Christopher Hastings on how Gwen will handle one of Marvel's most intimidating characters.

Ever since finding herself in the Marvel Universe, Gwen Poole has wanted to be a hero. But the MU threw some roadblocks in her way. Now, as her battle with Doctor Doom approaches in THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #23 on December 6, she’ll definitely have to step up her hero game!

We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about what we can expect to see in this throw down.

Marvel.com: Gwen will soon go up against Doctor Doom, so she’s really in the big leagues now. And she wants to prove herself a hero. How will she handle it?

Christopher Hastings: Since Gwen first arrived in the Marvel Universe, she knew she was in a comic book. But due to an unsuccessful magical conspiracy to boot her out of the comic, her awareness has expanded to a higher level where she can actually see and interact with the physical comic book pages.

Gwen wants to prove her worth to with these powers, so her big plan is basically to shove Doctor Doom off the comics panel, into the white space limbo of the gutter. She thinks it will remove him from the Marvel universe.

Marvel.com: We’d of course consider Doom a formidable villain. But Gwen has the ability to mess with reality. Without giving too much away, how will that power help her take on Doom?

Christopher Hastings: Well here we run into the real trouble with Gwen’s powers. It used to be that her big leg up on the characters around her were that she knew their secrets and their backstories, having read them. But Gwen hasn’t been able to read any of the comics since she got to the Marvel universe, which means she never found out that Doctor Doom is trying to redeem himself. The ability to mess with reality, a la re-arranging panels and word balloons and such is supremely dangerous without the responsible knowledge of how it’s fully affecting those she uses it on.

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, Gwen knows everyone’s secrets.  She may not know as much about his present story, but does she have any secret knowledge that will help her fight him?

Christopher Hastings: Gwen has some cynicism regarding Doom’s face turn. She’s familiar with the cycle of story arcs. She believes Doom will return to villainy some day, and with her new powers over space and time within comics, she might be able to prove it.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about the experience of writing Doom for a book like GWENPOOL, where you’re constantly breaking the fourth wall in big ways?

Christopher Hastings It was a lot of fun bouncing the two of them off of each other, as Doom is SO self-serious and Gwen just likes to poke holes in everything.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention anything else coming up for GWENPOOL?

Christopher Hastings There’s a fun time travel mechanic that Irene [Strychalski] and I worked out within issue #22 that shows how Gwen can travel between the panels for a “do-over” at a scene, but it also shows the limits of that ability too. I love getting to explore new aspects of Gwen’s powers in each issue, and this one is particularly neat.

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Marvel’s favorite reality manipulator stumbles into the therapist’s office.

The client in question, a Gwen Poole, stumbled into the office, unannounced, around the middle of the day. Given her presentation—her costume is very reminiscent of Deadpool, and she goes by Gwenpool while in, which she insists is a result of an accidental conflation of her real name to an alias—staff and security immediately attempted to turn her away. As detailed in several different incident reports, lawsuits, and 9-1-1 calls, the mercenary known as Deadpool has threatened this writer on several occasions and has forced staff and this writer to provide him and partners of this service numerous times.

Eventually, all in the office were able to work out that despite appearance and name, Poole has no relationship or connection to Deadpool. Thus, against my better judgment, I elected to allow her to wait in reception for a possible no-show or cancelation. When one occurred, this writer invited her in for a standard intake.

Despite her lack of connections to Deadpool, it quickly became apparent that the client shares more than a look and a name with him. She espoused—multiple times—attitudes and beliefs that would not have seemed out of character being said by that aforementioned mercenary.

However, this writer is very aware that it is unhelpful to treat the client in front of you like anyone else—especially someone you feel active antipathy towards—so I pushed beyond these initial judgments and explored the client’s perspectives and experiences with more depth.

Most concerning is the client’s stated belief that the world she currently exists in is not her own but rather a sort of comic book universe come to life that she had, prior to her arrival in our world, had been reading in installments and collections. As a result, she tends to think of this world as fictional. While she admits she has “grown” some since her arrival, she still defaults to thinking the people around her, especially those who are not super heroes or villains, “do not count.” 

