Gwenpool Strikes Back #3 Review

by Charles Martin on October 09, 2019

Gwenpool Strikes Back #3 Review
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: David Baldeón
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In contrast to the previous issue, this one follows directly from the last. Gwenpool's initial stage directions read "Exit Baxter Building 4 Yancy Street, pursued by a furious Deadpool."

Not that that lasts very long. After Gwen dodges Reed and Sue with a truly outrageous fourth wall trick, Deadpool calms down suspiciously fast and leaves Gwen with the advice to look at her sales numbers.

It remains the kind of comic where she does exactly that, for "a reasonable amount of time," and reaches another of those brilliantly wrong conclusions: People buy more Gwenpool books when Gwen is being bad.

Thus, the latest scheme: Bamboozle a shockingly big slice of Marvel's A-list into a charity beach volleyball tournament (Yay added sex appeal!) and then turn it into a battle royale!

The sunny climes and sexy outfits are a treat for the art team and therefore for us readers. David Baldeón does a praiseworthy job portraying a vast cast of Marvel's biggest heroes even though lots of them are bereft of their signature costumes. 

Smart bathing suit design choices help out. The buff blond guy with the tidy haircut and the swim trunks belted (literally, with a belt) up above his bellybutton? Proooobably Captain America, ya think? 

And Mr. Baldeón creates some incredible body language, too. Gwen's "I know I'm being a creep RN" slouch as she sidles up to the painfully-hot-looking Steve and Bucky must be seen to be believed.

Jesus Aburtov throws some nuanced curveballs into the deceptively simple sunny palette. There's plenty of exquisite shading, bold colour choices for the meta cutaways, and a wonderfully nuanced sunset crashing down quickly in the final scene.

Without spoiling the specifics of how Gwen adds outrage to her hero-vs-hero tourney, I think I can use the key fact already mentioned above to discuss it. Gwen's acting based on the assertion that "Evil Gwen = Popular Gwen," which I would, in turn, assert is deeply flawed.

My faith in Leah Williams understanding the fire she's playing with remains unshaken. I'm pretty sure she understands Gwenpool; in this series, it's Gwenpool who's lagging behind. 

I believe this will all wrap up with Gwen learning (again, grumble grumble) that comics characters earn their longevity not with outrageous chaos but with a deeply empathic connection to their readers. We follow heroes across decades, not because of the crazy ☠☠☠☠ they get up to, but because we care about their struggles and appreciate their striving.

By the time it ended, the Unbelievable Gwenpool was a story about Gwen applying that lesson to the characters around her. Her journey took her from "these people are fictional and nothing that happens to them matters" to "these people are people, regardless of fictionality, and they deserve love and respect."

If Ms. Williams nails the ending to Gwenpool Strikes Back, it will be by teaching Gwen that that great lesson applies to herself just as much as her Marvel pals. The groundwork has been laid; this issue delivers some more subtle, shocking self-loathing tucked into Gwen's narration. 

I don't know who or what will ultimately convey that lesson to Gwen. (My long-shot money is on a direct confrontation between her and her author.) I'm still confident that it's coming; this series has done a fine job of making it almost painfully necessary.

Gwenpool Strikes Back #3 loads fresh outrages into Gwen's quest to make herself popular. The protagonist (and the creators) again wobble on a tightrope between being crass and charming. I think most Gwenpool fans, like me, are rooting for her to fall firmly onto the "charming" side, but the balancing act is an engrossing adventure all by itself.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Are you one of those dudes who is, like, creepy-fixated on putting Carol Danvers back in the lightning bolt swimsuit costume? You are terrible, but Gwenpool will give you what you want!