Monday, 7 February 2011

SPECIAL GUEST REVIEW She-Hulks #4

She-Hulks concludes with the rest of the Intelligencia captured, and Lyra discovering a hard lesson of life that only a Hulk could appreciate. After digging themselves and the Mad Thinker out of the snow, Jen and Lyra subdue Klaw and the android Byte after an ear-splitting brawl. Afterwards as Lyra struggles to warm herself up with a bubblebath and hot chocolate, Jen explains to her how fighting villains like the Intelligencia is a necessary sacrifice for a Hulk to make, not only to protect themselves, but the friends they care about as well.

With that Lyra is off to the school dance with Amelia, and Jen to a romantic evening with Wyatt Wingfoot. Yet their mutual plans for an enjoyable night are imperiled when the Wizard uses his gravitational powers on the furnishings (obtained in exchange for information on his Intelligencia colleagues) to escape Gamma Base, taking his entire detention cell along for the ride.

Back at the dance, the relationship that has been building between Lyra and Jake for the past several issues is cut short when Jake takes an energy blast in the back for Lyra after the Wizard arrives uninvited. Lyra hulks out of her dress in front of everyone to battle the party crasher, but is quickly slammed hard into the gymnasium wall. She's saved at the last second by Jen, who defeats the Wizard handily, but greater pain is inflicted upon Lyra when her classmates berate and shun her, with Amelia turning her back on her as well.

Bloodied and teary-eyed, Lyra leaves after being prevented from checking on Jake’s condition. Jen tries to console Lyra by telling her that being a Hulk also means you have to leave behind the people you love and protect because they fear and hate you. The mini-series ends on this sad and poignant note as the She-Hulks walk away into the night with Lyra’s tattered dress left in an alleyway trashcan in a somber nod to an iconic moment in the Spider-Man mythos (click to enlarge).
Cue theme from the Bill Bixby Incredible Hulk television series

She-Hulks is a delightful blend of action, humour, and heart that leaves you hungry for more. Harrison Wilcox does an expert job in writing Jen as a slightly jaded, street-smart hero who gradually forms a maternal bond with the wide-eyed and innocent Lyra, who is coming to grips with the journey she must take to become a true hero. The artwork conveys this relationship nicely thanks to the talents of penciler Ryan Stegman, inker Michael Babinski and colorist Guru eFX.
One major accomplishment of the mini-series is making Lyra an appealing and relevant character, although greater recognition will take time (I had to explain who Lyra was to the comic book shop employee who sold me this issue). The one complaint I have with the overall story is with its ending. While the rebuke of Lyra by her classmates at the dance mirrors her distant father’s own lack of acceptance, it felt off in a society that has been fascinated by and embraced strong physical women in recent years. More likely Lyra would have been swamped with dance requests by boys who grew up playing Tomb Raider, watched shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and probably still have a She-Hulk poster hanging in their bedrooms.

The trade paperback for She-Hulks is set to be released this July, and one hopes their adventures together will continue, if not in an ongoing series, then perhaps in a subsequent miniseries, or even in a graphic novel format. The story potential this creative team can offer to the She-Hulk saga would be a terrible thing to waste.

EUGENE LIPTAK

Eugene Liptak is a librarian and author who is again grateful to Martin Gray (who is responsible along with Amanda Connor for making him a She-Hulk fan) for the opportunity to write these guest reviews for Too Dangerous For A Girl!

Cheers Gene, it's a pleasure to have you here, thanks for the terrific reviews - Mart

3 comments:

  1. I am a big She-Hulk fan but initially shied away from this series because I had no interest in Lyra.

    But these reviews got me. I bought the series and liked it. Bummer it's only a mini.

    On a related note, what creators would you guys like to see on a She-Hulk book? I think Frank Cho would be a great artist on a Jen book.

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  2. Frank Cho would be a bit too va-va-voom for my tastes. Maybe someone a little different drawing, such as Steve Dillon. And wrting, Karl Kesel, my old favourite.

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  3. Thank you for the kind words Anj!
    Frank Cho would be alright, but I didn't like the hairstyle he gave Jen. If Ryan Stegman is unable to draw She-Hulk again, then I would like to see Amanda Connor and/or Jamal Igle work their magic with her.

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