This review is based off a volume that collects The Unbelievable Gwenpool #5-10.
When the latest volume of The Unbelievable Gwenpool came across my desk, I knew that I couldn’t pass up the chance to review it. After all, there’s been so much hubbub surrounding this recently introduced character, so it’s about time that I see what the big deal is and take a closer look at her.
Being a trivia junkie, I find it most interesting how she came about in the first place. If you’re reading this, you probably have some familiarity with the wildly popular Spider-Gwen. Well, as it so happens, Gwenpool originated on a variant cover that, you guessed it, bore a depiction of a Spider-Gwen/Deadpool amalgam and gained some traction, to say the least.
Apparently, someone at Marvel had the good business sense to take a chance on an ongoing series and the rest is history. Actually, it kind of reminds me of how a spooky variant cover for an issue of Life with Archie gave way to the stellar horror series, Afterlife with Archie.
But unlike Spider-Gwen, this isn’t simply another alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy who has crossed over into Marvel continuity proper. Rather, this is a girl who is actually named Gwen Poole, who, well, came from another universe and found herself in Marvel continuity proper. But still, the DNA is there.
I’m pretty sure that writer Christopher Hastings knew the tall order he was in for when having to develop this character. And while I respect that he took on this daunting task, I can’t hold back in saying that I’m one who doesn’t like the idea of fourth wall breaking and, like Deadpool himself, Ms. Poole does it very often. Add to that that she alleges being from “the real world,” and we’re given a constant reminder that someone in the story knows they’re participating in a work of fiction. See, things such as that can take me right out of a book, effectively ruining my reading experience.
The artwork, however, is undoubtedly worthy of praise. Its manga influence seems perfectly suited to the heroine and I enthusiastically applaud the work contributed by Irene Strychalski and Gurihuru, especially the latter, whom I believe does their own colors. Said visuals are so crisp and vibrant that you’d think you were looking at screencaps from an animated series.
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Getting back to the story itself, it’s my belief that the Miles Morales Spider-Man is such a natural choice for a team-up with Gwenpool. Think about it: They’re both teenagers, relatively new to the comic book world and have highly stylish costumes. Not only that, but they play off each other extremely well. I just could’ve done without her fangirl’ing out when she first met him (there’s that fourth wall breaking yet again.)
As you can no doubt imagine, their pairing doesn’t last for very long as they have conflicting ideologies. Still, it’d be wise to have them cross paths here and there in the future, just as Gwen hints at in a conversation between the two.
With any comic book character fortunate enough to headline their own series, it’s important they have a strong supporting cast. It’s fully expected that some will contest me on this, but I find Gwenpool’s pals at M.O.D.O.K. to be pretty weak. They don’t bring much to the table and their dialogue is virtually indistinguishable from one another, save for maybe Batroc The Leaper, although that’s mostly due to his lines being written out phonetically, lest we forget he’s French. I’d even go as far to say this is comparable to Gilmore Girls insofar that everyone is written with the same “voice.”
You can probably tell by now there’s a lot going on in this book, but at least it’s coherent for the most part. It could be said that the Teuthidans, alien arms dealers, are the main threat, but Gwen’s recklessness and hubris incur the wrath of the very man who has been backing her – and he turns out to be a cyborg. Yes, this is one crazy onion to be peeled.
As fate would have it, that very cyborg, Vincent as he calls himself, is an escaped Doombot who’s assimilated with society and has quite the origin story. Thanks to an Unbeatable Squirrel Girl from a possible future, he eluded his megalomaniacal creator and found a home with a pre-Spider-Man Tinkerer. It all seems a bit convoluted, yes, but it adds an element of tragedy to him. You really do feel sorry for him when he can’t help but tear up Times Square thinking it’s for the greater good.
When it comes to the concluding chapter, well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself to believe it. I’d never have thought that a bunch of M.O.D.O.K. henchmen dressed in Gwenpool costumes – the Poole Boys – would’ve been the deciding factor in the final battle. But, I must admit that the absurdity thrives in this title. And despite their success, Gwen’s half-baked plans and wanton property destruction do have some repercussions. I’ll just say the next volume may very well introduce a new status quo.
Anyway, I’d say The Unbelievable Gwenpool Vol. 2: Head of M.O.D.O.K. is worth checking out even though it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. I fully appreciate its charm and whimsy – it’s just the metatextual aspect that irks me to no end.
Although boasting some inarguably fantastic artwork, The Unbelievable Gwenpool may only be enjoyed to the fullest by those who appreciate fourth wall breaking.