Written by Mark Henely
Gwenpool is a very odd character that has seemingly been willed into existence by the collective comic book nerd hive mind. The character that she is parodying, Spider-Gwen, was only meant to be in one issue, but proved to be so popular that she got her own series. Gwenpool was only meant to be a joke on a variant cover of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2, but has now been made a regular in the back-ups of Marvel’s Howard the Duck comic book. The Gwenpool Holiday Special #1 is Marvel’s first try at trying to make money off of this grassroots sensation that was birthed in the wake of another grassroots sensation. So, how did they do with it?
Readers of this comic will notice immediately that this comic is more “Holiday” than it is “Gwenpool”. It is an anthology of collected Christmas stories that serve to advertise current comics and re-visit beloved comics that have ended. The main story revolves around a holiday party thrown by the She-Hulk. It lets fans of Charles Soule’s critically acclaimed (cancelled too soon) She-Hulk comic one last story. The side stories are about Ms. Marvel, Deadpool and the Hawkeyes, and Gwenpool (that’s right, Gwenpool is more of a side character in her own Holiday special). The stories are all pretty good and they make good use of the current crop of Marvel characters. While the She-Hulk plot is a little bizarre at times, it is still strong and an interesting read.
The story that I connected to the most was the Ms. Marvel story. The new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is a Muslim girl and so she feels very odd at Christmas time. As guy who grew up Jewish, I related to the way that she feels in this story. I always felt a little out of place when everyone made a big deal about Christmas (a holiday that was not for me). But, Kamala Khan has it worse because she doesn’t have any holiday in December. I at least had Hanukkah. Ms. Marvel’s story is just a very executed human interested story that has superheroes in it.
As for giving this comic a star rating, I think I need to rate it pretty high. The art is strong and the stories were very engaging, but it will lose a few points for the deficiencies in the She-Hulk plot. I never quite understood what the villains in She-Hulk’s story were doing or why they needed magic to do it. I also want to rate it a little lower for not having more Gwenpool. This comic is not what it says it will be and that is misleading to readers. If readers want to know more about Gwenpool, it might be better to check out the current run of Howard the Duck.
8 out of 10 Stars
***Mark Henely is a stand up comedian, podcaster, and comic book fan. He went to Rutgers University where he officially studied English Literature and unofficially studied Marvel and DC Comics. Now he has a podcast where he reviews the first appearances of Comic Book characters. It is called “Introducing… The First Appearance Podcast” and you can check it out on iTunes and Stitcher. You can also follow Mark on Twitter @MarkHenely***