Friday, June 30, 2006

Engagement Ring (Marvel comics)
She-Hulk #8 When: December, 2004
Why: Dan Slott How: Juan Bobillo

The story so far...
She-Hulk, having been appointed to the Magistrati, is employed to travel to the planet Skardon, where might makes right.

There she is to employ her strength as She-Hulk to battle Tryco Slatterus, the Champion of the Universe.
Entering the ring for legal battle, She-Hulk attempts to succeed where the Gladiator, Adam Warlock, Beta Ray Bill, the Silver Surfer, and Drax have all failed.

Needless to say, things do not go well, and the fight is stopped before She-Hulk is pounded into paste.
She-Hulk uses the brawn of her legal brain to request a rematch, as she claimed the fight had been stopped while she was still able to go on. Thus, she is granted an 'appeal' in three months.

Now she just has to figure out how to avoid that paste situation...

Recommended reading:
Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7: The first appearance of the Champion of the Universe.
Thanos Quest #1-#2: Thanos tricks Tryco into destroying a planet to steal the Power Gem.
She-Hulk #7-#8: She-Hulk assumes her role as one of the Magistrati, before being led to Skardon to face the Champion.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Champion 7 (Omnipotent)
Intelligence: She-Hulk 3 (Straight A's)
Speed: Champion 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Champion 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: She-Hulk 2 (Average Human)
Fighting Ability: Champion 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Draw 1 (None)

If you're new to the site, you might have missed last March when these two did battle the first time.
As you may have gathered from the introductions, things didn't go exactly according to plan for She-Hulk, but lordy, she's bought herself three months to prepare for a re-trial.

So, what's changed? Well, the tape here is supposed to be based on the general accepted averages of a character, so in that respect absolutely nothing has changed.
Slatterus still out muscles her dramatically, and she's still smarter than he is.

Of course, this is a rematch in which the first fight saw the hero lose, so cosmic law submits that She-Hulk clearly has a much better chance this time around. However, I don't know if cosmic law is submissible if it comes from our universe, so perhaps that should be stricken from the record...

... At the end of the entry, there's no two ways about it.
Slatterus is a little arrogant, but basically an honorable fighter. If one were somehow able to, say, think their way around a bit and find a rule or moral to use against the guy, they might stand a chance.

She-Hulk is certainly capable of such a feat, but to stay true to the purpose of this section: Tryco Slatterus, aka The Champion of the Universe, should emerge victorious.

What went down...
Jennifer Walters is a dizzy dame who, like most of us, hasn't look after herself.
So, with three months to train up for her next confrontation with the Champion, it's not She-Hulk who has to bust a gut, but rather her human counterpart.

While training hard to buff up her average build (to facilitate an even more fantastic transformation into She-Hulk), Southpaw moans an unlikely insight that plants the seed for She-Hulk's counter argument for her appeal.

Skardon law forbids the use of weapons in the ring, and so, She-Hulk argues that Champion had benefitted from the use of a foreign object in their previous encounter, in the form of the Power Gem.

Champion agrees to give up the Infinity Gem, and guarantees victory under his own impressive cosmic strength. Even after She-Hulk unveils her impressive new physique, Champion plays it cool, that is, after exclaiming, "BY THE FIRES OF ETERNITY, WOMAN! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU?!"
[We've all been there with our Chinese swimmer girlfriends, right fellas? - Material Mike]

The bell rings, and the two mighty warriors pledge their cases.
She-Hulk makes a compelling argument in the realy goings with a stiff left that knocks Champion so hard, he goes into one of those panels where they draw the head a whole bunch of times as it snaps back. Ouch!

With the crowd cheering her name, Shulkie continues litigation, pounding the Elder with various super-strong hooks and uppercuts.
Before long (quite a bit before), Slatterus literally finds himself on the ropes, and the people of Skardon cheer She-Hulk's name - victorious.

Satisfied that it was her brain rather than her brawn that ultimately proved useful to the Magistrati, Shulkie leaves control of Skardon to Adam Warlock, content with returning to Earth.

The hammer...
All hail She-Hulk! Not just for whooping a guy smug enough to call himself Champion, but for being the starring character of such a fantastic read!

There were a lot of positives about the first volume of She-Hulk, but damned if this isn't one of my single favourite issues of 2004.
Slott and Bobillo do a number of truly enjoyable things in this issue, which features some truly awesome, and underappreciated characters from the Marvel Universe.

I could fully understand this kind of thing not being someone's cup of tea, but the unique designs for some of these characters really struck a chord with me.
I would have to say Bobillo's Champion is definitively superior to the design I'm more familiar with, that distincly lacks any grounding or humanity.
Bobillo's lines not only give Slatterus great character, but his overall presentation presents him less like a campy one-note villain, and more like the kind of guy who really has spent his life battling throughout the cosmos.

Likewise, Bobillo tweaks the look of Gladiator and Beta Ray Bill respectively.
I think most would agree BRB really wasn't broken, but Bobillo's touch gives the character an interesting and personal look for this story. It's very much in the vein of his well known Thor inspired appearance, so I probably would've even been happy seeing it carry on in Stormbreaker, but nevermind.

Gladiator, of course, benefits greatly from an update.
The vertical brush mohawk gets traded in for a do that, by issue's end, would surely do Mr. T proud.
Gone too is the bright red, adapted instead into decorative detailin on a blue suit, which looks pretty decent, and maintains that oh-so inventive triangular symbol.

Actually, that throughline of the familiar in Gladiator's appearance is one of the great positives of Slott's issues. While he indulges in the continuity and obscurity of the past, somehow the stories manage to channel something brand new, whilst still throwing back to the good old days.

Slott's continuity also seems to carry a soft touch, and the charm and quirkiness of the She-Hulk title seems to ensure no reader will be intimidated by what he sees.
Like Nextwave, the good humor seems to offer a free ticket to really do anything, and Slott does it well. Unlike Ellis, he even manages to stay within certain boundaries, that ensure there's no reason for She-Hulk to be considered anything but canonical.

This really is a superb read, and if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon already, I'd have to strongly recommend doing so.
Lameasses who prance in the land of trade should be encouraged to pick up the collected first series, but if you're really hardcore, you'll check out the backissues.
Then it's time to do something I haven't yet done, and that's stock up on the second series. Oh yes, I blush!

As should you!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 7

NEXT: In July we go back in time, and count back the decades from now, back to the seventies. Get all the bad news bears next in the monthly punch-up!

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