Projection and Toxic Masculinity in West Coast Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

When discussing West Coast Avengers 2, we went into significant detail about how B.R.O.D.O.K. represented the worst traits of toxic masculinity, of entitled, deluded men who think of women as objects or prizes rather than real people with their own needs, personalities, and desires. With issue 3, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli continue to explore this topic, but come at it from a slightly different angle. This time, their attention is focused less on the delusions that drive B.R.O.D.O.K. and more on how his actions effect the women around him. Spoiler alert: things don’t go well for them. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 2: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: Kate Bishop’s California adventures — under the pens of both Matt Fraction and Kelly Thompson — have all more-or-less revolved around the idea of appearance, on Hollywood’s obsession with beauty, fame, and youth. On first glance, M.O.D.O.K.’s transformation into the chiseled B.R.O.D.O.K. in West Coast Avengers 2 seems fueled by the same kinds of obsessions, but there’s actually an even greater danger lurking deep within: B.R.O.D.O.K.’s preoccupation with appearance is driven entirely by dangerous entitlement and toxic masculinity. Continue reading

West Coast Avengers 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers 

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

This is the true story of seven strangers picked to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Real World.

Spencer: Despite that famous tagline, reality television rightfully has a reputation for being anything but real, with contestants purposely taking on certain roles for the camera and producers editing footage in misleading ways to construct particular narratives (whether they’re “true” or not). Part of what makes West Coast Avengers so interesting, then, is that, despite its “superhero reality show” concept, creators Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli seem devoted to depicting the sad realities of their cast’s lives, to finding the truth behind their day to day existences, even when those existences are patently absurd. Continue reading

Gwen Faces the End in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 24

by Spencer Irwin

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

The first monthly comic book I ever followed was Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans in the early 2000s — it was the book that got me into comic shops every week, buying single issues and learning and following creative teams. Johns’ eventual departure from the title was also the first time I ever dealt with the end of a beloved run, and I didn’t handle it well; it felt like a friend had died. I should note that the series wasn’t even cancelled — it went on for over 50 more issues with several different creative teams — but the end of that particular take on the property that I loved so dearly was devastating nonetheless. The Unbelievable Gwenpool 24 finds Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru digging into a similar kind of loss as Gwen mourns the cancellation of her own comic book, only for her, the loss is far more real. Continue reading

Gwenpool 20 Stays Sincere in a Landscape of Cynicism

by Patrick Ehlers

Unbelievable Gwenpool 20

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

This arc of Gwenpool appears to be taking a lot of its cues from the recently concluded Secret Empire. While not retreading any of the same thematic ideas, the narrative structure of one moral-extreme version of a character over-writing the history of the opposite-moral-extreme version of that same character features in both. For Captain America, this is a battle over the national zeitgeist, a startling reflection of the persistence of racism and white nationalism, but for Gwenpool, the stakes are more personal. Secret Empire Omega 1 just chillingly illustrated how definitive, national change is virtually impossible, but Gwenpool 20 offers a more hopeful path for the individual and — more importantly — for the comic fan. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Gwen Becomes a God in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 18

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. Continue reading

Unbelievable Gwenpool 14

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Unbelievable Gwenpool 14, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: When you read an issue of Deadpool you know what you’re in for. Violence, cursing, and most of all, irreverent humor. Gwenpool falls much in the same line as the character that inspired her creation. Being a character who once read the comics about the other characters she’s interacting with, she can’t but be the living embodiment of meta-humor. This type of humor lends itself to the same kind of irreverence that we’re used to seeing in Deadpool but that doesn’t mean it is by any means easy to create. In Gwenpool 14 these types of laughs are present, but show the first signs that perhaps they are growing a bit stale as well.

Continue reading

The Unbelievable Gwenpool 2

gwenpool 2

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbelievable Gwenpool 2, originally released May 11th, 2016.

Spencer: When asked what fictional universe I would like to live in (which happens more often than you’d think, thanks to weird Tumblr memes), I never give the DC or Marvel universes as my answer, despite them being my favorite fictional universes. I think the reason why is pretty clear: actually living in one of these universes would be utter hell. These worlds run our favorite heroes through the wringer for the sake of a good story, and the lives of their civilians are even more fraught and chaotic. That’s a point Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru make early — and hilariously — in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 2.

civilians

The dangers of Earth-616 are only compounded for our titular hero, Gwen Poole, who is actually a young woman from our world who has achieved her dream of traveling to her favorite fictional universe. Gwen’s adventures in her Howard the Duck back-ups focused on the joy of this transition, but now that she’s become the star of her own title, the true consequences of her situation have finally hit home. Continue reading