Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

23 September 2008

She-Hulk, v. 6: Jaded

Collects: She-Hulk #22-7 (2007-8)

Released: August 2008 (Marvel)

Format: 152 pages / color / $14.99 / ISBN: 9780785125631

I getting a bit weary and leery of direction changes on titles I enjoy.

I’ve made no secret of how much I enjoyed Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk, and although I’m happy he has a high-profile job on Amazing Spider-Man, I have no interest in following him to a step backwards into Spider-Man’s development.

She-Hulk, v. 6: Jaded coverSo for She-Hulk, v. 6: Jaded, the new writer is Peter David. David has a good track record, especially with titles that he can play tongue in cheek, and She-Hulk hasn’t been played straight for quite a while.

David introduces a new status quo, in which She-Hulk has been disbarred and is now working as a bounty hunter for a company affiliated with her old law firm. She’s teamed up with Jazinda, a Skrull bounty hunter on the run from her own race. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a fan of storylines that jump ahead weeks or months from the previous, leaving the reader to guess what happened, and Jaded doesn’t change my mind. David seems to be setting up the story of those missing events for another time, but that doesn’t help now.

All right — so that’s what I don’t like about the setup. Putting that aside — since some readers won’t be bothered at all — what about the actual story?

There’s two storylines. The first is a two-issue story setting up the new status quo. She-Hulk fights the Absorbing Man and the tiny Titania for two issues while Jazinda captures their quarry, the Absorbing Man’s cousin, and then they go back to their camper park home. It works well enough, setting aside my reservations; those who are willing to forget about Jen’s time at the law firm will probably find it entertaining in the usual Peter-David way. Jazinda’s characterization is definitely not human; even her daddy issues are alien.

The second half of Jaded (#25-7) holds the real meat of the argument. In #24, a man blows up a bar simply to annoy or ingratiate himself with She-Hulk, so she and Jazinda set out to Cleveland to bring him to justice. Or get revenge; She-Hulk has eschewed heroism, so it’s open to interpretation. Near Allentown, Pa., their camper is hit by a spaceship, which is piloted by a fugitive on the run from a Badoon bounty hunter. (I approve; you can never have enough Badoon.)

Without context, a lot of the story rings false. It’s hard to believe long-time Avenger / lawyer She-Hulk would be callous enough not to help someone on the run and begging for help or not at least be curious about a bounty hunter’s credentials. I also have trouble believing She-Hulk would be as cynical as she is portrayed about heroism, especially after saving people from the rubble of a demolished building earlier in the book. Jazinda is also a tough nut to crack, but I can accept her contradictions (pleas for mercy at the beginning turning to cold-blooded murder) as characterization rather than arbitrariness.

And the final issue is a legal battle. With She-Hulk handcuffed (metaphorically), she has to turn to old frenemies17 to get an innocent bystander in the fugitive / Badoon fight out of legal trouble. It connects to the previous two issues strongly, and it also it teases the story of the changes in She-Hulk’s life. The cameos are quick and effective, although with the appearance of one of She-Hulk’s legal colleagues, it seems to draw a line under the fact that the legal part of She-Hulk’s character won’t be seen much in the future.

I don’t have much to say on the art, although that shouldn’t be taken as a slight to the artists involved. Kevin Moll pencils the bulk of the book and does a good job. He seems to have a good handle on the character, cheesecake and all, and he can do action scenes, humor, and distortion well. Val Semeiks takes the final issue and also does a good job, although it’s distracting how much different his Jen Walters (She-Hulk’s human alter ego) looks compared with Moll’s.

The book is filled with typical Peter David humor, filled with banter and wordplay. That’s really the strength; if you’ve wanted to see David do another Hulk-ish story, you should be on this like green on gamma-radiation poisoning. If not … well, I plan to give David’s She-Hulk another chance and give him a chance to hook me once the more expository parts of the run are over.

But I’m generally a fan of David. Your mileage may vary, and I can’t say Jaded grabbed me enough to anticipate the next leg of She-Hulk’s journey.

Rating: Marvel symbol Marvel symbol (2 of 5)

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