Monday, 5 April 2010

She-Hulk Sensational #1 review

It's the 30th anniversary of She-Hulk's first publication and while she doesn't have an ongoing to celebrate the fact, Marvel have been generous enough to provide a one-shot.

I wouldn't have bothered, what with most of this $4.99 publication being irrelevant or reheated. First off, Gary Frank's cover, coloured by Emily Warren, is a beaut. It's a bit of a strange choice for a celebration issue, mind, with our heroine looking distinctly down at heel - the taxi number/signature, GF06, hints that what we have here is actually a four-year-old unused cover, from the time Jen was sacked from her law firm. What a fantastic birthday gift.

I suppose at a pinch the art could go with Peter David's opening story, the sole part of the book that's relevant to Shulkie's anniversary. It looks back to the days of John Byrne's Sensational She-Hulk with lots of fourth wall-breaking fun as the jade giantess gets the blues over having been around three decades. Luckily her creator, Stan Lee himself, is on hand to send her on a familiar journey in 'The She-Hulk Story That's a Riff on A Christmas Carol'.

And while the jumping off point is Ebenezer Scrooge's, the story is pure Jen Walters, with She-Hulk equal parts bemused and bristling as she meets her personal ghosts. It's fast-paced, fun-filled, Shulkie shenanigans and just right for the occasion. The opening page alone, starring Jen's answer machine, is a hoot. David even makes a few fair points about how far the character has come over the years. The art by illustrator Jonboy Meyers and colourist Jim Charalampidis, is bombastic and vibrant, perfectly suiting proceedings.

Marvel were ahead, and they should have quit. For the next story doesn't just reek of inventory, it admits as much with a first panel 'Skrull Queen's' note telling us the story takes place before Secret Invasion. That in itself wouldn't make the strip annoying, but as you plough through it and realise it's not a She-Hulk piece at all, but a 'one-size fits all' entry co-starring Spider-Woman and Ms Marvel ... that's annoying.

Of course, were it a great done-in-one, the day could perhaps be saved. It's not. Brian Reed's script presents the three women as so irritatingly stupid you realise why the story's sat around for a couple of years. And if this is set before Secret Invasion, presumably the Spider-Woman here is the disguised Skrull Queen, yet her thoughts aren't those of an evil spider-mole. Maybe this is a plot point covered elsewhere, perhaps she's in such deep cover she thinks she is Jessica. I dunno, and I shouldn't be expected to know in what's presented as a special tale of She-Hulk.

Oh, and can we have a moritorium on female team-ups called 'Ladies' Night'?

I like the artwork by Iban Coello and Andrew Hennessy, it's pleasantly powerful, with the senseless catfights presented effectively, but I'd rather it were in the service of a good script - and Reed can provide them.

Finally, a reprint of John Byrne's Sensational #40, not one of his better issues in terms of story, and it doesn't help for our purposes that it's part one of ... I dunno, I'd bailed on the title because the quality wasn't great. Plus, it's from the period when Byrne had dispensed with inkers and letterers, meaning the look isn't classic Byrne - too loose - and the lettering is a mess at times.

So, one lovely story, one less-good tale and an unsatisfying reprint. Shabby Birthday, She-Hulk.

PS Mart here - Just wondering why this review does so well in the stats - where is everyone coming from? Please feel free to add a comment and let me know!

13 comments:

  1. This was sort of a bummer, wasn't it?

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  2. Well, to make up for that downer, Mart, here's my favourite She-Hulk story, just for you...

    I was in WH Smith's one Saturday and She-Hulk was on the cover to the then-latest issue of Panini's anthology - Mighty World of Marvel. Little seven-year-old lad next to me grabs his pal's arm and with great authority says, "That's the Hulk's wife."

    I love the way children understand things we cynical comic readers try to overcomplicate.

    Happy birthday, Mrs Hulk, wife of Hulk!

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  3. See, now you have me all smiley again. Mrs Hulk. She could be played by Kate Mulgrew.

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  4. I would not have bought this issue or even become a She-Hulk fan if you had not reviewed Girl Comics #1with its incredible Amanda Connor cover Mart. ;)

    The first story was a hoot with the dialogue and artwork, the second one felt like a decent "Adventures of three Marvel Superheroines who had, or about to have their respective titles cancelled", while the third one was picked because the "jump rope" issue was a milestone event in Byrne's run (for better of for worse.)

    Hopefully sales of this title will be enough for Marvel to give us more She-Hulk centric stories. I would love to see Amanda Connor draw one...

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  5. Now there's an idea, Gene - Amanda is going to have a bit more time, it seems.

    I feel bad, having slightly influenced your decision to buy this less than sterling effort. Have you had a chance to read any of the Dan Slott Shulkie, collected as Single Green Female and Superhuman Law? It's wonderfully funny, clever stuff.

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  6. Indeed I have! I just finished Single Green Female and I am about to start Superhuman Law. The story where Shulkie and Pug help Spiderman sue J. Jonah Jameson for libel was a riot. I loaned my copy to a friend and he laughed out loud reading it too.

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  7. Excellent! Shame that run ended, it was refreshing.

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  8. I'm a latecomer to the review, Mart -- I just noticed it in the sidebar, and thought it was a recent issue I'd missed.

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    1. It's one of the most 'viewed' reviews ever. There must be a spider messing up the stats, because it's not like I say 'boobies'.

      Oops!

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  9. I like She Hulk. It's surprisingly hard to get too. You would think there would be stuff still in print but nooo.

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  10. There are a fair few trades, Simon, check out Amazon.

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  11. This wasn't the greatest she-Hulk thing ever, but i enjoyed it. She is my favorite superhero ever (from any company) and she hasn't had anything solo in a while, so this was a cool read for me. Not the best with her, but not the worst. Unless she gets an ongoing (which probably won't happen anytime soon) this will remain her last solo comic for awhile. Until she hopefully gets her own comic someday, I'll just have to be happy with cameos in Hulk and avengers comics.

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  12. I can't wait for Jennifer to get a strip, or featured role, again - she's Marvel's most distinctive, and likeable, female character. Why Marvel are instead giving us a Red Hulkess is beyond me, Hitiman.

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