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Comic book character, created by Chris Bachalo and Christopher Hastings for Marvel Comics. She is a fourth-wall-breaking, reality-warping combination of Deadpool and Gwen Stacy who wouldn't even exist without comic geeks' obsessions and comics publishers' addictions to flash-in-the-pan variant covers. 

To understand Gwenpool and her creation, you have to be familiar with a couple different characters -- and with a common scheme comics publishers use to sell extra comics.

As for the characters, there is, first, Deadpool, Wade Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth, a wisecracking mutant assassin whose improbable popularity eventually pushed him into movie superstardom. And second, there's Spider-Gwen, an alternate-universe version of Gwen Stacy who managed to acquire spider-powers instead of Peter Parker and whose own improbable popularity had comics fans demanding as much Spider-Gwen content as Marvel could shovel at them.

The money-making scheme is what's commonly known as the variant cover. When you buy a comic book, it comes with, of course, a cover featuring artwork of the characters inside the book. But periodically, the publisher will produce variant covers of the comics, with different artwork on the cover. All the content inside is the same -- the only difference is the cover. There are plenty of comics collectors who love these, either because they're completionists, who want to own every possible version of a comic, or they're speculators, who think the variant covers will be more valuable in the future, or they're just fans who like the look of the variant and are willing to shell out some extra cash to have a comic with a cool cover. 

Marvel Comics does a lot of variant covers. Sometimes, they all feature art by one specific artist. Sometimes, they feature a specific character, even on covers of comics they don't appear in. Sometimes, they have a theme -- depicting characters as action figures or recreating well-known hip hop album covers. Marvel did a lot of covers that featured Deadpool doing something to pester the main characters of the comic. They do plenty of character mash-ups, too -- a whole month of superheroes afflicted with gamma radiation overdoses or alien symbiotes

So in June 2015, after the breakout success of Spider-Gwen, Marvel planned a month of variant covers featuring superheroes mixed with Gwen Stacy. There was Gwen as Captain America, Gwen as Iron Man, Gwen as Dr. Strange, Gwen as Wolverine, Gwen as Thor, even Gwen as Groot. And on the cover of Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars #2 was a variant cover by artist Chris Bachalo of Gwen Stacy wearing a pink and white Deadpool costume, sitting on a pool floatie in a swimming pool, armed with a katana and drinking a pina colada. 

Almost immediately, cosplayers started showing up at conventions dressed as Gwenpool, and Marvel, which had originally discovered how much fans loved Spider-Gwen by watching people cosplay as her at cons, quickly realized they had another surprise success on their hands. Writer Chrisopher Hastings, best known as the man behind the "Adventures of Dr. McNinja" webcomic, was selected to write some backup stories about Gwen in the then-current "Howard the Duck" ongoing series. After that, the character transitioned into an ongoing series of her own called "The Unbelievable Gwenpool," with Hastings writing and the art team Gurihiru providing most of the illustrations. 

So with all that background out of the way -- who the heck is Gwenpool anyway?! 

Her real name is... Gwen Poole. She looks pretty similar to the classic Gwen Stacy -- white girl, blonde hair, sometimes wearing a headband -- but her hair also has pink highlights. And she's not a native to the Marvel Universe -- she says she came here from "the real world." She claims to have read every Marvel comic book ever, which means she knows the secret identities of every Marvel superhero and supervillain. She's also able to break the fourth wall. But initially, she had no other powers and no combat skills. The only reason she bought her costume in the first place was because she realized that anyone who wasn't a costumed hero was just going to be a forgettable "extra." 

(And the only reason she has a Deadpoolesque costume is because the costume merchant assumed her real name was a superhero name and that she was wanting to set herself up as a distaff Deadpool.) (And the reason her costume is pink is because the merchant had a lot of pink fabric she couldn't get rid of, so she decided to use it all.) 

Anyway, Gwenpool set herself up as a mercenary -- mostly because that's what's expected of her as a Deadpool knockoff and because she didn't see people in the Marvel Universe as being real, so why shouldn't she just kill off minor characters from comic books, right? But with no real fighting skills, she mostly relied on extremely destructive firepower and sheer dumb luck. She joined up with a mercenary organization run by MODOK and was taught basic combat and weapons training by Batroc the Leaper

Eventually, Gwen encounters her own future self, who has turned evil and developed vast reality-warping powers. Gwen is horrified that her future self would be willing to kill the comics characters she loves so much, which leads her to renounce her mercenary ways, swear to never turn to evil, and erase her future self from existence -- and in doing so, she ends up giving herself the reality-warping abilities to let her use to comics medium to fight, such as tossing enemies between the borders of the comics panels to get them out of her way and borrowing costumes from previous issues. 

Gwen is probably never going to be an A-list character -- she's inherently a humor character, like Howard the Duck or Squirrel Girl, and no matter how important or popular humor characters are, they very rarely end up joining the Avengers. On the other hand, Deadpool himself is basically a humor character, too, and he's been popular enough to sustain way more comics than he deserves and has been the star of a couple excellent movies. As long as cosplayers keep the Gwenpool spirit alive at conventions, Marvel will probably keep finding ways to put her in comics...

for reQuest 2019
("I would like Jet-Poop to explain Gwenpool to me.")

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