Reviews

Review – She-Hulk #4

Charles Soule and Javier Puldio, together with Munta Vicente and Clayton Cowles, book no objections from me with their latest installment of Jennifer Walters’ superhero-lawyer adventures in She-Hulk #4. Little happens in the way of plot action, but what we do get resolves last month’s story with emotion, impact, and She-Hulk cheerfully wrecking havoc in Latveria. What we don’t get? Well, that’s all made up for in spades with fun team-ups, heroes engaging in death-defying quiet time, and not a small amount of mystery and intrigue.

She-Hulk #4 Cover by Kevin Wada [May 2014]
She-Hulk #4 Cover by Kevin Wada [May 2014]
In any other comic, this issue would perhaps be labelled as awkward filler, needing to wrap up ongoing story threads, while putting into play the set up for the next one. The former here is the matter of Kristoff Vernard, the son of Doctor Doom. In She-Hulk #3, Jennifer fought for (quite literally, at certain points), and successfully won, asylum for the refugee prince –  only to see him kidnapped by his father directly from the Court House. It’s a blow for Jennifer, and not just because Kristoff’s Latverian francs aren’t good at the bank.

Many other lawyers may leave it at that, but Jennifer is hardly any other lawyer. She’s a hero, too, and helping people is her thing, even if they’re arrogant, infuriating princes as Kristoff is. The dilemma of balancing these two hats, and figuring out how far is too far when it comes to helping out a client, brings Jennifer to San Francisco to meet with another fellow superhero lawyer: the Man Without Fear himself, Daredevil. You don’t see these two characters interacting much in comics, despite their obvious synergies, and it was fun to see Matt and Jennifer have a perfectly civil conversation all the while messing around on the top of the  Golden Gate bridge.. There’s a lot to be said about watching a hero decide to take advice before jumping into the fray, and doing it constructively, and it’s the little character-driven touches like these that make She-Hulk such an enjoyable comic.

The second act of the story sees Jennifer decide to fly out to Latveria in infilatrator mode. Which lasts for about five minutes once she’s actually there — no complaints from me, because the scenes of her gleefully operating giant machine guns and knocking out Latverian guards are wonderfully energetic. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but suffice to say that when it comes to the actual confrontation with Doom and Kristoff, Jen pushes for a resolution not with force, but with the power of her convictions and her deep compassion for others. If that sounds overly sentimental, it’s really not. This is just a book where fisticuffs are a concurrent feature to human journeys and relationships.

Meanwhile, we end the issue with Jennifer back in Brooklyn — still sadly lacking in funds, but at least she has a new case to throw herself into. We don’t learn much, except that it involves her and some other lesser known Marvel citizens (such as Wyatt Wingfoot, Tigra). Indeed, it’s a mystery even to Shulkie herself, and that’s ominous enough to sustain my interest.

She-Hulk #4 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, et al. [May 2014]
She-Hulk #4 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, et al. [May 2014]
All in all, writer Soule is continuing to fire on all cylinders with She-Hulk — and it’s not just because he weaves his own knowledge and experience as an attorney so seamlessly into the comic. From the first issue and through this latest one, he has approached Jennifer as a fully rounded individual first, giving equal weight to both her lawyer aspect and her superhero one. His efforts to build up a female-strong supporting cast is also laudable, and makes this a worthwhile read for anyone who wants a change from the usual masculinity that pervades Big Two comics.

The art more than does its own part to continue setting SheHulk apart from the rest of the pack. Pulido’s work is stylised and distinctive, but not at the expense of anatomy, body language or facial expressions. He is subtle where he needs to be — such as the mild quirk of Jennifer’s eyebrow as she challenges the Gigantic Doom, or in the sparse backgrounds during Jennifer’s and Matt’s chat on top of the Golden Gate bridge (which are appropriate, given their vantage point, while also creating the feel of an intimate chat for both them and the reader) — and loud and  in-your-face when the scene calls for it. There’s a sense that each panel, page, and layout is carefully thought out such that it all flows together in the most engaging way possible.

Though I did find too much blank white space in one of the pages — I can see what Pulido was going for, I’m just not sure it worked in that one instance. Still, it’s only a slight blip in a sea of otherwise spectacularly composed scenes. Muntsa Vicente’s colours are eye-popping, and I suspect there’ll be readers who dislike his use of brighter, more neon palettes, but they are quirky and attractive enough to match the energy of Pulido’s pencils. VC’s Clayton Cowles rounds up the creative team with clean lettering that brings much needed order to this lively comic, and the end product is nothing short of enjoyable.

You aren’t going to get much in the way of plot intensity in She-Hulk #4; certainly no apocalypses or game-changing catastrophes. And that’s fine, because plenty of other books deliver on that front. What Soule, Pulido & Co are continuing to produce here is a unique comic that depicts its titular heroine as more than the sum of her lawyer and superhero parts – but with all the grit, determination, heart and superhero shenanigans you could hope for in any protagonist, much less a female lead. I’m just happy to keep tagging along for the ride.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

 

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About the author

Yamini C

Yamini is a twenty-something from hot & humid Singapore. An editor here at WOTN, she spends a lot of time obsessing over superhero comics and pretty much every kind of pop culture.

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