She-Hulk #1

by deerinthexenonarclights

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I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: I don’t like Hawkeye, or at least I didn’t until I saw what Matt Fraction was able to do with him. A few pages in to that series and he became my favourite Marvel character. The tone, scale and style of Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye is so brilliant, so unlike another superhero book out there and has, thankfully, made the book a bit of a hit commercially. So it makes sense that Marvel would try to replicate the conditions that created such a comic here in the newly relaunched She-Hulk.

She-Hulk is another character that I’ve never really cared for, not enough to ever attempt even trying her solo stories – and Jennifer Walters didn’t even exist in my mind as anything other than a misremembering of the Arrested Development actresses name – but i’ve sought out and supported both Charles Soule and Javier Pulido when they’ve worked on other properties, which I think puts me in the perfect position to enjoy this extraordinary new book, just as it did that other one.

As writer Charles Soule – who, based on his current output is surely a machine or superhero in his own right – so clearly sets up in the comic’s opening pages this She-Hulk is a ludicrous superhero trying to live a normal life, which in her case means trying cases as Jennifer Walters. Most peoples idea of She-Hulk will come from the suffix in her name: they know that she’s green, she’s strong and able to smash. Facts which, while all true, fail to capture the totality of her as a character; something Soule seems set to do. Like lawyering this book is ninety percent conversations, ten percent punching robots; probably the inverse ratio of her cousins comics, but perfect in my opinion.

Which is not to say that the book is at all boring; in fact quite the opposite. Soule’s script brings with it the brisk banter, bouncy plots and bullseye humour of the best courtroom dramas; if Letter #44 is his Sorkin than this is his David E. Kelly, back when that comparison was meant as a compliment. The emotional and technical complexities of the case and introductory story are perhaps a little cramped in the space of this single issue, but its hard to complain these days when we get condensed storytelling in comics, its also not likely to be an issue in future issues. I was willfully whipping through the pages,enjoying every one, but closed the book a little less than fully satiated with the whole.

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A lot of the credit for the pace and energy of the book has to go to its artists Javier Pulido and Muntsa Vicente. With the pitch being a low-key, legal-orientated take on the character one might have expected the comic to feel a little dry, but there is nary a parched panel in the whole book because of this pair. Pulido’s loose, light-touch lines combined with Vicente’s bold colours – Walters’ green skin barely stands out given the sharp pinks, reds and yellows on display around her – evoke the pop-cartoon stylings of Michael Allred – coincidentally the last person to regularly draw She-Hulk in FF – which leavens the book and lightens the load on Soule, who needn’t force the fun moments in the script.

It’s neither here nor there, but i couldn’t help but notice Pulido’s peculiar approach to framing She-Hulk; Walters face is either the focus of a panel or cut out of it by the border in a number of brave shots. This isn’t the sort of thing that you could get away with in a movie of a major tentpole title – unless you were skewing the camera to show a ‘sexier’ shot of the superhero, which is a whole ‘nother issue – but it subconsciously lends the book an intentionally lax and relaxed vibe, like it’s less a contrived narrative and more a captured reality.

That feeling, more than the quotable lines and cute dog characters, is what spoke to me in Hawkeye and it has been captured again here; so while She-Hulk #1 isn’t a perfect issue, it is one with immense potential, so I really look forward to seeing what comes of the series in the future. While the big money may be in books about punching robots, if they stick to this structure like Jennifer, Soule and Pulido needn’t worry about reviews.

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