Group Review: She-Hulk #1

Each of the participating writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass along with a short reason for the score. Here’s a blurb about the issue from Marvel Comics before we begin: JENNIFER WALTERS IS…THE SHE-HULK! A stalwart Avenger, valued member of the FF, savior of the world on more than one occasion, she's also a killer attorney with a pile of degrees and professional respect. A 7-foot-tall drink of cool, emerald water, she's tough enough to knock out Galactus with one punch (possibly?) and has a heart bigger than the moon. But juggling cases and kicking bad guy butt is starting to be a little more complicated than she anticipated. With a new practice, a new paralegal and a mounting number of super villains she's racking up as personal enemies, She Hulk might have bitten off a little more than she can chew…but she just calls that that Tuesday.

Kimberly: BUY

I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for this review as I have never read a single issue of She-Hulk before but after reading I think I might have to see what kind of fandoms they have going on for She-Hulk. I loved our character Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk, she’s a fucking boss. She’s assertive and takes no shit not even from Tony Stark. This issue however did lack some of that super hero action since most of it revolved around litigation but still entertaining nonetheless.  I’m not too sure what they are going to next but I hope to see Jennifer Walters taking names and kicking ass. Marvel you’ve been doing great things lately especially with the new release of Ms.Marvel. So thank you Marvel, Soule and Pulido.

Erik: PASS

Marvel Comics is suffering from what I call “The Hawkeye Effect”. For those of you who don’t get my meaning, I’m talking about comic books about superheroes doing everything except being superheroes. While the writers may be talented, and the artists may be exceptional, I’m just freaking sick of it. Independent comics were created for people who don’t need to see tight-wearing, cape-toting, and hammer wielding superhumans. Why do we need those comics from a publisher or publishers, who have become what they are because of their ability to create some of, if not the most memorable characters in graphic fiction? I don’t think that we do. While I was intrigued by the approach that the creators took for this new series, I really saw it coming. It was predictable and it almost feels overused already.

Before now, I had never read a single issue of She-Hulk. Please understand, however, that I knew before reading the first page that it wasn’t going to be a traditional superhero comic, but that didn’t prevent me from being immediately bored with the content. But you see? I went into this with an open mind. And I have read so many types of comic books that it would be impossible to classify me as biased. I took a chance and it didn’t work out. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido are extremely talented, but their talent is being wasted here.

She-Hulk #1

Samantha: BORROW

Charles Soule brings us our newest version of She-Hulk. I was intrigued to see a new female superhero taking on her own series...especially She-Hulk, who really needed a new title. Javier Pulido’s art fits right into the series. He brings in that old-time cartoonish feel with the character. I don’t know if everyone will dig it, but I totally understand it and can’t wait to see his take on her fight scenes.

The plot has everything a female lead needs; an independent woman working her mind strength. Of course, we see Jennifer Walters work her muscle strength too, but clearly the comic is taking a more intellectual look. I can totally get on board with the attitude of this series. Now, why I gave this issue a “Borrow” has to do with how the issue was set-up. I usually like stories to cross between multiple issues. She-Hulk’s story was more of a preview for what the series will be about. I think anyone could pick up #2 and know what was going on. I wanted something a little more. Jennifer’s first case seemed promising, but then ended with a flash. That for me left a sour taste. The next issues will no doubt bring in some cases that rock, and Jennifer will be there with her badass lawyer lingo and green-skin terror.

Dustin: BORROW

I’ll be really honest; I almost gave this a pass. The only thing that kept me from doing so was the art. Javier Pulido’s art was wonderful even though I’m not partial to the way he illustrates She-Hulk’s face. But the breakdowns and clean line work from Pulido should be applauded. The colors are vibrant and give the book a classic comic look without looking too “golden age” for its own good.

The story was not fun… entertaining… or even remotely amusing. I’m a fan of Charles Souele esq. but I’ve actually never checked out his mainstream Marvel and DC stuff. I know right, I guess I was scared that this exact thing would happen. The entire issue felt as if Soule was reading the book behind the reader and saying, “this is what’s great about the character.” Though everything we’re shown was pretty meh. Her journey didn’t feel like anything I haven’t read in Daredevil or Heroes For Hire; she’s just living life in the Marvel universe and she going to face robots and shit. Now that I think about it, it reminds me of Peter Milligan’s run on X-Force/X-Static; they would only go on missions for characters to die and the rest of the time was just dealing with them living the life. That’s what She-Hulk is doing; living life, but Soule is constantly trying to get her over with you (“over” being a wrestling term for popular and beloved).

