Monday, December 17, 2007

She-Hulk #24

The She-Hulk has left her legal career in the dust and embraced her more physical gifts, taking on a new career as a bounty hunter. Strangely enough, her employer has hedged his bets by pairing her up with a super-powered partner: Jazinda, a Skrull with a healing factor. The very concept of a major character cooperating with one of the shape-shifting aliens is interesting to me, especially considering the shit storm that seems to be brewing over in New Avengers and The Illuminati... but that’s a story for another (not too distant) day.

Peter David’s relationship with the character is evident from the first page. He has a firm grasp on Jen’s personality – what frustrates her, what brightens her day – and that makes her a much more approachable, identifiable character from the outset. It’s a pity that he doesn’t bring that same devotion to much of the supporting cast. Jazinda, the aforementioned Skrull partner, is very cold and distant… but much of that can be written off to her alien nature, of which she reminds us almost every time she speaks. The same can’t be said of the cardboard cut-outs that populate the rest of this world. The characters directly involved in the She-Hulk’s life, especially those in the RV park where she lives, are parodies of a parody. About half of this issue is dedicated to their development, and I don’t think they’re any stronger at its conclusion than they were when they were first introduced. If anything, they’re even more of a cliché.

Fortunately, her work environment is at least a little more entertaining. The day-to-day problems of a super-powered bounty hunter aren’t as overdone a subject as those of her trailer park neighbors, and the story benefits when its attention is focused there. Still, the writing isn’t rocket science, even in these scenes, (nor did I expect it to be) and the series is such light fare that I don’t think it would be out of place in the Marvel Adventures line of kid-focused books. It’s like an after-school special with green skin and lots of puns.

Shawn Moll’s pencils throughout this issue remind me a lot of Gary Frank, and that’s not just because Frank shared a lengthy stint with Peter David on Marvel’s other green-skinned ongoing series, The Incredible Hulk. Both artists have a mildly unsettling, excessively straightforward approach that I frequently find to be very stale. Both have the potential to prove me wrong, as Frank did during most of his run on Midnight Nation and Moll does in a few sporadic instances here, but neither is what I’d call a top-level artistic talent. They both tell the story they’re given, but neither goes out of their way to specifically enhance or elaborate upon it.

This is a much slower-paced issue than those that preceded it, something of a break in the action, presumably to allow readers a chance to catch their breath. It’s too bad, then, that there’s really only one character in the book that’s deserving of closer inspection. I can’t fault Peter David for trying to elaborate a bit, expand the world around the She-Hulk, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. This is one of those times. Flip through this if you’ve got the time and the inclination, otherwise you aren’t really missing anything.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4

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