REVIEW: Gwenpool #12 – “Level One”

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Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artists: Gurihiru
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 2/15/17

Fresh off her encounter with Blade, Gwenpool picks up yet another mercenary mission. Only this time she brings Mega-Tony along for the ride, because she misses her old team and he can’t get a gig as a support operative. Next thing they know, they’re trapped in a spooky dungeon with no idea how they got there.

Plot: Gwenpool #12 begins with Gwen waking up in what appears to be a very different genre than her usual comic book adventures. As she racks her brain trying to recall what happened, she bumps into her one-time partner Mega Tony. Thankfully, Gwen has played Elder Scrolls, so she’s familiar with the rules required to battle low-level villains in a dungeon with no gear to speak to of.

She battles some talking frogs only to be reunited with the rest of her M.O.D.O.K. It’s fun to have the whole gang back together, but now they have to defeat the supposedly Unkillable Beast. Of course, he turns out to be a mercenary even more famous than Gwen. But will he be a friend to them, or a foe?

Story: The return of Batroc, Mega Tony and Terrible Eye in this issue of Gwenpool is a welcome surprise. Gwen has been spiraling somewhat due to her loneliness, and it’s always more entertaining to have someone to bounce her ideas off of. The fact that she’s dealing with the super-villain Arcade also juxtaposes her zaniness against someone whose motives are actually evil. Given how wild Gwen can be, it’s sometimes easy to forget that she really does want to help people.

However, there is still the problem that broke the team up in the first place. Gwen is currently too focused on getting out of the dungeon and defeating their mysterious opponent to hash things out, but her actions already show that she’s taken some of the lessons to heart. While she begins to act in the same reckless manner she loves so much, a single reminder from Tony brings the importance of teamwork to the forefront. Now she’s calling out commands and receiving suggestions, and even taking the time to refrain from hasty action when there might be more at stake.

It might feel a little rushed for Gwen to have learned so much, but it’s also earned. She had to change tactics after her team abandoned her due to her thoughtless mistakes, and tactics are a vital part of the game-playing that she loves so much. Who knew that all you had to do was stick Gwenpool in a video game for her to level up?

Art: The Gurihiru art team returns this week, much to my delight. They really bring a cohesive look to Gwenpool that fits so well with a young woman dropped in the middle of a fantastical world of adventure. Furthermore, this issue contains several complex battle sequences that benefit from clear, clean lines that make an otherwise hectic seem feel orderly. 

In a dungeon filled with blues and grays, it would be very easy for the issue to fall into monotony. Thankfully the color palette remains varied, thanks in part to the gear they find halfway through and to Gwen’s own speech bubbles. Regardless, the art team manages to maintain the rosy atmosphere even in the darker scenes.

Once again, the comic has a lot of fun with onomatopoeia. Thank goodness Gwen can distinguish a “cronk” from a “splut,” after all. Clayton Cowles always finds inventive ways to write in the unique sound effects – which in and of themselves serve as reminders that Gwenpool is very different from other comics.

Verdict: Gwenpool #12 provides an interesting puzzle of an adventure with the potential to become a much more exciting storyline… And an epic crossover with Deadpool. We just have to come back next month to see how it goes!

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