52 Pick-Up, Lady’s Choice: Week 5 – She-Hulk Vol. 1

This week, I read a book that was recommended to me during a little controversy. After writing a piece on why Catwoman is allowed to be as sexy as she wants, I was told that She-Hulk managed to be sexy in a way that Catwoman failed. In the spirit of open-mindedness, I got myself a copy of She-Hulk for comparison. I still think that Catwoman is one of the best books in current publication, but She-Hulk… well, keep reading to see what my reaction to She-Hulk was.

In unrelated news, in two weeks I will be previewing Womanthology! I will have another preview next week, of EmiTown 2. Two back-to-back previews with female creators! Huzzah!

She-Hulk: Single Green Female

Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Juan Bobillo and Paul Pelletier
Inks by Marcelo Sosa, Roland Paris, Tom Simmons, and Don Hillsman
Colors by Chris Chuckry and Avalon Studios
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by Marvel Comics
First Printed in 2004

I don’t know why I had such a resistance to reading She-Hulk in the past. Maybe, in my mind, I had an image of a female version of, “Me Hulk. Smash!” and that’s not too terribly appealing. Maybe I’m biased against green women, but that doesn’t explain my love for Elphaba in Wicked. Maybe it’s just my general resistance to “superhero comics”. I guess I just never thought that She-Hulk would be very entertaining, for one reason or another.

Well, it’s a good thing I was told about She-Hulk, because I was missing out on a really great series.

I thought the story was fun and witty and not at all how I’ve found other superhero comics. Beginning with She-Hulk’s status as the “problem child” of the Avengers house, you begin to feel sympathy for her. It’s interesting how she copes with her transformation from bookish law student to sexy superhuman. I’m thinking that maybe that’s why She-Hulk is “good sexy” and Catwoman is “bad sexy”. She-Hulk is compensating for the past. She has gone from nerd to goddess, and she’s living the party life that she secretly wanted. She even gets worried when she transforms back into Jen in her sleep, fearing that she wouldn’t be attractive as her real, nerdy self. Catwoman, on the other hand, has always been the “cool girl”, the sexy one.

I think that might be why She-Hulk appeals more to female comic book readers. We’re like Jen, we’re nerdy and bookish and want to party, but are too shy or self-conscious to do so outside of our circle of friends. We wish we could transform into an awesome superhuman who everybody loves and admires. We have a hate/jealousy thing going on with the free-spirited Catwomans of the world. It’s also nearly impossible to get us to admit to that, too, and if you ask me about it again, I will deny all knowledge of ever writing this.

One last note before I leave the subject of She-Hulk/Catwoman, I noticed that both books are rated T+. However, I wouldn’t really put these two books in the same age group. Catwoman is graphically violent, and She-Hulk is much more subdued. (You don’t see any blood, for example.) I would consider Catwoman a book for more mature readers, and She-Hulk should really only be a T rating, in my opinion. I think this shows the flaws in the current rating system.

Back to the story, the character development of She-Hulk/Jen was very real and easy to relate to. Her resistance to working full-time as Jen comes across as a sincere fear. She argues for keeping her She-Hulk form under the guise of being prepared for an attack, but she’s really afraid that nobody will like her when she’s not She-Hulk. Bring in Pug, who starts falling for Jen, not She-Hulk, although she doesn’t see it. The Pug/Jen dynamic is sweet, and I really want to pick up volume two to see where their relationship is headed.

This book has also made me see other Marvel characters in a different light. I’ve really only ever been exposed to the X-Men, and then only in the movies, and I don’t consider myself very Marvel-savvy at all. I read a couple issues of Amazing Spider-Man recently because I was told that there was roller derby in it, but I was highly underwhelmed by the story as a whole. She-Hulk actually made me love Spider-Man, and he had one of the most laugh-out-loud moments I’ve ever had while reading a comic book. (Hint: It’s in issue 4.)

I really like the artwork, although it’s a bit different than my normal favorite style. I have to separate this into two parts, as the first four issues and last two are obviously done by two different art teams. In the first four issues, drawn by Juan Bobillo, you can tell that the art was done in a traditional style, instead of being digitally inked and painted. I’m obviously being spoiled by digital coloring. The lines are thin and the colors are a bit flatter than I’m used to reading, but it works. It’s much more “cartoony” than the last two issues, and I think I like the style a bit more. I especially love how She-Hulk is drawn. She’s very curvy, and although she’s muscular, she’s not overly so, and she’s still very womanly. I do find myself distracted by her face. She’s got this huge, hulking body and a teeny tiny mouth. It adds a bit of daintiness to her, and I think it’s cute.

The last two issues, drawn by Paul Pelletier, are drawn in a more realistic style. She-Hulk is more muscular and less curvy and cartoonish. The inking is more like my favorite style, done with a brush instead of a pen, with varying line widths. The coloring “pops” a bit more, but it’s still not as “artsy-fartsy” as some of the indie books that I like to read. Overall, comparing the two art teams, I would like to take the inking from the Pelletier books and put it on the artwork in the Bobillo books. I have to say that Bobillo’s cartoonish style won me over.

Overall, I liked the book a lot and I will give She-Hulk another look in the future. In fact, I might even give the Spider-Man books a second chance, since Amazing Spider-Man is written by Dan Slott. However, those two issues I read recently did not appeal to me, even with roller derby, and I’m confused as to how Spidey is so charming in this book and utterly annoying in his own series. If anybody has a good jumping-on point for a Spider-Man book, I’m all ears.

In conclusion, I thought She-Hulk was a fantastic book and I do recommend the trade paperback to any reader looking to read a great superhero comic with depth and amazing character development. As a non-superhero reader, I thought it was really a really well-written story and it has made me more open-minded when it comes to superhero comics. I’m looking forward to volume two!

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Mary Knize, Captain Painway, "C-Pain", and formerly Mary Staggs, was Panels on Pages' May 2010 Fangirl of the Month and is a former rollergirl. When she's not busy writing, she's probably playing a video game. She also loves Wikipedia and science.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Juan a.k.a. The Denim One says:

    If you can track down some of the John Byrne run of Sensational She-Hulk, those are fun. The direction Byrne took the character was more of a comedy as he wrote her breaking the 4th wall beacuse she knew she was in a comic book.

    • Mary Staggs says:

      Oh wow that sounds really fun. I’ll have to give Sensational She-Hulk a look.

      • Ben Gilbert says:

        I second Juan’s recommendation. Byrne’s entire She Hulk run was pretty amazing. Just to warn you, though, it makes a lot of references to things that were going on in comics during the late 80’s and early 90’s that might be lost on today’s readers. Otherwise, though, it’s really fun.

  2. Robert Eddleman says:

    Slott’s She-Hulk was a great comic, just an unabashedly fun read with a lot of heart. (I miss Awesome Andy.) I know exactly the moment you’re talking about that made you LOL. If you get a chance, stick with it. (It’s all been traded.) Peter David’s run afterward was good, but just didn’t have the same spark of irreverence that Slott’s did.

  3. Joshua says:

    She-hulk is one of the best characters and comics in existence and easily one of my favorite characters in Marvel, among both male and female heroes. Dan Slott and Peter David wrote some of my favorite Marvel stories in the last decade and I’ll probably never forgive Marvel for cancelling both of them so early.

    So glad you dug it! 🙂

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