For a character that’s been dead since 1973 and outside of some clone shenanigans has never been resurrected, Gwen Stacy sure is popular these days. Probably much to known hater Tom Kelly’s chagrin, Gwen just launched a second title that she is headlining. After the break, a brief history of Gwen and a look (with possible spoilers) at Unbelievable Gwenpool #1.
The original Gwen Stacy was the college girlfriend of one Peter Parker, aka, the Amazing Spider-Man. It could easily be argued that she was the greatest love of his life, even including his (didn’t happen anymore, thanks One More Day, you suck) marriage to Mary Jane Watson.
But in 1973, then Amazing Spider-Man writer found that he had no use for Gwen.
“She was a nonentity, a pretty face. She brought nothing to the mix. It made no sense to me that Peter Parker would end up with a babe like that who had no problems,”
And so, Gwen died during a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Spider-Man has seen a lot of death in his 50-plus years of continuity, but this one would haunt him more than any other save the death of his Uncle Ben.
Surprisingly, Gwen has stayed dead. (Maybe only until this fall’s Dead No More Spider-Man event.) There have been many stories featuring Gwen clones and women altered by plastic surgery to look like Gwen and the Ultimate Universe Gwen and of course the clone of the Ultimate Universe Gwen. So Gwen has never been out of the minds eye of the public for many long stretches.
In 2014 something interesting began to happen. Gwen was at the forefront when it came to the women of Peter Parker’s universe thanks to Emma Stone portraying her in the ill-fated Amazing Spider-Man (2012) movie and it’s sequel. That summer, in gearing up for the Spider-Verse event, Marvel released this one-off story:
A What If? style alternate universe where Gwen, not Peter Parker, was bitten by a radioactive spider. This new Spider-Woman, in many parts thanks to the costume design by Robbi Rodriguez, surprisingly blew up in popularity. Suddenly this character that was meant to be heard from once and likely never again (like most of the other Edge Of Spider-Verse characters) was becoming a smash hit.
Her role in the main Spider-Verse event would be beefed up, and not long after Spider-Gwen would be starring in her own book. Her solo adventures are still going strong today as well as team exploits with other Spider-Folks over in Web Warriors and she’s at the heart of the current Spider-Women event.
Apparently this is not enough for Gwen fans. During 2015’s Secret Wars event, Marvel decided to dedicate a month of variant covers to Ms. Stacy. Gwen as the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Groot, Doctor Strange, etc. Much like the Spider-Gwen one shot that introduced her and her popular costume, Marvel seemed to have lightening strike twice with this variant cover for Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2:
That’s it. A scribbled name (Gwenpool), a costume combining the best of Deadpool and Spider-Gwen, a sword, no pants and a blow up pool chair. Not a full origin issue. No dialogue. No indication of characterization. Just a single cover image. No different than the 19 other variant covers released that month.
But something about this one just clicked with readers. And when Gwenpool cosplay’s started showing up everywhere, Marvel knew they had something to capatilize on. And so they did.
Gwenpool made her Marvel Universe debut in a back up story that ran through the first three issues of Howard The Duck and then co-starred in her own Gwenpool Holiday Special. We finally had a character to go with the cool name and aesthetics.
Now, I don’t read a lot of Deadpool, but I can only imagine that Gwenpool is essentially a female version of Deadpool in many ways. The appearances have been jammed packed with humor and Gwen breaking the wall to talk to the reader. One difference with her from Wade Wilson is that this Gwen Stacy is supposedly from our “real world”. It has not been explained yet, but somehow she has been transported into the Marvel Universe. She knows all the characters and their identities and ins and outs because she has read all of their adventures in comic books. And because she believes that she is now in a comic book herself, she dons a costume and becomes a mercenary for hire. Because without a costume, she’d just be an extra and no one cares about the extras in comic books.
Throughout all her appearances, including this weeks Unbelievable Gwenpool #1 that launches her ongoing title, Gwen is depicted as having no powers. She does not have a healing factor and her face does not look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado. While she doesn’t seem to look like other interpretations of Gwen Stacy (mostly just artistic license), she is cute as a button under her mask. That said, she routinely seems to do the impossible, or, I guess, the unbelievable. Battling supervillians, surviving falling from great heights, foiling bank robberies, crashing Christmas parties, all without a scratch.
Who knows if Marvel will ever take Gwenpool seriously enough to actually explain her existence in the Marvel Universe. Is she really from another universe and stuck in a comic book or is she just crazy? In either case, she most definitely seems to be crazy, but in the most hilarious of ways.
I’ve really enjoyed her appearances thus far and it makes me wonder if I should read more Deadpool proper. I think if you like Deadpool or like your humor a little on the crazy/slanted/offbeat side, give Gwenpool a try. I’d recommend those backup stories and the Holiday Special and the new #1. There are some in-jokes in Unbelievable Gwenpool #1 that you will get more out of if you read those early appearances, but you can definitely pick up the new book and start your Gwenpool adventure there.
Did I say “a brief history of Gwen and a look (with possible spoilers) at Unbelievable Gwenpool #1″? Maybe I should reverse that.