Thursday, 9 July 2015

She-Hulk by Charles Soule

She-Hulk Vol 1: Law and Disorder and Vol 2: Disorderly Conduct written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Javier Poulido make up the most recently published run of She-Hulk. Unfortunately, reading on Marvel Unlimited, the last two issues were not yet available. The good news for me was that the last available issue, #10, tied up a story arc, so at least I wasn't left hanging too much... but I still went and ordered the trades of both volumes straight away.

Jennifer Walters is the She-Hulk! A stalwart member of the Avengers and FF, she's also a killer attorney with a pile of degrees and professional respect. But juggling cases and kicking bad guy butt is a little more complicated than she anticipated. With a new practice, a new paralegal and a mounting number of super villains she's racking up as personal enemies, She Hulk might have bitten off more than she can chew! When Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor Von Doom, seeks extradition, it's an international jailbreak, She-Hulk-style! Then, She-Hulk and Hellcat must uncover the secrets of the Blue File — a conspiracy that touches the entire Marvel Universe! And when someone important to She-Hulk is killed, and won't let it stand — but who can she trust?

She-Hulk takes on her most terrifying role yet: defendant! She-Hulk, Hellcat and Giant-Man team up to save one of Jen’s officemates — but what secret agenda does Hank Pym have? Meanwhile, She-Hulk takes on Captain America as her newest client! Someone from Cap’s past has returned to haunt them all, and She-Hulk might be his only hope — because the opposing attorney is Matt Murdock! She-Hulk and Daredevil battle it out in court and on the streets in this trial of the century — but is Captain America actually guilty after all? And at long last, it’s all come down to this: the Blue File revealed! As Hellcat investigates the mysterious, mind-altering file, She-Hulk takes on Titania — and Angie Huang just might meet her fate! Secrets are revealed and the Blue File is opened wide as Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s acclaimed run comes to a close!

I think this was definitely my favourite She-Hulk run. I enjoyed some of the side characters and stories in the Dan Slott runs, but this run was overall more enjoyable. For a start the art was much less objectifying — although I enjoyed one of the artists in the Slott runs, the others were less good and there was much more gratuitous sideboob and bikini line action happening, not to mention the "standard" cleavage and butt shots. Here She-Hulk and Hellcat aren't objectified and are just portrayed as doing their job. Even when She-Hulk grows muscles and fights someone, leading to torn and shredded clothes, we might see part of her underwear but it never felt icky.

The stories were also more interesting and there was no random going to space (my least favourite Slott story lines). The main reason I wanted to read this run of She-Hulk (after burning out on the earlier one) is because I'd heard it leads into the new A-Force series; all-female Avengers, lead by She-Hulk. Having now read it, I'm not sure if it does, but I suspect that will be clearer when I read A-Force. In any case, the story that played out in the last two issues was odd and did have one key thing in common with what (little) I know of Secret Wars, but I'm not sure if that's relevant. I did like how a lot of hints were dropped in earlier She-Hulk issues that didn't come to a head until the very end. It was one of the things that kept me reading (the other things being basically everything else about the series).

The other cases were very fun and I found myself laughing several times. First there's Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor Von Doom, who wants to defect and seek asylum in the US. He's kind of a spoilt jerk, but comes off as an enjoyable character to read about, possibly because of the doombots everywhere. There was also an incident with miniaturisation technology and a disagreement about intellectual property (illustrated on the cover of Vol 2), which got Hank Pym involved. Penultimately, there was a court case against Captain America, with She-Hulk defending him.

I really liked the side characters in this run too. There's Hellcat, who I've already mentioned, hired by She-Hulk to do the odd bit of investigative work. There's She-Hulk's paralegal, a new character with a suspicious monkey... suspiciously awesome monkey, that is. I also really enjoyed the scenes where She-Hulk and Daredevil/Matt Murdock interacted. It makes sense that the two superhero lawyers would have a lot in common and want to get together every so often, but it wasn't something we saw in earlier She-Hulk. Also, the part where they butt-heads as opposing councils is pretty great.

In summary, this version of She-Hulk is pretty great. If you like the idea of She-Hulk as a character but haven't read any of her stories, this is a good place to start. If you enjoyed earlier She-Hulk, why not read more? If you like your female superheroes not to be sexually objectified in the art, I would also suggest giving this series a shot.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Marvel
Series: Yes. She-Hulk (2014 run) issues #1–12, collected in Vol 1 & 2 (#11-12 not yet on Marvel Unlimited at my time of reading)
Format read: Digital and trade paperback
Source: Marvel Unlimited, non-Amazon online book shop for the trades

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