Review: SpiderGwen

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I don’t need to tell you how excited I was to read this comic, I have seen so much fanart that I really wanted to get my hands on both volume 1 & 2. After reading Gwenpool, that feeling only intensified and the hold on these volumes was let off and I finally got my hands on them.

To start with SpiderGwen…I was kind of disappointed. It opens to this scene of Gwen Stacey being part of a girl band called the Mary Janes. I wouldn’t be too bothered by it, but then MJ is part of this band and the lead singer for it too. It seemed odd that a band, that is all about the team, would name itself after the lead singer. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it but then things got worse.

Issue 1: Character Personalities

I’m not here to say that all girls are nice, far from it. But it seemed odd that a selfish, self-centered and kind of controlling person like MJ would have so many girl friends – friends who would be willing to be in a band together. I also didn’t quite understand why they gave MJ that personality type.

From what I remembered, and it has been a while, she wasn’t this brat or else why would Peter have liked her?

I can’t say much for Gwen either, she was all angst and “oh I must redeem myself because of me Peter died”. Which is a very male…personality trait. From the flashbacks that are in Volume 0, Peter seemed to have killed himself because of the experiments he did. So why would she take on that guilt for SUCH a long time. Like yeah, there’s survivors guilt, but it seemed like she was just beating herself up constantly.

I also wasn’t too fond with how they basically made Gwen a female Peter, in terms of personality and again, as far as I could remember. She couldn’t balance all her commitments, like him, took on way too much ownership of things that she had no control over, like him, and refused to seek out any help, like him.

Honestly, I know this is called SpiderGwen, but I wasn’t expecting this. I was expecting SpiderGwen with Gwen’s personality.

The other girls were also kind of 2D most of the time, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

Pacing of the Volumes

Now to add some clarity, Gwen Stacey’s Spider Gwen starts with Volume 0 and goes up from there. I assumed, I guess incorrectly, that Volume 0 would be her “creation” story. We would follow as Gwen becomes Spidergirl? But no. Volume 0 gives brief flashbacks to Peter dying within the first two pages and just jumps into a mess.

A couple of weeks later and I can’t remember what the plot was. There were some interesting parts – The Vulture – Matt Madock being evil – The Punisher being a cop, and the spider pig. But the overlying story is just a blur.

And I don’t like that. I don’t like how half way through Volume 1, it appears as if Gwen Stacey gets sucked into another universe and comes back with all these memories from this other battle.

She’s just become SpiderGwen, she is super green and gets sucked into a parallel universe?? I don’t get it and I don’t understand why we keep missing context.

What is her creation story? Why do I have to read spiderwoman to get it? Why isn’t Volume 0 about that? Why is she a carbon copy of Spiderman? Why is it, within the first volume, she’s already being sucked into other universes? You haven’t even set up her character yet and the story?

Also, I understand this is a parallel universe where Peter died, but why is Matt Murdock evil? Like… why would Peter’s death have any effect on that? Why do you change that of all things and not, I don’t know, her personality?

Overall, it felt kind of like they created SpiderGwen to be thrown into other comics as some sort of ploy. Her own comics, for now, have no meat to them or depth. To go through two volumes, and still feel kind of indifferent.

I’m not sure if I’ll read more of this comic, I really wanted them to do her some justice but it just feels kind of lame.

Back to Ms Marvel it is!

– Sugar Out

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September Book Review

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I started a new job this week, finally a change after 8 months of stress and pain. I was excited to have this fresh beginning and I decided to take on this book by downloading it as an audiobook for when I traveled to and from work.

I can’t say I enjoyed it, at all. There were parts that were interesting but mostly it felt like a whiny angsty white kid that I was supposed to sympathize with because he is the main character of the book.

The narrator himself had this bad habit of making all the women in this book breathless and soft spoken, I guess to identify that they were women and not the guys. But it just ended up annoying when the guys had different “voices” but all the ladies didn’t, except maybe his younger sister because she was 8.

