Review by Frank Plowright
Since the beginning of her series Gwenpool has been a self-aware personality, certain she’s become a character in a series of comics, and during the events of Beyond the Fourth Wall she learned how that worked. In effect, it’s given her a new set of abilities, being able to move herself and others beyond the panel borders of a traditional page of comics and into the gutters between. It’s all startlingly conceptual for a Marvel superhero comic, and perhaps Christopher Hastings deserves a little more credit for that.
Still, his primary purpose with Gwenpool is to provide a funny superhero story, and back with that Gwen decides that after dealing with a couple of minor villains, she deserves more respect and her place should be with the Avengers. Except, how to attract their attention? Ridding the world of Doctor Doom ought to do the trick. Hastings is clever with this also. It seems to be an irrelevance that when published, after sixty years of being Marvel’s most megalomaniacal villain, Doom was temporarily repentant, yet at first we’re treated to the known arrogance and pomposity. After that, however, Hastings continues to break the wall between character and reader in becoming existential as well as surreal and conceptual. It’s clever, has barely been touched on before in superhero comics, and, again, Hastings deserves credit for that, eventually moving the plot toward Gwen’s overwhelming fear that she’ll be unable to avoid her own cancellation. That’s real superhero tragedy.
Once again the Gurihiru art team draw most of the book, and once again the cartooning is wonderful. For all the conceptual matters Gwenpool is intended as funny, and they bring that out beautifully while still giving Gwen the necessary sadness if required. Irene Strychalski’s illustrations filling in are fine, but more traditional cartooning, and with some stiff figures.
As inventive and innovative as Lost in the Plot is, it’s not the Gwenpool graphic novel to start with. Introductory pages offer a synopsis, but it reads far better after Beyond the Fourth Wall, where full explanations are provided in a novel way. The Unbelievable Gwenpool has experienced minor blips, but as a five volume series it’s been innovative, creative and great fun.