by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
Gwen Poole reads comic books; she’s a Marvel fan. This means that she’s held all the conflicting ideas that Marvel fans have been wrestling with for decades — including a bizarre mix of love and hate that comes from a feeling of ownership so many fans carry. In issue 21, Gwenpool proved that she had mastered the medium of comics, but was losing her edge in terms of up-to-the-minute Marvel continuity. Issue 22 furthers that journey, doubling down on her medium mastery powers, while emphasizing the failings of her regressive fandom.
Gwen’s got a handful of new tricks in this issue — the most spectacular of which is her own ability to leave the panel and travel through the gutter to previous pages. This amounts to time travel, and is a near god-tier power. She also leans out of panels to avoid in-coming attacks and seems to have hacked her way into the editors’ notes, so she’s got a direct line to the readers. The tone of those notes is interesting too — upbeat, even when discussing her obviously tumultuous relationship with Vincent or the probably murderous way she’s dealing with Marvel villains.
It’s soft propaganda from a character who thinks we all share the same lens.
Of course, comic creators and fans have many lenses, and they are always shifting. Doctor Doom is currently in a state of flux whereby he is not really a bad guy any more. This means Gwen’s plan to win over the Avengers by killing Doctor Doom is outdated and (forgive the pun) doomed to fail. So writer Christopher Hastings and artists Gurihiru equip her with the most powerful weapon in the fan’s arsenal: head canon. She comes up against a piece of information she doesn’t like in-universe (i.e., Doctor Doom is good now) and simply changes it for her own experience. It’s such a jarring addition to her power set, but totally demonstrates the agency of readers when it comes to their own experience of comics.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?