Comic Book Storytelling: Gwenpool

Welcome back to Comic Book Storytelling everyone.  This time we will be talking about Marvel Comic’s Gwenpool.

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Gwenpool first appeared on a variant cover during Marvel’s recent Secret Wars event.  All the covers that month were What If interpretations of Gwen Stacy as other characters.  The Gwen Stacy version of Deadpool wore a pink and white outfit with bare legs, we will end up talking about that more later.  Fans took notice of her and the next thing you know there is Gwenpool fanart popping up everywhere and even cosplayers dressing up as her.  Marvel decided to strike while they had the chance and soon she will be getting her own series.  Lets take a look at her appearances so far.

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Gwenpool’s first official appearance was in some back up stories in the first few issues of the most recent Howard the Duck series.  In these stories we get our first real taste of Gwenpool.  It turns out her real name is Gwen Poole.  She is the only survivor of a world destroyed during the multiverse meltdown of the Secret Wars event.  From her point of view the Marvel Universe she finds herself in is a make believe world she is now stuck in.  So in order to get by she becomes a costumed adventurer.

There are a few things for us to discuss about Gwenpool.  First I feel we should mention the costume if only because the story brings it up.  Yes Gwenpool is not wearing pants.  They go out of their way to mention it, probably more than they need to.  Leotards with bare legs are a common staple of super heroine costumes and have been since the mediums early days.  Gwenpool does not seem to mind being bare legged and more importantly the fans have accepted that part of the costume design so the best thing would be for Marvel to just let the costume be what it is going forward.

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Gwenpool’s other recent official appearance was in the pages of her holiday special.  It was really more of a She-Hulk holiday special with a special guest appearance by Gwenpool but Marvel saw an opportunity to take advantage of the character’s recent popularity.

However there is a problem both with Gwenpool’s holiday and Howard the duck stories, Marvel is not sure who or what Gwenpool really is.  We know she is a teenage girl with a name and costume loosely associated with Deadpool but she has very little in common with everyone’s favorite merc with a mouth.  In fact I am not sure what Gwenpool actually does.  In the Howard the duck back ups she seems to be some kind of vigilante but she also might be a criminal.  And in the holiday special apparently she has somehow found work as an assassin.  While she is shown shooting guns and setting off bombs we never really see anyone die.  Marvel seems uncertain about the tone they want to use with Gwenpool.  They seem to be going for something more lighthearted and less graphic than Deadpool and yet there is a lot of implied murder off panel.  So is Gwenpool a misguided girl having fun or is she a murdering psychopath?  Marvel needs to make a decision soon and commit to it.

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Soon she will be staring in her own title The Unbelievable Gwenpool.  The cover alone makes it look like they are going for a more whimsical tone and they could easily reconcile that with the violence she commits in the right story.  But I am not sure how Marvel is going to play this.  Will this be an all ages title or strictly for adults?  If they keep waffling on that line things could get awkward.

All I can say is what I think would be a great story for Gwenpool and I am positive that it is one Marvel will never tell.  I think Gwenpool is a trauma survivor.  Think about it.  She is the only survivor of a universe that was destroyed.  Somewhere in her mind she knows that everything and everyone she ever knew is all gone.  She lost her entire world and got stuck in a weird and sometimes violent world.  Gwenpool’s crazy and violent behavior is a coping mechanism.  She convinces herself she is in a fictional world on an adventure so she does not have to accept the reality of what happened.  Gwenpool could be an amazing character who explores the things we do to overcome trauma.  But even if that idea did occur to Marvel I’m not sure they have anyone who could tactfully tell that story.  For now all we can do is wait until Gwenpool’s new series arrives and find out what Marvel has in store for her.

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