Sunday, July 13, 2014

Editorial Critique: She-Hulk #4 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

Overall Rating: 3/10 (Last Issue: 4)
With the disappointing conclusion of this first arc of Soule's run, I suspect like-minded readers with high hopes for this series are seriously considering cutting bait.  Soule's issues are filled with creative plot points and themes drawn from Jennifer's lawyer world.  Each issue has included well-done mad cap humor perfectly complimented by Pulido's cartoon art style.

But all four issues have fallen utterly flat in terms of dramatic elements and character development.  It's as if Soule and his editor think it enough to throw a bunch of clever ideas on a wall, and some will stick and keep reader interest.  It doesn't seem to occur to either of them to TELL A GREAT DRAMATIC STORY, and DEVELOP FACETED CHARACTERS READERS EMPATHIZE WITH.  As a result, the scripts have an unfinished and rushed feel.

Writing Technique: 8/10 (Last Issue: 8)
Soule continues with excellent economy and style.

Story Telling: 4/10 (Last Issue: 4)
The arc's resolution of the Doom family dispute is creative, but lacking in drama.

Characters: 2/10 (Last Issue: 3)
None of the characters go anywhere, and whatever Soule might have intended with the Daredevil consultation is fumbled badly.

Art: 7/10 (Last Issue: 8)
I hate downgrading Pulido from last issue, because as discussed below, there was nothing dramatic for him to portray.  That leaves us judging him solely on people talking and a few fight scenes with doom bots...hardly great story material to work from.  He did great with what he had.

Scene 1
In Jennifer's law office, paralegal Huang tries to console Jennifer about Vernard's kidnapping and the fact that payment for Vernard's case was confiscated.  Still frustrated, Jennifer seeks out the advice of fellow attorney Matt Murdoch (aka Daredevil).  Daredevil relates a story where he was compelled to act extra-judiciously in order to achieve justice for his client.  She-Hulk and Daredevil go on a brief crime-fighting adventure, then say their goodbyes.

This scene is utterly useless filler, accomplishing nothing to drive the plot or any character forward.  At the close of last issue, Jennifer already vowed to rescue why does she need a conference with Matt?  Does she have doubts about what she should do?  What are those doubts?

Put simply, there are no stakes, or anything else a conversation with Matt is supposed to resolve.  Even if we assume Jennifer is having doubts, we aren't told what they are.  Is she fearful of her own safety?  Is there something unethical about a lawyer rescuing a client like that?  Is it illegal?  The reader is totally confused as to why Jennifer, an experienced superhero, needs advice from Matt.  A very amateurish scene.

Scene 2
Jennifer sneaks into Latervia, battles some doom bots, and is ultimately captured by a giant-sized bot controlled by Doom.  Jennifer assumes the role of family therapist, helping Doom understand his son's desire to chart his own future.  Vernard further explains his wishes to Doom, who agrees to take the matter under consideration.  Jennifer is released with token appreciation for her efforts acknowledged by the Doom men.

Perhaps Soule intends commentary or praise here on lawyers who attempt to see beyond the disputing parties' stated goals, breaches the parties "defenses" and initiates dialogue and reconciliation between the parties instead of lengthy and destructive wars.  Or perhaps the scene is just cornball.  If the former was intended, there was no groundwork laid for it, it was too decompressed, and certainly no dramatic element to it.  I suspect the majority of readers will take it as cornball.

Scene 3
Jennifer, Hellcat and Huang discuss the Blue File that Jennifer brought with her from her prior firm.  Huang is dispatched to retrieve records about the case, and Hellcat is sent to discuss the case with other parties to it.  The scene closes with Jennifer stating the file "feels important."

Other than further exposition of the quirky office environment in which Jennifer's law practice finds itself, the scene is fairly straightforward in attempting to build suspense for the next issue and story arc.

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