Friday, March 31, 2006

"Engagment Ring"
She-Hulk #8 When: December 2004
Writer: Dan Slott Artist: Juan Bobillo

The story so far...
Jennifer Walters, attorney at law, received a life-saving blood transfusion from her cousin, Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. The irradiated blood had extraordinary effects, turning her into the sensational She-Hulk.

Having left the Avengers in the wake of Disassembled; She-Hulk began her career as a lawyer specializing in superhuman law at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway.
Her wacky adventures saw She-Hulk attain the greatest honor of being appointed to the Magistrati; agents of the Living Tribunal, who maintains cosmic law throughout the omniverse. This new role, of course, was not without a catch, which leads big green to the planet Skardon, where she is to settle a case by their law.

Tale of the tape...
She-Hulk was undoubtedly one of the breakout hits for Marvel comics in 2004, during an on-going period that I would describe as notably lackluster.
This slightly obscure title served up, in it's first series, a declicious blend of quirky superhero antics, classic Marvel comics character interaction, and an intangible something else that has no name.

Savvy internet fans rallied to She-Hulk's cause, and as that series crosses a milestone one hundredth issue [for the character], and the half-way mark of it's second season; net fans are called to arms again.
Dan Slott's other title, Thing, is lurking dangerously near the dread yellow line, and he's calling to fans to help him out. To learn more about the initiative, head to Newsarama, and learn more about pulling Dan Slott's Thing! Prizes to be won!

Now, let's get down to the real business. The fighting!

Strength: 5 (Super Strength)
Stamina: 5 (Marathon Runner)
Fighting Ability: 4 (Trained Fighter)

Let's be honest... Shulkie has her work cut out for her.
As great as her strengths are, like many characters derived from others, She-Hulk is universally a lesser facsimile of her a-list cousin, The Hulk.
Generally speaking She-Hulk, although capable of exceeding these general bounds, isn't as strong, fast, or powerful as the Hulk.

With that as the measuring stick, you'd have to regard a character like Tryco Slatterus as out of her league. Generally, a guy who can get away with calling himself Champion of the Universe, probably isn't a guy to be messed with. Afterall, prior to this, he's got a skin list of some of the most impressive bruisers in the Marvel universe! Champion's gone toe-to-toe with; the Hulk, the Thing, Colossus, and even Thor, God of thunder!

Strength: 7 (Omnipotent)
Stamina: 7 (Unstoppable)
Fighting Ability: 7 (Born Fighter)

The power primordial is the source of Champion's impressive strength, which replaces conventional motivation, like food, water and sleep, with the nature to tap into the stuff of the very cosmos. As one of the surviving elders of the universe, Champion's immediate strength is only further enhanced by the possession of the infinity power gem.

The only conceivable weakness Tryco Slatterus has is arrogance. Otherwise, on paper, you just couldn't bet against this guy.

What went down...
The Champion scoffs the prospect of fighting a female, but unwilling to forfeit, he arrogantly accepts the amusing challenge from the "lesser being".

She-Hulk, being an independently minded woman, takes exception to the remark, using it as motivation to sock it to the bastard before the bell even rings!
With a trickle of blood running from his nose, Slatterus offers an embittered compliment, and calls for the bell.

It's downill from there. The battle rages on, with most of the fighting coming from the red corner, as the aptly named Champion slugs away at the She-Hulk with rib rips, hooks, and stiff left hands.

With Shulkie reeling, Champion continues the punishment. She-Hulk's pathetic, exhausted efforts are easily dodged, while Champion remained unphased by the physical exertion.

The ruling magistrati judge finally intervenes, declaring She-Hulk woefully outmatched. While the Champion basked in the glow of victory, She-Hulk claimed she was still able to continue fighting, despite being barely able to stand.
The magistrati recognised She-Hulk's appeal, and declared a rematch for three solar months, later. Much to the dismay of Tryco Slatterus, who prided himself on his undisputed victories.

The hammer...
Hmmm... well, isn't that interesting?
Being that on this planet they live by law that decrees might makes right, She-Hulk managed to live to fight another day. Of course, despite the questionable final outcome in Skardon, by our rules we still declare Champion of the Universe the winner.

You can expect to see the result of She-Hulk's rematch sometime later in the year. [Update: Check out the rematch right here!]

As briefly mentioned earlier in this installment, while I've been quite critical of Marvel's output over the last five years - She-Hulk is without a doubt one of the greatest improvements. Over the course of the first twelve issue 'season', I think Dan Slott has really stamped his name on the character, getting a fantastic balance out of his approach to the stories.
The title no doubt still owes a lot to the establishing classics, including John Byrne's landmark work on the previous Sensational She-Hulk comics, but Slott still manages to bring his own quirky something to further enhance the character.

Of course, the appeal of the book might have been less immediately apparent without the suitably quirky art style of Juan Bobillo, who handled the early issues of both seasons.
I think the saddest thing to happen to this book, even with limited support and a forced break between seasons, is that Juan Bobillo could not be secured as an on-going artist. Though initially playing to mixed reviews, I think many a reader, like me, would now associate the artist with the very best of the character.

I think a lot of this same approch is probably being seen in the current Thing on-going, so I again strongly urge everyone to enquire further about the prizes to be won by pulling Dan Slott's Thing!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 7

NEXT: Stay tuned tomorrow, for a big ol' monthly punch-up!

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