The writing was pretty basic, and I mean that in a bad way. Everything was “he says, she says, they says, he says, he says, she says”, I started to just get annoyed from hearing says-says-says over and over and over again, when it was followed in context to these types of conversations: “uhuh” he says, “what?” she says.

Like… diversify your writing my man, it won’t hurt you. And yes, I put “they says’ there on purpose, because not only is this guy basic but he can’t follow basic grammar either.

The actual story line was terrible, we follow four teens as they finish their last year of high school while living in a YA novel but not being the main characters. The premise sounds great, how many hijinks would ensue? I wondered. How would these kids interact with this world? What about the adults, would they all be over it?

It sounded great and exciting, what I got was boring and kind of… redundant? We follow Mickey who is head over heels in love with his good friend, who is a girl, Henna (sp?).

Ever since she broke up with her no-good bf, Mickey has realized he is in love but he can’t/won’t do anything about it.

EVERYONE knows he loves her though, LOL OBVIOUSLY. Even she does, but she makes no overtures or flirts with him, instead she’s into this guy named Nathan that Mickey is ugly jealous over and just hates his guts for no reason whatsoever.

But then it was redundant because they didn’t end up with each other at the end, when the whole plot of the story revolved around it.

Issue 1: The Romance

This love story, I need to cover first, because what a wet kleenex at the bottom of a trash can it is. The only reason him and Henna get together is because after a mysterious car accident, she decides to pursue him in the name of “exploration” though, right before said accident, she basically told him she wasn’t interested and he wasn’t in love with her either. Wow, what a story that would have been if we followed that plot line. HA, please let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They kiss and flirt, but she’s also flirting with Nathan (gj girl) and again Mickey is just this ugly jealous and possessive brat. Henna calls him out on this, but what does it matter when they still get back together? The writer I guess is trying to critique this kind of relationship, but Mickey doesn’t learn that being possessive is bad, he suffers no consequences so what was the point?

Anyway, to make this short – turns out Nathan is gay, and presumably that’s why she gives Mickey a chance because he’s the only guy in their group of friends and the rest of the school doesn’t exist (So original from the usual YA model right?). Mickey almost gets this guy killed for nothing, blames him for things other people took responsibility for – again the ugly jealous type, and then magically – THEY HAVE SEX. (They being Mickey and Henna, not Mickey and Nathan)

Oh he’s totally into it by the way, its magical and beautiful and everything he’s wanted, and he’s so happy, they fit together so perfectly. So you can imagine my surprise when: after this whole ode to her body/the sex they had, Henna decides to be just friends (cool girl, he’s a jerk) and he’s totally okay with it. No hissy fit, no rage, no demanding why, no I’m still in love with her but I respect her wishes. NOPE, he’s on board, “yeah we’re totally friends not lovers” like… did I just miss that last few couple of paragraphs where you basically turned her into a goddess in your mind?

She’s the best sex you’ve ever had kind of deal – oh he’s had sex before btw. He needs to tells us this repeatedly because…. yeah he’s a different YA main character. He’s had two other girlfriends before Henna, we even slightly meet the ex, but only for him to remind us he lost his virginity to her… great…thanks for letting us know that’s her only defining characteristic. (Reminder: he has no other female friends, can’t ask Henna out and acting as if she’s his first love…like…really? I’m supposed to believe this is the way a guy with past relationships behaves?)

Not to mention the other love story in this book, about Mel and Steve, is between a 19 year old and a 25 (?) year old (I know they have 7 years age difference). Oh but that’s okay, as she reminds us in the book, because she’s “legal”. I thought I would puke, god what bullshit is this book? A jealous, possessive jerk and basically a sexual predator but that’s okay since at the end, he takes the girl dumping him with no aggression and Mel instigated the relationship so……. I can’t even.

Oh and the third one, between his friend Jared and Nathan, is about this open gay guy in love with a guy in the closet who presumably needs to get drunk each time when he’s around him….I can’t….. what is this trash?

