Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reader's Diary #1403- Dan Slott (writer), various artists: She-Hulk The Complete Collection

I wasn't sure what to expect with a She-Hulk collection. I'd encountered the character only in ensemble comics before and to be honest, she never made much of an impression. Worse, she was sometimes there just for overly sexualized eye-candy. I knew of her origin story (created from a blood transfusion from her cousin, the Hulk, which smacks of the whole Eve/Adam's rib thing) and even the name She-Hulk makes her sound like an afterthought.

There are some traces of sexism still prevalent in Dan Slott's She-Hulk collection, don't get me wrong. In one scene she seems to imply that she misses being cat-called granted this may have been over her car, not her body. But by and large, I think Slott respected and enjoyed writing for this character. And the result? I too came to respect and enjoy reading about this character.

One of the more compelling things about She-Hulk is the way she usually actually enjoys being a Hulk. This is a great contrast to her cousin Bruce Banner who typically fears and shuns his out-of-control rage monster. Perhaps She-Hulk's (Jen Walters') healthier take is a result of her seeing a therapist on a regular basis (one Doc Samson) to take care of her mental health, or perhaps it's also a part of her age. In this collection, She-Hulk is a millennial just at the beginning of a very successful law career. As most at this stage in life, she's still finding herself, struggling to find that balance between fun and responsibility, and really her alter-ego is just an extension of that. Granted, as a superhero she also has a few more traumatic points in her past, which brings me to my next point about why this collection is so great.

If you've never read a She-Hulk comic before and may only have a loose grasp on the character, this is an excellent jumping on point. Slott not only does a remarkable job defining the character, but also effortlessly schools readers on She-Hulk's past. Organically worked into the story, memorable and important She-Hulk story-lines are all revisited while helping round out who she is now and focus where she is going.

And on top of all this, I've not yet mentioned how funny it all is and all the original creative touches. The humor is classic Marvel (a blend of self-deprecation and slapstick) and one of my favourite features of the collection was the role of Marvel comics themselves. She-Hulk's law firm uses them as legal reference guides, referring to old editions and story-lines as if the comics were but historical documents in comic form. Loved it.

The art is fine, on the generic side. The cover art (for the individual comics inside), was, however, fantastic, with a more realistic tone. It's too bad, in a way, that the entire comics couldn't be drawn like that. But, I suppose, as they came out so fast in their original single volumes that such a level of artistry couldn't be maintained. Also, to be fair, the less realistic tone might fit the humour a little better.

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