Ever since John Byrne got a hold of her, She Hulk has been an accessible, fun character to follow. Dan Slott and Charles Soule integrated her law practicing and amped up the clever humor, making her even more endearing while also having stories that could be appreciated on a multitude of levels: razor-sharp humor, realistic character foibles, relationship labyrinths, all it relatable to the reader.
What makes the new Hulk series interesting is that Jennifer Walters has to reintegrate herself into her own life post-Civil War II, and this time the Hulk within her might be out of her control. This was a good first issue, even though Marvel is making a mistake but calling She-Hulk “Hulk” (I’m not a big fan of their multiple characters, same name shtick of late). But hey, Marvel can't thrive without an uncontrollable rage-beast, I guess.
Right off the bat the narration is pitch-perfect, as newcomer Mariko Tamaki hits the right blend of self-deprecation and humor in Walters’ inner dialogue. Jennifer is wrecked after the death of Bruce Banner, seemingly always on, desperate to resume her “normal” life.
It would have been all too easy to have an angst-riddled protagonist who is wallowing in her own grief, but she stays true to the innate humor of the character regardless of the settings. That keeps things engaging; we want Jennifer to recover that part of herself that’s damaged. It also helped to progress the overall narrative, which features Jennifer starting up at a new firm, and getting a new case featuring an Inhuman shut-in.
Nico Leon also deserves an immense amount of credit for how deftly he handles Jennifer’s anxiety and surroundings. His work has a bit of an anime influence to it, but it’s not distracting in its genre-imitation. Instead it helps the story, where Jennifer’s emotions are on full display, subtle yet incredibly effective. His character designs, from Ms. Brewn to the random lawyers in the office, are really fun and interesting.
The best scene comes at the end of the comic where we finally get to see what’s going on with Jen’s Green Side. At the office people asked her about it and she dodged the question, but we finally get to see the Hulk trying to claw its way out, more reminiscent of Bruce Banner’s incarnation than the Sensational She Hulk.
I actually like this development – in the past, and especially in Dan Slott’s run, Walters seemed too reliant on her ability to shift from one form to the other, even taking more pleasure in being the Big Green Bombshell than she did in her natural body. Now, it seems like the serious trauma she's just been through -- her physical and mental abuse -- is taking shape in a different variation of Hulk. This type of behavior, although new to Jen, is a hallmark of quality Incredible Hulk runs. The small bits we see of the Hulk straining at the seams are scary, and in the coming issues we’ll be getting more of that aspect.
A solid opening to the newest Hulk opus, and here’s hoping for some good SHULK SMASH in the coming issues.