Earlier this year fans said goodbye to writer Charles Soule's acclaimed "She-Hulk" series which chronicled all the action, excitement, hijinks and humor Jennifer Walters and her associates became embroiled in as they tried and investigated some of the Marvel Universe's weirdest and complex court cases. Walters, paralegal Angie Huang, her monkey Hei Hei and investigator Patsy Walker have appeared in a number of places since the book's cancellation, but readers of the fan-favorite "She-Hulk" series still miss them and the adventures Soule had planned for them before the series' cancellation.
The holidays are fast approaching and they're not a fun time to be missing anyone or anything. Marvel will give "She-Hulk" fans a little Christmas present in the form of the "Gwenpool Special," a holiday-themed anthology that features a full length She-Hulk framing story by Soule and artist Langdon Foss. CBR News spoke with Soule about the story and what it's like returning to the characters of "She-Hulk." Also joining the conversation was editor Wil Moss to shine a light on all things Gwenpool, the other holiday stories in the anthology and what fans can expect from her backup stories in "Howard the Duck."
CBR News: Charles, let's start with the big news. The upcoming "Gwenpool Special" features a story that's essentially "She-Hulk" #13. How does it feel to return to the world of Jen Walters' law practice and the supporting cast you built up in that series. I know Patsy Walker is moving to her own ongoing series, but will she still be part of this story?
Charles Soule: I have to tell you, I've missed these characters immensely -- I've tried to sneak Jen and Co. into as many books as possible since the series last spring. For example, She-Hulk and her colleagues are a huge part of "Wolverines" #13, and she's basically one of the lead characters in the "Civil War" series I did as a part of "Secret Wars" over the summer. However, as fun as those were, none of them were the real deal, full-on version of the "She-Hulk" cast and setting I did in the original series. This story -- a complete, 20-page She-Hulk tale -- is. Angie Huang, Hei Hei, Patsy Walker and a huge cast of Marvel Universe characters all appear, and it's got all the stuff people enjoyed about the original series -- just more, you know, holidayed up.
Charles, last November we had our final chat about the "She-Hulk" ongoing series and you mentioned then that you'd like to do a "She-Hulk Holiday Special" some day, and now you are. So how did that come to pass? Was that wishful thinking last November or were plans already in motion?
Soule: Plans were not in motion at that point, but I always knew it was something that would be fun to do -- a way to revisit the world from the original series that would be a fun gift for fans (and for me, for that matter.) I think I raised the idea formally over the summer, and fortunately Marvel went for it. Sometimes things just work out, and this was one of them.
Set the stage for us. I understand the "Gwenpool Special" kicks off with Jen throwing a holiday party, correct?
Soule: Correct -- Jen has her law office in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a building that works almost as an incubator for people running super-power-related small businesses. Howard the Duck has his office there, and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) did for a while as well. Many other powered people work out of the building as well. I thought it would be fun to see what an office holiday party would be like in that context. Office parties are weird, you know -- people are socializing in a situation where they might not usually socialize, you've maybe got booze in the mix, sometimes there's the additional stress of gift-giving -- it can be a tense environment. Things happen.
The She-Hulk story is the framing device around which the other stories in the book revolve -- Jen's party touches all of the other characters in one way or another. So the She-Hulk story is sort of broken up into sections, with the other tales interwoven within it. You'll see. I think it's a pretty nice structure, actually.
I understand your story is being drawn by Langdon Foss. What's it like collaborating with him? His characters are so expressive and he's got such a gift for the strange and unusual that it seems like he'd be a great fit for a surreal Marvel Universe holiday party.
Soule: I adore Langdon's work -- I've been really impressed with it. This is the first time we've worked together, and I felt bad giving him a story with a bunch of party/crowd scenes, but he's risen to the challenge and then some. "She-Hulk" (at least when I've been writing it) has been characterized on the art side by really creative, interesting storytelling, from Javier Pulido to Ron Wimberly to Kevin Wada on the covers, and Langdon fits into that tradition really well. Honestly, I'd love to do more with him someday, but I bet he'll be on to bigger and better things before we know it.
Let's talk more about the special's title character, Gwenpool. What's your sense of the character and what's it like bouncing her off of Jen?
Soule: Oh, she's fun -- you know, she's one of those chaotic characters you can introduce into any story to give it a little pizzazz if you need it. The costume design's great, too. The fact that she exists at all just makes me laugh.
Wil Moss: And you might not actually see Jen interact with Gwenpool here -- it's a big party! But you will see Gwenpool interact some with Howard (but as friend or foe?) and a little bit with a very unnerved Ms. Marvel -- I'll just leave it at that for now.
Wil, what can you tell us about developing Gwenpool? How did she move from starring on a variant cover to getting her own special?
Moss: Gwenpool came about because the fans love her, plain and simple. We saw all the photos of people cosplaying as her, and that was just based on an appearance on a single variant cover -- so we figured we should try telling actual stories about her! Writer Christopher Hastings, "Deadpool" editor Jordan D. White and I got together for lunch one day and figured out who the character is, and what her backstory is. You get a pretty good sense of all that in the "Howard the Duck" #1-3 backup (written by Christopher), and a little bit more in her story in this one-shot (which Christopher is also writing), but Gwenpool's mysterious story is far from over...
What else can you tell us the Gwenpool backup stories in "Howard the Duck?" Do they connect to this story here or is this more of a stand alone?
Moss: The "Howard" story is more like her introduction to the Marvel Universe -- it involves Howard, Black Cat, Hydra and more -- and this story is more like her first solo adventure. They do connect somewhat -- via Howard -- but I don't want to give away any more than that. Much zaniness abounds in both, I assure you.
Let's talk about the break down for the rest of the special. Who are the other characters that have stories in the "Gwenpool Special?" What creators are working on them? And what sort of hints or teases can you offer up about the stories we'll see?
Moss: So yeah, aside from Charles, Langdon and colorist Megan Wilson on the She-Hulk story, we've got writer Margaret Stohl (who wrote our new "Black Widow: Forever Red" YA novel), artist Juan Gedeon ("Ghost Racers") and colorist Tamra Bonvillain telling a Ms. Marvel story where basically Kamala just isn't really feeling the holiday cheer. But maybe, like the Grinch, she can embiggen her heart three sizes?
Writer Gerry Duggan ("Deadpool"), artist Danilo Beyruth (the Gwenpool backups in "Howard" #1-3) and colorist Cris Peter are telling a story about Deadpool and the Hawkeyes (Clint & Kate) as they try to stop a pickpocket/try to stop killing each other.
And writer Christopher Hastings ("Dr. McNinja") and art team Gurihiru ("Power Pack") tell a story about Gwenpool adjusting to her new life as a mercenary. Hint: it involves lots of explosions. So, so many explosions.
It certainly sounds like this is an anthology with plenty to offer for all kinds of Marvel fans, especially fans of She-Hulk.
Soule: Hopefully this story will be a nice treat for the fans -- an unexpected holiday gift. And it's certainly not a bad opportunity for She-Hulk fans to send a message to Marvel that they dig the Jade Giantess!
Moss: Yeah, I'm just thrilled/honored to help get another "She-Hulk" story out into the world! That series paved the way for like half the books I edit -- "Howard the Duck," "Squirrel Girl," "Patsy Walker," etc.
"Gwenpool Special" #9 is on sale December 9 from Marvel Comics.