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

What is Marvel Unlimited?

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

What is Marvel Unlimited?

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
What is Marvel Unlimited?

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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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!

Read More

Writer-artist Chip Zdarsky breaks down the special variant series!

Evoking what was once a standard of comics past, a collection of How-To-Draw variant covers will be available across 20 different issues this October—including BLACK PANTHER #166, CAPTAIN MARVEL #125, ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #11, DAREDEVIL #27, and GWENPOOL #21!

Via the artistic tutelage of Chip Zdarsky (writer of PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, STAR-LORD, and HOWARD THE DUCK), readers will get a step-by-step guide to illustrating their favorite characters. How “expert” that artistic tutelage will be…is less certain.

We sat down with Chip and Editor Nick Lowe to chat about how these covers came to life.

Marvel.com: Nick, when was the first time you ever came across a how-to-draw featurette in a comic—and what did it mean to you? And then how did this project come about?

Nick Lowe: The book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way was huge for me back in middle school and high school—and still is today. Let’s be honest: John Buscema is one of the most underrated artists in comic history. He could draw anything and you’d hear these amazing stories about him, but you see how he approached the work and it’s just stunning.

We generally do Sketch Variant covers for our big launches and when PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN came around, it hit me that we could do something a little different…especially with someone as truly bizarre as Chip, our writer. So I emailed Chip and before I knew it he sent in the hilarious How-To-Draw Spider-Man cover. [Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso saw it and loved it and he had the idea to roll it out into all these variants.

Marvel.com: Chip, what did you think when they approached you about this?

Chip Zdarsky: Well, like Nick says, we were gearing up for issue one of Peter Parker and, you know, launching a Spider-Man book is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I told Nick that I’d love to do one of the variant covers.

Marvel.com: Nick, what made Chip the go-to man for these covers? What are his strengths with this kind of work?

Nick Lowe: He’s a very troubled individual, so I knew I could exploit those troubles here. His strengths certainly aren’t art, that’s for sure, but I guess he’s pretty funny.

Marvel.com: Chip, there’s got to be more to this story. What do you remember about the Spidey editorial team’s reaction to your interest in doing a variant for the book?

Chip Zdarsky:  Never heard back. Which, you know, stung, since they had 80-90 variants for issue one. But, I forgave Nick, ‘cause he’s a really busy guy, spending most of his day telling me “no” to my story ideas. So it probably slipped his mind to tell me “no” for my variant.

Then, just before they were sending the covers to the printer, Nick contacted me. He said they were doing one of the blank sketch variants, but that I could maybe write a fun little thing on the back cover before they sent it to the printer. Was it out of pity for me? Probably. Would I exploit that pity? Yeah. Yeah, I would.

So I sent him a How-To-Draw guide for Spidey instead. It seemed to fit in with the theme of the blank covers. Nick loved it and told me I’m his favorite person at Marvel; more than Mark Waid, Dan Slott, his assistant editors Alison and Devin, etc., which was really nice to hear.

So, the Spider-Man cover came out, and people seemed to like it! I figured at that point Marvel would greenlight a How-To-Draw movie and I’d be set for life. But instead, I got a text message from Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief—I call those Axts—telling me that I was now drawing twenty of those covers.

Marvel.com: Nick, do you have a favorite cover?

Nick Lowe:  I love the Lockjaw one a lot. I love the DAREDEVIL one, too. But they’re all so great.

Marvel.com: Chip, do you have a personal favorite?

Chip Zdarsky: I’m pretty happy with the DAREDEVIL one, which has made its way online already. But so far my favorite is the PUNISHER one, ’cause it’s really tricky to capture the soul of a killing machine. But I think I succeeded.

Marvel.com: How long did a typical cover take you to create from beginning to end?

Chip Zdarsky: In a lot of ways, my entire life has been leading to this job, so I would say each one takes a lifetime. Or, like, half an hour. Depending on how you look at it.

Marvel.com: Nick, any chance that something like this could be expanded upon in the future?

Nick Lowe: I sure hope so! I think they’re so fun and I can’t wait for a generation of burgeoning artists to be led down the wrong path! These are the complete inversion of my beloved How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way!

Marvel.com: We’ll give the last words on these variants to the writer-artist—Chip, given a hypothetical chance to do more of these, which other characters would you love to do?

Chip Zdarsky: [Redacted], I guess.

Marvel.com: *sigh*

Keep an eye out for Chip Zdarsky’s How-To-Draw variant covers in stores this October!

Read More

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!

Read More

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!

Read More