Thursday, July 3, 2014

Editorial Critique: She-Hulk #2 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

Overall Rating: 6/10 (Last Issue: 5)
Soule does better here, finally giving Jennifer a hint of depth and vulnerability.  Paralegal Huang could evolve into a quirky side kick, and who knows what we'll see from Jennifer's friend Patsy/Hellcat.  Pulido is still, however, doing the heavy lifting of revealing Jennifer's character to the reader.

Writing Technique: 8/10 (Last Issue: 8)
Nothing new to say since the last issue: clean, economical, excellent.

Story Telling: 5/10 (Last Issue: 6)
Like last issue, everything is logical and conflict/resolution based with no holes.  But there is very little gravity or drama to any scene, with one possible exception.  Very much feels like pieces are being arranged for future use.

Characters: 6/10 (Last Issue: 3)
The last issue left much to be desired with Jennifer, leaving me totally uninterested in her (rated a 3).  This issue does better, where she finally reveals she feels as if her world is unraveling.  In my review of last issue I wrote that the conflict of successful She-Hulk vs. struggling Jennifer would be the key to anyone giving a damn about Jennifer.  Soule has opened that door a crack, and needs to kick it wide open lickety-split.

Art: 8/10 (Last Issue: 7)
Pulido seems to be carrying the weight of developing Jennifer's character on his shoulders, using facial expressions and body language to reveal her mind in ways Soule's script falls short.

Scene Analysis
Scene 1
Jennifer is now a solo lawyer, with one case she brought from her prior firm.  She is interrupted at her desk by her new office landlady, who gives her a tour of the building.  The other tenants also have various super powers.  Jennifer returns from the tour to find paralegal candidates waiting to interview in her office.  She steps out for coffee, and mysteriously all but one candidate has left, and the receptionist's hair is disheveled.  Jennifer interviews and hires the remaining candidate, a woman with a small pet monkey.  The woman, Ms. Huang, and her monkey start work immediately, but at the moment have nothing to do.

This scene is primarily world-building, foreshadowing other tenants' eventual entry into the story.  The absurdity surrounding the hiring of Ms. Huang, is interesting, but untethered.  When Jennifer asks Huang why the other candidates left and Huang says "My Guess?  They got scared," I'm unclear as to whether there's supposed to be mystery behind that line.  Is there any reason we're supposed to think they might have been scared by Huang herself?  Or is she clearly referring to Jennifer?  Obviously the former implicates something ominous about Huang, the latter merely suggests that as an intimidating green She-Hulk, Jennifer is going to have to take a "beggars can't be choosers" approach to her hiring.   The latter makes the most sense, because after all, why else hire a woman who brings a monkey into the office?

Scene 2
Jennifer pounds the phones trying to get referrals from colleagues, with no success.

Pulido's art carries the day.  The bottom of the page shows Jennifer's range of emotions, including anger, exasperation, desperation, and then finally exhaustion.  The colors darken as her mood worsens.  Simply brilliant!  But throughout the page, nothing in Soule's script compliments Pulido's art.

Scene 3
Jennifer leaves work at 4pm (to Huang's protest) to meet her friend Patsy (a.k.a. Hellcat) for drinks.  They commiserate, drink a lot, talk briefly, dance.  While talking over drinks, Jennifer reveals to Patsy that Jennifer has no savings, expressing her view that there's no sense in planning, and she just wants to do her best at everything.  Patsy reveals to Jennifer that she is bored and restless. The scene ends with a drunken Patsy leaving the night club to (presumably) go find some other excitement.

First, it's worth noting that in this scene Jennifer explicitly mentions she's a big girl with a high alcohol tolerance.  In the first book, I really had hoped Jennifer's heavy drinking was meant to reveal her inner doubts and insecurities about being a lawyer, having just burned her bridge to big time law firms.  But now it seems this is just a running gag about how She-Hulk can handle her booze, and speaks nothing to anything going on in her head.

Second, I'm not sure how to digest Jennifer's comment about not having any savings.  The problem is that we aren't told what she spends on.  Expensive baubles?  Vacations?  Charity?  I suppose not being a saver reveals something about her character, but it would be far more telling if we knew where the money went.  And why does she feel it necessary to tell Patsy, her long time friend, why she doesn't save?  If Jennifer really is a carpe diem kind of gal, wouldn't Patsy already know that?  On the other hand, another way to read the scene is that Jennifer was just about to vent some of her concerns about the financial situation to Patsy, who interrupted her mid-sentence.  Maybe Jennifer is a bit stressed out by everything after all?

Third, it's pretty clear the scene is setting up Patsy as a prop.  The rascal, trouble-making friend who always manages to drag the good guy into some misadventure.  Nothing wrong with a prop, but could have been a little more subtle.

Scene 4
She-Hulk and Helcat raid a warehouse containing a couple enemy agents in robot suits.  One of the enemy is really motivated to defeat She-Hulk and Helcat so he can advance within his organization's hierarchy.  When questioned whether her threat to kill both of the enemy is a bluff, She-Hulk warns the men that her life is falling apart and that she's capable of anything.  The look in She-Hulk's eyes causes the bad guys to surrender.  As they leave the warehouse Patsy accepts She-Hulk's offer to become an investigator for the firm.

Finally!  Soule gives Jennifer some dialogue to reveal that she is indeed struggling with recent events in her life.  Or did he?  After being tied up, the bad guy wonders whether it was all a bluff, and as readers we can't be sure either.

Also noteworthy is that Jennifer seems curious as to what makes the bad guys tick.  She's disgusted by it, but it will be interesting to see if Soule continues to use her as a window into the world of the bad guys.  Maybe riff on Marvel's Superior Foes of Spider-man, a series designed to comically show the bad guy's perspective.

Scene 5
Jennifer makes it to the office late the next morning.  The son of Victor Von Doom is waiting in her office, in need of a lawyer to get him assylum in the US.

Mostly just a cliffhanger, although Ms. Huang's assertiveness builds her character a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment