REVIEW: GWENPOOL #22

   Though Gwenpool may be of the newer characters in Marvel’s roster, she’s already proven to be one of the most complex. While borrowing many of the meta elements of her partial namesake Deadpool, writer Christopher Hastings has also been able to expand on them, resulting in something new. With GWENPOOL #22, the character and story crosses a new threshold. The issue is written by Christopher Hastings with art by Irene Styrchalski and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg.

            This issue and arc comes on the hells of Gwenpool having fought her future self, a self with the ability to jump between panels and therefore moments in time. This power has been explored in the past with X-Men’s Doop, but that character hasn’t accumulated nearly as big a following as Gwenpool, one which goes a little beyond niche. Beyond being a cool visual effect, panel hopping has always been an interesting way to tell a narrative in comics. At one point in the issue, Gwen appears from the margins of the page to tell her past self she needs to go into the margins of the panel (Yeah, it’s that kind of book). This kind of between the panels storytelling can be confusing, it has been ever since Grant Morrison utilized it during his run on ANIMAL MAN back in the 80’s, but if you were able to tackle that, Hastings’ approach is an undeniably watered down version.

            Styrchalski’s visuals are a delight. Where Deadpool sometimes has a grittier look to signify his homicidal nature, Gwenpool wants to be a hero, and Styrchalski’s softer manga-style lines drive that point home. Rosenberg’s colors are always versatile and eye-popping. There aren’t a lot of heroes with a white and pink color palette, if there are any at all. Beyond that, it’s exactly what Styrchalski is drawing that really catches the eye. Styrchalski is a gentlemanly Doom Bot that has been accompanying Gwenpool for several issues, and seeing him next to the Doom Bots we all know is an interesting juxtaposition, especially since the narrative has really made him his own character outside of that origin.

            It’s really these meta quirks that make Gwenpool what it is. The actual plot is nothing too crazy where modern Marvel is concerned, because modern Marvel is crazy by default. Gwenpool is one of those books that keeps the zany, often silly tone of some of Marvel’s titles from being pushed into a new norm. If you like comedy with a deep metaphysical side, GWENPOOL #22 continues the complex mystery of where this character fits in the Marvel Universe, the short answer being not at all.

(W) Christopher Hastings (A) Irene Strychalsk (CA) Gurihiru

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