Almost every year around the holidays, Marvel puts together a collaborative book that brings together multiple creative teams in order to tell one big blowout holiday themed story. This year, the creative teams behind the Deadpool, she-hulk, ms. marvel, and the UPCOMING Gwenpool titles, all came together to deliver… THE MARVEL GWENPOOL HOLIDAY SPECIAL!

Marvel holiday special gwenpool-cover

Our special opens up with the primary narrative of the book, She-Hulk is throwing a holiday party at the meta-human apartment building her office is housed in. However, trouble is brewing as the landowner is being coerced into selling the building to a group of OBVIOUSLY EVIL businessmen. And its up to She-Hulk to find a legal loophole, and/or a superhuman solution to her friend and landlord’s dilemma.

While the story and emotion is solid in the She-Hulk portions of the book, I have to say that the artwork INSTANTLY takes me out of it. Character facial expressions are rather ugly, and body proportions of certain characters seem grotesquely out of whack. Thankfully, one of the better parts of a holiday collab special is the merging of multiple art styles into one book.

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The next story we are treated to comes from the perspective of Kamala Khan, who is not exactly in the Christmas spirit. Being Muslim, she was never truly able to enjoy and partake in the Holiday festivities like most of her friends did, and always felt like the odd duck out. Now she has come to be a Grinch and resent/hate Christmas at every turn. things are not helped by her family who mostly dismiss it, as they never saw the NEED to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, as they were not aspects of their religion, and did not want to dive into the commercialism of the season either. While out reluctantly shopping for a secret Santa gift for her friend (and admirer) the department store she is in is held up by Christmas themed robbers who attempt to take the revenue from the last minute shopping day. Needless to say she decks the halls and saves the day and is then invited by her idol, CAPTAIN MARVEL, to She-Hulk’s Christmas party.

This is a great little short story, but does very little to endear me to some of Kamala’s supporting cast, namely her brother, who comes off as either a terrorist in wait,m or just a lazy schmuck, as told by his interactions with his father and Kamala. The artwork is a form of simplistic sketch art that I have come to greatly enjoy, while rough in some areas, and a distinct lack of facial expressions is a problem when characters are reduced to having dots for eyes, it can also be comical and funny.

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Our third story is more or less an extension to a mini series seen earlier in 2015, HAWKEYE VS. DEADPOOL. In this story, BOTH Hawkeyes, (Kate Bishop, and Clint Barton) enlist the help of Deadpool in order to find a wallet snatcher who stole the wallet of one of Clint’s neighbor’s. They quickly nab the perpetrator and go about returning the stolen wallets one at a time before preparing to bring him in for arrest. This is when the thief attempts a last ditch effort to get out of going to jail, by using his wife and kids as a shield. While his attempt gains no sympathy from the archers, Deadpool is more than happy to give┬áthe thief’s son a merry Christmas, and a happier reason as to why his Father wont be home for a few months. Sadly, not everyone appreciates Deadpool’s good will toward men, and he is promptly turned away from She-Hulk’s Christmas party. The Hawkeyes decline joining She-Hulk and instead decide to spend the night with their buddy Wade at a local diner.

Written by Gerry Duggan, and drawn by Danilo Beyruth, this story feels like yet ANOTHER great Deadpool story that gives a glimpse to the truly beautiful side of the merc with the mouth. Its a fun little story with a happy ending for all to be had (all things considered), and once again helps cement the idea that there is more sides to a characters story than what is presented at face value.

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The final story is the STAR OF THE SHOW, the namesake of the book, and a preview of whats to come in the 2016 on-going series GWENPOOL! Who is Gwenpool you may be asking yourself? earlier this year, a series of variant covers flooded the market featuring Gwen Stacey in the roles of various super heroes. There were covers with GWEN THE SORCERER SUPREME, Iron-Gwen, and of course Spider-Gwen. But the cover which attracted the most attention was on the Howard the Duck #1 variant featuring GWENPOOL. Since then a lot of fan love for this FARCICAL parody has come out and gained traction, enough so that an on-going title will be in production for 2016 surrounding this character.

So, this short story will act as a primer to give readers a feel for just how this character will be portrayed in her upcoming series, and to gauge readership. What is she like? Gwenpool is a lighthearted 4th wall breaking mercenary who appears to be JUST starting out in the world of mercenaries, as she does not even have a pair of swords or guns to call her own. She goes about her first major hit contract to kill a rather intimidating snake-like villain. Her behavior┬ácomes off as what one would imagine a MILLENNIAL would act like if thrown into super hero situations. She acts childish and impatient, but is gung hoe and unrepentant in her actions. And if her cartoonish antics don’t draw in readers, her art style certainly will. Her story is drawn by an artist under the name Gurihiru, who is also famous for having drawn the pages of the Avatar the last Airbender follow-up manga. It is bright colorful, detailed, and every character is expressive and charming. Overall I like forward to her on-going title.

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So how does the Marvel/Gwenpool holiday special stand up? As i said, overall the short stories are TONS of fun, and give a glimpse into the goings on in each of the included character’s lives(and subsequently their solo books). The stories all tie in together well with the overarching narrative of the She-Hulk Holiday party plot, and the variety of art styles keeps the book fresh when you finish up with each section, as if you’re reading a whole different book.