THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #18
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 7/26/17
After bring brought back to her own Earth by Teddy, Gwen found herself unable to deal with unable to deal with daily life and desperate to return to the Marvel Universe. But now it’s time to learn how her brother dealt with the world that was so dear to her.
Plot: Gwenpool #18 starts with Teddy entering the comic book world and immediately being thrust in the midst on an ongoing battle. Thankfully The Thing is there to shield him and send him on his way, but when Teddy reaches his parents’ home he finds they don’t know him.
He tries to find a job to make ends meet, but it’s difficult with no ID. So he winds up working for one of the very first villains Gwen attacks – way back in Gwenpool #0 – and overhears her grand entrance. After witnessing her slaughter a group of extras, he is recruited by a group of superheroes looking to save their world from Gwen’s future antics. Will they succeed before she figures out their plan?
Story: In an impressive turn of events, Gwenpool #18 takes Gwen’s apparent powers of meta-commentary to their logical extreme. We saw Gwen step out of her own life last month by finding the edge of the panels, and now she exists literally outside of the pages of the very Marvel comic we are reading. Not only does Hastings provide the added context of Teddy’s point of view, but for perhaps the first time ever it Gwen’s role as a villain of sorts towering over the lives of others is visually apparent.
At the same time, she’s still a young woman who doesn’t know the weight of her actions. Her sincerity when confronting Teddy about what she views as a plot to kill her dreams is painful, both because Gwen’s perspective is terribly skewed but also terribly easy to understand. Which of us hasn’t gotten so lost in our dreams that we forget about others? Of course, the layers in this story don’t stop there. As skewed as Gwen’s perspective may be, the truth that she reveals is even more shocking.
The splash page makes for quite the cliffhanger, and neatly answers the question of how Gwenpool can continue once Gwen is back in the real world. Once again, Hastings has managed to raise the stakes and drive home the emotion without taking away from the wacky hi-jinx that define the series. There’s honestly one one negative thing to say about this month’s offering, which is that it would have been great to see more of Teddy’s dealings with the “Future Squad” outside of their initial meeting. But maybe there’s a story coming up for that?
Art: There is no doubt that the Gurihiru team belongs on Gwenpool, and has a unique role in crafting both the look and tone of the story. Each page has a near-perfect balance of background detail, in the aesthetically pleasing pastel palette that the comic is known for, and a startlingly realistic depiction of each character’s emotions.
Clayton Cowles also plays his part admirably, incorporating the lettering in such a way that it is never obtrusive yet still conveys the iconoclast nature of Gwen and her tale. The intermingling of art and story is even more evident in this issue, where the art feels more 2D than ever. While readers have come to expect an illusion of depth from recent art, the choice to flatten each panel only highlights the construct that these characters are literally trapped in a book.
Verdict: Another strong installment of one of Gwenpool‘s best arcs yet, juxtaposing Gwen’s destructive nature with her genuine desire to make things better.
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5