Tis the week of fudged continuity! Wolverine tactfully forgot that he kidnapped Toad for his school and summarily fired him. Someone else from the X-Men’s galactic past overlooked the fact that he had been dead since 2008. But amidst all of that, somebody in Marvel editorial remembered that Jenifer Walters is an attorney and handed her a book of her very own. Now remember, despite everything that I am about to say, I really liked “She-Hulk”. It’s very entertaining and I think everyone should support this book so we can get many more like it. That being said…
Have you ever watched a Saturday morning cartoon where the hero toils for twenty minutes only to realize “He had the secret crystal in his pocket the entire time.”? The rest of the episode isn’t a waste; we all got on board and bounced along for the ride. It’s just, at the end it seems like the show assigned you busy work until the end of class, something to keep you occupied. That’s how “She-Hulk” feels. Through the entire issue, she could fix the problem by talking to Tony Stark. Then, at the end, she does. I mean there’s a bit more to it than that and it’s very entertaining. But it’s hard not to think that Charles Soule didn’t know what to do with us for the whole issue. Either that or he really wanted to show us his collection of ridiculous caricatures.
There were no moments in this issue where there are any “grey areas”. Every character beats you over the head with exactly how good or evil they are. And considering the history of “She-Hulk”, that’s how it’s supposed to read. But every character was an open book; I knew whether I was supposed to like them or burn effigies of them almost instantly. I found myself liking Tony Stark’s villainous lawyer because he was simply the best in his field, hired by the richest tool in the game. He probably had to put up with so much super hero bullshit that his marriage had failed. Perhaps his kids had dropped out of college to be struggling stand-up comedians who worked exclusively in super hero lawyer punch lines. And then Jennifer Walters is forced into his office to deal with some indiscretion Tony implemented years ago. Stop telling me who to root for Charles Soule because you’re not telling the whole story.
The best thing that could be said about this book is that it’s occupying a neglected corner of the Marvel universe. This is the same space that “Alias” filled or even some “Daredevil”. Here is where the pages aren’t filled with explosions, Nazis and spaceships. Instead the pages have interesting and fun character drama. Jennifer Walters is working with people one-on-one to get to know these unknown characters of the super hero world. It’s refreshing and compelling, but better yet, there is little chance for a cross-over. I know I speak too soon and I have no way of confirming it but there’s just no space for Jennifer Walters in her current role in a giant cross-over. There are plenty of other bashers out there that Marvel can leave Jennifer Walters to law practice—oh spoiler, she starts her own practice. But I can’t say anything for certain; all I can say is that it doesn’t feel like typical hero stories in comics.
As I said before, it’s skimpy on the action which is not a bad thing, at all. It allows the book to be compelling through character and story. Jennifer Walters carries the story the whole way through, her personality and humor getting a huge workout… ah, puns. But what’s more is that the dialogue feels completely essential and part of the story instead of the encyclopedia vomit that sometimes happens when a writer gets a bit too exposition happy.
The comparison to “Invincible” is a bit less apt. Mark Grayson certainly depends on his personality to carry the story just as much as Jennifer Walters. And the two of them occasionally allow their super hero personas to take over their decision making, both having rage issues. But what I think is far more remarkable about the two is they both have this desire to talk things out. Mark talked down quite a few menacing villains during a stint of introspection and though Jennifer is a lawyer and talks for a living, she really showed that a few un-legal words between two opposing parties can work wonders. So why should you buy this book? It’s fun and cheap not unlike your mom.