Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Volume 2: Head of MODOK Review (Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru)


The Unbelievable Gwenpool has nothing to do with Gwen Stacy or Deadpool; she is Gwen Poole, a Marvel fangirl from our world who has inexplicably wound up in the Marvel Universe! Using her unique inside knowledge of Marvel comics, Gwen has survived the strange and dangerous superhero landscape by deposing the giant testicle with a face, MODOK, and becoming the new head of his criminal organisation. She also has a team-up with Ultimate Spider-Man himself, Miles Morales! 

So Gwenpool is still one of Marvel’s best titles. It’s such a fun, playful, clever series that’s so very different from the bland stuff Marvel usually publishes. Whether you enjoy superheroes being satirised subversively or go in for imaginative approaches to this well-defined genre, I think this will appeal to readers outside of Marvel’s usual crowd as well as a number of True Believers as well - and that’s a great thing! 

Gwen’s team-up with Miles is one of the best team-ups ever. I love that she told him about Secret Wars and the end of the Ultimates universe and his baffled reaction to that news. The meta angle is the most interesting thing about Gwen, that she’s aware that she’s in a comic talking to comic book characters - love me some fourth-wall breaking! 

But she’s also unpredictable and weirdly villainous - she tries shooting a kid and later on shoots an old geezer in the face! Granted, they both turned out to be iffy but firing guns at people’s faces ain’t exactly heroic. I kinda like that she’s oddly evil-ish at times and, as an accidental head of a villainous group, bizarrely on the path to becoming a supervillain herself! 

The other storyline wasn’t as good: the tentacle monsters from the first book return to have their revenge on Gwen and she meets her mysterious benefactor, “Vincent”. I kinda wish Christopher Hastings went after a fresher storyline especially as the way it plays out is a bit too generically superhero-y for my blood. 

There’s still a lot to like though: Gwenpool putting a piglet in her outfit (Gwenpig?) to confuse the tentacle monsters, the Poole Boys, and I love that Batroc the Leaper, one of Captain America’s infamously absurd antagonists, is Gwen’s colleague! And Gurihuru and Irene Strychalski’s manga-esque art is really beautiful too. I know Chris Bachalo designed Gwenpool but Gurihuru does wonders with her character - I think Harley Quinn has some serious cosplay competition at future conventions! 

Gwenpool, Volume 2: Head of MODOK is a really entertaining read and, in Hastings’ talented hands, Gwenpool continues to flourish as one of Marvel’s most original characters in years. Highly recommended, especially for readers looking for something a little different with their superhero comics.

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