The Unbelievable Gwenpool #16 Review: Gwen Poole, Now With Shades Of Jon Scalzi's Redshirts!

Earlier this week, I officially became a John Scalzi fan after reading Redshirts, an excellently written science fiction novel. Whether unintentional or not, the new wrinkle in Gwenpool's plot has similar metatextual and philosophical themes. The start of the biggest story arc in the series so far, "Beyond The Fourth Wall", has begun and we're finally seeing Gwen's origin. It's also the most painfully realistic installment in the comic so far, despite the dimension-hopping shenanigans.

At the end of the last issue, Gwen visited her brother Teddy, thinking him to be his comic-book counterpart. He revealed himself to be from the real world and took her back to her home dimension, but at a point in time before she made the leap to Earth-616. It turns out that the house that he was residing in was actually just an outer shell for an interdimensional portal. After he drags her in, the issue starts to get more, shall we say, mundane.

Do all comic book shops look like this? I am strongly reminded of the Vault Of Midnight. Seriously, right when you walk in the door, it's pretty similar to this.
In the real world, it turns out that Gwen really didn't have the best life, partially because of her own actions, but also due to an outside force. Her friends aren't in town, she's dropped out of high school, and she's having trouble finding employment. Although, that last part is partially her own fault, making minimal effort to actually do so. Mostly, she spends a whole lot of time holed up in her comic memorabilia-adorned room, playing video games and thinking of fanfiction ideas, but not being able to follow through on them.

I recently watched some episodes of Atop The Fourth Wall that recapped Exiles. The original name for Atop The Fourth Wall would have been "Beyond The Fourth Wall." That is the name of this storc arc. COINCIDENCE?! -scribbles on chalkboard like a conspiracy theorist-
As I said earlier, it truly is painfully realistic, especially because a large chunk of what Gwen deals with reminds me of being depressed. I know what it feels like to constantly have story ideas but reject them because you don't think you can write them properly. I've experienced the extreme anxiety that comes from having work and school-related tasks to do, but not being sure of how to begin. It is entirely possible that I'm projecting my personal stresses onto the story, but I would be interested to see if anyone else feels the same way.

The latter half of the issue gets slightly more complicated when Teddy reveals that he's promised to stop her from going back to the Marvel world. Several (false?) McGuffins are set up in order to lead the reader on a wild goose chase and obscure the real impetus for Gwen's trip. So far, this is the best issue yet. Almost everything has been leading up to this, all the way from the first issue, and it definitely shows. The amount of work put into the story is staggering, especially with Gwen's personality shift. Even in the early parts of the issue, we see some foreshadowing for how she would act in the comics universe, with the same attitude for fictional characters and responsibility. The next part in the story arrives in two weeks and I'm really excited to see what happens.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #16 is written by Christopher Hastings, drawn by Gurihiru, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.