She-Hulk was one of the many characters that ended up getting up hurt during the drama of Civil War II. Her new series, simply titled Hulk, follows up on the fallout of what happened to her. Is it good?
Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)
So Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, is trying to get back on her feet after getting beaten by Thanos and losing her cousin. She’s constantly frustrated and has a rage burning in her, but she’s trying to suppress it and go about her day as she goes a different law firm to start working again. Can she keep it in though?
Hulk #1 is difficult. It’s a comic that’s trying its damndest to tell a strong, powerful, and emotional tale that a lot of people can relate to–a story of loss, inner torment, a person dealing with issues within that’s chewing away at them. And the thing is, it’s not badly told. Mariko Tamaki is trying to tell She-Hulk’s inner pain through narration and how difficult it is for a person to get on with life after a tragedy. Nico Leon is showing the heroine’s frustrations through her body language, how the world appears to her, and how messy her own home life is. The approach the creative team is going with is not bad, and it’s clear there’s a lot of care they are putting into each scene. It may be heavy handed and forced quite a few times, but it’s not bad.
“Buttload”? Okay, now I’m questioning your degrees and your professionalism ma’am.
The problem lies with the character of She-Hulk and using her to tell this story. What this creative team is essentially doing is telling a regular Hulk story where Bruce Banner is trying to keep the Hulk at bay and trying to live a normal life. However, since Bendis killed off Banner, She-Hulk is now filling the role and it’s not fully convincing. Now the character did go through an uncontrollable rage period when she first debuted, but ever since John Byrne’s run on the character several decades ago… the character has been in complete control of herself (sans one moment or two). She’s also been beaten up, defeated, gotten her ass handed to her on more than one occasion over the years as well, so the recent situation of her getting knocked into a coma and beaten by Thanos isn’t really that huge of a deal and just part of the job as a hero. Losing her cousin makes her pain and grief understandable and heartbreaking though, making it believable for her to be angry about it and the fact that a friend of hers did the deed. But it’s just not fully convincing that these two elements have damaged She-Hulk so mentally and physically that it actually hurts her to transform when it used to be something that gave her great pleasure and joy. The only way this comic’s characterization and portrayal of Jennifer works is if you haven’t read a single story featuring her since the early 80’s or this is the first time you’ve seen this character in general.
As for the rest of the writing and the story, it’s good but flawed. The first thing is how uneventful and kind of slow the entire comic is. There’s no energy, excitement, or much of anything happening in it until the very end. It works well for building things up down the line, but don’t expect any payoffs soon. The dialogue is perfectly fine, with witty lines here and there, like when our title character gets to work and interacts with her colleagues. The narration is a bit forced at times, going a bit overboard with telling audience that Jennifer is trying to keep things together and stay calm (gets a bit too much tell instead of show). The tone can be inconsistent, like with the use of some of Marvel’s quirky captions during moments that are supposed to be serious. Continuity is iffy, since the comic acts as if She-Hulk was a part of a big law firm before the series began, which she wasn’t. Like stated previously, the continuity and characterization wouldn’t be a problem for newcomers, but for regular fans of She-Hulk? All of that and the writing just don’t really work that well.
Lady, that’s what you get for using Venom from Batman & Robin to hulk out. It messes with your body!
Lastly there is the artwork by Nico Leon and it’s solid. The layouts are put together expertly, conveying a good sense of motion and flow from panel to panel. The characters are all drawn well and capable of showing a decent range of emotion and expression. I think Leon does inking as well and that looked fine, besides for one hideous double-page spread where the line work and inking looks horribly inconsistent from the rest of the comic. Mat Milla’s colors are equally good, though maybe a bit of varying in shading and tones in a few areas. Given that issue is very uneventful, with no action and no hulking out either here, the art doesn’t really get to stretch itself or show how impressive it can look at the moment. Hopefully future issues can really show what Leon is capable of.
Is It Good?
Hulk #1 is a comic that is trying really hard to sell its story about a PTSD-riddled She-Hulk and her trying to live with this new, uncontrollable rage. However, it doesn’t really work given the character’s long history and even then, the writing can be very forceful and awkward with hammering in its points. This is not really a bad comic by any means, but it’s difficult to recommend. It’s nothing like She-Hulk’s past series and currently, it’s telling more of a basic Hulk story, just substituting Jen in for her dead cousin. I say hold off getting this comic until more issues are out and we can see where the creative team is going with their story.