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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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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See what happens when Gwen gets a symbiote with this exclusive art and commentary!

Symbiotes will continue sweeping the nation in the pages of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #2! The July 12-hitting issue from Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski will shift focus from X-23 in the previous entry to another highly dangerous character: Gwenpool!

After meeting and joining forces with her Symbiote, the new entity dubbed “Venpool” will continue her wild adventures, this time stumbling upon something that will have huge repercussions moving forward into the event. We talked with Strychalski about designing Venpool, working with Hastings, and lending her skills to a big time comic book event.

Marvel.com: Your issue of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE focuses on Gwenpool. How was it integrating the symbiote elements with her existing look?

Irene Strychalski: Gwen has such an animated, over-the-top personality, that my first instinct when designing Venpool was definitely to exaggerate lots of body parts.

I mean, Venom already has some signature elements that are often exaggerated, like the freaky mouth and claws. But I gave Venpool these oversized claw-hands, big dinosaur legs, and a tail; because I felt like no matter how scary the symbiote was, it had to still look somewhat comical on her, and take on some of her traits. Luckily, the editors seemed to like that general direction.

I did have to make some edits, though, since the first draft leaned much more towards the Venom side, with the curly eyes and not much of Gwenpool’s signature cute pink. It started out as something much more sinister looking. [Editor] Devin [Lewis]’s feedback was to aim for a balance between the two characters. Which worked out for the better, of course, because I think a balance of both characters’ narrative tones is how this issue turned out: spontaneous and funny, but with horror slowly creeping in.

Marvel.com: One of the most fun aspects of Gwenpool is that she kind of sees the whole world she’s in as a comic book. How does that play into her view of being Venom-ized?

Irene Strychalski: Well, I think she jumps right into it and uses it to her full advantage! We don’t show her first meeting the symbiote. But I imagine it would not be a difficult adjustment, since she would know what Venom is all about. Both are rather indiscriminate about hurting people in this “fake comic world,” so they actually go together quite well. In a weird, they-are-both-totally-nuts way.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the kind of trouble Gwenpool gets into once she’s joined with the symbiote?

Irene Strychalski: I don’t know how much I can reveal. I think it would be fine to say that, since Gwen doesn’t normally have powers, being joined with the Venom symbiote gives her a lot of abilities that she didn’t have before; which all serves to make her even more brash and impulsive—because that’s totally what she needs. She develops a new crush and has a hard time convincing Venom that they shouldn’t kill everyone other than “The Cute Boy.”

Marvel.com: It’s teased that Gwenpool will come upon something that will be a huge factor in the upcoming event. What can you tell us about the design process for that particular item?

Irene Strychalski: If the something I’m thinking about is the same something that you’re talking about, that thing doesn’t come into play for this issue until the end. It makes quite an impression though. I got creeped out drawing it. It’s a very horror-inducing thing. But since it had a short appearance—and perhaps by it’s nature, too—I didn’t have to do much designing for it.

This is totally cryptic and confusing. But I’m sure the readers will understand once they read the book! The thing is scary.

Marvel.com: How was it working with Christopher on this lead-up to a big event?

Irene Strychalski: I had worked with Chris on a couple of issues of [UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL] before, so I knew I’d be getting a good story. Chris has a wonderful sense of humor and I think especially the way he writes comedy is very visual, so that helps me do my job down the line! [Laughs]

For this particular book I think the script came in after I finalized Venpool’s design, and Chris incorporated some stuff like her dino-tail into the action. Which was pretty cool.

EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #2 merges symbiote and Gwenpool thanks to Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski on July 12!

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Christopher Hastings enrolls Gwen in Kate Bishop’s fan club!

One of the reasons we love following the adventures of Gwenpool: she gets to experience the Marvel Universe the way we all wish we could. She’s a fangirl who gets to meet her favorite characters in real life!

Most recently, our intrepid hero hooked up with Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye, whom she totally loves, of course! We caught up with writer Christopher Hastings in advance of their continuing team-up in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10 about what makes Gwen such a fan.

Mad sleuthing skillz

“First up, gotta recognize pure detective Skillzzz. That’s capital ‘S,’ three ‘z’s. Kate can look at a crowd and instantly know who has good abs, rank who among them has had the best lunches that day, and spot her lurking suspect. She’s like Jason Bourne, but better at knowing where to get good tacos.”

Great Hawkeye, or the greatest Hawkeye?

