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She-Hulk Sensational #1

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By: Shawn Hill

Peter David, et al.
Jonboy Meyers, et al.
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: She-Hulk Sensational #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 31.

Plot: It's the 30th anniversary of She-Hulk, one of Stan Lee's final Marvel creations, and she's not having the best birthday ever.

Comments: David's cutesy main story is a formulaic trifle. Meeting She-Hulks past, present and future (but not the actual savage and red ones currently competing with Jennifer for the spotlight) for jokey verbal sparring is predictable, though a spritely Stan Lee does his best to throw in some zingers. Meyers' art is exaggerated and stylized, not really the best mix for portraying the character's inherent strength and buxom appeal. The best part of David's story is the revival of the fourth-wall breaking practice of some of Jen's earlier outings. It's cute, but it leaves the character as un-employed and unhappy as she was in his run on the title.

It is interesting that the three eras we visit involve Lee's debut issue, her off-beat run with Dan Slott and an intergalactic law firm, and then a sort of one-note pun serving as a vision of the future. Given the character's contradictory ubiquity and yet inability to maintain a long-running series, the upbeat assertions at the end ring hollow. We're left wondering if she really is a concept that needs an update, and that can live that far from "He-Hulk's" shadow.

Much better is the second story by Brian Reed, who teams up She-Hulk with her most likely peers (they're about the same age as she) Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. It too is a little cutesy, with the characters largely leaving behind the dark tones found in their own books or the Avengers these days, but Iban Coello's art is charming, and seeing three confident gals take down a shady Hydra operation, well, it doesn't get more Marvel than that. While they seem a little out of touch with each other compared to other appearances, there's nothing wrong with their chemistry and teamwork once they get together.

The issue is rounded out with a reprint from the John Byrne era, where he got away with completely objectifying Jen because he let her talk directly to the audience while he did it, and because he drew her so well in clothes or out. Byrne has to be given credit for contributing greatly to the character's longevity, as his take on Jennifer as a big, happy green girl who had a lot of fun (in direct opposition to the morose and haunted affliction experienced by her cousin Bruce) has remained influential. He also had a knack for depicting the equivalent of a hot female weightlifter, a challenge that even some of Marvel's other best artists have periodically missed the mark on. The story is a silly one involving space truckers, but it's a little gem nonetheless.







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