Gwenpool Strikes Back by Leah Williams and David Baldeon
Gwenpool is a misunderstood and mis-marketed Marvel character. On the covers she looks like a woke Deadpool, gender swapped with a pink uniform to cram diversity into a starving canon. Unfortunately, that has stopped her from gaining much popularity. Gwenpool Strikes Back makes light of this conundrum and centers the plot around her attempting to not get erased completely.
I previously reviewed the surprisingly poignant The Unbelievable Gwenpool and completely bought in to her gimmicks. She’s 4th wall breaking just like Deadpool but that’s about where the similarities end. Gwen comes from our universe, the one we’re in right now where Marvel comics are just comic books and movies and we have no real superheroes. She’s an uber fan and therefore contains knowledge no actual superheroes would know about their partners or enemies.
She uses her advanced knowledge to trick, manipulate, surprise, and intimidate her way into superhero status. She also has the ability to go off frame and manipulate the universe from behind the scenes of the pages. This gives her a crazy strong power set that can alter reality any way she sees fit.
However, in Gwenpool Strikes Back she seems to not understand how powerful she is and wants to develop “real” powers instead. This leads to her attempting to get Spiderman to bite her and give her spider powers, hint, it doesn’t work that way.
I think it is because the audience at large doesn’t take the time to get to know her actual power set that she doesn’t either. She is very much a reflection of Marvel fans, she is one after all. It’s all very meta but without being insulting to the reader.
Gwen is a Gen Z superhero like Ms Marvel but caters to an entirely different crowd. Where Kamala Kahn is quite family friendly Gwenpool is absurd. She’s not as edgy or offensive as Deadpool but she’s more of that audience, just PG-13 to Ms Marvel’s PG.
Gwenpool Strikes back is an entertaining and light read that contains a sympathy you might not see elsewhere. Gwen knows she’s not popular and her books don’t sell well. But damnit she’s trying!
She’s tried to amp up popularity by appearing in the West Coast Avengers and dating the insufferable Quentin Quire but nothing seems to pull her out of Deadpool’s shadow. It doesn’t help that the Deadpool audience is pretty insufferable themselves. They are definitely not looking for a female superhero, they only want cursing as jokes and Ryan Reynolds.
I encourage comic book lovers to give Gwenpool a chance. She is not what you’re expecting and she is endearing. Plus the books are just plain fun to read without being quite as eye roll inducing as her male counterpart.
4/5 sharks 🦈🦈🦈🦈
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For another underrated Marvel hero check out The Sentry.