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #1

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #1

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As a result of this attitude, she believes herself to have an advantage over many. For instance, she indicated she knew the secret identities of many costumed heroes and villains, and listed off several of them. Without naming names, she appeared to be overwhelming accurate, at least in comparison to the knowledge this writer possesses. Because she has this “inside” information and knows “how” this universe works, she believes she is in a position to take advantage of such things.  

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #16

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #16

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All of this being said, she confessed that things have become far more serious than she expected. Her first friend was killed before her and did not return to life as she expected although he was with her for a time after that as a ghost. She has suffered injuries and she continues to be frustrated by her struggle to improve her physical abilities, two things she expected to be easy given her perception of the “rules” of our world.

What is more distressing is she increasingly feels she is not allowed to be good. She admits she first arrived with little interest in anything but making money and having fun. However, after speaking to someone she described as “noir duck guy,” she reshaped her attitude somewhat and decided to pursue being a true hero. Yet, every attempt she makes to do so, she insists, leads to her running afoul of the law in some way, whether it be ending up a henchman of M.O.D.O.K., losing control of M.O.D.O.K.’s organization she seized and then tried to use for good, or fighting a Dr. Doom that, to quote her, “apparently is a hero now?!”  

Howard the Duck (2015) #1

Howard the Duck (2015) #1

  • Published: November 04, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 02, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: Chip Zdarsky
  • Cover Artist: Joe Quinones
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While people displaced from other realities into our own is not unusual, the client’s insistence that this is what has happened to her may also be evidence of a delusional disorder. As always, this writer tries to give each client the benefit of the doubt but the pervasiveness of her perspective combined with her belief she is somehow being compelled to be bad means that I cannot afford to ignore the possibility of a delusion disorder entirely as there might be a strong chance of her being a danger to herself or others.

To that end, I have referred her to Doctor Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski who are experts in evaluating individuals for what they’ve labeled “Reality Displacement Distress Syndrome.” When we have those results, we will be better able to evaluate how to proceed.

That appointment is scheduled for December 6 and all notes can be found in folder UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #23.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who’s ideal alternate dimension would allow him to have a monocle and top hat wearing talking manatee for a partner in crime solving.

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Christopher Hastings explains why Gwen won’t stand a chance against the Doctor!

Gwenpool taking on Doctor Doom seems like a bad idea…but nobody told her that!

Both writer Christopher Hastings and artist Irene Strychalski have made themselves complicit in this ominous setup for Gwen—and on November 8, in GWENPOOL #22, we’ll find out just how bad things will get for the fourth wall-shattering super hero.

Ahead of the showdown, we had Hastings analyze six reasons why taking on Victor Von Doom won’t end well for Gwenpool.

Doctor Doom has long proven himself to be a master of technology.

“Yeah—and Gwen’s pretty much limited to whatever she can buy or steal,” the writer acknowledges, “Doom has the advantage here!”

Victor Von Doom has also demonstrated an incredible talent with sorcery.

“And Gwen knows none! However, Gwen’s awareness that she exists in a comic book has reached new levels, granting her the ability to manipulate the panels and pages, or as everyone else sees it, reality itself.” Though he admits, “She’s still figuring it out.”

The Doctor does not enjoy facing lighthearted or wacky opponents.

“Gwen infuriates Doom—which may inspire a swift end to this battle,” teases the writer.

He seems pretty committed to being a good guy nowand Gwenpool hasn’t been great at committing to the concept of “hero.”

“Gwen likes the idea of being a hero, but she’s just learning to be a decent person in the Marvel Universe—that’s been a slow and painful process. But I’d say the same for Doom. Their difficulties ‘trying to be better’ manifest themselves very differently, but I can see some parallels.”

Given that Gwen remains relatively new to the Marvel Universe, she might have missed that Doom no longer stands as the number one baddie around.

Christopher agrees: “This might be a major issue. Gwen showed up at some point around Secret Wars, which means she has not read any comics since then—she still thinks she’s going up against classic Von Doom.”

Doctor Doom has been one of the most disciplined figures in the Marvel Universe for years. Gwen…not so much.

