by Spencer Irwin
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When Gwenpool was first announced, I assumed she would just be a meme, a jokey mash-up of Deadpool and Spider-Gwen. Throughout The Unbelievable Gwenpool, though, Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru have made Gwen a compelling character in her own right, primarily by treating even her zaniest personality traits and adventures with respect and gravitas. This includes Gwen’s knowledge of Marvel’s fictional existence; while Deadpool’s breaking the fourth wall is treated as a fun in-joke with no bearing on the plot, Gwen’s ability to do so has not only become one of her greatest advantages as a fighter, but has now essentially made her a god.
This development began last month as Gwen unspooled the reality of her fictional home, but becomes a full-fledged reveal in this month’s Unbelievable Gwenpool 18.
Gwen’s knowledge has always been the only thing protecting her from the dangers of the Marvel universe, but her newfound omnipotence allows her to discover that her “home” is now fictional too — something even Teddy, who helped set up this “trap,” doesn’t know.
Of course, while Gwen’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel universe’s inner-workings has always been her greatest strength physically, it’s also been her greatest weakness morally. We’re reminded of that through Teddy; the first half of this issue reveals that Teddy was also teleported to the Marvel universe way back when Gwen was, and though he’s struggled (essentially surviving as an undocumented worker) while Gwen’s slowly learned to thrive, he also kept his morality in a way Gwen didn’t.
It’s hard to know exactly why this is. Teddy knows the Marvel universe is fictional just as Gwen does, and like Teddy, Gwen too has struggled and suffered throughout her journey. It’s possible that this all comes down to fantasy — being a part of this world was always Gwen’s dream, and that escapist fantasy may allow her to embrace her more hedonistic, aggressive qualities, like a normally nice person who harasses people online because it’s “not real.”
We’ve seen Gwen begin to grow past this mindset as she’s matured, but gaining control over her reality is implied to be one giant step backwards for her. The future versions of Miles Morales and Terrible Eye tell Teddy that Gwen’s powers will destroy their lives and crumple their reality like paper. Knowing Gwen like we do, it’s easy to believe their statement, even as we know that Gwen isn’t being purposefully malevolent. I suppose that doesn’t really matter when lives are at stake, fictional or otherwise.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?