‘Gwenpool Special’ Is Actually A Bit Special, But Not So Gwenpool [Review]
I had absolutely no interest in Marvel’s Gwenpool Special #1 when it was announced. I like Spider-Gwen a whole lot, but what looked like essentially a gender-bent Deadpool in pink? Yeah, the best I could come up with was a shrug at the news that this random mash-up character would be getting a holiday issue.
Which is why I’m quite honestly shocked that I liked Gwenpool Special #1. I liked it a lot.
It’s a real Christmas miracle, people.
The thing is, Gwenpool Special #1 is not really about Gwenpool. Granted, I actually didn’t mind her as much as I expected --- her storyline’s art by Gurihiru was clean and charming, and Christopher Hastings wrote a scene with her and one of my favorite heroines, so I can't be that mad at her showing up for this storyline. Still, she only shows up in the last third of the issue, and even then isn’t a major player in the overarching plot.
No, what this holiday special is really about is everyone other than this weird alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy that's also Deadpool.
The whole 60 page issue is centered around a continuation of Charles Soule's She-Hulk run (written by Soule), where Jennifer has to save the day by throwing an amazing holiday party. There’s also a mini-story about Kamala Khan feeling off during the holidays and meeting up with a mentor of hers, and a continuation of Gerry Duggan’s Halloween Hawkeye/Deadpool team-up from 2014, with Duggan reprising his role as writer.
Of the art teams besides Gurihiru, whose style is so up my alley, Danilo S. Beyruth on lineart and Cris Peter on colors in the Deadpool/Hawkeyes story have perhaps the most appeal. Beyruth has some of the most expressive faces in the comic, and Peter balanced the colors of the holidays with the grittier tones you expect from Clint Barton’s New York. It helps that Duggan really has a feel for these characters and their dynamic.
Getting to see Soule write a She-Hulk story again is a treat, so fans chomping at the bit for more Shulkie will be happy. I’m on the fence about Langdon Foss’ character design for Jennifer --- his art gets a little inconsistent --- but I thought colorist Megan Wilson was spot-on throughout.
The weaker of the stories is sadly Ms. Marvel’s, namely because so many of the panels in her story lack facial details — it’s a quite blurry art style, and it didn’t work for me. I’m also not sure anyone has quite got the hang of G. Willow Wilson’s distinctive voice for Kamala yet, and while writer Margaret Stohl gets close here, it still feels a bit off. Yet it's still pretty fun to see Kamala included in holiday shenanigans with the rest of the east coast Marvel heroes.
Ultimately, naming this holiday special after Gwenpool feels like a mistake, because it will mis-lead a lot of readers into passing on it. But if you’re a fan of female friendship, or Soule’s Shulkie, or the Hawkeyes teaming up with Deadpool, then it's absolutely worth checking out.
We Don't Know Gwenpool, But We Might Know Deadpool