Saturday, November 3, 2007

Jolly Green... She-Hulk?

Consistency is always a good thing. For instance, I purchased She-Hulk 22 the other day. I brought it to the register and my favorite bookstore clerk, Ann, rung me up. She scanned the bar-code, but before she placed it in my bag, she glanced at the cover. She got this look on her face, like someone stuck a Ceti Eel into her ear canal, and remarked: "She-Hulk? My god, look at her breasts!" Later that day, my friend Mary noticed my copy lying on the kitchen counter and remarked, "My god, look at her breasts!"

And it's true. Jennifer Walters, AKA "She-Hulk", AKA "Shulkie," AKA "Big-Breasted Green Girl" (OK, I made that one up) has the only pair of FFF's in the universe this side of the pornographic industry. But we love her. Not because of her mammoth mounds, per se (although we imagine there are some virgin readers who wouldn't if she was, I dunno, the Hulk) but rather because the last few years we've been treated to fantastic storytelling by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton; and perhaps more importantly, because Jen is an irreverent, funny, friendly, driven human being we can all identify with. The only difference between us is that she can turn Green and hurt people when she doesn't want to be herself. Not a bad deal.

At the end of She-Hulk 21, Slott ended his run as writer on the series. Jennifer Walters, previously de-powered in the wake of World War Hulk. got her gamma-radiated powers back. She got her lawyer job back at her old law firm, GLK&B. She was hanging out with her best friend, Guy "Pug" Pugliese. All was right with the world.

Well... not so much. When Peter David takes over writing a title, it's a big deal. He's got the experience that comes from writing every hour of every day you can over a lifetime. His recent run on X-Factor is fantastic. And it can possibly be assumed that this run on She-Hulk will eventually be the same. I say eventually, because it sure isn't there yet.

She-Hulk 22 opens in New York (where else could it be?), where a wannabe super-thief, calling himself "Hi-Lite" breaks into the New York Museum of Antiquities to steal a cup purported to be the basis of the Holy Grail. It sure didn't look like the cup of a carpenter, but Hi-Lite obviously had a buyer ready because he was just about to make off with the cup when he was interrupted by a security guard. Firing blindly with a laser cutter, Hi-Lite grazed the guard but almost did more than that, as the guard then seized up and had a heart attack. Not wanting a murder on his conscience, Hi-Lite applied CPR until paramedics and police arrived on the scene to resuscitate the guard. He was then immediately arrested.

Now, if this had been a Dan Slott story, our lovable She-Hulk would be defending this villain with a conscience (who's cousin just happens to be one of her nemeses, guess which one!) and get him perhaps a second chance on the right path. Uh... no. Instead, we're introduced to Jennifer Walters: F.B.I.


She's working for a subsidiary of GLK&B called Freeman Bonding Inc. and is apparently a registered bounty hunter, tasked with bringing in Rockwell "Hi-Lite" Davis for skipping his court date. "How it all happened is a funny story. I'll probably talk about it when I stop crying."
Why not now, Peter David? Remember what I said about consistency? What did you do to She-Hulk, Peter?


Sorry about that. It's like when someone tapes over your favorite episode of Battlestar Galactica with a Three Stooges marathon. There's nothing wrong with the Stooges, but Galactica is infinitely better.

And that's the problem here. By changing the continuity, or at least altering it to his style of narrative, he's taken away (at least for the time being) part of what made Shulkie a unique, fun read. It's not bad, but I enjoyed Dan Slott more.

That's not to say it's all bad. The artwork, penciled by Shawn Moll (Outsiders) is light years ahead of the previous Rick Burchett work, even though Hi-Lite, listed as 25, looks like a 40-year-old in his mug shot. (Spoiler!) The return of Titania and her boyfriend Absorbing Man is compelling, although it illustrates that Titania is She-Hulk's only REAL nemesis besides life as Jen Walters. And as I said before, there's no reason to think David's story won't get better.

She-Hulk 22 is not She-Hulk at her finest. But I refuse to give up on the old girl. I'll buy the next issue, and perhaps the next, until I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Peter David has ruined the series. I really don't want for that to be the case, but we'll be keeping a watchful eye in her direction, hoping David can catch this particularly green-tinted lighting in a bottle.


Sam said...

Peter David has never, not ONE SINGLE TIME, done anything to a title he wrote or took over but RUIN it, so your optimism here is touchingly DOOMED, Gianni. But let's hope I'm wrong.

Oh wait ... I CAN'T be wrong, because even if Peter David was the good writer his obsessed fan-base claims, Hell, even if he could fart the sonnets of Shakespeare out his ass, he'd still be writing about FASCIST STOOGE toiling for an agency that helped to KILL Captain America, fighting on the SAME SIDE as the guys who maintain a friggin GULAG stocked with anybody who disagrees with them. Every issue in which She-Hulk doesn't punch her green fist through Tony Stark's head is just another issue in which she CAN'T be written consistently with her great past.

Oh, and Gianni? Before you're tempted to call me 'obsessed' on the subject, keep in mind you started this entry by praising consistency! I'm NOTHING if not consistent!

brian said...

My god! Look at those breasts!!

Gianni said...

Yes, Steve, you are consistent... You're also obsessed.

Kevin Caron said...

Steve (or is it Sam?) is right on both counts, I'm afraid. Well, mostly right, anyway. I too am skeptical of a Peter David-penned book improving much, since he's basically a hack. He practically admits as much on a "Panel Borders" radio interview I just listened to - citing multiple situations where he wrote himself into a corner and laughs that no-one noticed the giant plot holes he dug to escape it. He has the occasional sort-of good idea or kinda witty line, but he seems incapable of evolving as a writer beyond that. Instead of seeing and attending to his weaknesses as a writer, he seems to just bitch about the lack of respect he gets from editors or critics. I guess that's the problem with having an obsessed fan base.

What's up with that cover, by the way? Why is the thumb on the right ten times larger than the hand on the left?

Elmo said...

Hey- I LOVED Rick Burchett, and I'd follow him to hell (Bloodstrike, I guess)! Shawn Moll is mediocrity incarnate.

Gianni said...

You're right, Kevin, I assumed it was Steve, and this time when I checked the comments it says "sam". Hmm. My apologies, Sam. Like I said, I've liked the Peter David run on X-Factor (which I'm sure nobody but me is reading) but that's all I really have to draw from. Still, since I AM a She-Hulk fan, I'm going to give it the old-school try.

And the right hand is bigger because She-Hulk is DRAGGING cover artist Mike Deodato into the book. It's been done. Ho hum.

Gianni said...

Elmo, I realize I've probably never seen Shawn Moll artwork up close before now, but for this issue of She-Hulk, it's certainly NOT "mediocrity incarnate." I've got no issues with Burchett, they have two different art styles. Burchett is cartoony, Moll isn't. The sequence when She-Hulk busts out of the trailer and starts waling on Absorbing man looks FANTASTIC.

steve said...

WHAT D'YOU MEAN, 'My apologies, Sam'??? Sam would be HONORED to be mistaken for me! ANYBODY would be! Apologies INDEED!!!

Kevin Caron said...

I get that the 'pulling the reader in' effect is what Deodato was going for, but he definitely does NOT pull it off. She Hulk breaks the picture plane where the tear is - thus the colored part of her arm is closer to the reader than the black and white. And yet, there you have it, a giant-ass thumb, touching the black and white picture-plane (casting a shadow even!) - thus making it in FRONT of the wee little arm on the left.

Reminds me of one of Alan Moore's 1963 comics, where a singularity of some kind causes proportions & physical laws to go all wonky.

Ady said...

Good for people to know.