Jamie and Iyy team up to bring you their dueling (or not so dueling) viewpoints on the all new She-Hulk #1!
Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Muntsa Vicente
Ivy: Well, I’ll go first. I loved this. Someone on the Women of Marvel panel at NYCC last year said this was going to be like Hawkeye but for She-Hulk, and I was so excited to find out that description was pretty much 100% accurate. The day-to-day, non-superheroing life.
Jamie: I’m loving it too. The first issue is telling readers right out that while she has got the brawn, her brains come first! She never put the fighting togs on once!
Ivy: And, I mean … robot punching. It’s an important part of the legal process.
Jamie: Who would’ve thought! As is knowing when to talk calmly and when to remind people they can’t push you around. The bit with the table was priceless!
Ivy: Yes! I think what I appreciated most is that none of her problems came from “being a woman,” you know, “just a lady trying to make it in a man’s world!” which is such a played out, boring trope.
Jamie: There was a little of that, turned on its ear. Jen was right on the money that her performance in her job should’ve informed her bonus, and they honestly thought they could get away with trying to withhold it because she wasn’t going to abuse her heroic contacts for their profit!
That was a beautiful takedown of male arrogance! They learned the hard way what they should’ve already known. She’s not just a great lawyer. And she’s not someone who has to kowtow to the men whose name is on the door. She’s not one to be trifled with, and she won’t sit still for their power trips. I love that although their ethics were as slimy as they were, Jennifer’s ethics are as strong as she is.
Ivy: It’s an interesting take on “villainy.” Marvel is always down with the social commentary, though.
Jamie: Excellent point, Ivy. Those two are more relatable than Marvel’s usual world threatening supervillain types. Any woman could face a pair of chauvinistic schmucks like them in any office.
There was one bit of writing I could’ve done without: Jen’s remark about looking forward to her bonus because her credit cards are groaning makes her come off as a “bimbo” who just likes to shop but doesn’t bother to manage her money.
As a lawyer, Jennifer is not foolish or vapid, so spending beyond her means when she could take investment advice from any number of her rich and brilliant friends stretches my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point! Then there’s the fact that working for a prestigious law firm means she’s not living paycheck to paycheck like us regular folks.
Jennifer prefers her She-Hulk form, so her fashion budget has to be exorbitant. Dressing to befit the firm wouldn’t be cheap for anyone, let alone a seven foot tall, Olympian physiqued woman whose outfits and shoes of necessity need to be specially tailored and most likely specially reinforced. Buying off the rack for her high-powered job would be a no-no off the bat, but a lot of her wardrobe is very likely custom made. Since she sometimes still has to show up as petite human Jennifer, that means she needs to maintain a smaller, secondary wardrobe.
I could be wrong, and her plastic is maxed out because she does a lot of charitable donations, and chips in for repairs after superhero stuff when Damage Control isn’t available, but I doubt it. Charles Soule doesn’t expand on it enough to get me past that first thought. We just get Jen saying it with an insouciant smile so we could see it disappear one panel later when the partners hit her with the “no bonus for you” line. I am willing to forgive it, grudgingly, since the rest of the book is so strong. Soule probably didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did for me.
Ivy: I don’t think this bothered me as much. I see a lot of Marvel characters these days as being portrayed very “human,” so things like credit card debt are just small devices to enforce that. I can see your point, for sure. I think for a female character it’s a more loaded line, because, yeah, it definitely smacks of “bimbo.”
Jamie: I’ve never had a problem with Marvel making their characters human and relatable. Peter Parker being broke all the time and worried about how costly the components for web fluid are comes to mind, as does Wolverine having to think about money making methods that wouldn’t reflect poorly on his school. A different method that doesn’t fly in the face of Jen’s established intelligence would’ve worked better for me.
But to accentuate the positive, I can’t give enough love to Javier Pulido’s artwork. His art, which reminds me favorably of Mike Allred’s, is a little jarring as compared to some of the other Marvel titles; but the retro-action look brings an element of fun. I knew I’d like what I’d see from him when the table gag made the rounds in the previews for this title.
I love the page where Jen’s drowning her sorrows in the lawyer bar, and the background shows Holly Harrow working her way through the lawyers–and getting laughed at–before finally spotting and approaching Jennifer. I also like how he gives detailed backgrounds for wide and establishing shots, but backs down to simple, solid color backgrounds for character moments, so you can focus on the characters and their dialogue. The two page spread where Jen arrives at the Eighteenth Floor is beautiful: it’s laid out in such a way as to indicate that what Jen sees is intended to intimidate an ordinary human, but all it does is piss her off. Soule didn’t have to write that–Pulido made it visible without a word needed.