Not to mention apparently Mickey and Jared fooled around a bit sometime in the past, he’s not gay though (no homo man!) because he’s a guy and guys would bang a tree if they could (legit what was said). This also makes him super possessive over Jared and it’s just terrible how Mickey defends this as – he’ll “protect them ferociously” if anything happens to them-. Like, take my abuse because I’ll save you?

No thanks man.

Issue 2: The Adults

As per usual YA novel fashion, all adults are useless. How…original. But what I hated most about the adults was not their attitude but how Mickey spoke about them.

Just…. his mom, his wonderful, hard working mom who kept his own father out of jail after he stole from her family. Oh Mickey doesn’t see that as saving his ass, no he sees it as her trying to save face for her campaign. Because she’s a politician, and any time she’s nice, its because it’s for the campaign.

She basically kept his own father out of jail and presumably pays most of the bills, yet he craps on her at any moment he can get. She gets home and is annoyed the teenagers are putting their shoes on her coffee table – the DICTATOR! She is in the car, asking how he’s dealing with his OCD, OH SHE WANTS TO MANAGE HIM FOR HER CAMPAIGN. Like…why don’t you direct half that anger to your lazy ass father, who’s an alcoholic and barely manages? No way man, you have to feel SAD when you see him, what a load of crap.

Not to mention when his father does decide to go to rehab, and says he’ll go after the campaign is done, Mickey immediately jumps to the conclusion his mom has decided that when, his father tells him, she didn’t. She’s wanted him in rehab the whole time…god Mickey pisses me off.

Let’s also talk about Mel, since shes 19 and legal apparently. Might as well make her an adult right? AHA. Man I hate damsel in distress tropes, and Mel fits into that perfectly. She has an eating disorder her younger brother needs to save her from, there’s an explosion and shes too busy asking “what was that?” to get the hell out of there. Girl, it was an explosion….get out – ask questions later. She’s super insecure making insufferable demands out of her ‘friends’, and of course Mickey understands it’s not because she’s selfish/spoiled but from this insecurity.

Yeah…uh…I don’t know how she functions.

Issue 3: The YA bit

Which in this case, are the long winded chapter titles explaining what is happening in the YA novel that this book is taking place in.

At first, I didn’t see the point of it, it just seemed to be used to make fun of the characters living this story. Oh haaha, her name is Satchel. She’s an “indie” (sp?) kid. I didn’t understand at the beginning what an indie kid was, and why they were calling them that. There was no explanation as to why, but it was told to us that the “chosen ones” were a part of that titled group.

Then something happened that pissed me off royally. After the chapter that Mickey recounts his sexual prowess, we get the long winded chapter title going on about how Satchel meets the prince and they kiss. But the prince won’t go any further out of respect for Satchel. And it all seemed…like an insult. Like the author is insulting what these women are writing in terms of relationships. As in – he should have torn off her clothes and banged her right there on the floor, isn’t he a man?

It disgusted me, especially after his main character going on about banging two girls. There is no nuance to his writing a relationship, there’s none of that: oh we held hands! I was nervous to put my arm around her. We sat in bed and I could feel my heart pumping. Because that’s too…. I don’t even know honestly. Like everything is about sex, and the way he wrote the sex scene, it is.

All the emotional connections you make with a person, that just comes from sex. Too bad asexuals, you’ll never have a deep meaningful relationship.

And that’s my last issue with this book. His “diversity”. I’m guessing he meant to do this for relevance and nothing else.

Jared the gay guy, Henna the half black-half Finnish girl, and then the two white kids with  mental disabilities. What a great quartet, except they have no other friends, and everyone else is white. Jared has no other gay friends, no connection to an LGBTQ community, why would he? It’s a small community right?

No it’s just lazy writing.

Henna has no cousins or family coming to visit her. The half-Finnish part is also kind of stupid when her father is apparently some sort of…what are they called? Missionary! They’re going to central Africa too! Didn’t you know? Look how diverse this book is, it even knows a country on the continent of Africa! And then Romania also! Because they’re orthodox and… need converting to…Christianity? WTF?! Why would a Catholic need converting to Christianity??

