THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #7
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 10/12/16
No sooner than she’s been busted out of prison by her buddy Batroc, Gwen discovers that the Teuthidans are after her due to the murder she took credit for in the first issue. And things only get more chaotic from there…
Plot: Gwenpool is off with a bang this week, diving into the middle of an alien battle with little to no preamble. Lest the reader lose track of who Gwen pissed off when, she helpfully narrates her previous encounter with a member of the Teuthidan species while the vengeance-seeking aliens hold up photographic evidence.
Of course, she was not actually turned into a pig. She just dressed a pig up in her outfit! Having successfully distracted the aliens long enough for her M.O.D.O.K. coworkers to hide their base, Gwen lets the cops deal with the international threat while she handles the latest mysterious client.
Story: Despite the lessons learned in last month’s Gwenpool, denial remains strong throughout this issue. The levity of her actions is always fun on first read, but the reactions of those around her remind us that everything she does has consequences. As humorous as it is to watch Gwen trick the Teuthidans with a pig, the havoc she wreaks in her wake is sobering indeed. Funny, but sobering. It is Cecil, though, who has a more lasting effect on both the readers and Gwen herself. He usually manages to be the heart of the story and helps Gwen see more reason that anyone else, so the fact that she is deaf to his pleas this issue shows just how far gone she is.
Gwenpool also introduces a new foreboding M.O.D.O.K.: a man named Vincent whose love of the mundane is more than a little creepy. His estimation of Gwen and her crew as “normal people” in a sea of inhumans and such puts a whole new spin on the story, though, given the wacky hijinks this gang of wannabe mercenaries is constantly getting itself into. Perhaps it’s her meeting with him that finally gets Gwen’s introspection going, though it’s unfortunately cut short by a surprise confrontation that she’ll need a month or so to figure her way out of.
This issue was more of a bridge between the previous arc and the next one, but there were some strong character moments for Cecil. Hopefully the next issues push Gwen one way or the other. Whether she starts accepting that her actions affect others or retreats even further into her denial, it would benefit the series to pick a particular path for her for now at least. A little wavering makes her human, but Gwenpool is more when she’s not paralyzed by indecision.
Art: The Gurihiru illustration team is part of what makes Gwenpool so distinctive, as Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano skillfully weave between the pink bubblegum land of Gwen’s delusions and the starker reality of the world she’s inhabiting. If at times the coloring of these two worlds seems completely separate, it only serves to underscore how divorced Gwen is from her surroundings. Clayton Cowles’ lettering remains the the same regardless of circumstance, which helps to create a unified look for the series while still highlighting that the events are dire no matter how close to Gwen’s comic books they are.
Another moment that stood out artistically was Gwen at the subway station near the end. Her innocence as she wondered about her recent choices shone through those panels, contrasting sharply with the drab and realistic depiction of the brick walls and wooden benches around her. A perfect encapsulation of the dichotomy inherent in the series and its lead character.
Verdict: Gwen Poole remains a complicated and charming character full of contradictions, all of which keeps Gwenpool fresh even as its protagonist’s mistakes can frustrate readers. Both the supporting characters and the re-introduction of formidable villains promises for an exciting new arc next month.