“Yeah, Gwen carries swords around but I don’t think she’s learned anything about how to wield them since the one time she watched some YouTube tutorials.”

Well…good luck, Gwen!

GWENPOOL #22, by Christopher Hastings and artist Irene Strychalski, throws down on November 8!

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Christopher Hastings previews a Marvel Legacy showdown with Doom!

On October 11, UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #21 sees everyone’s favorite comic-manipulating character meet her doom…Victor von Doom!

Written by Christopher Hastings with art by Irene Strychalski, Gwen joins the age of Marvel Legacy by coming head to head with one of the most iconic baddies in the Marvel Universe. Gwenpool brings her best—breaking fourth walls and fighting Doctor Doom—in chapter one of this two-part story!

We spoke with Christopher Hastings to get a sense of what Gwenpool gets herself into with issue #21.

Marvel.com: How does Gwen match up against Victor von Doom?

Christopher Hastings: Right now, Gwen’s greatest strength comes from her newfound ability to see and interact with the actual elements of the comics page. She can walk out of a panel and jog back through the gutter space to travel through time. She can tear up pages. She can grab word balloons out of the air. Basically, she’s learned to manipulate the reality that Doom exists in—as powerful as he may be inside of it.

Marvel.com: What are her limitations in this fight?

Christopher Hastings: As I said, she’s still learning these powers. She often gets surprised by their limits—and to Doom, she may appear to just be some sort of low-level reality manipulating sorcerer, while he’s a master of magic.

Marvel.com: Why does Gwenpool want fight Doom in the first place?

Christopher Hastings: Throughout Gwenpool’s series, she’s been dying to be on the same level as her favorite heroes, but she continues to get stuck in the trenches with those she perceives as third-rate—Howard the Duck, M.O.D.O.K., Batroc the Leaper, Vincent the old Doombot that wears a sweater vest. Gwen wants to prove she’s important in this world and she’s decided that means tangling with the biggest baddie she can find.

Marvel.com: What are the dynamics between these two like at the start of issue #21?

Christopher Hastings: Well, you and I know that Doctor Doom might be kind of a good guy these days! Gwen doesn’t know that yet, because his conversion happened around the same time Gwen landed in the Marvel Universe and lost access to the comics. So Doom wants to make amends for his legacy and grow beyond it—but Gwen wants the righteous baddie she thinks she deserves to fight. And with her new access to certain elements of comic book reality, she might be able to get just that…

UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #21, by Christopher Hastings and artist Irene Strychalski, drops on October 11!

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Writer Christopher Hastings catches us up on a long-lost Groot!

I AM GROOT has been a wild ride so far! Catapulted into a strange new dimension, Groot got separated from the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. No one on his new planet understands a word he says (well, they can understand three) and he’s stuck in his vulnerable—though adorable—baby form. So, what’s a tree to do?

Find out, as I AM GROOT #5, by writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, launches on September 27!

Groot’s nearly home—but an ancient and unspeakable horror blocks his way back to his friends. Will he get back to the Guardians? Who, or more urgently, what could this mysterious villain be? I am Groot!?

Let’s ask Christopher Hastings to find out more!

Marvel.com: How’s Groot been faring recently? How close is he to getting back home?

Christopher Hastings: Groot is so close to opening the Forgotten Door—the door that will return him across the universe to the Guardians of the Galaxy! Now, the question is…will opening that door destroy the world of Terminal and kill the new friends he met there?

Marvel.com: There’s such a unique visual style and tone to this book. What were your inspirations?

Christopher Hastings: I tried to make this book feel a lot like the scarier children’s fantasies I grew up with—with weird monsters and locations, and a general sense of unease. The world can be a scary place for a kid and I like a story that acknowledges and respects that. So I tried to make frightening, strange scenes—with a mystery for Groot to unlock that ties them all together!

Marvel.com: What was your process in coming up with the “ancient unspeakable horror” through line in this book?

Christopher Hastings: I’ll confess, this horror might have been spoken about before. Throughout I AM GROOT, the inhabitants of Terminal have known some dreadful force brought terror to their world a long time ago, and they must not let it back in. I thought it would be fun if that scary thing might be something familiar to the folks all the way back on Earth, too. A baddie that really gets around, you know?