(Also why is her Finnish father the missionary? Isn’t Finland mostly atheist? What…)

Ok, but they’re not the only minorities, Call Me Steve (I hate that goddamn nickname so much, I hate Mickey even more for this) is also half Honduran but HAHA he’s never been! I can’t….. what diversity is this? Also Steve is the magical doctor at the age of 25, he’s so magic he doesn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of teenagers.

Like why even bother with this placeholders to say your diverse when you don’t create a world where this people would exist? How is it Steve is the only half-Honduran in that area? Where are the other latin american kids? Or the community? How is there only one black person in this town, when she’s half? Did her mom just pop into existence? Where is their family?

And how is it that Jared thinks he’d be an “indie” kid, aka a main character/hero in a YA novel, when this author – trying to poke holes at the tropes of YA novels, can’t bother to make his own character fully bisexual? How realistic of a statement is that? Where does this author live honestly? (Note: I know where he lives its on Wikipedia but apparently he lives in a hole)

TLDR

In the end, I disliked Mickey a lot. I hated his personality, how he somehow had anxiety throughout the whole book but then that finally was addressed as OCD, which it had been the entire time. How dangerously possessive he was to everyone but no one addresses it. How he’s somehow hero-ing around, saving his sisters from an explosion at a concert, the other from an eating disorder and trying to charge ahead and find out what the indie kids are up to, even though the premise of the book is that they’re just trying to live here. So why would he even want to get involved?

I disliked the guy’s writing even more, how he put in a concert explosion after what happened with Ariana Grande. It felt like he saw this terrible event as a means to show off his character in his book. (Edit: Was told this book was published before this so my bad)

How he kept using “I know right?”, in arbitrary areas to make us relate to the character when I didn’t know what to “right” about. Like, oh yeah “forever young” is the title of their prom, I know right?? Okay…you didn’t plan the stupid thing can you stop judging every single thing you put your face in front of.

There are so many things I could rage about, but I will end this here.

I don’t recommend, I’m glad I didn’t buy it, and I wont be reading anything more from this guy. I know I’m not the best in terms of spelling and grammar, but I don’t have a team of editors.

This was lazy, insulting and, overall, a waste of time. Go back to the bottom of the trash where you belong.

-Sugar Out

 

 

 

 

 

May-June Book Review: Hild

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Like Sugar, I had a similarly hard time reading Hild, until finally I decided to power through by ignoring the names I didn’t recognize, & political intricacies I didn’t understand. Regardless, it still took me so long to finish this book… my average is about 2 weeks – Hild took over 2 months.

First, the bad. For me, this book was just waaaaay too dense, too long, with too many characters. I couldn’t keep track of who was who, and there was no good index apart from the family tree at the beginning. Also, being such a long book, you forget many characters just because it’s been such a long time since they first appeared. It’s hard to follow the implications of such-and-such marrying his daughter to that-guy, and that-guy’s brother winning the battle at whatsitcalled. As a result, most of the politics went over my head, and the significance of events just didn’t register. All of which to say, I couldn’t really follow what was happening for over 50% of the book.

A final nitpick, using the old languages was cool, but often only added to my confusion of the plot. It could have been used more sparingly, and/or reserved for untranslatable words and concepts only.

Next, the good. It was a historical fiction book, and though I didn’t follow the political aspects, I absolutely loved the historical details from the daily living point of view. Culture and society at that time period was vividly brought to life in my eyes, with a huge range of experiences. These included: working in the dairy, the medical knowledge of women, metal- & jewelry-smithing, the clash of the old & new religions, large trading centers, female friendships, geisths battles, power of reading, dangers of childbearing, peasant foods & feasts, and more that I can’t remember just now. Her descriptions sparkle, and were the highlight for me. I especially loved the bits about nature, wilderness, animals of forest & farm.

