As part of All-New Marvel Now!, this month we see the debut of a new She-Hulk series, by writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido.  My thoughts on issue #1 (SPOILERS, naturally):

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Before the story gets underway, we get a one-page montage that would give anyone unfamiliar with the She-Hulk a little bit of who she is and what she's like: super-strong, double tough, fearless, fun-loving, and kind-hearted.  Good job.

The story opens with Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk awaiting her first performance review from the law firm of Paine & Luckberg, anticipating it will go well because she brought 2800 billable hours to the firm, which, in her words, means they "must have made a million bucks off me".  She is dismayed to learn that not only is she not getting a bonus as she expected, but also that she was hired for her connections to the super-hero community, not her abilities as a lawyer.  The icing on the cake is that she was never informed of this; "we always hope associates understand certain things without being told".  An insulted Jen informs her bosses she isn't about to exploit her friends to make these guys more money, and she quits, with a humorous exclamation point - breaking a $50,000 table with one finger.

Jen goes to a bar where other lawyers are hanging out.  She is approached by a woman named Holly Harrow, who had been talking to other lawyers there and been turned away by all of them.  She claims her dead husband's work was stolen by someone and wants to sue.  Jen reads over her papers and says she won't take the case, but she will talk to the guy because she knows him.  The guy Holly Harrow wants to sue is Tony Stark!

Jen goes to Stark Tower and gets a warm welcome until she mentions she is there in regards to a lawsuit.  She is sent to the 18th floor and meets "Legal", a nameless lawyer who almost talks her to death and lets her know she won't get a chance to talk to Tony.  Angered, Jen decides she will take the case after all.

Did I mention the late husband is criminal scientist Dr. Jonas Harrow?

"Legal", with unlimited resources at his disposal, plays hardball and is going to go to every length to have the case tied up forever.  Jen manages to find proof that Harrow did try to sell an invention to a Stark subsidiary in California and a crooked executive stole the idea, leaving Harrow out in the cold.  Harrow was paranoid and secretly recorded every meeting he ever had with anyone; Jen finds a recording proving Harrow got screwed.  The invention made the company $80 million.  The executive had been fired for embezzlement (unrelated to the Harrow situation) and Tony was unaware of what had been done to Harrow.  Jen, after fighing off some robots (she was considered a hostile presence at Stark Tower because of the lawsuit), gives a great speech about how Tony could let his legal department keep this tied up for years.  That's what an average billionaire would do; but Tony is not average, he is Tony Stark, and she knows he will do right by Harrow's widow.

A grateful Holly Harrow gives Jen a healthy payment for what she did, and Jen uses the money to open her own law office.

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Soule, in addition to writing comics, is a lawyer by trade.  This serves him well here, as he quite clearly knows his legal stuff.  At times it's almost a little too much with the lawyer jargon, but Soule knows when to pull back and give the reader an enjoyable story.  The interactions with the other lawyers have a layer of comedy to them as Jen seems to be the only lawyer in the story with a soul.  The other lawyers don't see themselves that way; my favorite line in the book is "I am neither bad nor good.  I am simply Legal."  I'm hoping we see Legal again, he's a hoot.

Soule writes a great Jen: smart, tough, and true to herself.  She knows when to use her brain and her brawn, and the reader can tell this is someone who never gives up.  She isn't worried that Holly Harrow, wife of a criminal, is up to no good and it's nice to see she doesn't pay a price for trusting Holly.  The story concludes with a happy ending for Holly and her kids, and a happy new beginning for Jen.  Having this be a done-in-one is a treat.

Pulido's art is cartoony without being manga-esque and it's a style that has served She-Hulk well in the past.  A lot of the panels reminded me of one of my favorite artists, Marco Martin.  There's a lot of talk and not much action in the story but Pulido does a great job keeping it all interesting.

Overall, a great start to a new series.

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Sold! You talked me into it!

I saw a wordless preview in a Marvel Preview flyer I got from my friendly neighborhood comic shop, showing the scene where Jen breaks the table. Shown without word balloons or captions, it was still pretty clear what was going on; Jen was on the losing side of the discussion, and made it clear she wasn't going to take it lying down. I missed Javier Pulido's art from Daredevil, so that's an enticement for me, too.

I didn't see the actual title on the shelves when I was there. I'll be sure to look for it next time I go. 

Glad to hear it, Clark.  It was a fun read.

It came out on February 12, so hopefully your shop will have it.

It is definitely well worth it. Great read, very similar to Hawkeye. Hints of Daredevil and Black Widow are in there as well in terms of mood. It's post-super-hero stuff, which would make Joe Casey's Wildcats and Wildcats 3.0 very proud.

