Tuesday, 29 July 2014

She-Hulk, Volume 1: Law and Disorder Review (Charles Soule, Javier Pulido)


Charles Soule must be able to harness the power cosmic or something because his schedule is unreal - writing 7 monthly ongoing comics yet still retaining a high quality?! 

I’m about to make She-Hulk sound really boring by saying it’s heavy on the lawyering front but, hey, John Grisham’s popular, right? People like courtroom dramas and lawyers hunting down stuff for their cases (I’m guessing - I’ve never read a Grisham and probably never will) and there’s plenty of that here - with added superheroes, so it’s even better!

Jen Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin who had some of his blood transfused after sustaining a serious injury. His gamma-irradiated blood turned her into a milder version of the Hulk - She-Hulk! In this new series, Jen sets up her own law practice and butts heads with Tony Stark over a patent case, Doctor Doom over immigration, and finally (part of) the Sinister Six in a mysterious case she was involved in - but has no memory of. 

Soule is himself an immigration lawyer in real life (you see what I mean about the power cosmic? 7 monthlies AND his own law practice - goddamn overachiever!!) which lends a lot of realism to the lawyering angle, especially when Doom’s son, Kristoff Vernard, tries to claim asylum in the States, a situation Soule must deal with frequently. 

And therein lies the brilliance of the series - Soule has found the sweet spot with the material by merging his own experience and real world cases of immigration and patent rights cases with the fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It’s distinctly Soule’s own book but with a heavy dose of classic Marvel. 

Each issue sees Soule building upon Jen’s character more and more - especially good if you’re a first-time She-Hulk reader - as well as her world, which Soule is creating himself. This includes Jen’s wonderful deadpan paralegal Angie Huang (and this being Marvel, Angie of course harbours some secrets of her own) and her monkey Hei Hei, her landlord, who used to be a mutant student at Xavier’s before M-Day took away her powers, and her investigator (and drinking buddy), Patsy Walker aka Hellcat. 

Soule follows this up with the requisite superhero action as Jen fights Doombots aplenty, takes on Tony Stark’s impossibly Kafka-esque legal counsel Legal, and flies across Manhattan in a Fantasticar! It’s a great balance, to have the character and world building stuff sit alongside the action so you’re never bored with just one aspect as Soule keeps things moving quick-smart by knowing when to speed up and slow down the story. 

The first four issues of this book has one of the best art teams ever in penciller Javier Pulido (who did amazing work on Fraction’s Hawkeye) and colourist Muntsa Vicente (whose colours have made Vaughan/Martin’s digital comic The Private Eye a feast for the eyes!). Their work on most of this book is nothing short of incredible, from Pulido’s character design for Jen, to his imaginative presentations of Soule’s script - look at the layouts, the playfulness of the panels - and Vicente brings it all to glorious life with her wonderful choice of palette. Each page is utterly gorgeous and I’ve gone back and looked at them again and again (I’ve actually read all the issues twice in as many days!). So good - and Kevin Wada’s covers are just amazing. 

Ron Wimberly replaces Javier Pulido at issue #5 and though I’m not as excited by his artwork - his She-Hulk is much too mannish - the title still retains this unvarnished, indie feel to it that I think makes it stand out from the more polished Marvel titles. 

She-Hulk is an absolute triumph! Whether you’re a first time reader or a seasoned Shulkie vet, you’ll love this title for its ability to be fun and clever in equal measure and always entertaining. You’ll especially like this if you’re a fan of Fraction’s Hawkeye and Wilson’s Ms Marvel with Soule’s She-Hulk fitting in nicely amongst those titles as one of the gems of the Marvel NOW! lineup. If only all superhero comics were this good all the time!

She-Hulk Volume 1: Law and Disorder

2 comments:

  1. This is one of the series that swayed me into defecting away from DC.

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    Replies
    1. It's so good - there's nothing like it being published at the moment.

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