“The great pattern” Hild kept seeing snatches of was evocative & haunting; the weft and fold weaving a great pattern underlying everything. It both echoed the mysticism & religiousness of her seer role, but also of her highly observant and, I would say, scientific mind. It made me think of the ideas tied to a famous quote by Gallileo; that “the Book of Nature is written in the language of mathematics”, and as such, nature is built of overlapping patterns.

Also, very cool how the author had historically accurate people of colour peppered throughout the novel, as well as woman/woman love & fluid ideas of sexuality. Many historical fiction, and even historical non-fiction, books tend to ignore or gloss over that these things (and more!) existed in medieval Europe.

Finally, the ugly/weird. SPOILERS BELOW
If you haven’t finished the book, and want to, then quit reading now, because I’m about to spoil the last 15 pages or so. So, I can’t help but be glad that Hild gets a happy ending, because at times it seemed like she would meet a tragic end. However, I can’t get over the fact that she ends up with Cian, who is in fact her half-brother. Maybe incest wasn’t quite as bad in that time period, but… kind of spoiled it for me. He didn’t have to be revealed as her half-brother at all. Since Cian was a completely fictional character, he could have been written as a distant cousin, or unrelated altogether.

My final thought: I found this book was very enjoyable and interesting when NOT focusing on politics. Unfortunately, the political parts overwhelmed and bogged down the narrative. I feel if it had been re-written as more of an ‘everyday life’ kind of novel, with heavily simplified politics (& a full, detailed character index!), it would have made for a much stronger & better read.

August Book Choices

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1.The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

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2. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

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3. Frederica by Georgette Heyer

When Frederica brings her younger siblings to London determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, she seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

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4. Spider-Gwen by Jason Latour

IN ONE UNIVERSE, it wasn’t Peter Parker who was bitten by the radioactive spider, but Gwen Stacy! She’s smart, charming and can lift a car … just don’t tell her father, the police chief. Now, in the wake of Spider-Verse, Gwen swings into her own solo adventures! And she soon finds herself between a rock and a hard place when the Vulture attacks, and NYPD Lieutenant Frank Castle sets his sights on bringing her down. Then, still haunted by Peter’s death, Gwen visits his only family: Ben and May Parker. But what really happened the day Peter died? Find out right here as the spectacular Spider-Gwen steals not only the spotlight, but also the hearts of comic fans worldwide!

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5. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

Click here for poll!

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June and July Book Review

I should confess now, I couldn’t get through Hild. I tried, boy did I try. But at one point, when you’ve fallen asleep for a second time while reading a book, that you need to cut your losses. Considering I never fall asleep while reading, this was a quick cut, though an unfortunate one.

Hild was many things, boring one, but also so long. So long with so many names of people and places I couldn’t place, couldn’t remember, and wasn’t sure what their importance was. So I gave up, and read others things.

Now to July: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls.

I wasn’t expecting it to be about Body Positivity or how many, and few, chords it would strike in me. There were definitely a lot of lessons I learned from it, or became aware of. There were ways I started to see myself differently and the concept of fat.

It’s easy, I realized, to call yourself fat when you’re not and dig yourself into a deep pit of self-suffering. Reading this book made me realize that I wasn’t fat, not the way she describes it and how she lives it. It was kind of startling, that kind of realization, and I felt bad how often I’d kicked myself down.

It also brought great value to me in understanding that really breaking free of social expectations of what beauty should look like is trying not to be beautiful. Which is really hard for me, when I’ve been called pretty my entire life, but wanted to be more – more gorgeous and not pretty, or more sexy and not pretty. Pretty feels and continues to feel like it’s for small girls, but that lead to a lot of the lack of self-confidence I have, waiting for others to give me that stamp of approval.

So now I’m going to try to be different, in at least not waiting for someone else to tell me what or who I am. It’s a small step, reminding myself constantly in places that I feel like I want it like an itch under my skin. But, I don’t expect an overnight change, just one that I can look at a picture and think I look great on my own terms.

