She-Hulk #9: Structurally Sound and Bittersweet

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This review originally appeared in the Best Shots column at Newsarama

She-Hulk #9
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

Writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido just seem to be getting better together, which is bittersweet now that we know She-Hulk only has a few issues left. She-Hulk #9 is the most serious and focused issue to date, and builds on the strength of the previous issue. Centering this arc on an elderly Captain America has added weight to She-Hulk without displacing its zany streak.

She-Hulk #9 is the middle issue of a three-issue arc that takes Jen and her legal team to California to defend Captain America in court. The plot thickened at the end of the last issue when Jen realized that opposing counsel was her old friend Matt Murdock. In this issue we find out what happened in 1940 to get Captain America in trouble, although the flashback raises more questions than it answers.

The drably colored flashback, along with several pages of courtroom talking scenes, make this issue more constrained than usual. Muntsa Vicente’s colors inject energy into the courtroom panels, with Jen’s bright red dress popping against her emerald green skin. Charles Soule once again demonstrates his ability to write tight dialogue as he keeps us clipping along through legal language and witness testimony.

As well-crafted as the flashback and courtroom pages are, it’s a welcome visual release when She-Hulk and Daredevil take a midnight run across the rooftops of Los Angeles near the end of the issue. It feels like Soule, Pulido and Vicente are glorying in the joys of comic book storytelling as She-Hulk and Daredevil glory in their superhuman strength. As the pair bounds across the city, Pulido zooms in on Jen’s profile in mid-leap and we see a grimace of frustration turn into a devilish grin. It’s a moment that represents this team’s take on She-Hulk unique mix of brains and brawn. They’ve made her wild-eyed, a little supercilious, and always full of life.

After their rooftop run, Jen and Matt compare notes on Captain America and his motivations. Soule seems to be more in charge of the situation than they previously knew, but they still don’t understand any of the hows or whys. It looks like this arc will conclude next issue, when Patsy Walker will be back from some secret business conducted off-screen for Captain America.

The exploration of Captain America’s status, regrets, and mortality were sound themes to match with Jen’s wit and legal smarts. Soule and Pulido has always been bursting with potential and talent, and it’s good to see that come to fruition. It’s been fun all along to watch the team develop Jen and her world through details and dialogue, but this She-Hulk run has unfolded in fits and starts. I loved She-Hulk #8, but I half expected She-Hulk #9 to be a letdown, because Soule hasn’t consistently held stories together well across multiple issues. Instead, the opposite happened. This second issue is strong and this arc feels even stronger than I hoped it would be. Readers new, old and lapsed should get in on this show while they still can.

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