Today marks the finale issue of “The Unbelievable Gwenpool,” a genre-busting, fourth-wall breaking book that, on paper, should never have made it 25 issues in this comics landscape. But it made it because it was, frankly, really good. We’ve got a number of big Gwenpool fans on our staff, and the idea was floated to reach out to series writer Christopher Hastings to share some of his favorite moments from the series, as well as give us some hints at what might have come if the book had a longer run.
Hopefully, this is not the last time Gwen Poole graces our comics pages, nor the last time Hastings gets to write her. Take it away, Chris!
Special thanks to Amy Veeres for getting the ball rolling on this piece.
1) Issue 1: Gwenpool draws money signs on her eyes.
I remember when the art came in on the first issue of our series, this was the page I saved to my phone so I could show all my friends “Look how funny this comic is going to be!” It was also one of those many moments where I knew that Gurihiru and I had a totally in sync understanding of the character and the book.
2) Issue 1: MODOK kills Cecil.
This moment is meant to sum up the theme of the book in a nutshell. Gwen knows all this stuff about how comic books work, how super hero stories work, and she thinks it gives her this big advantage, but she doesn’t realize that as she tries to use the medium against itself, it almost gains a sentience to fight against her. Gwen thinks she has a sidekick or “a guy in the chair” when really Cecil was just set up to get fridged.
3) Issue 2: Gwen knows that Jane Foster is Thor.
This was one of Gwen’s real advantages that I quickly realized didn’t actually do all that much to help her. Even in this scene, it serves just as a distraction, a stall for time. The Marvel Universe doesn’t have a TON of heroes operating with secret identities these days, and knowing them actually does very little for a hero (which we point out down the road when Gwen is tempted into being a villain).
4) Issue 3: Gwen and Batroc talk heroes and villains.
Gwen and Batroc’s relationship is probably my favorite thing to come out of the whole series, and it plays into one of our other themes, which is who gets taken seriously in the Marvel universe. Do only the coolest, strongest villains deserve respect? What place do all these lower tier people have? Gwenpool herself started out as a joke, and we worked to make her a sympathetic character. Same for Batroc.
5) Issue 9: The origin of Vinnie the Doombot
This spun out of a time travel story out of “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #5, featuring a retooled origin of the Terrible Tinkerer (that I think has already been rendered non-canon by whatever is happening in “Spider-Man”). It is SO convoluted. It is SO comic books. Also I just really wanted a character that was basically Terminator, but a Doom Bot.
6) Issues 12 & 13 Gwen meets Deadpool.
Deadpool was this big elephant in the room that we couldn’t really acknowledge for a while, because Gwen had to become her own character first. But as the series passed the 1 year mark, we really needed to do something about him.
For some reason, I was really banging my head against the wall trying to make the “The team goes larping in Arcade’s dungeon” story work, and when I thought to have Deadpool as another mercenary that got trapped in there, the whole thing unlocked for me. Unfortunately I came up with that idea well after the issues were solicited and the covers were done, so one of the most anticipated moments in the series was for all purposes, hidden.
7) Issue 17. Just the whole thing.
When Gwen is forced into a pocket universe that mirrors her past, it forces a more cosmic awareness of Gwen’s knowledge that she is in a comic book. She becomes TRULY aware that exists where time and space behave differently. This is definitely my favorite issue of the book. Gurihiru and our letterer Clayton Cowles do some really wild stuff here, just having fun with the medium.Continued below
8) Issue 20.
Once we have Gwen stumbling about with her new powers of comic book reality, I wanted to skip to the end, show what happens when she masters them. She becomes a villain. It’s been my belief throughout the series that Gwen’s greatest enemy is herself, and so we just make it literal. This is also another of those moments where the characters can discuss how the limits of their medium affect what they see to be their real lives.
9) Issue 22. Now that Gwen can jump around panels, that means she can travel through time.
I wanted an issue to show that off, to show off the limits of the powers, and to let a reader experience the comic with a slightly different flow of time. You can flip through the book, backwards and forwards and experience a different narrative as you follow Gwen’s journey forward in time, and then backward, and then forward again.
10) Issue 24: Batroc tries to help out Gwen one last time before this version of him is gone.
Like I said, Gwen and Batroc’s relationship is very special to me, and I wanted to dedicate a full issue to showcasing this particular take on Batroc before we say goodbye to him for good. Do a fun heist that lets Gwen do a cool new thing with her powers, show Batroc at the top of his game, and then MAKE YOU CRY AT THE END.
11) Issue 25: Gwen’s fan.
I don’t want to spoil things for our final issue, but in issue 25, Gwen finally gets a fan of her own, which cements Gwen as a “real” super hero, someone who is no longer a tourist in the Marvel Universe.
IF ONLY THERE WAS MORE TIME
There are a few threads that got wrapped up faster than I planned (or just dropped) that I would have liked to do more with.
1) The Poole Boys!
An army of beefy men in Gwenpool uniforms. We could done so much with them! Alas, they were all arrested, and that was that.
2) What happens to Teddy?
The short version is answered issue 25, but the long version would have been an exploration of all the various competing versions of the afterlife in the Marvel universe.
3) The Arcade D&D story could have been much longer.
We planned out arcs based around when Gurihiru was available, and when we’d use guest artists. We could only get them to do 12 and 13 before jumping ahead to work on 16-20. This story was meant to be the short and fun goof that it was, but over the course of writing it, I found that we could have gone way deeper. We certainly could have had a more substantial Deadpool crossover too. But I had to move on to the next arc, because that’s what we already planned! OH WELL!
4) More with Future Evil Gwenpool.
Future Evil Gwenpool was going to become Gwen’s arch nemesis, always operating in the background to try and manipulate Gwen into turning heel and becoming her. Once I was given word the series was going to end at issue 25, that was abandoned, and we made the rest of her adventures about trying to cope with her own cancellation.
Thanks again to Chris for chatting, and make sure to pick up the final issue of “The Unbelievable Gwenpool” today.