By Chloe Maveal
It’s that time of the month again where the dedicated freelance perverts descend on Shelfdust to annotate Gwenpool Strikes Back! Either you’re delightfully disgusting or you just can’t look away from a train wreck — but regardless of why you came back, grab your most handy lube-like substance (no kink shaming here) and let’s get this show on the road.
Editor’s note: abandon hope all ye who enter here
This issue starts up the way we left it: with Gwen running away from the Fantastic Four after essentially playing a very complicated version of F**k, Marry, Kill with the team. She and Deadpool are running down the streets as she tears through her own very-redacted undoubtedly obscenity-heavy speech bubble where you can kind of make out that she is screaming that she’d much rather just go home and play video games.
She smashes through that speech bubble like John Cena at a charity event.
The video games will clearly have to wait, though, as a hella stretchy Reed Richards is busy getting hung out in the complete shade that Sue is throwing at him about trying something new for a change. (Just goes to show you, unless you know how to switch it up, being able to stretch to massive proportions doesn’t mean a thing. Wait…)
While you’re still busy thinking about Reed Richards probably insisting on missionary and overthinking Sue’s requests for The Weird Stuff(tm), the focus shifts to David Baldeón – who is currently drawing the issue of Gwenpool. That sort of meta mindfuckery is handy when you’re running away from half of the Fantastic Four though, and Gwen yells “BOO!” out from his Wacom tablet, spilling Baldeón’s coffee down to the next panel — drenching Reed and Sue. (But at least Sue’s getting wet for someone these days amiright?)
Deus Ex Barista – the coffee is in the machine. I mean… that’s how you make coffee, though.
Now that Gwen and Deadpool have escaped the Sexually Frustrated Two, he hints that he might have actually done what he was hired for and says that he’s made her some sales.
The page is an entire flowchart to help readers figure out whether they should read Gwenpool or not, but actually ends with Deadpool also being an option because humility is a construct. There’s plenty of narration throughout the page where Deadpool tries to explain that while she’s only been around a few years, she needs more than just a fanbase to stay in comics; she needs to keep plowing forward — but didn’t we just have a problem with her trying to plow the Fantastic Four? Oh dear.
Regardless, Deadpool once again calls himself Daddy Deadpool which makes me want to die, but also calls her a brat when she talks back to him — indicating that Deadpool is without a doubt a member of the Daddy-Dom/Brat parental-sternness sector of BDSM. Which also makes me want to die.
This page feels like a bit of a stretch, but I’m gross and Steve is paying to let my perv-brain run amok so I’m just gonna say it: As Gwen is sitting at the bottom of the previous chart looking over the numbers of her comics, she realizes that readers prefer her the most when she’s being bad…which is literally the entire point of being a “brat” in a BDSM dynamic. Being “bad” or disobeying rules is preferred and encouraged because punishment is the fun end of the goal post for all consenting parties. Oh Daddy Deadpool. You knew the whole time.
There’s a big switch in art as the background now looks like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island? For some reason? But little Gwenpool is scaling the mountains and drawing the ups and downs of her comic career using the mountains as a guideline.
Gwen keeps whining about not wanting to be bad, but the title of the comic — Gwenpool Strikes Back #3 — is now given a subhead that says “You’re gonna “love” it! HAHA!” By explaining this it feels like I’m revealing a little bit too much about myself, but let’s just say that in the world of BDSM there most definitely is a thing called “funishment”. I think Steve will delete this entire page explanation if I go into further detail so use your imagination ya big nasties.
I like Yoshi. Yoshi is nice.
Three days later on a remote island created presumably by Gwenpool, it seems that Gwen has convinced a whole lineup of Marvel heroes that she is a Make-A-Wish child whose dying wish is to watch them play beach volleyball. Let’s go ahead and assume that Gwen is just trash enough to have set up a Make-A-Wish request due to the possibility of her dying in the Marvel Universe because she refuses to be bratty and…well honestly, I can’t blame her too much. I want to see heroes being hot, too.
But as if we didn’t know that Gwen was polysexual to begin with, as soon as everyone starts coming onto the beach in their swimming costumes, Gwen reverts to more internet lingo by just typing gibberish; indicating that she’s at a loss for words. All in all this is a fantastic throwback to ye olde Marvel comics of the 80’s and 90’s where someone thought doing swimsuit issues was what the people wanted. And honestly, I’m with Tony Stark in this one who says that he doesn’t care how much of ruse it is, we just want to say thank you for putting Bucky Barnes in swim trunks.
OH MY GOD BUCKY IS SERIOUSLY IN VERY TIGHT SWIM TRUNKS SIJGSIJD:IKVGSD!!
But besides that, Gwen just up and approaches Steve (in his adorably old-fashioned swim costume oh my god) and Bucky to tell them that they look cute together and that they should wrestle. While that doesn’t need much explanation, let’s just say that seeing two cute Good Boys wrestling is Very Good.
Ms. Marvel is a party pooper though and pulls Gwen away to tell her to start relying on fan fiction, but if you could create anything you wanted would you rely on fan fiction? I think not. Now make them wrestle!
Now we get to see the lineup of heroes. The Varsity Team is made up of the OG (Original Gangster. Get it together.) lineup of Marvel heroes, and the “Popular with Younger Readers” Team are the younger, more quirky characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Miles Morales, and Gwen herself.
Captain Marvel’s swimwear is her old costume, which is a nice touch.
The best team, however, is the “Invented to be Eye Candy But Were later Given Better Character Development” Team because a) She-Hulk is swole as hell and it’s great, and b) this is the peak example of how admiration can be so strong that turns right back around to objectification.
Jessica Jones wasn’t invented to be eye candy was she?
And then back to admiration.
