She-Hulk #8: I Can’t Get Enough of this Silliness

My review from yesterday’s Best Shots column at Newsarama:

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My review in yesterday’s Best Shots column on Newsarama:

She-Hulk #8
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Javier Pulido and Muntsa Vicente
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lilith Wood
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Charles Soule’s writing on She-Hulk has always been smart and snappy on a panel-to-panel level, but it’s been hard to tell what kind of story he’s been trying to construct. It has often felt like Soule and the art team made some gorgeous fabric together, but Soule didn’t know how to turn it into a dress. Each storyline until now has seemed either too ambitious or too frivolous, and all of them seemed a bit fumbled in execution. In She-Hulk #8, which begins a new arc, nothing distracts from what this creative team can do together.

Captain America guest stars in this issue, as Jennifer’s team heads out to Los Angeles to take on a wrongful death suit against him. As always, Javier Pulido’s figures, Muntsa Vicente’s colors and Soule’s dialogue all say “we are here to have fun.” But in this new arc, Captain America’s gravitas and Jennifer’s earnest desire to help him both act as a counterbalance to the glitz of L.A. and the story’s trademark larkiness.

Behind Soule’s word balloons of banter and law office talk, Pulido’s lines and Vicente’s colors give the pages of She-Hulk a clean, stained-glass window effect. Pulido inks bold lines and strong shapes with few interior details and shading. Color is always important, but Vicente’s bright, solid color combinations for walls, clothing and the sky are especially, mysteriously important. The colors all seem to revolve around Jennifer’s vibrant green skin-tone, and the panels bloom off the page.

Pulido’s art is so deceptively simple that when I talk about him, I might sound like Paul Cezanne saying “Monet is only an eye, but my God what an eye!” But in She-Hulk #8, we also see how directly Pulido underwrites Soule’s clever dialogue and helps to make the characters real and funny. When Jennifer, Patsy and Angie are sitting in a bar having celebration drinks, there’s a panel that shows Jennifer getting bad news over the phone that makes the celebration seem premature. Jennifer looks chagrined as she hears the news. As you scan across the panel to the others at the table, Angie is completely expressionless and Patsy and Hei Hei the monkey have simultaneously and identically turned and gestured for the waitress to bring another round of drinks. It’s a small moment that is easy to sweep past but will make you laugh on a second or third reading.

Soule and Pulido get away with a lot of sincerity by down-playing the serious stuff and keeping the tone playful. Jennifer’s worries about failing Captain America come across without Soule having to harp on them. It makes us like Jennifer all the more for being a little over-confident, cracking jokes, and getting excited about little things like using the intercom in her office. On the morning of the trial, Jennifer says to Captain America “I’m not nervous at all. I slept like a baby last night,” when actually we saw her work all night in a mostly wordless (and still mostly light-hearted) montage.

This Captain America arc has room to run, with a surprise twist at the end of this issue, allusions to a secret mission for Patsy, and the details of the wrongful death suit still undisclosed. She-Hulk has been worth watching from the beginning, but this eighth issue gives me hope that the series is starting to live up to its potential.

 

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