Sunday, April 08, 2007

The slow death of She Hulk

I´m a terrible person.

I know that in my last post I wrote about my goal to be a positive voice in the bloggosphere and to bring joy and enlightment to all comicfans. And here I am writing about the death of the She Hulk comic. Don´t let the title mislead you. She Hulk, the character, is alive and well. She Hulk, the comic, is just inches away from being cancelled and going into the great comic beyond that we comic afficionados call the comic limbo better known as " the dollarbin ". Now the reason I am predicting the demise of this series is that ( as you may recall ) one of my brothers just celebrated his birthday and one of the presents were the two trade paperbacks of She Hulk´s first season. And when I looked through the pages one burning question came to my mind : What the $%&&§& happened ?

If you look at the trades ( especially the second one ) She Hulk was a comic that had it all. A goog looking female main character, funny and entertaining stories, lots of celebrity guest stars, good art by Juan Bobillo followed by absolutely stunning artwork by Paul Pelletier and a unique idea for a comic series : superhuman law. What was even more this series had the support of the fans and lots of raving reviews from comic critics all over the net. When Marvel cancelled the first series She Hulk had gone to the mountain top. Top writer, top series. But somehow that all chaged when the second series started.

Now I´m not saying Marvel is torpedoing the comic books of it´s female characters. Because then Marvel would sue me and slap a cease and desist on me.

So I´m just telling it like it is. Spider - Girl is the best series of the whole spiderfranchise and Marvel tried to cancel the series numerous times which could only be prevented by several grassroot campaigns started by the fans. Ms Marvel wants to " be all she can be " to quote a familiar slogan but the only good thing so far have been the covers by Frank Cho and the two issues by Mike Wieringo. And I´m not even touching the subject of the censored Sheena miniseries. Last but not least....when She Hulk had finally become the fan favorite comic and everybody´s darling the series was cancelled, but on hiatus for half a year and restarted at number one. To " cash in on the hype " like some suspected or to finally destroy the series as others suspected.

Because a restart with a new number one usually means a change in the creative team - mostly a new superstar artist. But wait. She Hulk already had that - Paul Pelletier. Okay, the fact that Paul Pelletier left the book was good for the comic fans because the time between his last issue of She Hulk and his first issue of EXILES ( which I´m going to start reading any day now ) brought us the GREAT LAKES AVENGERS miniseries but our gain was She Hulk´s loss. Now before I start rambling about the fact that while GREAT LAKES AVENGERS was truly a great series that only fell short of it´s potential because on one side Dan Slott tried too much to copy the Giffen League on the other side he didn´t manage to make the villain ( who once killed Quasar by cutting of his hands and almost brought the whole universe under his control ) scary....ooops. Too late. Let´s keep that for a different post.

Now back to the She Hulk series. Instead of using the momentum the first series had gathered Marvel opted to start at square one with the relauch.

Juan Bobillo was ( again ) the artist but that didn´t last too long. In issue 8 Paul Smith was announced as the new regular artist which lasted exactly two issues. Coincidentally issue 8 was the last highlight of the series. Not only was it a CIVIL WAR tie - in issue it had one of the best stories in a long while. But Paul Smith´s tenure on She Hulk was a quick one and he departed to do....I don´t know what. Certainly he is not doing new issues of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE which is a great loss for all comic readers. Now his replacement was Rick Burchett whose art always makes me pick up my tv guide to check out when the She Hulk cartoon is on. Because whenever I look at his art it reminds me so much of the BATMAN ADVENTURES or SUPERMAN ADVENTURES. Now the art on BATMAN ADVENTURES and later franchises to animated series looked that way to convey the feeling of the tv series. I still don´t get why the She Hulk comics look that way. Is there a She Hulk animated series coming and Marvel is preparing it´s reader to prevent them from going into shock ? Was the artist chosen to give the readers the feeling of a lightharted but kind of dealing with serious issues animated series ? Or is this really the best that Marvel can come up with for a female character that was the favorite female Marvel character of most artists not so long ago ? What´s happening here ? Here are some pages to see the new art for yourself

She Hulk 9 / issue 10 / issue 11 / issue 13 / issue 14 / issue 16

Another thing is the new direction of the stories into this whole She Hulk as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. thing which I hope is only temporary. The series is at it´s best when the courtroom is involved. It´s nice that She Hulk finally finds out the ugly face of superhuman registration, which is your government telling you what to do. I just hope the writer will not lose sight of the original idea fotr the series. But since the whole CIVIL WAR mess seems to be long from over who know what kind of cases the law firm will get when we return to that part.

