- September 10, 2020
She-Hulk by Dan Slott, A Sensational Series
Spoilers for Dan Slott’s entire She-Hulk run.
So She-Hulk has always been a character I liked for her appearances in the Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk cartoons. She was kind of like the spunky alternative to the Hulk. As anyone knows, She-Hulk is known for being sexy. Since John Bryne got his hands on the character that’s a key part of her character. Yet, strangely, from what I can tell it’s not widely considered to be a bad thing. I don’t mean like people who liked objectifying female characters like her apparent sexiness. I mean that even people who don’t like objectifying female characters at all don’t seem to have a hate boner for She-Hulk’s runs. She’s pretty well known, and lesser known characters have gotten shit where she hasn’t so I don’t think its a popularity thing.
I mention this to give background. She-Hulk is importantly a female character who’s drawn to be un-classically attractive. She doesn’t fit old societies’ classic opinions on feminine beauty. She’s taller than every man she dates, she has no qualms about showing skin, she’s green, and she beats the shit out of everyone.
So yeah, not ‘classic.’
I’m beginning to see a trend between the female comic book characters I read about for this channel.
Self-revelation aside, this means that She-Hulk stories have tended to be commentaries on sexuality, and double standards between gender. When I say the writers don’t judge She-Hulk (or it seems like they don’t mean to) that doesn’t mean other characters don’t. Her best stories tackle that, they don’t shy away from the double standards of society and they’re well-respected for it.
But there’s another key thing to She-Hulk’s character that other writers seem to forget. Something that writer Dan Slott brings to the forefront.
She-Hulk’s a Lawyer? How Did I Forget?
I always knew this. At the same time, I always forgot about it because it’s not played up in most mediums. When I was searching for runs on She-Hulk to read, Dan Slott’s was the only one recommended for how it delves into She-Hulk’s alter ego.
Daredevil is a lawyer and Marvel never lets you forget it. Though, after reading this I think its criminal that anyone thinks he’s the best lawyer in the Marvel Universe. She-Hulk crushes him, hands-down.
She-Hulk Vs Jennifer Walters
For the longest time, not enough comic fans have seen how being She-Hulk has affected Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk doesn’t hide her secret identity, but it never mattered because she always wanted to be She-Hulk. Its gotten to the point that if She-Hulk sleeps with someone and they wake up to Jennifer Walters, they freak out and ask where She-Hulk is. The way Slott tackles this can be heartbreaking in some ways. We have a She-Hulk come to like one part of herself and not the other. So Slott decided with this run to make Jennifer Walters feel special for once and its about time.
Because guess what, Jenn is a pretty cool, badass attorney. She represents the good guys, and does so to the best of her ability. At least until the court of law needs She-Hulk to be Jennifer Walters so cases stop being thrown out and supervillains stop recognizing her in court. Then Jenn is hired by her dream law firm to be Jenn and represent heroes in superhuman law.
The Defense Should Now Approach the Stand
The story arcs that follow are about Jenn representing superheroes in cases where they cause collateral damage, suffer from slander, or get caught up playing jury to time-travel self-defense cases. One story arc takes She-Hulk to outer space for she can be an intergalactic judge for the Living Tribunal. Truly, only one story arc isn’t about Jenn being a cool lawyer.
These arcs are real page-turners. To see how She-Hulk can use classic and not-so classic Marvel storylines to win cases brings up some pretty interesting and funny conundrums in comics.
One case involves a ghost accusing their killer from beyond the grave. She-Hulk argues that he be allowed to do so because he may come back to life. She-Hulk uses the Infinity Gauntlet event to prove her point. During that series technically half the people in the universe died and were brought back to life and didn’t lose their legal rights.
Other times, they were simpler, and just plain old funny. For example, when Jenn’s co-worker decides to pay back Spiderman for saving him by helping the webhead finally sue James Jonah Jameson. If anyone’s ever wondered about that panel where Spiderman accuses Jameson of hating him for being black, its in this comic. Its still so funny when Spiderman pretends to put Jameson on the spot. Also, great, because Dan Slott I believe was still deep into his incredibly long Spiderman run.
