Gwenpool has been in the Marvel U for four years, but to her she feels like she's yet to make her mark. The Marvel fan-turned-Marvel-character is setting out to change that with the upcoming Gwenpool Strikes Back limited series from writer Leah Williams and artist David Baldeon.
Reveal the secret identity of Spider-Man to the world? That could work.
Steal Reed Richards away from his lifelong love Sue Storm-Richards? That would be memorable.
Piss off the Hulk? Well, we wouldn't advise that but.... yeah.
David Baldeon is jumping into this fourth-wall-breakin' mischief after a long run with Domino, and says he's hooked with Gwen Poole's vulnerability, tenderness, and outrageousness. (And the opportunity to work with Williams, who he is a fan of, helps as well). The artist talked to us about all of that, and showed off some process work ahead of the series debut August 14.
Newsarama: David, I believe this is your first time working on Gwenpool. What's your take on her?
David Baldeon: To be honest, I’m not completely sure, and I’m finding out along the way, as I read from Leah and our editor Jordan D. White and as I draw her. She’s… intriguing.
I have read her solo book and her stint as a West Coast Avenger, and she’s a tricky one. I have found in her a tenderness and a naïveté that I was not expecting, and I love drawing that side of her because it has been a great surprise.
I was expecting the fun part, and it is a very, very fun book, but that very human part is very endearing and I’m loving it. I think if I had to sum up my take on her, is that she’s a normal kid trying to fit in the best she can, while at the same time trying to make the world fit to her. I can relate to that, in a strange way!
Nrama: Not that Domino wasn't fun, but Gwenpool Strikes Back seems to take it to a new level - like your work on Marvel Tsum Tsum maybe. How do you feel about doing humor in an action superhero book?
Baldeon: Oh, I think it works perfectly, at least depending on the book and the tone you choose for the book. The superheroic genre is amazingly flexible, and you can make almost anything work. And yes, Domino was fun, but it was definitely a different kind of fun that Tsum Tsum. And you’ll have to take my word for it, but Gwenpool is very, very different in tone to both of those.
The comedy in Gwenpool is rich, and varied and has so, so much range and different tones! It is incredibly well handled by Leah, and like all good comedy, it stems out of Gwen’s vulnerability. And it is, let me tell you, quite the narrative challenge to keep up to it. This book is fast, it changes pace, it surprises you, even more so when it comes to its comedy.
Nrama: The title of this is 'Gwenpool Strikes Back', and she seems to be doing that by trying to make an everlasting mark on the Marvel U - be it from unmasking Spider-Man to messing with the Fantastic Four. What do you think about Gwen's ability to hopscotch around the Marvel U - and allowing you to draw a diverse array of characters?
Baldeon: I think is a gift! We can go everywhere and I get to draw and give my take on characters I’ve never laid my hands on. As I said, I’m having to up my game because this book changes gears just like that, and that’s just fun. Add to that the fact that I’m drawing superhero icons facing the strangest girl in the Marvel Universe. What’s not to love?
Nrama: Is there some piece of Marvel U you'd like to see Gwen jump into in a future issue?
Baldeon: Oh, many, many of them. But I absolutely prefer to be surprised and see where the book takes me, rather than hoping for or expecting anything. I’ve found out that it is way, way more interesting to find out that there are places I didn’t know I wanted to go to. I’d rather be surprised.
Nrama: You're working from scripts by Leah Williams - and I believe it's a first for you together. What's your sense of Leah so far?
Baldeon: It is our first time working together, and I hope it’s not our last. I started reading some of her books not too long ago, while I was working on Domino. I loved her work on the Domino Annual. I became an instant fan, and hoped I would eventually get the chance to work with her… And what do you know, the chance came up pretty soon!
She’s one of the smartest, most intelligent writers in the business right now, in my opinion. Her take on any character she writes is both absolutely organic and in tune with their story and, at the same time, personal and recognizable as her work. Gwenpool is no exception to that. Her take on her is, as I mentioned before, incredibly nuanced and so, so very fun. This book is a very complex machine, with all the meta components added to it, and she manages that so well, along with the characterization. Every page is a challenge, in the best possible sense, because i have to keep up to her writing!
Nrama: You're coming here after a long run on Domino. How would you compare and contrast Domino and Gwen as characters?
Baldeon: It’s funny how two books (and characters) that are so different can be so similar at the same time. The general tone, the comedy, the action… The very narrative fabric of both books could not be more different. And still, both have at their center a character that’s so vulnerable, so human and so strong too. I like it very much that these two have come one after the other. Domino is very close to my heart, I’m very fortunate that the follow up to that is a book as special as Gwenpool.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals here with Gwenpool Strikes Back?
Baldeon: Well, to be honest… Pulling it off! Apart from everything, Gwenpool is a very intense learning experience. By her very nature, Gwenpool is taking me to places, narration-wise, that I’ve never been to. I’m having to add tools to my belt that I have never used, which by the way is one of the best parts of this job. So I’m hoping I manage to pull that off convincingly, all that technical part of the book. And most of all, I hope I can convey all that vulnerability and tenderness and outrageous, fun insolence that’s at the core of Gwen and that Leah writes so so well.