Gwen Tries Her Hand at Creating Stories in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 19

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Last month I theorized that Gwenpool’s newfound cosmic awareness essentially made her a god, but within the world of comics, is there really that much of a difference between a god and a writer or artist? (After all, when the Fantastic Four met their god, he was Jack Kirby). That’s something I couldn’t help but wonder about throughout Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru’s The Unbelievable Gwenpool 19, especially once Miles finally reveals Gwen’s dark future. The hell she puts Miles through should feel familiar to anyone who’s ever read a comic before.

Revealing a hero’s identity and subsequently endangering/killing their family? Pitting heroes against each other just to see how it would turn out? Those are superhero comic go-tos, there — well trod paths any fan should be familiar with. We don’t know what “turns” Gwen, but it seems like she’s no longer content with just being a fan, with taking in stories; she’s ready to make her own, and unfortunately, that involves treating people who, in her reality, are very real as fictional playthings.

This month we also discover that Gwen and Teddy are unable to return to the “real world.” Really, we should have known all along that the real world they spent several issues in was fake — the very fact that we were reading Gwen and Teddy’s adventures in the real world turned it into a comic, a story, something less than real. But I also can’t help but wonder if this is all more metatext on being a comic creator. Creators bury themselves in their work, creating worlds that often feel realer to them than the “real” one — writers often speak of characters becoming real to them, “telling” them what they would say or do in any given situation. It’s a mindset that can be as hard to escape as the Marvel universe is for Teddy and Gwen, and many creators probably don’t want to.

But what happens if a creator stops liking their creations? Arthur Conan Doyle threw Sherlock Holmes off a waterfall when he got sick of chronicling his adventures, and it’s easy to see the point in many comics, TV shows, and books where creators just stop caring. It seems significant to me that Miles mentions that Gwen’s rampage started when she “stopped liking all of us.” Is Gwen really so eager to create that she’s started using the people around her to tell her own stories, or is she perhaps just sick of being trapped in the Marvel universe and taking out her frustrations on the rest of its cast?

Either way, Gwen Poole’s a bit of a hack writer.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Gwen Tries Her Hand at Creating Stories in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 19

  1. I’ve discussed the concept of the different ways we consume media, throughout this arc, and more and more, it feels applicable. So let’s talk about fan fiction.

    Film Crit Hulk discussed how fan fiction is inherently mastabatory. This is harsh, but it has a lot of truth. Fan fiction, at the very least, makes it very easy to fall in the trap of placing self gratification over theme, meaning or any of the other stuff that makes a good story. I won’t call myself an expert at Fan fiction, as I generally make a point to avoid it, but all of the Fan fiction I have read have all suffered from the problem of a writer placing the idea they want to do over the needs of the story (I know there are exceptions, but that’s not the point). As an example, I’ve seen many people want to ‘fix’ Secret Empire by having Steve’s fundamental goodness overpower Kobik’s changes to reality. Regardless of your opinion of Secret Empire, this is a terrible idea. It doesn’t satisfactorily resolve any of the ideas Spencer has brought up, it creates a narrative a million times more fascist than anything Spencer could come up with and ultimately mean you have litrrally no story. It would be better to simply not write the story. But it sure is gratifying, isn’t It?
    I’ve seen someone else say that Kilgrave should be killed off, because since Bendis made him a rapist, he is too loathsome an individual and should never be used. Which ignores the fact that because Kilgrave is such a spectacularly loathsome individual, he has been used to spectacular effect to explore rape culture and toxic masculinity. It would be satisfying to see him killed off, but Jessica Jones is rightfully acclaimed because they used a villain that loathsome.

    If we look at Gwen’s arc as the development of a media consumer and a writer, the siren song for this sort of storytelling is a major risk. Falling into the worst traps of placing self gratification over storytelling. Not addressing the needs of the story to focus instead on the mastabatory pleasures. Who would win in this fight? What would happen if I do This? If I do that? No meaning, no purpose. Just Gwen ‘writing’ the story that will gratify her the most.

    If Gwen is a commentary on fans, escapism and authorship, this future Gwen is the worst possible version of all of that. Utterly obsessed with self gratification, and destroying everything in that quest

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