Wednesday, April 23, 2008

She-Hulk #28

Never one to let the grass grow beneath her feet, the She-Hulk has remained quite active of late. Shifting away from her career as an attorney, Jen has embraced her adventurous side, launching a new life as a bounty hunter and taking on a partner in Jazinda, a Skrull with an overactive healing factor. On the trail of a mad bomber, the pair has been sidetracked more than once, and now finally appear ready to cut to the chase.

While I've never been much of a fan of either She-Hulk or the Skrulls in general, Peter David has granted them both enough personality to pique my curiosity. While the bulk if the issue is spent pursuing Bran, the bounty they're after, it's the pages in between the action that are the book's most successful. Jazinda constantly reminds the reader of her alien origins, but not in a way that comes across as forced. While Jennifer is constantly trying to form a bond with her, whether that's due to compassion or just the sheer boredom of being out on the road, Jaz seems oblivious. They make a great odd couple, with Jen offering an olive branch and the Skrull responding with an unintentionally conversation-halting comment.

I didn't care so much about their search for the big bounty, but I found Jen and Jaz's off-the-cuff conversations to be very easy reading. David's writing on the whole has been better, though, and there were a few little details that really pulled me out of the story (the Browns weren't 4-12 last year, but something tells me this issue was plotted long before the 2007 NFL season). Still, for an inconsequential middle-of-the-pack superhero book, it's not a bad read whatsoever.

Artist Val Semeiks has been around a while, but his work is still inconsistent. When he's working with backgrounds or incidental characters, he's at his best... minimal, but detailed. When Jennifer enters a prison at the issue's outset, he perfectly captures the dilapidation and desperation of a small, isolated cell. His rendition of the She-Hulk herself, though, is not good. It's worse than not good... I'd almost call it unsettling. It's like he wants to simultaneously accentuate her build, her sex appeal and her physical size, but when it all comes together it's a terrible mess. She barely looks human, let alone female... the only things that give it away are her lipstick and her enormous tits, which sit on her chest like a pair of speed bags. Jen is a character that requires a lot of care to treat properly, and Semeiks doesn't even get close. His work with Jazinda, Shulkie's Skrull running buddy, isn't much better. Semeiks shines in the backdrops, but shrivels in the foreground.

She-Hulk isn't a bad book, but it has too many problems to call it a good book. Its successes are nice, but they're often immediately canceled out by its failures. The storytelling lacks consequence, but the characterization of the two lead characters is tremendous. What do you get when you pair inconsistent writing with inconsistent artwork? Surprise! An inconsistent read. It's got its moments, but they're few and far enough between to keep this issue from being worth your while. It gets a recommendation to flip through.

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

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