Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk, is determined to save the world and her career! With the help of her friends, she’ll navigate the perils of starting a new business, battling Doctor Doom, getting shrunk down to the size of an ant, wrangling a drunk Hellcat, and solving the mystery behind the one case that got away from her: the Blue File!
This book gets closer in tone and execution to John Byrne’s classic Sensational She-Hulk run than any series featuring the character has come before or since. A major part of what makes it work so well is that it completely understands its lead character. Jennifer Walters loves being a superhero, but she never forgets that she got into the world-saving game for the same reason she became a lawyer: to help people.
This is an excellent book for readers who have always been curious about She-Hulk but haven’t known where to start. In fact, the series’ approach to continuity can be summed up in its very first two pages:
The storytelling in just these few panels is astonishingly economical. Even if you’ve never picked up a She-Hulk comic in your life, this gives you so many things right up front: Jennifer’s status as a major player in the Marvel Universe, her self-confidence, her power level, her sense of humor, her work ethic, the fact that she likes to let loose both in battle and at play, that she has a soft side…and to top it all off, the bottom text box sums up the whole series’ mission statement in six elegantly simple words: “No one is only one thing.” Two pages in, this book tells you everything you need to know about Shulkie and invites you to follow her into the next step of her career. That’s just good comic bookin’, right there.
Speaking of Jen’s sense of humor, one of the most endearing things about this book is how the characters interact with one another. There’s no real explicit breaking of the fourth wall that could be seen in previous She-Hulk series, but the people who inhabit the world of this book are keenly aware of the absurdity of life in a comic book universe. For example, in an early issue, two agents of the evil organization A.I.M. argue over whether or not they should fight She-Hulk, since it might earn them a promotion. She-Hulk complains about the number of robots she has to fight in her daily life. D-List superheroes bemoan the fact that they aren’t as popular as, say, Iron Man or Captain America.
While the fourth wall remains intact, a lot of comedy is still mined from the characters’ awareness of the tropes associated with comic books. This also allows the characters to be more relatable to the reader. Even in the context of a bombastic, larger than life world, their concerns are mostly ones we can identify with: success, happiness, or in Patsy Walker’s case, wanting to get out and wreck stuff with your friends.
But it’s not all pathos and courtroom drama; Jennifer Walters can throw down when the situation calls for it. Adding Patsy Walker as She-Hulk’s right-hand woman was a great move for this series, as not only is their friendship engaging, but it allows the book to showcase different types of action sequences. Hellcat is able to be a little more stealthy and her acrobatics are visually interesting, whereas She-Hulk is a total bruiser, tearing through office furniture with a single finger and chucking Doombots like they’re yesterday’s recycling. The book’s many guest stars also add a lot of flavor to the battle scenes that inevitably occur when legalese simply won’t do the trick.
The only bummer about this series is that it was canceled at 12 issues. The story arc of the Blue File is able to be wrapped up and the day is saved, but there are still a few subplots that could have benefitted from a little more closure. Readers will still feel that they have received a complete story, but they may still have a few lingering questions. Still, I suppose a book is pretty great if the only real problem with it is that there should be more!
Jen manages to give voice to the ethos of this gone-too-soon series in the fourth issue, saying, “I just want to do the best I can, at everything, while I can.” While it ran, this book was absolutely one of the best.
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