She-Hulk #11: Five-Lady Pile-Up

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This review originally appeared over at Newsarama, where I am a member of the Best Shots team!

She-Hulk #11
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Javier Pulido, Muntsa Vicente
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lilith Wood
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

She-Hulk #11 shakes off all that courtroom civility and devotes itself to a knockdown, drag-out brawl. Muntsa Vicente’s joyful colors are more important than ever in this physical, sprawling issue. Inside the big fight, writer Charles Soule fits a smidgen of plot advancement, a sprinkling of class themes, and a reveal as the story circles back to the blue file. But this second-to-last issue mostly just feels like artist Javier Pulido’s explosive celebration of this team’s She-Hulk run, and it is wonderful.

On the first page of She-Hulk #11, Titania’s bright orange hair and magenta onesie-and-boots ensemble join the color party of Jen’s green skin and royal blue jacket. “Enough talking,” says Titania, just before hurling Jen through several brick walls. There are lots of great details, like how Jen loses one shoe and we see her splayed toes as she flies through the air. It’s fun to see these women with strong jaws and legs like tree trunks, fighting all over a mountain top in New Jersey. Hellcat and Volcana join in and then finally Angie descends in the Fantasticar. Pulido not only makes this five-lady pile-up really fun and silly, he also avoids making it feel exploitative or objectifying.

Soule’s She-Hulk has been an enjoyable reunion of Marvel characters, but one of the best things about it has been the unassuming Angie, a new character who presented herself as a slightly eccentric but otherwise normal paralegal (with a pet monkey). Soule has hinted that there is much more to Angie than we’ve seen. Now that there is only one issue left before the end of this She-Hulk run, we have to wonder if we will ever really know who Angie is. She’s been a great part of Jen’s team, and it was fun to see a stout, frumpily clad person hold her own in a fight with giant glamazons like Titania in She-Hulk #11.

Titania is a hired gun, but makes it clear to Jen that she holds a working-class grudge against Jen’s lawyer life. It feels like Soule used Titania’s anti-intellectual voice and an ultra-physical episode as an antidote to the three straight issues of lawyer banter that came before. This push and pull reflects the contrast between Soule’s dialogue and the art of Pulido and Vicente. The art comes in colors and shapes that are bright, bold, and simple enough for babies to latch onto and enjoy. I think it’s incredible, economical art that verges on design and goes straight down the hatch. Then Soule layers in his light, clever dialogue that is sophisticated in a whole different way. These two elements work together reliably to give the series its confident charm.

Beneath the solid art and dialogue, She-Hulk has had less assurance in its plotting and structure. The reveal at the end of She-Hulk #11 shows that Soule really has been writing a 12-issue arc, and hopefully that will give readers a sense of closure. I think a 12-issue arc might have been a bit ambitious, though. With so many zany superhero cameos, and so many fun subplots to explore, this story spent more time taking a break from its main plot than it spent on the main plot. Even moving away or toward the Blue File storyline has been awkward sometimes, which disrupted my attention on the story as I wondered what was going on with the storytelling. For instance, the abrupt ending to She-Hulk #6 after Nightwatch’s visit left me wondering if an arc had just ended clumsily or if I was just confused.

Soule, Pulido and Vicente are all very skilled, and the plot hiccups might lessen when the whole series is read in trade paperback form. With this team’s chemistry, they could roll out She-Hulk wallpaper of Jen and her friends chatting while grocery shopping, and it would be enjoyable. I would have welcomed another dozen issues, but it’s been fun watching She-Hulk unfurl in 2014. Whether you’ve been following along or not, I recommend She-Hulk #11 as a great standalone fight issue, with pages and pages of action to gaze upon.

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