Ivy: Yes, loved the panel layouts, really innovative. I also thought the art was a bit Allred (who is my favorite of all time). Kind of like Mike Allred meets Darywn Cooke. Jen’s facial expressions were so integral to the story — I often feel like expression can be lost in the static art form of comics.
Jamie: The face work was impeccable. We got to see so many facets of Jen in expression and in style. The holo-receptionists’ expressions were really good too.
Charles Soule once again underlines Jennifer’s intelligence, though, getting back to the writing for a minute. First with Legal, then with her client, supported beautifully by Javier Pulido’s art. Jennifer’s sense of style is matched to her locale. She wore somber grey and white for the Park Ave. partners, but in the defense of a poor woman client, she softens her look with pale pink against blue, and downplays the sexiness angle by wearing trousers, rather than a legs-displaying skirt.
Ivy: Overall, I thought this was just a really tight book. Everything working in sync. Charles Soule is a real-life lawyer, so obviously he brings a good perspective to the book. Pulido’s art locks it down.
Jamie: I hadn’t picked that up about Soule. It makes a lot of sense and I look forward to seeing his take on law through her eyes. He also gives us a snapshot of how compassionate Jennifer is. She tries to back out of the case, not because of the work involved, but because of Legal using a bunch of technically above-board but still underhanded dirty tricks to slow down the case to the point of halting it altogether. While Legal comes across as oily and slick, his tactics speak of knowing his case and his opponent. He respects Jennifer as a more than competent lawyer or he would not have gone to nearly as much trouble to stonewall her with paperwork.
Again Javier Pulido’s artwork shines, as we see Jennifer go from her “cleaning out the storage unit” duds, which fit fine even after fighting an old school B-movie level evil robot, to the same outfit shredded and her physique visibly more Hulked out after fighting several bigger, badder robots. The confident runway walk Jen uses when she’s in legal mode doesn’t switch off at any point, either, even when a fight has decimated her outfit.
Ivy: I loved how calm and collected she was. She was just taking it as it comes. Courtroom? Okay. Robot fight? Okay. She was the classic unflappable hero in many ways, just applied to relatable settings (except maybe robot fighting).
Jamie: The big face off when Jennifer finally gets to take on the guy Legal works for is a payoff worth waiting for. We get to see tiny glimpses of that Hulk family trait. After years of running around in the remnants of a white blouse or other destroyed clothing, having her outfit ruined doesn’t even put a tiny ding in Jennifer’s confidence as she walks up to have the conversation that robots and lawyers have been trying to keep her from having.
Javier Pulida and colorist Muntsa Vicente make this spread truly spectacular. The blue sky of New York as a panoramic view to a holographic antigravity workspace, with Jennifer a contrasting figure of black, pink and green standing out in sharp relief.
Jamie: The finale is a breath of fresh air. It spins the rags to riches trope in a way not often seen. The broke and downtrodden single mom is now dressing to befit her bank account, but she hasn’t forgotten how she got that bank account, and who was the only person willing to help her, putting Jennifer in the position of having to answer to no one but her own conscience in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ivy: Yes. I was so glad to see that. I like to see genuinely uplifting stories–I feel an excess of stuff is “dark” or bleak these days. Seeing a positive ending, executed in an entertaining way that wasn’t super cheesey, was a total relief. “Pay it forward” is a good moral, and one I’m surprised we don’t see more in superhero media.
Jamie: You called it again, Ivy. I agree that the sneering idea of happy endings being considered trite and cliche is a little overplayed. Thanks, Joss Whedon.
Women helping each other rather than sniping or backstabbing each other was a breath of fresh air. The snark and power jockeying going on in the Wood X-Men book makes my teeth grind. Here, the heroine did the right thing for the right reasons and got rewarded for it.
So that one throwaway line aside, I’d have to give this a five out of five. The creative team knocked it right out of the park for the first issue, leaving me eager to see what they’ve got up their sleeve for next month!
Ivy: I’m going to give this a solid perfect 5 as well. I re-read it three times since picking it up and have noticed new stuff to love every time. I came to love “The Jen” in FF and I’m so excited to get to know her character more. I won’t lie, I’m a little nervous: this first issue was a solid encapsulated story. An ongoing title can be harder to maintain. All said –this is a great read and a fantastic addition to Marvel’s growing collection of solo books featuring female characters.
Jamie: I’ve re-read it at least that many times too. I’ve been a fan of Jen’s since her first appearance. Her previous titles have met with mixed success. But this is a solid start! Since she seems to have a side job as legal counsel for the Mighty Avengers, hopefully that association will help bring in readers.