It’s not easy being green. Just ask Jennifer Walters. An attorney by day, and universe hopping member of the FF and Avengers by night (and other parts of the day), Walters is accustomed to leading a double life. When she learns that her partnership with one is the direct result of her affiliation with the other, she does what any super-strong, jade-hued person with anger issues would do. She quits. Bet you thought I was going to say smash!
Let me get this out of the way. She-Hulk #1 is probably not what you’re expecting. So often the character is associated with the namesake she shares with her “Incredible” cousin, and with that in mind, this book may befuddle you at first. Writer Charles Soule takes Walters’s “secondary” occupation and puts it center stage, the book squarely focused on Jen’s life as a legal representative. It’s a bold choice, but one that pays surprising dividends.
The issue follows Jen as she aids a client with a legal quandary involving none other than Iron Man himself, Tony Stark. As a professional and personal courtesy Jen attempts to have a sit down with the brilliant billionaire, yet after a hilarious exchange with Tony’s automated secretarial duo, she comes face to face with…Legal. There are some dastardly characters in comics, and then there’s Legal. Soule takes all of the negative archetypes related to lawyers and funnels them into Tony Stark’s one-man legal defense representative, the result a delightfully dislikable character who drips pretension with every well crafted word. His presence oddly elevates the piece as we see that only the sharp mind of Jennifer Walters, not the smashing fists of She-Hulk, can stand against him.
If you haven’t guessed by now, there’s a LOT of lawyer-speak in this book, so much in fact that at times I felt I needed a degree in legalese. That’s not a knock, however, as it works, Soule imbuing the story and dialogue with just enough humor and sass to keep the issue fun and engaging. He finds the right balance between Jen the lawyer and She-Hulk the hero, and we really see how difficult it can be to straddle both sides of the line. It helps that he makes Jen herself so likable; she’s strong in more ways than one, and despite the many obstacles (both logistical and robotic) she encounters, she keeps on coming.
A superhero book devoid of any real superheroing is a tough draw, yet artist Javier Pulido pulls it off, his expressive art and unique layouts a perfect fit. His art is simple in its design, yet grand in its execution, each page well crafted and appealing. This is a comic driven by its characters, more courtroom drama than superhero throw downs. A lesser artist may have faltered given the subject matter yet Pulido embraces it, his rendition of She-Hulk one of the best we’ve seen. His Jen is strong and assertive, and whether she’s delivering an opening statement or hulking out on a security drone, the characterization remains constant. Pulido also excels at the little things, tiny shifts in expression or body language that at times speak louder than the words on the page. Add in the simple yet eye-catching colors provided by Muntsa Vicente and you have one unique and fine looking book.
She-Hulk #1 is definitely different, but this is one of those examples where different is good. Soule and Pulido really seem in tune with the character, crafting an intelligent, funny, and oftentimes ridiculous debut. Two giant, green, rage-fueled thumbs up.