Marvel.com: That’s a lot for one little living twig to deal with. How has Groot been handling this first solo adventure? 

Christopher Hastings: It’s been pretty scary! But even though Groot’s a little guy, he finds that old strength in him when he needs it. At one point he even makes a connection to his larger, older self, which plays a big part across issue #4 and issue #5 of the series—as the two of them meet across time!

Marvel.com: What was the most challenging aspect of creating this book? The most rewarding aspect?

Christopher Hastings: The biggest challenge has been riding that line between mysterious and confusing. [Laughs] But thanks to the fantastic artists and editors on this book, I think we got it right. And the most rewarding thing has been seeing the awesome interpretation that our artists, Flaviano and Marcio Menyz, brought to the material.

Marvel.com: Any fun stories from the making of I AM GROOT?

Christopher Hastings: I had to start writing this before “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” came out in theaters, so I was very nervous to see if there would be any huge glaring differences between the baby Groot in the movie and the baby Groot in my comic. And I’m a bit surprised to have found out that maybe…I could have made Groot a bit more mischievous!

Marvel.com: But the cuteness—the cuteness is spot-on.

Explore I AM GROOT #5, by Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, on September 27!

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Christopher Hastings and Jay Fosgitt on a Legacy spoof of the Universe!

In the swingin’ Silver Age of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee poked fun at his characters—and those of his competitors—in a crazy, totally unique book called NOT BRAND ECHH.

On November 15, Marvel Legacy revives Stan’s tradition with NOT BRAND ECHH # 14! Christopher Hastings, Nick Spencer, Jay Fosgitt, and more contribute stories that toy with the Marvel Universe in a manner not seen since 1969’s issue #13!

We spoke with Christopher and Jay about what readers might expect from the resurrection of this one-of-a-kind Marvel comic.

Marvel.com: What are your outlooks on the role NOT BRAND ECHH plays in Marvel history?

Christopher Hastings: I have always loved parody and satire that comes from a place of appreciation and enjoyment. I think it’s fun to goof on a character because you have an in-depth understanding and love for it. NOT BRAND ECHH completely exists in that tradition—and I’m delighted to get in on the fun.

Jay Fosgitt: I’ve been a fan of NOT BRAND ECHH for as long as I’ve been a fan of Marvel! The satirical, cartoonish goofiness served as an inspiration for my own humor, and I look forward to giving back to that proud goofball legacy!

Marvel has always had a humorous vein running through its pathos; NOT BRAND ECHH was that vein dug out and allowed to spill a torrent of hilarity upon readers. In the ‘60s, when so much in society was tumultuous, we needed those laughs. And it seems that Forbush Man saw our current tumultuous climate, as he’s come back to save us with laughs in these crazy days!

Marvel.com: Forbush Man returns! What was it like writing him?

Jay Fosgitt: For my stories, I see Forbush Man as a narrator telling stories through his dented pot-topped viewpoint. There will be familiarity squeezed out of a satirical tube!

Marvel.com: Christopher, a character you know very well, Gwenpool, will feature in the book—it seems like she’ll fit right in.

Christopher Hastings: Gwenpool is a pretty silly idea, but throughout THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL, we tried to bring a lot of heart and depth to her. For this story…we’re just going to stick to acknowledging the absurdity of her creation.

Marvel.com: What’s your approach to writing comedy for a book like this?

Christopher Hastings: I don’t think about comedy too much when I’m outlining; I just look for story beats at that stage. But when it comes time to actual scripting, my brain gets pretty jumpy, pointing out absurdities, funnier ways of doing scenes instead of just playing them “straight,” adding commentary that could happen. So I usually just let the comedy come pretty naturally at that point.

Jay Fosgitt: Playing with Marvel’s cast of characters allows me to lampoon even more than most of my past work—mixing pop culture references and tropes with these iconic characters. When you can poke fun at the characters you grew up with, there’s as much love as laughter in the storytelling, and that means everything to me!

