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She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki’ is an average monster

Between the uneven writing and bland art, this one maybe should have stayed in 2016.

I remember when this series was initially published, I was interested in the idea that She-Hulk was monstrous in the same way her cousin typically is. It seems like something that could have some real meaning, given the simple fact that She-Hulk as a product has to be a hot sitcom star instead of the horror monster Hulk, and digging into that could be worthwhile, especially post-Civil War II (ugh) where Bruce was off the table. Why couldn’t Jen be the main Hulk of the 616 for a while? 

The result is a little muddy. In some places I can see the strength in the concept, but on the whole it ends up not quite living up to what it wants to do. 

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She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
Marvel Comics

The series is largely focused on themes surrounding being a monster, and everything around it. On one hand, you have the “monsters” that society is afraid of, the ones that get left behind, like those who are physically or mentally disabled or traumatized. Ones who need the most protection but never get it. She-Hulk is an obvious place for this kind of story, from her profession, to her then recent comatose state from being bludgeoned by Thanos, to her general resemblance to monsters. Maybe it’s a vein that’s been tapped, but it’s not one that’s tapped out, and was a particularly obvious move post-Civil War II (ugh). 

However, I think the execution leaves something to be desired. The first couple of stories were cooking something, but by the end, they fell short of their aspirations in ways that superhero stories tend to. Just like in those past stories that didn’t quite hit right, this one ends up taking the side of the oppressive class, and really just allow people to fall through the cracks. In some ways, this amplifies the horror of those situations, that the problems of society are inescapable and that there’s really not much we can do, but that doesn’t get hammered nearly enough for me to actually believe that was the intent. Instead, what we get is Jen physically saving people in terrible circumstances, but them ending up in similar or worse situations that they were in previously. 

And hey, I get it, this is a problem with the genre and not the story. I can’t expect superhero comics to say “ACAB,” or “prison abolition,” or “equitable housing for all,” but I also just think you shouldn’t flirt with those ideas if you aren’t even going to try to execute them. Sure, the Stan Lee way is that I should No-Prize that Damage Control found all those ‘monsters’ a place to live and jobs to do and food to eat and that’s happening right off-panel where Jen isn’t punching. 

She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
Marvel Comics

The rest of the series focuses on Jen’s fear and acceptance of her new state, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing there, either. On one hand, it’s a little bit anticlimactic, which does work for what they’re doing, but on the other hand, it feels rushed, and doesn’t quite mesh with everything else. About two-thirds of the way through the series, it feels like there was a major course-correction back toward what’s more expected from a She-Hulk series, which kind of derails the whole experience. 

I actually think Tamaki does fun work in the latter part of the series, but it just feels like it’s set apart from the rest, and the whole is weakened by it. 

She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
Marvel Comics

 Add to the above the fact that the art is just generally serviceable without really being memorable either way, and it makes this into a somewhat frustrating, but mostly boring experience. There’s good bits here and there, and I think without various expectations and other market realities within Marvel this could have been a more complete and meaningful run. Instead, it ends up reading as an argument against the concept of this status quo because it’s held back from sticking the landing, which wraps around to being even more disappointing. I hope everyone’s enjoying the Rowell run, I guess. 

She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
‘She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki’ is an average monster
She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki
Really wanted to love this one, but between the uneven writing and bland art, this one maybe should have stayed in 2016.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.3
The themes here are worth giving into
Unfortunately, none of them get to pay off very well
Forgettable art
5.5
Average
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