a relevant character moment for Deadpool to experience this conflict right at the beginning of this story.
LL&L have told Deadpool about S’Met’Kth, an alien being who will ensure all humanity is finally at peace by taking away their free will. S’Met’Kth has done this before, on other planets…
LL&L believe that S’Met’Kth ushing in of utopia will be foiled by a being called Tiamat–and that another being, called The Mithras, can stop Tiamat. And Deadpool is The Mithras.
He gets a suit of armor from the law firm…
As it turns out, the messiah’s method to achieving galactic peace is by eliminating free will. Deadpool’s being an “id-based” chaos creature is obviously counter to this, so Deadpool takes on the Tiamat role rather than Mithras (leaving the real Tiamat a little perturbed).
Deadpool’s main side character, Blind Al, continues to play a “consoling” (mommy-like) role…
Along the way, Deadpool Captain America gets kicked in the nuts.
Taking on a threat to the planet Earth is clearly heroic, so Dead Reckoning is an important character moment for Deadpool. It signals his move away from being a mercenary and towards being a hero. And given that theme, a Captain America team-up makes sense.
This isn’t the best story from Kelly’s run (because he has some truly stellar work with Deadpool) but it is the character-defining one. It continues to shape the character all the way into the present day. Kelly would keep going for a few months after this, but Dead Reckoning is really the end of his run.