Remembering when Ms. Marvel turned a fan-favorite character into a mutant
Following the revelation that the MCU incarnation of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel could be a mutant, there has been much discussion about whether this change should also occur in comic continuity. Coincidentally, another notable modern Marvel hero went through this same change: Gwen Poole/Gwenpool became a mutant at the end of her last solo series, Gwenpool strikes back (by Leah Williams, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov and VC’s Joe Caramagna). Oddly enough, Kamala wasn’t just there to witness Gwen’s change of origin – she might be responsible for it.
Gwenpool has a complicated origin story by Marvel character standards. With the hero’s first appearance being on a Deadpool variant cover, Gwen was originally designed to be a unique fusion of Gwen Stacy and Wade Wilson. This design, however, quickly exploded in popularity, prompting tons of cosplay and fanart and forcing Marvel to turn her into a full-fledged character.
This character, Gwen Poole, was introduced as an actual human being and comic book fan who was transported into the Marvel Universe, possessing all the average awareness and Marvel Comics knowledge that such a thing would entail. Through his solo series, The Incredible Gwenpool, she quickly became a fan-favorite character. She also developed her signature power set, which relies on her ability to use the space between the panels to accomplish impossible physical tasks.
Gwen’s connection to Deadpool has resulted in a particular problem: writers tend to write Gwen inconsistently. In some stories, she acts like a female version of Deadpool, with all the hyper-violence and antics involved. In other stories, she was more down-to-earth than Wade, with tales highlighting how seriously, but not always successfully, she tries to be a good person. These inconsistencies in characterization were what Gwenpool hits the binka set out to address, as it portrays a version of Gwen who is terrified of the possibility of disappearing into comic book obscurity.
In Gwenpool strikes back, Gwen wants to make sure readers remember her, and Marvel continues to release stories about her. To that end, she does a bunch of unnecessary, dangerous, and stupid stunts. She tries to gain spider powers, hires Deadpool to work with her as a team, and most importantly sets up a battle royale on the beach between several of Marvel’s biggest heroes, hoping to secure the victory and prove his worth within Marvel. cannon.
The battle royale features a wide variety of heroes, all of whom are enticed by Gwen to participate – including Kamala. To make sure no one else stops her scheme, Gwen also isolated most of her key friends and allies during a visit, including her fellow West Coast Avengers. After Squirrel Girl retires from competition, Kamala remains more or less Gwen’s only friend still on the battlefield and able to talk to her directly.
As the battle royale continues, Kamala more or less remains on the sidelines – her only “fight” being a game of red hands she won against Miles Morales. So while Gwen uses her story manipulation powers to team up with all the different versions of herself from the previous books, Kamala is just watching. Eventually, Kamala and Gwen are the only two remaining in the competition. Kamala doesn’t want to fight and sincerely asks him what is going on. She acknowledges that Gwen suffers from serious mental health issues, which Gwen hesitantly admits. Gwen explains to Kamala that she is in a comic, but Kamala doesn’t believe Gwen’s story.
Kamala, instead, offers an alternative explanation for Gwen’s life: that she is not a human from another plane of existence. Kamala thinks she is a mutant who believes she is from another world due to her powers. Gwen, unable to resist this, accepts Kamala’s suggestion as truth and a Krakoan doorway opens for her, leading Gwen to relocate to the mutant nation of Krakoa, where she remains to this day.
The precise details of what happened are intentionally left somewhat vague. As part of her powers, Gwen is able to induce flashbacks that render the Marvel comics, so it’s possible her acceptance of Kamala saying she’s a mutant led her to piece together her own origin story – making herself a mutant because she believes she is one. It’s also possible, however, that Kamala was just right all along. Gwen may have always been a mutant in-universe and all of her meta-knowledge is a result of her mutation.
Kamala and Gwen’s friendship, like most things about Gwen, was not written with a consistent canon. In Gwen’s brief stint as a member of the Champions, Gwen and Kamala didn’t get along at all. In the Gwenpool Holiday Speciall (by Charles Soule, Langdon Foss, Megan Wilson, VC’s Travis Lanham, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), however, Kamala and Gwen form a friendship at She-Hulk’s Christmas party, with the two ending the party singing together at karaoke. Gwen is also often depicted as being a fan of Kamala in Marvel spinoff projects, such as Marvel Puzzle Quest, where Gwen’s depiction has her celebrating that she touched Kamala’s hair.
Kamala and Gwen, however, form a fairly obvious duo. Ms. Marvel is a superhero fangirl and Gwenpool is one too. The two do things like ship other heroes together, read and write superhero fanfiction, and generally give a fuck about everyone they meet. Their natural relationship could lead to an interesting story if explored properly, where the ingrained fangirlism of Kamala’s universe can bounce off Gwen’s more meta-appreciation of the world around her.
It’s unclear what awaits Kamala or Gwen at this point. Gwen’s transformation into a mutant wasn’t and isn’t particularly popular with Gwenpool fans, with many of the arguments being similar to the current debates regarding Kamala’s MCU incarnation. However, if Kamala finds herself crossing a Krakoan gateway, there’s no doubt that Gwen will be ready and willing to extend a warm welcome to her fellow fangirl.