Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: Universal Laws: Part One – Special Cases
Written by: Dan Slott
Penciled by: Juan Bobillo
Inked by: Marcelo Sosa
Color art by: Avalon Studio’s Dave Kemp
Lettered by: VC’s Dave Sharpe
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
She-Hulk is one of those books that grows on readers. Between the comedy, honest to goodness character development, excellent use of the Marvel Universe’s toys and characters, and keen dialogue, it’s a book with much to offer. Combine those basic elements with a straightforward story-telling style, good artwork, and a unique look at the consequences of superheroes in the modern world, and the title is competitive with both traditional superhero style tales and quirkier comics. The cherry on the sundae is Jen Walters herself; few books feature a character you can laugh with, root for, and sympathize so completely with, let alone a female hero!
The start of this issue features the fall-out of GLK&H‘s Southpaw case. It seems Holden Holliway’s granddaughter wasn’t just a tossed-off parody; her continued presence in the book both gives her more substance as an individual and adds a sarcastic foil for She-Hulk. Marvel nerds might even observe that the Dollhouse’s briefing note on the book’s third page gives the slacker meta-human an impressive strength rating. The boss’s double cross is dealt with briefly, before aliens arrive to recruit She-Hulk for their own judiciary system. Wackiness of an interplanetary nature ensues, spaced out by a series of slugfests on a threatened alien world (featuring tough Marvel guest stars who get the tar beat out of them). The separate chains of events cross-link at the close of the issue, which give readers a taste of what may come next month. It’s effective, humorous, and reasonably paced plotting backed up by the book’s signature creativity and humor.
The art in this issue simply lets the story down. The mighty Marvel guest stars simply don’t look as good as they should. A certain hammer-wielding warrior looks, inexplicably, like a starved anemic horse. The aliens featured in various legal disputes seem self-similar and unremarkable. Even the Watchers featured at the close of this installment seem both too human and too unlike prior depictions. Bonus discredit goes to whoever forgot that Uatu was bald on the third to last page (or screwed up the dialogue). A story that should have evoked epic scope and strange thrills evoked almost no interest. Suffice it to say that while the entire issue is inked, colored, and lain-out well, Bobillo’s cartoony flair doesn’t really mesh with mighty heroes or non-human figures.
That’s not to say the art ruined the effect of the book either. There are many good jokes, placed at different levels of sophistication from kid to camp. The actions and dialogue of every character rings both true for them and the situation. The fate of an unknown world is enough drama to keep action junkies around for at least another issue, but the art here really undercut what the book could have accomplished. Fans of the book will forgive the lapse, but it’s too bad it occurred so early in the title’s run. This wouldn’t make a good introductory issue.