Writers Christopher Hastings, Jay Fosgitt, Nick Spencer, and more present NOT BRAND ECHH #14, with art by Gurihiru, Jay Fosgitt himself, and others, on November 15!

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Figure out where in the galaxy this Guardian has gone with writer Christopher Hastings!

Groot the living tree—a tiny baby tree at the moment—has become lost in space. In the first arc of the new I AM GROOT series from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, the Flora Colossus finds himself separated from his team and trapped on a strange and menacing planet where no one can understand a word he says.

I AM GROOT is the story of our diminutive hero finding his way home from a brave new world, and learning about himself in the process. We tapped Hastings for more…

Marvel.com: So tell us a little about this planet our tiny hero has been trapped on in I AM GROOT? What or who stands in the way of Groot getting home?

Christopher Hastings: [In] issue #2, we see that the planet is very strange. It’s old, its original culture and society forgotten. The people that live there now carry hints to what life used to be like, but they’re so far removed, they don’t know why. Groot has to discover the planet’s old ways, and how seemingly unconnected events, landmarks, and people all play together in order to unlock the way home.

The main force trying to stop Groot is a man we only know as The Administrator, someone who very much does not want Groot upsetting the order of the planet in order to leave this dimension and get back to the Guardians. He’s aided by an army of shape shifting service robots [who travel via] connected underground tunnels—so they can pop up anywhere [at any time].

Marvel.com: Groot is kind of like a planet himself, made of grass and rocks and wood. If Groot is a planet, is he trapped on a sort of macrocosm of himself?

Christopher Hastings: Macrocosm is an apt word! The story of the planet scales up from and runs parallel to Groot’s own journey right now, as someone who is trapped at a small size, unable to fulfill his purpose and grow.

I definitely agree that Groot has traditionally represented the duality of nature. It is life giving—or nurturing—but can flip and be total power, stronger and fiercer than any human. I think that makes Groot appealing, putting a face on nature.

Marvel.com: Usually Groot is selfless, giving help and support—literally and figuratively—to his friends. But now that he’s alone, what does this story mean for him and his growth as a character?

Christopher Hastings: I think the story of Groot’s literal growth is being handled in the main [ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY] book. But this arc in I AM GROOT is more about emotional growth, adjusting Groot’s mindset for that eventual return to adulthood. [It’s] a “child stuck in a strange and scary land” kind of space fairy tale, with little notes of meditation on Groot’s current arrested development.

Also there are the creepy robots.

Marvel.com: Besides the obvious—i.e. the language barrier—how does Groot stand out from the other super heroes in Marvel’s roster for worse or for better?

Christopher Hastings: Well, right now he really stands out because he’s a super-powered toddler. I don’t believe the Avengers currently has any of those in their ranks. Little Groot is a ton of fun, just very impulsive, and we get a lot of great reactions out of him thanks to Flaviano’s artwork. As for downsides, he’s certainly not as powered up as full size, so we have to get creative with how he uses his abilities.

Marvel.com: The current incarnation of Groot is a fairly new character. Is this series about him finding himself?

Christopher Hastings: That’s very much what we’re trying to do here! It’s why I thought it important to get him away from the Guardians. He has to make this journey alone, and he’ll see pieces of himself in these other new characters he meets along the way.

Join the journey with I AM GROOT #3 by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano, out July 26!

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Gwen’s about to let somebody’s secret out—who’s the unlucky hero?

Gwen Poole loves the Marvel Universe as much as we do, and she never wants to cause problems for her favorite super heroes. Nonetheless, she makes her share of missteps that result in some sticky situations for those in her orbit.

In the upcoming UNBELIEVEABLE GWENPOOL #18 on July 26, Gwen unintentionally blurts out someone’s secret identity. But whose? We ran our top five guesses past writer Christopher Hastings.

Marvel.com: Kate Bishop—The two teamed up recently, and Gwen totally had a fangirl moment, so we wouldn’t call it surprising if she let it slip that she’d met her. Kate doesn’t necessarily keep her identity a secret, but as a P.I., she doesn’t want someone like Gwen advertising what she gets up to.

