The title to this series (as well as its first volume) is entirely appropriate considering the character’s origins. Originally an amalgamation of Gwen Stacey and Deadpool who showed up on the variant cover to “Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars” #2, the character image became quite popular with fans. But how do you turn such a thing into an actual character capable of carrying her own comic stories? In lesser hands, this might have been an impossible task. However, in the less sane hands of Christopher Hastings — the creator of “The Adventures of Doctor McNinja” — it actually works out surprisingly well. Hastings hit upon the genius idea of having Gwen Poole be a fangirl from our universe who has found herself in the Marvel Universe. As a result of her encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe and its conventions, she knows that you’re either a hero in a costume or just an extra. So she gets herself a superhero outfit and starts learning the ropes of the hero business firsthand.
She gets off to an unsteady start, stealing a virus from the Black Cat and selling it to Hydra because she needs the money. Which is no problem because the Avengers will take care of it, right? Except they’re in space and now she has to team up with Howard the Duck to get it back. This is only the start of the ridiculousness under Hastings’ watch, and the whole volume is pretty funny and imaginative on balance. I say that because there are the occasional bits of sentimentality and darkness that pop in from time to time. They’re ostensibly there to remind you that there’s more to this book than comedy, but wind up just disrupting the book’s playful tone.
Said tone is best exemplified by the bright, clean art from Gurihiru that really sells the comedy in the series. It’s also enough to make the otherwise fine art from Danilo Beyruth, who handled the back-up stories, look busy and dull by comparison. Which are two things this volume is not. She may have got her start as a tenuous spinoff of “Deadpool,” but “Gwenpool” stands on her own thanks to Hastings’ inspired approach and Gurihiru’s wonderful art.