And while the cases are great, the way Jenn comes to like being Jennifer Walters as much She-Hulk really is the heart of the story. Sure, its nice to see a hero enjoy being a superhero for once. It’s also nice to read about a hero coming to terms with who they are in their entirety.
Titania, the Villain Nobody Knew
The only real possible flaw in this plot is how it lacks a compelling supervillain for most of the book. There truly is no real overarching plot or subplots besides She-Hulk’s emotional healing.
But I say most of the book has no compelling supervillain, not all of them. One arc, dead in the middle of the omnibus, the only arc not about Jennifer Walters the Superhero Lawyer, is about Titania.
Titania, for all intents and purposes, probably wasn’t a really deep villain before this comic, and wasn’t any time afterwards. But her origin and her hate for She-Hulk was something that actually made me feel bad for her.
The Rise of Titania
Slott turns this one-dimensional, visually bland and archaic villainess into someone you can actually imagine meeting and pitying. The fact that Titania was originally born premature and incapable of physically growing made her childhood as a victim of bullying relatable to me on too many levels. Then how she wanted powers to become a superhero only hit home harder with me.
Sure, once she gets her powers from Dr. Doom, she goes full generic villain, and her dialogue never becomes clever or intelligent, context alone carries her. The first time she gets her powers, she goes after her bullies, which I get. I don’t condone it, but I get it.
Then she’s judged by superheroes for how she used her powers. In that moment, I also get why she never ends up becoming a superhero. She’s been too hurt, and she’s too angry to ever be good.
Then again, when I really thought she was generic, Slott goes over her first meeting with She-Hulk. She tried to prove herself, and then She-Hulk just stomped her. It’s downright sad to see that after getting superpowers, she could still be made to feel pathetic. She was still literally under the heel of someone else. Seeing her ask for help from other supervillains against She-Hulk is legitimately sad. Slott should get some recognition for making me feel anything for this villain.
Drawing Between the Lines
Now, the art by Juan Bobillo, Paul Pelletier, and Scott Kolins aren’t matching what John Bryne did decades ago. The best I can say about their art is that I think its fine. You come here for Dan Slott’s writing and characterization, it’s more than worth the price of the omnibus.
I say this because I think the art goes up and down across the around 13 issues here. Juan Bobillo’s art style is weird in the way it captures She-Hulk more than anyone else. Far too often she seems bubbly and looks like a blow-up doll. Honestly, I would say about most of the characters in Bobillo’s art style.
When it counts, he does bring a humanity to the character. I won’t take that from him, but it’s not consistent. In the expositional and more comedic pages, he doesn’t translate the energy She-Hulk has an Avenger’s powerhouse all that well. He makes everyone look way younger than they are, and thicker in a way that looks unnatural.
Paul Pelletier and Scott Kolins’ art fair a little better, but not by much. Where Bobillo’s proves to be an acquired taste, Peletier and Kolins’ art styles just prove generic. They’re definitely familiar in how they draw She-Hulk. The problem is that they’re trying to do that thing where comic book artists imitate the details of real life rather than their own true style.
Even today I feel like some comic book artists don’t get that you can’t beat Gary Frank or Alex Ross in the realism department. Please stop trying, make your own style.
I would never say that this is an ugly book, but there are so ugly panels. Some where I would daresay these guys translate the wrong emotion.
In Conclusion: I Liked It
Overall, I think anyone looking to get into She-Hulk, or needs more She-Hulk in your life, should read this. It’s great and does wonders for the character. Plus, with a John Bryne’s omnibus and a new show coming out for Disney Plus in the next two years, this is great to hold you over. I can’t recommend it enough.
She-Hulk doesn’t get enough love. Her current characterizations are making a lot of unnecessary changes to the character that I don’t necessarily enjoy. People do and I’m glad they do, I would only recommend reading this before those ones.
Wan to read it? Find it at your local comic book store!