Christopher Hastings: Gwen could definitely make things rough for Kate by telling the wrong person something about Kate’s past; but as how Gwen kind of annoys a lot of heroes, I like having one person she can just get along with. We’re gonna keep Gwen and Kate pals for now.

Marvel.com: Miles Morales—We saw Gwen meet up with Miles on the subway, and they had an awkward moment when she had to make up an excuse explaining how she knew his identity. We could see Gwen forgetting that she’s not supposed to know that.

Christopher Hastings: Miles is a solid choice, as he has some real stakes to keep his face hidden. But Gwen’s super hero screw-up the last time they “teamed up” made a pretty serious impression. Gwen’s learning to do better in comic world, and she started that path with Spidey tying her up for the cops.

Marvel.com: Jane Foster—Early on, we saw Gwen call Jane by her name, rather than Thor. Although it looks like Jane will soon reveal her identity to the Odinson, she still doesn’t want other people knowing it. Especially with the new Ultimate Thor in town.

Christopher Hastings: I could see Gwen spoiling Jane’s identity out of some desire to “help out” with all of the spiraling madness around the Thors. But as we can speak truthfully about meta stuff with Gwen—kind of her thing—I think Gwen as a reader would not be pleased to be reading Thor for so long only to have some random crossover mercenary character jump in and ruin it.

Unbelievable Gwenpool #18 cover by Gurihiru

Marvel.com: Kamala Khan—With everything going on with the F.R.I.E.N.D.L.Y. creeps in Jersey City, who want to uncover the identities of people with powers, a slip-up from someone like Gwen could have serious ramifications.

Christopher Hastings: [Laughs] I have nothing to add to this one! It would indeed be very bad for Kamala at this moment for Gwen to pop into her life. Maybe this is it? I won’t say!

Marvel.com: Riri Williams—Riri and her teammates have found themselves in the middle of some intense stuff lately in the fight against Hydra. So Riri definitely doesn’t want her identity leaked right now!

Christopher Hastings: Here is an interesting case. Riri became Ironheart after Gwen arrived in the Marvel Universe. Gwen might be able to guess, but she never got to read Riri in [INVINCIBLE IRON MAN], and wouldn’t know for sure.

Marvel.com: Herself—Ok, it’s probably not this one, but we can have fun speculating. We’ve seen Gwen telling people for a long time now that she comes from a place where the Marvel Universe exists only in comics, but no one seems to listen. And she just literally broke through the fourth wall, discovering seemingly infinite mirror versions of herself. If one of those Gwens finally convinced others in the MU about the truth of where she comes from, it could really cause chaos.

Christopher Hastings: Hmmm, yes now that Gwen is discovering the link between the way that time works in comics as being physical space on the page, she might be able to grab future or past versions of herself simply by reaching one panel over. And that would indeed convince people she’s maybe on to something with this comics world stuff! We shall see…

Get the answers for yourself on July 26 in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #18 from Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru!

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Christopher Hastings goes down a wormhole with the tiniest Guardian!

Don’t call him a sapling! He may be 1/12th his usual size, but he’s still the universe’s most powerful walking, talking tree. He is Groot!

Alone at the far side of the cosmos, unable to find the rest of the Guardians, and really, really small—that’s where we’ll find the galaxy’s most lovable piece of timber on May 24 with the start of the brand-new series I AM GROOT!

With writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano at the helm, the three-word wonder jumps headfirst into his own adventure as an underdeveloped, unintelligible, and very unlikely hero. To find out more, we spoke with Hastings about the difficulties—and unexpected benefits—of writing Groot.

Marvel.com: What’s the greatest challenge of writing Groot given his signature three word limit?

Christopher Hastings: Well that’s the challenge right there, he can’t quite express complex ideas the same way w’’re used to with the fancy language we communicate with every day. But with some body language, and the occasional assist from another character in the book translating for him, Groot can communicate all the base level important stuff we need in a story.

Marvel.com: And since there’s nothing else like it in comics, what’s the greatest advantage that Groot’s linguistic style brings to a story?