I haven't read Wildcats so I'm not sure if I'm getting this "post-super-hero" thing right, but I don't think we'll see Jen going out on patrol and stuff like that.  I see it more akin to Mark Waid's DD than Hawkeye but we're only one issue in.  I think Soule promised villains and punching though.  I think it will still be good.

And here I was on the fence. Not any more!

I got this on Comixology and enjoyed it immensely.

 

I liked how the real world gets a look-in, with the realistic-seeming insider's take on the legal profession, and the stakes were just that a widow and her children should get what seems to be their due.  This is much more engaging than meaningless threats to the world/the universe/all reality, which end up looking only like wallpaper, rather than something we should be interested in.

 

'Legal' was definitely a reference to the spookish 'Men in Black' of Shakey Kane and David HIne's wonderful Bulletproof Coffin series; both visually, in his monotone, cadavorous deadpan look, and in his profession.  Check out the resemblance:

 

Is that a great scene, or what?  Anyway, see a resemblance?

As it happens, the dialogue in those Bulletproof Coffin panels is pretty relevant to She-Hulk #1 also.  There's a case to be made that She-Hulk #1 is also a sideways look at creators' rights.  The central plot concerns the poor treatment of the estates of deceased 'inventors', who supplied the groundwork for heroes like Iron Man to go on to be so hugely popular and profitable?

 

I'd like to see Holly Harrow and her family continue to appear.  A middle-aged single mother would add something to a universe overstuffed with badass 20-something government paramilitary types.  Holly does have access to lock-ups full of superhero 'tech' and connections to the supervillain underworld, so it's not entirely unlikely.

 

This seems to be setting up a clever and human-scaled superhero series with heart, of the type that used to be much more common.  Clearly this Soule chap wants to produce something a little more personal and quirky than what has become the norm.  The art is just wonderful, and much more suited for showing emotions and different states of feeling than the more typical superhero comics of recent years. 

I'm glad there's a thread for this comic, and I hope we discuss more issues as they come up.

Figserello said:

I got this on Comixology and enjoyed it immensely.

 

I liked how the real world gets a look-in, with the realistic-seeming insider's take on the legal profession, and the stakes were just that a widow and her children should get what seems to be their due.  This is much more engaging than meaningless threats to the world/the universe/all reality, which end up looking only like wallpaper, rather than something we should be interested in.

 

I'm all for that. I liked the previous She-Hulk series set in a law firm. It was kind of like Damage Control, which I also liked, exploring a whole new vein of story material from a different angle than muscle-bound dopes punching each other. Along that line, I like Supernatural Law, formerly known as Wolff and Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre. (See the webcomics here.)

That previous She-Hulk series fell down sometimes on legal accuracy, and simple common sense. One episode that had me howling was during the time Jen was engaged to John Jameson and had dinner with him and her putative father-in-law, J. Jonah Jameson. JJJ started in on one of his anti-Spider-Man rants, and Jen listed various grounds Jonah could have to sue Spider-Man! Jen is Spider-Man's lawyer! She has NO business doing that!

Hearing that the writer on this series is a lawyer makes me feel better; I can trust he wouldn't write something like that. I don't need the series to be "realistic" (you all know what I have to say about that). "The realistic-seeming insider's take on the legal profession" is good enough for me. I don't need it to read like The New York Law Review; I just need it to seem like it's presented with greater legal acumen than I possess.

It's kind of like what Mark Waid said about writing Fantastic Four -- basicially, "I'm not as smart as Reed Richards, but I still have to make him sound like he's smarter than me." Along that line, I'm irritated that when Peter David took over the title, he switched Jen from being a lawyer to being a bounty hunter because he didn't think he could plausibly write Jen as a lawyer. 

 

Figserello said:

This seems to be setting up a clever and human-scaled superhero series with heart, of the type that used to be much more common.  Clearly this Soule chap wants to produce something a little more personal and quirky than what has become the norm.  The art is just wonderful, and much more suited for showing emotions and different states of feeling than the more typical superhero comics of recent years. 

 

I'm glad there's a thread for this comic, and I hope we discuss more issues as they come up.

Likewise!  photo thumbup.gif

Figserello said:

I'm glad there's a thread for this comic, and I hope we discuss more issues as they come up.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Likewise!  photo thumbup.gif

I agree with that sentiment as well.  She-Hulk #2 is due out next Wednesday, March 5.  From the solicits:

• Jennifer opens her own practice, but things aren’t going as smoothly as she’d like.

• A new client rides into town…but is he hero or villain?

• Guest-starring Patsy Walker, Hellcat!

Also, this is priced at $2.99, not $3.99 like many books!

 photo spoiler-1.gif

 

Just to get that out of the way ... 