I mean she was created by Michael Gaydos.
And then back to —
So about here is where mistakes are made. Gwen announces that not only is she the child in need, but that since they’re unwilling to take her seriously as a Marvel character, she demands that they fight in a Battle Royale. The crowd of heroes starts laughing and there’s something very “Oh no, I forgot to put on pants before going to class” about Gwen standing with a mic and being laughed at while being all awkward and gangly in her bikini.
This entire page is a beautiful dedication to the “tag yourself” yearbook memes of social media. It basically boils down to there being a grid of people/characters/things/etc. which have funny (and somehow accurate) descriptors underneath them, and the point is to “tag” yourself as whichever one you identify with the most. I will give you a dollar if you tell Steve on Twitter which one you’d tag yourself as.
Find me on Twitter here, Steve-heads.
Gwen explains the rules of the Battle Royale which honestly could not be any more confusing or stupid… but anything that’s not confusing or stupid wouldn’t be fun now would it? I don’t know what else to say about this page except that there’s an asterisk when Gwen says that the island was created for a good ol’ fashioned 1 v 2 rumble that leads to a small, but pointed ramble about the Marvel villain Arcade…who is totally useless.
TELL THAT TO RED RAVEN II !!! JUSTICE FOR RED RAVEN II !!
Things with Gwen’s game start to kick off when Tony Snark — oh I’m sorry, I meant Tony Stark — doesn’t believe that this has all been set up by Gwen. Gwen makes a little aside calling him Papa Tony (AGAIN with the “Daddy” thing, jeez!) and telling that he’s welcome to “pop off” which — as dirty as that may sound — is just another Millennial/Gen Z term for saying whatever you want despite evidence refuting it.
Since Bucky hasn’t really reappeared since getting off the plane, Twinky — sorry, TONY — apparently decides to cash in on the opportunity to fight with Steve Rogers and his inexplicably high-waisted swimsuit. You can say that I’m reaching for commentary here, but I’m not the one who called Steve Rogers “big boy” while wearing a banana hammock.
Tony, of course, gets knocked out and wake up in a lovely room with catered snacks. Back at the Battle Royale stage, however, Steve marches up to Gwen and grabs her firmly by the arm to tell her off. It’s Gwen though, so she’s very busy being distracted by how pretty Steve is up close. She also says that he’s such a square that he doesn’t even realize “how hot this is”, clearly referring to him grabbing her and telling her off. *banging fists on my desk* BECAUSE SHE’S A DAMN BRAT.
Gwen gets to prove that she’s an actual trash person by abusing her powers to make the crowd, as well as Tony Stark, believe that the prize for the winner is a massive cash donation made by Tony right before his coma in Civil War II.
He wasn’t the only person to be put in a coma by Civil War II! BOOM!
…She could have used this power for just about anything and she used it to extort money from Tony Stark? Yeah, that tracks.
Squirrel Girl lets Gwen know that she’s going to have to sit this one out because if the fight is to help her, she’d just end up losing to Squirrel Girl. (Which is true. There’s a reason she’s called Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. If she can take down Galactus then Gwen would end up like a pancake). Before they leave however, Gwen makes sure to tell Doreen to join her Minecraft sever because they definitely need to be friends — which only makes sense. They’re both completely absurd and unstoppable. What a horrifying combo to give young adults.
Turns out Gwen has a subdued Bruce Banner locked in a cage off to the side of the stage… The Immortal Hulk version. Let’s just run with the idea that Gwen literally has a cage to keep people in because it’s just good ol’ fashion fun.
…Why are you looking at me like that?
Um, I’m sorry, what? WHYYYYY does Gwen have a gun?! WHYYYY is Gwen so absolutely stupid that she would be pointing a gun at Bruce Banner? And hooooowwww is Steve not absolutely shitting his Sexy-Dad-Style swim trunks?!
With everyone scared of the ramifications of pointing a gun at the Hulk, Gwen tells the audience of heroes that if they had done less gaslighting by telling her that she’s crazy and spent the time getting to know her instead, they’d know that she’s not crazy and is a hero to be reckoned with. It’s actually a very sweet and heartfelt moment for Gwen, which is a surprise. She tells them that it wasn’t even a real gun anyway; it was a starting gun.
And then proves her point by shooting Bruce Banner in the fucking head.
Did Al Ewing sign off on this?
Welp. All bets are off now because — as Gwen mentions — if you’ve been reading The Immortal Hulk, shooting Bruce Banner really isn’t that big of deal… except for the fact that he seriously Hulks out afterwards.
All of the other characters end up with color indicators over their head like in the old school arcade fighting games, and the brawl finally breaks out.
The fight rages on and Gwen is off in her own little world, as is her wont. She replicates the image from the cover where she’s posing pin-up style… and here we get a little extra dialogue where she asks the cover artist Terry Dodson to give her D-cup breasts. This is how you get sales up, after all – J. Scott Campbell still has a career and everything.
This only gets better because Terry did, in fact, give her D-cups. Good job, Terry. You are very seen right now.
Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel are literally begging Gwen to stop pin-up posing because the Hulk is on his way across the battlefield to completely rip her a new asshole. Gwen’s strangely calm exclamation of “Oh, word?” is the best possible way of saying “oh shit. It’s going down.” Without saying “oh shit. It’s going down.”
I mean c’mon. Kids read this book!
Gwenpool Strikes Back #3
Written by Leah Williams
Drawn by David Baldeon
Colored by Jesus Aburtov
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Chloe Maveal has written all over the comics internet – including pieces published by Polygon, WomenWriteAboutComics and The MNT. Chloe’s also the Culture Editor-at-Large for The Gutter Review. You can find them on Twitter here!
Editor’s note: Lord.
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