Christopher Hastings: It is a great relief to drop the need for a snappy protagonist who always has the right zinger. But that’s just for me! I’d say in the story, it is nice to change the focus to physicality, to non-verbal expression. Comics is a visual medium after all, so I like to see a character communicate in a purely visual fashion.

I Am Groot #2 cover by Marco D’Alfonso

Marvel.com: He might not say much, but he has such a defined personality. How would you describe Groot’s characteristics as this series begins?

Christopher Hastings: He’s a kid who is just enjoying being a kid. Now, he’s doing that in the most hazardous conditions that space adventure would suggest, so it causes a good amount of trouble. He gets separated from the Guardians, and he’s scared and alone in a place where nobody can understand him, that draws out a few characters that are pretty hostile to Groot for reasons unknown. So he’s still really impulsive, and curious and just running all over the place, but he’s trying to figure out how to get home.

Marvel.com: One of the greatest elements of any Groot story is witnessing other characters interact with—and attempt to understand—Groot. So who might we see hanging with the tree in this new series? How would you describe the dynamic they bring to the book?

Christopher Hastings: Groot’s first ally is some kind of alien dog’s head on a robot body named Buddy, because who doesn’t love a doggie buddy, especially in space? Buddy’s helpful, but dim, frustrating Groot’s issues with communication. Later on we meet Dhamsus, kind of a Ron Swanson type space farmer/ice elemental, and Diplatessa, a woman split into multiple versions of herself at different points in life. They all want to help Groot, and find that Groot awakens them out of a sort of complacency they had on this dead and corrupted world Groot lands on. Each one of them ties into the mystery of the planet’s past, and its key to reuniting Groot with the Guardians.

Also there’s a swarm of shape shifting robots set out to trick and capture Groot at every turn. They’re creepy!

I AM GROOT #1, by writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, is available this week on May 24, with issue #2 following June 28!

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Writer Christopher Hastings books Gwen a trip back to her own dimension!

In the upcoming UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16—due out May 31 from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Gurihiru—we find our favorite, pink-clad hero back in her home dimension and pining for the Marvel Universe. Because honestly, who wouldn’t choose to live in the world of comics if they had the choice?

We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about some of the main differences between Gwen’s native universe and the MU—and some of the things that make the “real world” so much less exciting.

A distinct lack of super heroes

Christopher Hastings: The biggest difference between the Marvel Universe and the “real world” that Gwen is from, is that there are no super heroes here, er…there. No vampires, no giant world-eating aliens, and I think the reason people are still so excited about Nikola Tesla is because he’s the closest thing the real world ever had to an actual wizard.

Less fancy science

Christopher Hastings: This brings me to the second major difference between the MU and the RW—real world. Technologically and scientifically speaking, the real world is far less advanced than the Marvel one. When was the last time you saw a helicarrier flying overhead? And that’s like one of the easy ones! Doctor Doom has been mixing magic into Tony Stark’s technology lately, and we can barely design a robot that can reliably walk around on two legs without falling over.

Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 cover by Gurihiru

Dead really, really means dead

Christopher Hastings: Many Marvel characters who have died have come back to life, in a variety of ways. Cloning, magic, time travel, alternate realities; there are so many ways for a dead person to stop being dead in the MU. As I write this in May of 2017, there has yet to be a single person who has figured out how to come back to life in the real world. It is frankly one of the bigger bummers of living here.

Boring clothes

Christopher Hastings: In the Marvel Universe, I’m going to guess that every tenth person wears some sort of spandex outfit. And they wear it every day. There are far fewer costumes here, and usually you only see them at conventions. I think the real world could use more costuming. Let’s see that start to happen, everyone.

The daily grind

Christopher Hastings: Even a normal girl like Gwen Poole can find herself in far more extraordinary circumstances in the Marvel Universe than she’s used to. Back in the real world, there’s just a whole lot less fighting, laser fire avoiding, and yelling at flying people than Gwen goes through in her time in the Marvel one. But that isn’t to say there isn’t mystery and intrigue. In an adventure that sends Gwen back, what will readers discover about Gwen’s family, and the secret of how Gwen got to the MU in the first place?

Follow along as Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru unfurl the mystery and intrigue with UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16 on May 31!

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