Edge of Spiderverse #2 was the infamous Spider-Gwen issue and this issue definitely will not launch a new breakout star. But I appreciate Marvel trying to expand Gwenpool’s presence. She’s managed to keep an on-going longer than most in this fickle environment (#21 is scheduled for December 2017). Also having it be Gwenpool is a nice nod to EoSV #2.
Edge of VenomVerse #2: Gwenpool
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: Irene Strychalski
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C. Artist: Francesco Mattina
Editors: Devin Lewis & Allison Stock
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
If There Was Just One Of You, They’d Be A Boss Battle: Gwen Poole is a real person living in a comic book. She does not have any super powers but she does have a symbiote she uses to fight crime as the mercanary, Gwenpool. We follow her through an average night: fighting mobsters who riddle her with bullets and then Hand ninjas in a team up with the incredible Daredevil. The next day, she goes to work where Matt Murdock is in an meeting with her boss. Gwen sits in on the meeting, doodling herself with an unmasked Daredevil. Her boss takes her notes and the Venom symbiote coerces her into killing him to save Daredevil’s identity, since they are in an alternate universe comic where people do not really matter. Daredevil talks her out of it, but they discover her boss is working with the Hand. Gwen saves Daredevil’s life and inadvertently kills her evil boss. Gwen and Matt flirt after their team up but Matt runs off after Gwen offers to patrol with him. A few moments later, something that looks like a dark Daredevil attacks Gwen. Daredevil returns, but no trace of Gwen Poole remains.
Instead You’re Cannon-Fodder To Show How Strong I Am: Both members of the creative team have worked with Gwen Poole before and the quality of the comic reflects it. Chris Hastings is the series main writer and Irene Strychalski’s first full issue for Marvel was Unbelievable Gwenpool #5 (before going on to do the Clone Conspiracy tie-in for Silk). I am a huge fan of Irene Strychalski’s art and I think Java Tartaglia does an excellent job of coloring her work and making it feel more poppy and animated. Clayton Cowles captions stand out thanks to the unique captions of both Gwen and Venom.
I mentioned in my Silk reviews that Strychalski has a style that feels like a blend between manga and western sequential storytelling and she definitely plays into it here. Stark white backdrops are used to include a heightened sense of isolation during some key moments. There is also a heightened sense of comedy to the art, like the slow opening reveal of Gwenpool’s symbiote costume. I really enjoy Strychalski’s designs for the Venom costume, which kind of turns the symbiote into some kind of shark creature (it also looks a lot like the design of a character in the game, Resident Evil Revelations). There is a nice offset of pink in the symbiote’s design, which takes its design more from Gwenpool than Spider-Man (instead of web-shooters, Venpool swings by a symbiote tail). The excessive cartoony violence and exaggerated design of Venom make this book stand out amongst the three Edge of Venomverse titles out so far.
Chris Hastings’ blend of fangirl obsession and Deadpool-esqe fourth wall breaking is not for me, but I have to admit this is some of the best fourth wall humour I have read in a comic some time. The jokes about ninjas waning in effectiveness the larger the quantity is some great stuff, perfect for a black comedy Daredevil book. In particular, I love how the Venom symbiote uses its awareness to constantly try and coerce kind hearted Gwen Poole into doing despicable things. Unlike the first issue, this Venom symbiote has a full personality and this is one who has not gone on the redemptive path of the Marvel Prime Venom.
I am not sure what happened to Gwen Poole on the final page (I think she is a goner) but it has me a little worried about the nature of these antagonists for VenomVerse. They just seem like shadowy versions of the normal Marvel heroes… which is kind of lazy when your heroes are basically black slimy versions of normal Marvel heroes. There could be a chance that was symbiote Daredevil, but it does not seem likely.
Verdict: This is a funny book, full of vivid backgrounds and cartoony violence. It is not what I expected from this tie-in series, but I like how it feels so different from Edge of VenomVerse #1. The creative team clearly have a solid handle on the character and I enjoyed their take on Venom more than any book I have read since Venom: Space Knight concluded. Here is hoping that the remaining three issues will retain the quality of these first two.
- Creative team get character
- Strong Venom
- Strong violence
- Colorful cartoony art
- A little too much thrown at the reader in the humour department
- Unclear ending/villain design