Deadpool was an instant hit when introduced attacking the New Mutants in 1991, visually designed by Rob Liefeld and given his distinctive motor-mouthed speech patterns by writer Fabian Nicieza. It might not seem so today, but in the early 1990s a gap of a mere two years before his first solo outing was hitting the fast track.

That first solo shot at stardom came via Nicieza and Joe Madureira. It’s a fast-paced if extraordinarily cluttered thriller with Wade Wilson pursuing an ultimate weapon as one of a large crowd of mutants and variously enhanced ne’er-do-wells trying to secure the fabled legacy of arms dealer and fugitive from the future Mr. Tolliver. Among the other worthies after the boodle are Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut, the then-latest iteration of Weapon X, shape-shifter Copycat and a host of disposable yet fashionable cyborg loons with odd names like Commcast and Slayback.

Nicieza titles his chapters acknowledging comedy touchstones ‘Ducks in a Row’, ‘Rabbit Season, Duck Season’, ‘…And Quacks Like a Duck…’, and ‘Duck Soup’, indicating the legacy he saw Deadpool following. He minimises plot to maximise dialogue, while Madureira concentrates on big images and big muscles. It doesn’t read well, but if you can swallow any nausea associated with the dreadful trappings of this low point in Marvel’s tempestuous history, there is a sharp and entertaining thriller underneath.

As Deadpool’s first graphic novel, used copies of The Circle Chase command high prices, but it’s available as part of several other collections. In the UK it was combined with subsequent outing Sins of the Past to coincide with the first Deadpool movie. It’s also in the first Deadpool Classic volume, and most recently in the Epic Collection of Deadpool: The Circle Chase.