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She-Hulk #36

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008
By: Kyle Garret

Peter David
Pasquale Qualano (p), Vincenzo Acunzo (i), Barbara Ciardo (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: She-Hulk #36 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 24.

I think I'm becoming cynical in my old age, because I'm not sure why Marvel has let the She-Hulk book wallow in mediocrity for this long. Yes, I know it's getting cancelled, but this is a title (and a character) that seems consistent only in its unevenness. Let's hope that there's a good writer on a good team book who's all sorts of excited that She-Hulk will be available soon.

She-Hulk and her Lady Liberators are in Marinmer, a country devastated by an earthquake. They're there to force Marinmer's dictator to take care of his people. After a face off with the Russian Winter Guard, She-Hulk is invited to the royal palace to meet with the president himself.

The Hulk. X-Factor. New Warriors. Just off the top of my head, these were titles that, in the 90's, featured a "ripped from the headlines" that translated as superheroes exerting influence over events in foreign countries. And, without fail, every story has been really bad.

It's not so much that you can't combine superheroes and the real world; I think we've gotten some great stories out of that combination over the years. But opening the "why don't superheroes do more?" can of worms is a slippery slope, particularly given the complexity of international relations. Even worse, you're generally going to get the same type of story every time out, complete with slaughtered innocent villagers and charming, yet uncompromisingly evil, ruler. And, at some point, you can expect the U.S. government to tell the superheroes to stop whatever it is they're trying to do. It's almost always the same: trite.

Questionable storyline aside, there are some truly groan worthy moments in this issue. The president wearing filters in his nostrils (naked to the human eye, of course) to save him from the Kolokol-1 he releases into the air to take out She-Hulk and the Invisible Woman is painful, not just because of its scientific problems, but because it adds a mad scientist aspect to a story that's supposed to be rooted in the real world – and we already have a giant, green woman in the picture. Then there's Jaz trying to convince She-Hulk to kill the president, not because of what he'd already done, but because he was planning on raping her. The murder of his own people wasn't enough, evidently, to really peeve She-Hulk off. And the fact that Sue Storm gives She-Hulk an ultimatum to tell her friends that Jaz is a Skrull, which matters to Sue because…because I don't know.

Even the solution they come up with in the end is painful, but I don't want to ruin it for you.

The art doesn't do the book any favors, either. Everything seems kind of light and airy, as if the lighting on the set is off. The action (what there is) is stiff and the storytelling isn't dynamic enough for a title starring the Hulk's cousin.

I'm glad that Marvel is trying to diversify their line, giving solo titles to more than just white men. I just wish they didn't seem to do it so haphazardly. Here's hoping that She-Hulk returns with some stability in a few years.







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