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‘She-Hulk Vol. 1: Deconstructed’ review: Grey is the new Green as She-Hulk undergoes a poignant time in her history

She-Hulk isn’t weak just because she’s going through trials and tribulations after Civil War II — and this TPB proves it.

Mariko Tamaki
Price: $15.68
Was: $17.99

Following Civil War II, Jennifer Walters has walked away with her life intact, but not without significant damage to her physical and mental states. In the wake of her cousins’ death, Jennifer attempts to regain a seemingly ordinary life sans-super heroics. But is it good?

I’d like to start this review off by stating I’m familiar with She-Hulk through crossover events, such as Civil War II, but have never read her own series before. She’s a strong character who in this instant is quite broken and that was something a lot of fans couldn’t get on board with. Perhaps it’s my inexperience with the character, but I would like to play devil’s advocate, wade against the poor reviews, and say that I actually enjoyed this volume. Don’t change the channel, I’ll explain.

Deconstructed is an apt title for the story arc because now that the dust has settled on the Civil War, Jennifer attempts to regain some semblance of normality by starting with the basics and returning to the legal field. It’s a strong storyline about mental health and recovery in which Jennifer’s client parallels her own feelings of helplessness and loss. That’s not to say Jennifer is helpless in a damsel sort of way, but rather undergoing a trauma-induced depression that many readers can empathize with or even relate to. Considering Jennifer Walters is a character who represents the epitome of a strong female character alongside the likes of Captain Marvel, some readers were upset at the character change and viewed the arc as a sign of weakness. Now while it’s inspiring to see a character who never breaks under pressure, it can be even more powerful to see such a character fall and get back up again (insert Batman quote).

The story outlines Jennifer’s grieving process and uses her legal client, Maise, as a medium to show what happens when someone doesn’t recover from a traumatic experience while Jennifer struggles with her own. I don’t understand what the problem is with showing a strong female character going through a difficult time so long as she comes out on the other side. Now if Jennifer’s change remains a permanent aspect of her character then that’s something to cry foul about, but if we’re up in arms over a momentary deconstruction of character then all we’re doing is supporting the notion that there’s a dichotomy between showing emotions and strength (Which we all know isn’t the case. Except baseball. There’s no crying in baseball).

It’s because of this overarching message that I really enjoyed the book and that’s what marginalized its faults. That being said, the volume did see some lows, many coming towards the end. Leon’s artistic style relies heavily on shading rather than pencils, especially when it comes to the faces. However, when the colors start to decline as well then the book’s aesthetics are hard to save. In the final few issues we receive less detailed panels and the colors aren’t able to support the images. The last issues shares the same rushed tone as the story arc is quickly wrapped up in an all-issue battle, but feels like it probably deserved another issue.

Is It Good?

Like I said earlier, if I can get behind the book’s message I’m sold. It didn’t depend on “hulking-out” and chaotic rage outbursts and, instead, chose to show more realistic scenes like meal prep videos as a coping mechanism or creating that quiet place in a locked office with the lights out. However, there were some problems with this book included the rushed tone in the last issue and the declining art. Yes, it’s not the Jennifer Walters you may be familiar with, but it’s a poignant time in the character’s history and if you can’t handle her at your lows then you don’t deserve her at her highs. Boom. You go Hulk.

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Deconstructed
Is it good?
While it’s inspiring to see a character who never breaks under pressure, it can be even more powerful to see such a character fall and get back up again. While the events of Civil War are unrealistic, Jennifer's recovery and depression from its aftermath can be relate-able and make for a powerful storyline.
Jen's struggle to cope with the loss of Bruce feels authentic and her first legal case back at the firm mirrors her personal struggle nicely
While her current state is viewed by some as weakness, I think this story was very important to show Jen's underlying humanity
Both the plot and the art starts feeling rushed towards the end of the arc

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