I’ve had little experience with Gwenpool. I read the Merry Mix-Up special and that’s it. Why I call this my first time reading Gwenpool is simple, I’ve never touched the series. I grabbed first book Believe It from my local library and decided to give it a go. All I saw was a generic Deadpool clone merged with Gwen Stacy. This character appeared about the same time as Gwen O’Mania happened with Spider-Gwen. I was sold on Spider-Gwen but not as much on this Deadpool styled interpretation of Gwen. Yet that was before I read the first collection of her adventure. Now I find myself surprised by the fact that you know what, Gwenpool is pretty darned okay. I’ll tell you why as I give you the tale of My Great Gwenpool Adventure.
Seriously it’s Gwenpool, I’m as surprised as anyone else how much I found myself getting into this craziness.
If you’re relatively unfamiliar with Deadpool like I am, here’s the information on her. She’s Gwen Poole from the Real World and the Marvel Universe are nothing but comic book characters to her. It’s a weird concept at first, the initial Howard the Duck backup stories were straight up Deadpool times infinity. Not exactly the easiest selling point for her. Best way to describe her in my mindset is Marvel’s Superboy Prime, except she’s not evil. She’s a normal human, normal abilities, but she feels it’s not real so she’s having the time of her life. It’s strangely fitting that she was initially paired with Howard the Duck as he’s from another world too. The ultimate question though is how do you make this character someone to follow into an ongoing series? It works better than you’d think it would.
If you read through this first volume you will have a rough time with the backup stories. The backup stories are a tough read, to be polite. I feel like Christopher Hastings was finding his footing in making Gwenpool work as a character rather than as a gimmick. The backup stories operate in the realm of trying to find the right balance between comedy, action, and actual characterization. There were cute moments in the backup stories but that’s about it. Trying to get Gwenpool out of a jam with Black Cat mixed in with these Deadpool-esque moments and it’s strange to read. It was a little too on the nose fourth wall breaking to the next level. I had to take a slight break after reading these. Definitely a weird ride to say the least.
At this point, I have to say it does turn around but seriously those backups were a tough haul.
As we get into the Holiday Special, that’s when Hastings starts to win me over with Gwenpool. You get more of an idea of what Gwen Poole is about. You get more of the idea that she’s a normal person in the Marvel Universe who’s having to learn everything herself. It’s interesting to see how this character starts to grow more than just here’s Gwen not Stacy as Deadpool and become more than that. All this development starts to hit in the midst of a simple story involving Gwenpool battling a snake monster. My personal favorite bit in all this is her having to figure out how to use a sword via YouTube videos, that’s priceless. Even better is realizing her only major ability so far is her skill to use explosives, she’s heroic luck personified.
I think what else helps the series is the art switch. Danilo Beyruth and Tamra Bonvillain have a way of showing how serious this is with Gwen Poole. It’s beautiful art as Beyruth has a great art style that’s adept at showing expressions and killer action, with Bonvillain’s colors illuminating the scenes. It adds realism to the initial system shock of Gwen’s manic ramblings and such. Yet where the series and the character comes to life is with Gurihiru. That’s about when the more exaggerated expressions, manic energy, and sensitivity of the character came to life. It’s where Gwenpool started to click more with me. Nothing against the initial art team but Gurihiru is where I felt it started to click more. Christopher Hastings had a tone he was going for and Gurihiru nails it.
Yes I did like the initial art team for Gwenpool but Gurihiru is more my jam for this series. Personal taste here.
As the ongoing series begins, this is where Gwenpool starts to come to life. I like the clever way of handling the editorial notes as instead of the editor, it’s Gwen giving you notes. It’s these little touches that help to differentiate Gwenpool from Deadpool. Yet it changes dramatically in the last part of the book. It’s a strange story that goes in a thousand different directions in one collection. It goes from the backup stories with Howard, then breaking up a bank robbery, then she ends up working for M.O.D.O.K., and that’s in one book. I think it’s why I had to put it down a couple times to absorb the multiple story changes. By the time we get to M.O.D.O.K, that’s when the story settles down and becomes a lot of fun.
When we get to M.O.D.O.K. is also when we get a consistent supporting cast. One thing to note, M.O.D.O.K. is one of my favorite Marvel characters so already I’m in. There’s another cool bonus point though, Batroc is a regular too and let’s add another note to this, he’s a favorite of mine too and I like how he’s handled here. I’m trying to keep it spoiler light but a lot of craziness goes down, especially revolving around the fact that Gwenpool is a normal human. Note this, Gwen Poole is a normal human who’s had a costume made and she relies on pure luck and comic book knowledge, that’s nuts. By the end though, it strangely works and through other events you learn she’s in for a crazier time to come.
I cannot believe Gwenpool finally won me over, yet here we are my friends, here we are.
Now here is the ultimate thing, yes I liked it but it took me time to get into the character. The way Christopher Hastings paced this and also how it is collected is a strange adventure. Once it settled down though and found a direction, that’s when I found myself liking Gwenpool. It became from Gwen not Stacy to yes this is Gwen Poole who is a lot of fun as the character Gwenpool. I never imagined digging this as much as I do but goes to show you, I am open to anything at this point.
I still say your mileage will vary with Gwenpool. She’s that sort of character similar to Deadpool. Let me add this though, give Gwenpool a chance. Check out Believe It via your local library or if you find you want to grab it, get it at your local comic store or other fine retailer. I think you’ll find as you read it you’ll come to realize that she’s a lot of fun and well worth giving a chance.