I love She-Hulk; I love when she’s lawyering and punching. Here she does both, but it never once felt like She-Hulk. It felt like someone telling it was She-Hulk.

Nick: BUY

She-Hulk #1 is one of the strongest #1’s I’ve seen from either of the Big 2 since probably the most recent volume of Hawkeye. This issue sets up who She-Hulk is as a person, a lawyer, and a superhero, and then turns us loose on the conflicts she’s experiencing.  She’s juggling being a superhero and being a lawyer, which David Brothers points out is actually a delicate balance between her morality and the legal system. We see her trying to be the best lawyer she can and running up against Tony Stark’s Legal Man, who is basically the embodiment of Lawful Neutral, while we also know in the back of our minds that being a superhero vigilante is probably not strictly-speaking legal. And if you’re a lawyer and you’re strong-arming for your case, that’s a deeply gray territory that I think Soule and Pulido are setting up to mine.

I love that having Charles Soule, the Practicing Attorney, writing the book makes for a lot of verisimilitude. It’s like when you first read The Firm by John Grisham and he got all the little stuff right because his day job was the job he was writing about. Soule knows how to be a lawyer, and he’s just filling in the superheroics. Plus, he’s got a real knack for exposition. His first page knocks out what Jennifer’s been doing over in the pages of FF, sets up what her expectation of the world is, and then lets her walk to her own “doom,” setting off the story. It’s elegant, it’s quick, and it lets us get to She-Hulk being a badass bitch as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, Javier Pulido’s art knocks it out of the damn park. He’s always been great, but I was only turned on to him when he did a few fill-in issues on Hawkeye. His art strikes me as a poppier, cheerier version of what Eduardo Risso was doing in 100 Bullets, and it’s awesome. He manages to catch facial expressions, the everyday human dramas, and Jennifer being a normal person. He also manages to show off how strong she is just by feats of posture; she picks up a tank in one scene, and he positions it between her carrying boxes of lighter equipment, and he fools your mind into thinking it’s totally normal. It’s genius, and it’s an attention to detail I wish I saw more of in anyone’s books.

Soule and Pulido are kicking off what seems to be another big feminist winner for Marvel, and I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Plus, I think we all know the table-breaking scene is an iconic She-Hulk scene already, so GET HYPE.


Carl: BUY

I am somewhat of a pariah among the Comic Bastards because I enjoy the Hulk comic books.  Something about his transformation and the sheer savage brute force of the Jekyll and Hyde character harkens back to my affinity for the transforming characters of 80s cartoons like He-Man and, naturally, Transformers.

I was somewhat hesitant to try She-Hulk because she seemed to me to be a one-dimensional character.  She doesn’t change like Dr. David Bruce Banner, yet she has the strength and green of the Hulk.

I had to give it a shot to see if there could be something more to this character—and there is.

This re-introduction to the life of Jennifer Walters does not have any intensive action scenes.  In fact, some of the biggest action events take place off page.  Through She-Hulk #1 Charles Soule tells a different and cooler side of the superhero universe: the legal drama.

The focus of this story is Jennifer’s absconding from her present law firm.  As a freelancer, she takes on a case representing Holly Harrow against She-Hulk’s former lover and Avengers teammate, Tony Stark.

Smart, funny, and different, She-Hulk #1 entertains by the simple premise that Jennifer will be an outstanding lawyer while occasionally bashing some heads.  Particularly interesting is the dialogue.  “Legal,” the litigation representative for Tony Stark, spouts law terms as though he were some atonal extra dimensional being.  I hope this character returns to the series because he will surely be the thorn in Jennifer’s paw.

The best lines came from She-Hulk’s discussion with Heather Harrow at a bar.  The heroine states “Ninety percent of lawyering is conversations.”  Harrow asks, “What’s the other ten percent?”  Jennifer answers, ‘Mostly beating up robots, apparently.”  Such dialogue reflects the nature of the book.  The aim is to be ninety percent smart legal drama with ten percent action.

And it works.  It works rather well, in fact.

Just a quick note about the artwork: Javier Pulido does the illustrations on the book.  His style is something akin to the Romita, Jr. work on Punisher: War Zone.  Acclimating to his style make take a few pages.  I found the illustration of Jennifer in the opening part of the book to be somewhat odd because her eyes were so far apart.  Nevertheless, the artwork does a sufficient job of telling the story.

She-Hulk #1 gave me a refreshing look at the Marvel universe from a different perspective of the usual ‘threat to the universe’ so many of the heroes endure.  We need more interesting stories like this.

Score: 3 Buys, 2 Borrows and a Pass!

Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Javier Pulido Publisher: Marvel Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 2/12/14