“Skillzzz Part Two: Bow Skillzzz. Kate can shoot like two or three arrows at once. This does not work in real life, ever. I feel certain there’s a video out there that starts with ‘…and this is Jackass…’ and ends with ‘OH NO! MY EEEEYES! NEVER SHOOT MORE THAN ONE ARROW AT ONCE! THANK GOD! THERE IS THE AMBULANCE.’ But Kate does it all the time! Kate gets bored with conventional archery, and I respect that.

“Bow and arrow based super heroes have a long tradition of ‘trick arrows.’ Kate continues this proud line, but kicks it up with bomb-y pins. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit one billion on why Kate Bishop rules: bomb-y pins. Bobby pins that are also bombs. I rest my case.”

She knows how to rock purple

“Even out of costume, Kate Bishop sticks with her color branding. Purple all the time, yo. And as a lady who wears a lot of pink and white, Gwen would definitely give a nod to Kate’s ability to work her color.”

Overall coolness

“Gwen sees Kate as cool and funny, and probably totally wants to be her. NOTE: Gwen, when you meet Kate, at least try not to come off as a ‘goober fangirl.’ Play it cool!”

Hang with this dynamite duo alongside Christopher Hastings and Myisha Haynes in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10!

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The unlikeliest of candidates gets her shot in The Contest!

Did you have fun wrecking faces with Howard and the Iso-Loader in “Marvel Contest of Champions”? Well now you can take Gwen Poole, comic book trivia queen and all-round ne’er do well, for a spin!

We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Simon Cameron about the blonde bomber and the chaos she’s bringing to Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: So the Collector’s picking up comic book nerds now? Who’s he gonna collect next, me?

Gabriel Frizzera: Nobody is safe. The Collector has noticed you’ve been working out, so you could wake up trapped in a crystal at any point!

Marvel.com: Well thanks for noticing! But Gwenpool’s slightly less conventional than a lot of the other Champions in the game and her particular brand of weird is very Deadpool-y. What makes her special?

Gabriel Frizzera: She does have the Deadpool vibe, but there’s a distinction: she’s just a normal person who’s very knowledgeable in story tropes and Marvel lore. Deadpool is part of the Marvel Universe and can’t help being who he is, while Gwenpool is very methodically manipulating in what she thinks is a fictional universe for her own benefit. And she does that in the game too. She has played [“Marvel Contest of Champions”] in her “real” universe, so she knows how the gameplay goes, and how to exploit it.

Marvel.com: And she’s looking fly in that pink and white. Any special “Contest” flare?

Gabriel Frizzera: She’s such a new character, we wanted to keep her really close to what we have seen in the comics. One thing we paid special attention to was not to make her body idealized: she’s a normal teenage girl playing Super Hero, not a muscled athlete. We also gave her some interesting weapons, like the pink bazooka, the football bomb and the Special-Edition Collector Plushie, which she uses as a shield when blocking.

Marvel.com: Plot Armor sounds like a really interesting ability. Essentially this puts a hard cap on the special damage her opponents can dish out right?

Simon Cameron: It’s actually even better than that. It caps based on her current health. This means once her signature ability is unlocked, Gwenpool can’t be killed by a special attack, though she’ll come really close to death! Turns out knowing all your opponent’s powers and abilities is a pretty big advantage!

Marvel.com: Are there good times to use Gwenpool specifically because of this ability? Maybe in a really tough boss fight?

Simon Cameron: Definitely! Tough boss fights are definitely a place where she can shine. This is especially true for bosses with really scary special attacks.

Marvel.com: What about her other abilities? How do they fit into her kit?

Simon Cameron: The rest of her kit is built around Debuffs. The most important of these is Bleed. She has two different Bleeds: one comes from her basic attacks but is relatively short, the other involves landing a heavy attack on an already bleeding target but lasts a long time.

Her other Debuffs come from her Special Attacks, each with their own—Incinerate, Ennervate, and Armor Break respectively. Then when one of these Debuffs expires, she will remove a Bleed to re-apply her Special Debuffs. She definitely needs to play aggressively to keep lots of Bleeds stacked up. With clever timing of when she applies her Debuffs—you don’t want them to all expire at the same time!—she can stack several of them or keep one Debuff alive for as long as possible.

Marvel.com: And when can we break her out of a crystal and recruit her for ourselves?

Simon Cameron: She’ll be available on January 5!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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