by Ryan Mogge
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Most detective stories make sure you know just as much as the detectives. You discover clues along with them, and are with them as they figure out what it all means. Then, there is the Columbo-style of storytelling. That’s when the audience knows the “solution” to the mystery from the beginning. The pleasure of these stories is watching the detective start from zero and deduce motive, means, opportunity and identity of the criminal. In Hulk 8, Mariko Tamaki starts the reader with all of the information, but Jen’s investigation ends up feeling lifeless as a result.
In some ways, the investigation is almost too easy. Within the span of one day, Jen and Bradley are able to figure everything out. They know who did it, why and how. It’s nearly anti-climactic. The investigation is done in short hand. When Jen reveals to Bradley that Oliver’s transformation is available as pay-per-view, it feels like a retread because we had a scene with Steve announcing this plan only pages earlier. She and Bradley both express disgust but there isn’t enough of an emotional core here to make it feel like new information. The entire investigation feels this way. Jen is certainly more proactive in choosing this case than her last, but the depiction of her investigation makes it feel plodding.
When the audience already knows the details of the crime, the investigation itself needs to be engrossing. Jen’s reaction to seeing the space where Oliver transformed is a nugget of this. When the sunlight shines in through the destroyed wall, the reader can empathize with Jen. There is something beautiful and warm about it, even as it is evidence of a man becoming monster. Seeing Jen’s small hand in the print of Oliver’s is another moment that elevates this story.
The meta arc of this series is about Jen healing from trauma and when the story stays close to that, it can be powerful.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?