And since when did She Hulk sleep with anybody she could get ? I have the feeling that Dan Slott has written himself into a corner with this whole " She Hulk bad - Jennifer Walters good " ideology. His argumentation that the gamma rays bring the bad and dangerous aspects of people to the outside just contradicts the whole Hulkhistory. Bruce Banner was always a very emotional person but because of his father he kept his emotions bottled up inside him. So when he transforms into the Hulk he let´s his emotions reign free. And because of the strenght of the emotions he becomes awhat he never was - physically strong. Now Jennifer Walters was always a little bit shy and maybe repressed her sexyness and her adventourous streak. So when she turns into She Hulk her inner beauty and metal strength come out for all to see and she´s sexier and more riskprone. Which according to Dan Slott is a bad thing. If you act true to your inner self and look like the person you really are that´s dangerous and just not right. You should be like others want you and you should behave according to the prejudices other people have. Don´t be yourself - be what others want you to be. Meek, weak and ugly.

And what´s up with Wolverine in issue 16 ? How did he go from ladies man to monk ? In all of the comics I have read Logan never said no to a woman. He´s the kind of guy who gets licky with the mother, her daughter and the sister and suddenly he says no to She Hulk ? When did he get so picky ? I mean GOOD LOVe from the South Park soundtrack used to be his theme song.

Another problem is that on one side Dan Slott is commenting about the fact how inflatory death is used in comics today....and on the other side the character of Stu Cicero is killed without so much as the blink of an eye. Okay, Stu Cicero´s only reason for being was to attack the comic reading audience as well as the comic writers ( like the character Monkey Joe in GREAT LAKE AVENGERS which got really annoying......after the second time ) but I still don´t understand why the recorder chose to kill him but to let Ditto live. Why does he chose to tell Ditto his secret but not Stu ? It doesn´t make sense. And it is much more difficult and dangerous than to trust in Stu. At first I also was thrown by the fact that Ditto isn´t even shocked a little by the notice of Stu´s death but we´re talking about a guy who works for lawyers. He doesn´t have exactly high moral standards.

Oh, by the way it´s just three ways of lame to name a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Cake - Cheese Cake. That´s the kind of punchlines we used to make in elementary school. I really don´t know if I want this series to continue or to just end the agony. When John Byrne left She Hulk Marvel wasted no time to burn the book to the ground and it seems that history is repeating itself. I know it can get boring if I´m always saying the same thing but why do I have to be right time and again ? Why can´t comic companies learn from past mistakes ?

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    Anonymous said...

    She-Hulk is alive and well. And, according to the ICV2 sales numbers (see the book has been going up in sales (#15 sold more than #14, and #16 sold even more than #15-- which is pretty good considering that it was part 2 of a four part arc).

    I think your end argument is a little backwards though. She-Hulk is what society tells Jen Walters she should want to be: strong, beautiful, bodacious. Jen Walters is the woman Jen Walters was born as. Isn't Jen Walters Jen's true persona? To me it seems that Jen would rather retreat/run away into the idealized form of She-Hulk.

    SUBZERO said...

    Wow,a comment. It´s been a while since we had one of those around here.

    While you are right that the sales numbers are going up the quality of the title is not. So while She Hulk may be alive where sales are concerned the book is dying creatively.

    I don´t see the She Hulk persona as a retreat. Who is the same person on the outside like he is deep on the inside ? Are all the good looking people also nice people ? Isn´t it true that our looks and our persona don´t always match ? I mean I often had the experience that if you meet people you know from the internet don´t look how you thought when you finally meet the in real life.

    I know that if I had the choice to be small and weak and ugly...or big and strong and handsome....well that´s an easy one. If you ask somebody if he wanted to be rich or poor 99 percent of the people would prefer rich. So are they all retreating in a rich persona ?

    I think we should not mistake normal human nature for mental illness. And I think Jen is not so weak that she has to be what society tells her to be. Because society also tells her not to change partners so much so you got her civil disobiedience right there. If she would be what society wants her to be she wouldn´t be strong or an independent woman. And her amount of property damage would be lower.

    I think because the She Hulk persona has some similar points to how society wants women to be people get confused.

    Your interpretation is an interesting one but if you follow that train of thought to the very end I don´t like what the writer is implying. Namely that if you meet a certain physical criteria that is accepted by society that´s okay - if you didn´t do it through gamma radiation. Than it´s bad and you should be ugly. Even if there are no negative side effects.

    What does that tell us ? Don´t try to change. Don´t be better than yourself. Didn´t Shakespeare say " To thine own self be true " ? Doesn´t that also involve how we really are ? Which for me is more than only the outward appearance. I mean everybody tells us how important inner qualities are.