Shelby: There is something fascinating about the regular lives of celebrities. They can be doing the same, boring stuff I do every day, and I’m still going to be interested in it. In fact; it’s better if they’re doing regular stuff like me; it de-mystifies them, taking them down from the pedestal we’ve put them on. Celebrities are people, too, after all. I have a similar fascination with the regular lives of comic book characters. I love seeing the balance between their super lives and their regular lives. It’s extra intriguing when we’re dealing with a super who can’t look like an ordinary civilian; Scott Lang can blend into a crowd pretty well, but Ben Grimm is going to stand out no matter what he does. It’s really no wonder I like Charles Soule’s take on She-Hulk so much; it’s more about Jennifer Walters trying to live her life around She-Hulk, instead of She-Hulk smashing things. There is still some smashing, though; it wouldn’t be a [fill-in-the-blank] Hulk book without it.
Jennifer is settling in to her new office, and is more than a little antsy. She hires a paralegal, Angie Huang, after all the other applicants are mysteriously frightened away. No time to dwell on that, however; Jen has got to start making some cold calls to people she’s worked with in the past to try to scare up some clients. Unfortunately, her former firm has been making calls as well, warning everyone that she’s crazy (something about a table…?). With that super depressing news, Jen decides a ladydate with Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat, is in order. Things quickly get out of hand, and the two soon find themselves fighting guys in robot suits in a warehouse. Everything goes ass-up when one of the guys takes Hellcat hostage, and She-Hulk reveals exactly why she is not one to be messed with.
I think what I like most about Soule’s approach to this title is how pragmatic he is with these characters. I never once considered that Jen would have a hard time finding office space to lease because she’s a super, but it makes complete sense. Similarly, it makes sense that a de-powered mutant would recognize the hole in the market for office space for the super-powered, and seek to fill that niche. Do I understand why Jen quit her last job the way that she did? Absolutely, but I also understand why her old firm is treating her the way they are. If I napalmed bridges like she did at my job, I would not expect to find another IT gig anytime in the near future; that’s just how the world works. It goes hand in hand with her issues finding office space; because she’s super-powered, she’s got that extra layer of scrutiny to everything she does.
I generally like what Javier Pulido is doing with this title as well. His faces are a little flat sometime, but I really like the way he makes use of space to show time progressing.
She meanders down the page, having the same conversation over and over again; the color of the speech bubble changes with each new person on the phone, but the conversation is always the same. And I love that lower left-hand corner, where she just gets smaller and smaller the more rejected and dejected she gets. I understand that feeling, like shrinking inward the worse and worse things get.
Ultimately, that is what really draws me to this book; I can relate to She-Hulk. Her problems with the Avengers and punching men in robot suits seem to take a backseat to her attempts to advance her career and helping her friends deal with their own life issues. I have those problems too, I know exactly where Jen is coming from; the whole super-power thing is the icing on the cake of her life that makes things extra challenging. Soule has a real cheeky sense of humor about it, too; Jen trying to explain to Patsy why she can hold her liquor so well is just delightful.
That drunken little “heh” from Patsy is what sells this exchange. She’s giggling at her own dirty comment before rushing off to do something dumb, while Jen is trying to talk her out of it and keep her from getting in trouble. If the “something dumb” weren’t “raiding what might be a secret A.I.M. lab,” this could be a scene right out of any bar any Friday or Saturday night; that sense of normalcy over-laid with superhero shenanigans is what makes this book so fun for me. What did you think, Drew? Do you like seeing Jen trying to have it all, or are you bored with the focus on the non-smashing aspects of her life? What do you make of her mysterious client and even more mysterious paralegal Angie?
Drew: Oh, I absolutely love the “slice of life that just so happens to involve superheroes” focus of this series. It reminds me of Gotham Central in the best way possible (though obviously with a very different tone). I’m a big enough fan of quirky law office shows to enjoy this series even if it never featured any smashing, so I’m totally okay focusing on the everyday aspects of Jen’s life.
Actually, I kind of wish we were focusing a bit more on those aspects. That’s true of Gotham Central, too — I often found myself wishing the culprit wasn’t always some Batman baddie we’d all heard of — but here, it’s not so much that the superhero stuff steals the spotlight, but that we aren’t getting enough specificity in the everyday stuff. Like, it’s fascinating that Jen’s landlord is a former mutant who saw a niche market for superheroes in need of office space, but like, who are these super powered wage slaves? I’m sure we’ll meet some of them eventually, but in the meantime, the tour through the office seems like it’s quirky for quirkiness’ sake.
Is she working at fruit roll-ups R&D? It’s so self-consciously zany, it’s hard to accept it as just the way things work around here.
I feel the same way about Angie “I have a monkey for some reason” Huang. Like, I’ll accept a bizarre character affect as either important or meaningless color, but it seems awkward to bring it up only to immediately disregard it.
To me, the non sequitur answer that “Hei Hei is a singularly impressive creature” is enough of a red flag about this person’s priorities that I wouldn’t necessarily trust them as an employee. Honestly, I suspect the monkey is just there to distract us from the mysterious gap in Angie’s work history, and the fact that she wasn’t mortally terrified of working for a Hulk (like everyone else was). I’m almost certain Angie was sent by someone (who perhaps spent that gap brainwashing her), making me kind of wish she was drawing just a little bit less attention to herself.
All in all, though, these are pretty petty grievances. This issue was more enjoyable than not, for me, and I’m particularly enamored of how Soule is following the notion that Jennifer’s actions have consequences. Her tantrum in the boardroom has effectively bitten her in the butt, her desire to go out drinking with a friend 1/3rd of her size got her into more trouble than she intended, she even seems a little hungover from going out at all. Superhero stories often ignore the repercussions of smashing through warehouse doors (or city blocks, for that matter), and I love that this series will be focusing on those consequences, legal and otherwise.
That is to say: I’m right there with you on loving reading the mundane details of the lives of our favorite superheroes, Shelby. I actually wish this issue was a little more mundane.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?