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She-Hulk #35

Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

Peter David
GG Studio (Cucca, Acunzo, Ciardo, Monni)
Marvel Comics
Plot: Awesome Deodato cover of a bear trying to eat Jenn. He's Ursa Major, which means the Winter Guard are back, facing Jenn's hastily assembled humanitarian aid team: the Lady Liberators.

Comments: Lots of things confuse me about this issue, but that's because I read too many comics. If I was just picking this up casually, I'd assume that four of Marvel's strongest femmes have a big issue with the Russian super-team of rule following soldiers and leave it at that. It's clear as daylight that Jenn, Valkyrie, Invisible Woman and Thundra want to deliver aid to earthquake victims, and for political reasons they are being prevented from their humanitarian goal.

It's clever the way David works in a subtle reference to the ongoing (if mutated and strange) Cold War, by having the fictional land of Marinmer call on big bear Russia for help, while Jenn's team seem like American agents (but aren't).

But I can't just leave it at that. I want to know who's playing Valkyrie these days (the same one from the aborted Larsen/Busiek Defenders?), and I've completely lost track of who should be Red Guardian at this point (I know the female one married a radioactive mutant, but that's about it). And didn't Darkstar die ignobly in Morrison's New X-Men, shot in the head before using her mysterious darkforce powers?

Maybe, because this one, named Sasha, seems to have some sort of gravity/black hole powers, that she's very afraid to use. You know, like that guy on Heroes two or three weeks ago. Oh, well, I'll promise myself a trip to Wikipedia and move along: unlike on X-Factor, which seems caught in a rut, David has succeeded in building Jenn back up to the point where she knows why she's a bounty hunter, but also not at all rusty on her legal skills.

This impromptu iteration of the original Liberators (IIRC, a sham team gathered by a mind-controlling Enchantress to get the male Avengers off her back, and also a humorous nod to the 1960s women's liberation movement by Roy Thomas, whose legacy is felt in several comics I read this week) is a symbol of her mental health: she's trying to operate outside the system in order to provide real practical help where it's needed.

David has a lot of fun throwing Thundra at the Winter Guard, as even though she too was initially little more than a manifestation of anxiety about feminists back in the day, you just aren't going to find another long-running character to say lines like: "I am not an American and I do not take men's orders. I take men's lives!" She's a hoot, and she's starred in quite a number of stories that have taken her quite seriously. Also, she still has her already perfect original costume. GG Studio continues to provide colorful, cel-shaded, but not distorted anime-style, art.

The plot complication here isn't really just a Macguffin, something like it happened all too recently in China, and it's a powerful point for superheroes to bring up. David has kept this title fresh since taking over, and proves it this issue by already forgetting the Skrulls were ever a problem.



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