Last week, I found myself in a part of town I don't often frequent, and stopped in at a friendly neighborhood comics shop, and found issue #1 and issue #2.

I liked it. Lots. She-Hulk at her best is a likeable character: strong, mostly confident, sexy, determined, and fundamentally cheerful. 

Writer Charles Soule impresses me; this reads like it was written by somebody who knows what he's talking about, because only somebody who knows what he's talking about could come up with -- and capture -- Legal so, so well. Legal's game is to bury the other side in exacting procedure; only then will he consider the actual merits of the matter at hand, about which he doesn't give a rat's turd. Check out this exchange:

Legal: "As one professional to another, don't waste your time with this. There's no proof Harrow ever met with a Stark representative. The complaint doesn't even name the correct entity. The silly woman doesn't even know who to sue."

Jen: "Does it really matter? I'm sure I could get all this sorted out in a two-minute conversation with Tony."

Legal: "Does it matter? Madam, Mr. Stark's original company was Stark Industries, ceded to Mr. James Rhodey Rhodes and renamed Stark International. That entity was itself subject to hostile takeover by Obadiah Stane and renamed Stane International. Upon Mr. Stark's buyout of Stane International, the primary operating entity was reorganized under the name Stark Enterprises.

"Mr. Stark died not long after this point. And the company was merged with Fujikawa Industries, an Asian concern, to become Stark Fujikawa. Once Mr. Stark ceased being dead, he founded Stark Solutions, which was dissolved after improprieties best not mentioned, paving the way for the revival of both Stark Industries and Stark International. Although those entities were a German GNBH and a Cayman Islands limited partnership, respectively.

"After a change in business direction, Mr. Stark's primary entity was Stark Resilient, but he gave that company to his lady friend to run not long ago.

"So you can see, it certainly does matter. Feel free to return once you have properly reviewed the file. Perhaps then we can see about bringing the issue to Mr. Stark's attention."

A rundown of Stark International's history, (mostly) accurately rendered in boilerplate legal mumbo-jumbo (had to ding him for "James Rhodey," but that's just a quibble). Plus, only in comics can someone say with a straight face "Once Mr. Stark ceased being dead ...". 

Issue #2 is pretty good, too. With the generous payment from a thankful Holly Harrow, Jen rents an office at DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass); hires a mysterious assistant, Angie Huang, who travels everywhere with her pet monkey; meets the landlady -- a powerless mutant whose other tenants also have superpowers -- and makes a bunch of cold calls to drum up business, only to find that Paine & Luckberg LLP have been putting the word out that she's gone crazy. "Something about a table --?"

Sure, it's illegal, and sure, she could sue them, but you know P&L (profit and loss?) would bury her under depositions and interrogatories and motions to dismiss and filings for change of venue, etc., etc., and so forth. To Soule's credit, he doesn't even bother having Jen say it. 

Instead, she knocks off early ("See you tomorrow, Angie! Great first day!" "But it's only 4 o'clock!" "Yuuup! See you tomorrow!") and has a girl's night out with Patsy Walker. The lapsed continuity freak in me shouted "Wasn't she dead?" but then I remembered seeing her in the Models Inc. miniseries. I wondered briefly how Jen would know Patsy, but in this world where everybody and her sister is an Avenger, it's no surprise they do know each other.

Anyway, a drunk Patsy lights out to go punch something, just because she has no job and no life. The two of them break into a warehouse that's a front for an A.I.M. that Patsy heard about from a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. There are two A.I.M. henchmen inside who figure the two of them see just a warehouse and will leave, but one of them puts on armor and picks a fight, hoping to impress the higher-ups. It's not a bright idea, but if he was smart, he wouldn't be just a henchman, now, would he?

The next morning, Jen staggers into the office to find she has a client: "Good morning, Ms. Walters. My name is Kristoff Vernard. I am the son of Victor Von Doom. I wish to defect from Latveria. You will help me to obtain political asylum in the United States.

"Immediately."

I love this kind of stuff. I could eat this stuff up with a spoon. I really don't need the punching and hitting stuff, but this is a Marvel comic; I expect they wouldn't think it would sell if it didn't have any.

And I didn't say anything about Javier Pulido's art. Nice and clean, and he makes Jen look hot. Looking forward to issue #3!

Agreed 100%. This is a phenomenal comic.

Hellcat came back in 2000 in a Hellcat miniseries written by Steve Englehart.

Another fun issue.  Soule and Pulido really are knocking it out of the park here.

The only thing Clark didn't mention is that it looks like Patsy Walker will be a recurring cast member.  Jen hired her to be the law firm's investigator.  Based on their banter at the A.I.M. warehouse, this will be great!

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