End of my rambling, I hope you read this book and give it a shot. You learn a lot about yourself as you read it, a lot of wrestling with yourself and your preconceived thoughts on value and beauty. It was a heavy and hard book to read, but never boring.

– Sugar Out

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage

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A little bit late but I’ve had a crazy month of weddings, travels and general business.

This one I didn’t actually “read” as I listened to it during long flights, meal prepping and bus rides. I should state now that I loved it, Gail Carriger has the kind of humour I get and enjoy.

I loved the sarcasm and wittiness of Sophronia, I liked how, though she is 14 at the beginning of the book, she isn’t overly childish or immature. She feels like a teenager, for sure, but it’s not over-exaggerated.

I enjoyed all the characters, especially the large female cast and some recurring characters. I liked how somethings weren’t black and white and some relationships weren’t easy. I enjoyed how these characters were flawed but it was okay, no one was judging them harshly for not being perfect in every way. Dimote with her lace and jewels, Sidhe with her boyishness and Agatha with her silence. I also liked the male characters, Pillover and Soap, and I’m excited to see where the romance goes.

Gail doesn’t seem the type to pick generic romantic pairings, so it will be exciting to see how to ends and why we don’t meet Sophronia in the Soulless series.

Overall I definitely recommend it, there’s something very enjoyable in reading such a feminine book, especially one teaching girls how to use that femininity to their advantage.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Gwenpool

Another one! I had a very busy June so I enjoyed having these comic books to have a quick break.

Although Batgirl was a great surprise from DC and I thoroughly enjoyed it, Gwenpool fell on the other side of the spectrum.

This was another two volume attempt, where I hoped maybe getting over the hump of a first book would get the plot moving along and endear me to the overall story.

It didn’t.

I don’t know what I didn’t like overall about Gwenpool, maybe how she was supposed to be an “outside” person who was a fan of the comics suddenly sucked into this world with no abilities or skills. How she decided to take on this brand new world by becoming a vigilante, again with said lack of capabilities. Maybe it was her personality which was meant to mimic Deadpools recklessness but just seemed dumb with her.

Like – why was she in that world? Why did she have this specific slightly suicidal personality? Why did she not want to go back home? Why was she not using her knowledge of the universe to, I don’t know, do something – like get back home? How is it that she can afford these guns and outfits from the beginning with no money? Why is it when she meets Dr Strange she’s like – nah, not gonna go back home?? Also why is she not freaking the fuck out about how messed up that world is?

Then she tries to use the whole comic book “world”, as if it has set rules when usually the one who sets the rules are the writers and the writers can change chapter to chapter – As she should know for someone who is *such* a fan.

It was contrived, obviously meant to play on the fame of the Deadpool movie and get some of the attention from that franchise.

The plot was basically cameo-ing, either using big name superheros to bring some attention to this lackluster comic, but had no overarching story to it. Gwenpool is not personable or half as interesting as the person she’s meant to be copying. Her whole schtick about playing with the comic book as a genre is boring, we get it – types of writing have certain themes and tropes commonly used by male writers. Good job on pointing the obvious by not actually trying to change them or criticize their use.

Also it’s basically one useless, slightly damsel-y girl surrounded by competent men, so….. whatever.

(I was also super disappointed it wasn’t a resurrected Gwen Stacey from another Spiderman comic who, because of her death, was slightly loopy and became a vigilante.)

(I mean, maybe that’s just another version of SpiderGwen but that would have been awesome okay?)

Overall the comic was just not enjoyable, men should just not write women without having a woman co-writer. That’s my key takeaway.

Also what the hell Marvel? You have Ms Marvel and Thor but you can’t bother to do Gwenpool properly? You have the money to hire better writers or at least decent ones.

Last bit before I’m out – why doesn’t she have pants? Like… she obviously should have pants… she’s in New York… it’s not exactly warm there all year.

– Sugar Out