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.