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):
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.
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.
It was not spelled out directly in the story, but it was implied that Harrow had not used the invention for any crimes before taking it to the Stark owned company. Also safe to assume he wasn't wanted by police at the time. Either scenario would likely make his wife's lawsuit unwinnable. Remember, the writer, Charles Soule, is a lawyer, and would know that.
Emerkeith Davyjack said:
...Thank you . Putting the " real ":-)
world into this , considering how frequently people's properties are seized if they are accused of something , and , even if they are never convicted , they never get them back/might , eventually , get a pinch of them...and Harrow ,having done criminal things , especially if he did anything either provably or even reasonably suspiciously so before the invention , well...
I'm curious, how are the sales doing for this book? Is it too early to tell?
The sales for this month will be telling. According to the monthly sales chart article at The Beat,
retailers ordered 41,921 copies of #1 and 26, 675 of #2. That's a huge drop - 36.3% - and the author of the article notes a number of times that Marvel books that drop below 20,000 are in trouble. It's scary that She-Hulk isn't far away from that.
On the other hand, a lot of new books take a huge drop with the 2nd issue and find their level after that. Black Widow did, dropping from orders of 53,879 to 31,260, which is a 42% drop. But it then leveled out: issue 3, orders were 28,127 and issue 4, orders were 27,378. If BW maintains that consistency, the book will be around for a while. She-Hulk needs that too.
I think Marvel would be happy if She-Hulk stays above 20K, considering books like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hawkeye are selling in the low to mid 30K range. As a book with a female lead, it may have more leeway against being cancelled if it dips below 20,000, but that's just pure guesswork on my part.
I think the biggest obstacle this book has is its art. For big-time superhero fans, this just is not a typical look for a superhero book (much like X-Statix). At the same time, it isn't sleazy looking, so I'd bet it is more acceptable to female readers.
I'm sure that was a conscious decision by Marvel. They want this book, like Captain Marvel, to broaden their audience and not appeal to the same-old readers. They want it to be bulletproof to women -- it's got humor, adventure, great characterization and non-sexist art. It's not good girl art, it's art to tell a story.
I would hate to think the art is a obstacle. It's gorgeous! There's a nice open-line quality about it.
I see your point about it seemingly being aimed for a bigger audience and "bulletproof to women." Jen has always been sexy, and she is here, but it's not done in a sleazy way, like Emma Frost or the New 52's Starfire. And even though there's a running gag each issue that Jen gets into a battle and gets her clothes shredded by the end of it, Javier Pulido doesn't draw it for titillation.
Also, I've noted above that Pulido puts Jen in stylish clothing. We aren't going to see pages like in Millie the Model or Betty and Veronica or the old Supergirl feature where there are outfits designed by the readers, but I've seen comics where the artist clearly has no idea what women wear.
In short -- Charles Soule and Javier Pulido get it.
No chatter on issue #4? We need to remedy that, as I have issue #5 in hand ...
Issue #4 begins with Jen in her office at her desk, brooding, tapping a pen into the cover of the Kristoff Vernard file. Assistant Angie is babbling on about how the bank confiscated the Latverian francs Kristoff paid them with ("conflict currency") and, after Doom kidnapped Kristoff from the courtroom right after they won the case and the judge granted Kristoff asylum, you ought to know when to move on.
Jen is only half-listening, and punches a hole through the file -- and her desk. She tells Angie she's going away to consult with a colleague.
Said colleague is the Marvel Universe's other top lawyer, Matt Murdock! And, being superheroes and in San Francisco, Matt's new home, they meet atop the Golden Gate Bridge!
Jen commiserates with Matt over the circumstances that made him move out west.* Matt's advice to her on what to do about Kristoff is to consider if what's she has in mind is for him or for her, and that her power as a superhero should be used judiciously -- but if you do intend to go bring him back, I know a guy who makes good fake passports and IDs. Jen decides to go, but not before she and Matt have a night out on the town! (Unlike her night on the town with Patsy Walker, it's spent battling henchmen.)
Jen tells Angie she's extending her trip. She flies to Latveria, makes her way to Doom's castle, and is soon set upon by a Doombot or two, which she handles pretty easily, as well as flying squadron of Doombots, which she takes out with a cannon. Then a giant Doombot -- as in, a King Kong-sized giant Doombot -- seizes her.
This Doombot is being remote-controlled by Doom somewhere, and she confronts it, telling Doom "You aren't turning him into a ruler, Doom. You're raising someone who only knows how to bow."
"Does she speak the truth?" the giant Doombot shouts. Kristoff shows up on a flying scooter, thanks Jen for appearing ("well, yeah, you're a client"), and tells the giant Doombot, "You would not allow your life to be dictated in every respect by another. Why should you expect any less from your son? So, I do not wish to leave. But I must have a life. If I cannot have it here, I will have it elsewhere."
The giant Doombot ponders and then states, "Very well. I will consider these matters. You have good taste in servants, my son."
"Servant?" Jen interjects.
The giant Doombot then tells them to get lost, so they get going. Kristoff thanks Jen again, and pledges to pay for everything. "Any chance you could pay with something besides Latverian francs?"
" ... No."
The epilogue sets up the next story: Jen calls in Patsy Walker and Angie to delve into the mystery of the Blue file, about which we haven't mentioned up to now but has been alluded to in every issue so far. It's about a motion to change venue in a case filed in North Dakota, in which Jen, Wyatt Wingfoot, the late Dr. Druid, The Shocker, Tigra and others are being sued by one George Saywitz. Jennifer doesn't know anything about it, and sends Angie and Patsy to find out what's up.
*(If you haven't been reading Daredevil, Matt neutralized an extortion attempt against him by admitting in open court that he is Daredevil; subsequent to that, he and Foggy were disbarred in New York. Fortunately, they're both members of the California bar and could work out there.)
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