A brand-new Hulk arc lays in front of us and with it, a new artist to boot. What does the series have to offer us this time? Is it good?
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Georges Duarte
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The new arc for Hulk gets off to a mild start. It’s not awful–it’s even rather clever in how it ties back to the baking videos that Jen has been watching. However, there’s something about the writing and storytelling that leaves a lot to be desired. This issue is tackling a lot of different storylines at once with Jen in group therapy, her getting more comfortable in Hulk form, two guys getting some sort of weird drug, and the other plotline that ties into the cooking show Jen watches. I thought the first arc suffered a lot from being overly decompressed with little is happening until the very end, so the idea of the second arc being more active and having more going on is nice. There’s almost the opposite problem here, however–there’s so much going on that you don’t really develop any point or the new characters enough to get invested in them to where even when the ending comes, it’s more of a blip than a shocking, horrifying moment that feels big. Maybe the rest of the arc can fix this, but the opening isn’t exactly confidence ensuring.
Besides Jen, everyone feels rather underdeveloped. The two guys who buy the drugs feel like stereotypes (the dude bro trying to get internet famous and the uncertain guy in every PSA who doesn’t know if he should go along with his buddy) and the couple are written in a way that makes it feel like their only defining a trait is being gay. Not in an offensive way mind you, but in a way where it feels like the writer has nothing else for them. Jen also has her own problems. This issue sees her trying to get back into the groove, going to therapy and hulking out a bit to relieve stress. After the last arc, which I still have issues with, it does feel like she has developed and is moving forward on the road to recovery. However, between the last issue and this one, I really question a lot of the first arc. It doesn’t seem like hulking out was that big of a deal. She seems to control her form just fine, maybe with some more Hulk speak, and it’s not all that threatening either. Sure, she’s grey and there’s scars, but it feels like that’s all there is to the point where when Jen says she doesn’t feel the same, it’s hard to buy completely into that. The writer really needs to dive into some flashbacks to show what Jen’s hangup was because the trauma aspect feels almost tacked on and undermined by where the main character is now.
I am perfectly fine. Can’t you tell by my perfectly fine smile?
It does feel like Maise was simply swept under the rug from the last arc, leaving some very bad implications that the writer may not address. The dialogue and narration are a mixed bag here. Sometimes it’s okay, like in the opening scene during the group session (though Jen comes off as a big douche) or Jen’s interaction with a certain character. Other times, it’s painfully awkward and stilted like the couple later on when they’re talking about the cooking show. The story also feels badly told early on, with lots of awkward cuts and transitions from scenes to locations. Due to the issue being more lighthearted, the tone came across as more consistent and properly balanced, though the awkward jokes bleed in at points where they feel out of place. The writing, story, and even artwork overall definitely felt the weakest in the first half of the comic, though they improve later.
Now let’s talk about the artwork, which features new artist to the series, Georges Duarte. Duarte’s work is best known from horror comic known as Crossed from Avatar Press, a series known for being very visceral, gory, gritty, grimy, and edge-tastic. His style of artwork is very much in the same gritty house style that Avatar is known for with Ferals, God is Dead, and Uber. When applied to a book about human emotion, drama, coping with trauma and loss, and a person trying to find themselves, the art style wouldn’t seem like a good fit at all.
Duarte’s style has issues, though not all of them are his fault. The layouts are okay, but there are a lot of abrupt transitions, so the story can feel janky. The characters are drawn fine for the most part, but there are issues with foreshortening, body poses, proportion, the amount of detail in a panel, and more that are distracting. Facial expressions are a problem, since they’re not good so far at conveying emotion or drama well from what is seen here. However, the biggest issue with the art has to be the coloring, since it felt like at several times the color palette just changes from realistic to cartoony. It even happens on the same page at times, making the changes look more blatant and inconsistent. Checking, the comic lists only one colorist, but it really doesn’t feel like that. Lastly, there’s the design of She-Hulk, which is different from last issue. It doesn’t look bestial, thin, scrawny, or that inhuman as shown there. It looks closer to the cover’s depiction, just thinner. I assumed this would be the case given how the last artist drew Hulk characters, but this does bring up the issue of consistency between the artists of this book, the cover artists, and how others have been depicting Jen’s new design. Marvel really needs to tell people what Jen looks like now.
Color consistency? What’s that again?
Is It Good?
Hulk #7 is an okay start to the new arc, but it’s hampered by weird writing, some poor storytelling, and artwork that has a lot of issues. I can appreciate the development of getting Jen back on the road to being proper She-Hulk again, but the road there is far bumpier for the readers than the character itself. Maybe things will improve as the new arc continues from here.
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