Banner Art by Gurihiru
Okay, I know literally two days ago I just praised the use of Gwenpool in Champions #5, but that does not change the fact that she is on the whole a terrible character. She’s a third generation rip-off character, being a rip-off of Harley Quinn whose modern incarnation is a ripoff of Deadpool who is an amalgamated rip-off of Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Deathstroke the Terminator.
For real though, it’s like Marvel couldn’t stand that Harley Quinn was becoming popular as a new Deadpool, and they had to make their own Harley Quinn, which is Deadpool with the T&A factor.
Okay, I know I’ve beat this drum with both Wonder Woman and Starfire already, but I have to go at it again with Gwenpool. She is Deadpool with her ass hanging out. In fact, it’s a little creepier with Gwenpool as opposed to Harley Quinn. Whereas Harley Quinn merely behaves like a small child, Gwenpool looks to be about 15. Whether or not that is her intended age in the comic, that is how she is made to appear.
Now, I cannot stress this enough, I’m not a Puritan who believes that sexuality should be hidden or restrained. I believe that this country has a lot of odd and damaging hang-ups about sexuality. I’m not criticizing sexuality or feminine sexuality. I’m criticizing comic books using the female body to sell copies. Comic books have exploited their female characters for their base biological attractiveness to sell comics to horny teenage boys for a long time.
Don’t get me wrong; comics have come a long way. The new costumes for Captain Marvel, Spider Woman, Star Sapphire, and Batgirl are definitely improvements on their past garbs (though I did like the armor-like New 52 Batgirl costume a lot).
It’s here that I feel inclined to talk about “tastefully sexual” costumes. Frankly, I don’t feel too comfortable behaving like an expert on what that looks like. I just know Gwenpool’s costume is not that.
I guess, if pressed, I would cite Storm’s modern costume, Catwoman’s costumes (though her salacious femme fatale character informs her costumes being appropriate for her), Raven’s old dress, Black Canary’s modern costume, and Zatanna’s stage magician costumes, though those last two are pushing into the realm of objectification.
It doesn’t help that Gwen Stacy is famous for one thing, and, well, it’s not a great look to suddenly take advantage of that notoriety with this sexualized, lol-so-random, fourth-wall-breaking, juvenile character.
Let’s not mince words, Gwen Stacy is popular for having been Spider-Man’s girlfriend who got brutally killed by the Green Goblin. She’s not remembered for this transcendent girlfriend character in super hero comics. Her death provided this “soft reboot” for Spider-Man back in the day, and it changed the trajectory of the Wall Crawler for some time after. In short, she died to make Spider-Man cry. I’m not criticizing the Death of Gwen Stacy story with this. I get how and why that happened. I’m criticizing modern Marvel for exploiting that character with Gwenpool and those weird freaking Monster-Gwen variant covers to some of the Monsters Unleashed tie-in comics.
To contrast this, I will say that I quite like Spider-Gwen. I think that is a unique and interesting flipping of the victim narrative of Gwen Stacy. That was a good idea. Gwenpool was really, really not. And no, the fact that her name is “Gwen Poole” does not deflect the fact that she is a take on Gwen Stacy.
I do realize that a lot about her personality is actually aimed at a female audience. However, it really is undercut by her ass sticking out at every interval. I am cogent to the fact that some women might be given confidence by the skimpy costume. To that, I really don’t have a comeback. You do you. I am not going to tell you to not like someone. I may suggest better characters who are in some ways similar to Gwenpool like Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel. I would also point them to better characters who are empowered by sexuality like Catwoman, Batwoman, and Poison Ivy.
This discussion has been a bit meandering. There is more to be said here, but I don’t want to be repeating myself too much when I move onto my last two entries. While trying to not spoil too much, the last three characters on this list commit a lot of the same sins. To summarize what else Gwenpool specifically does wrong: she’s not funny, her humor is juvenile, and the fourth-wall breaking trope is really not funny or entertaining when it’s done poorly or too often. The cutesiness of her character would help some, but it is at odds with everything else about her character. Honestly, the parts of her character that connect her to Deadpool are the things that drag her down the most. She seems to be a bit more well-meaning in her intent than Deadpool, but the wanton destruction, chaotic personality, and tendency towards indiscriminate murder counteract that greatly.
Also, Deadpool Duck or Duckpool or whatever has to get a dishonorable mention here. I have to pair the him with Gwenpool because they’re siblings in bastard offspringhood. They both suck, and they are both taking the Deadpool craze to its perverse and obnoxious final endpoint.