Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Quick Comic Reviews!
She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female

Frankly, as a grown man, yes, I do feel a little silly buying a comic called "She-Hulk." But the most recent incarnation of this venerable character -- conceived 25 years ago or so as a female, intelligent version of the more famous Hulk -- has been drawing rave reviews from people I trust for its wit and satire, and I decided to drop a few bucks on this paperback collecting the first six issues. The "buzz" is right on with this comic, one of Marvel's best publications in recent years. Written by Dan Slott, it takes the character of She-Hulk and gives her poignant new life. Unlike The Hulk, She-Hulk is able to control her transformations, and originally the shy, mousy lawyer Jennifer Walters, she's more than happy to live life as a powerful, Amazonian 7-foot-tall green girl and be the life of the party. The new "She-Hulk" series looks closer at this split between lawyer gal and party animal, giving She-Hulk more real character than she's ever had -- she's usually either been played entirely for laughs or as a generic strong-woman in most other comics.

Slott has She-Hulk join a prestigious law firm working in their "superhuman" law department, which gives great opportunity for satire of superheroic and legal conventions. It's like "Ally McBeal" meets "Justice League." The first four issues in this volume are near-perfect, packed with story (unlike too many recent ssstreeetched-out, decompressed comics) and often hilarious. My picks for favorite stories include #2, which sets up She-Hulk's law firm job and has her involved with "Danger Man," a humble family man who wants to sue his company over the unwanted superpowers they gave him in an accident, and #4, which is a fall-down funny issue guest-starring Spider-Man, who decides to sue his nemesis, unscrupulous newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson, for libel. The art for these issues is by Juan Bobillo, who does an expressionistic, neo-Manga type style that's really loose and appealing, The last two issues collected, #5-6, are a bit more conventionally superheroic featuring lots of rampaging evildoers and a jail breakout, and comparatively traditional art by Paul Pelletier. It's not bad art, but a comedown from Bobillo's rubbery appeal. She-Hulk Vol. 1 dances nicely on the edge between all-out satire and evildoing, with nice, refreshingly feminist perspective into a female crimefighter that never panders. I'm definitely interested in picking up Vol. 2, and might even find time to add another regular series pickup to my straining comics budget. Grade: A-

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