Friday, September 12, 2008


She-Hulk #30 When: August 2008
Why: Peter David How: Val Semeiks

The Story So Far...
Jennifer Walters: Avenger/Attorney-at-Law, at least, she was, until being coerced by magic to assault her acquitted guilty client. After breaking a restraining order upheld in favour of the evil sorcerer responsible; a mystic called Dark Art; Shulkie finds herself in the sinbin again, her tenure as a bounty hunter interrupted while she cools her heels in a Cleveland city prison.

The pursuit for justice continues in her absence, however, as her shape-shifting partner, Jazinda (who is a Skrull, FYI), borrows She-Hulk's civilian identity to pursue their target!

Bran Murphy; who was hired as Dark Art's bodyguard; has been making his own mischief, and after hearing the tale of Shulkie's misfortune, does her the credit of poisoning the sinister sorcerer. Now, utilizing the powerful bond of a celtic god, Bran channels his vengeance through the super strength of Bran the Blessed, attracting not only the attentions of She-Hulk, but the prince of power, too!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Hercules 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: She-Hulk 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Hercules 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Hercules 5 (Marathon)
Agility: She-Hulk 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Hercules 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Draw 1 (None)

- Hercules is the demigod spawn of king of the Olympian gods, Zeus, and Alcmena; the mortal daughter of the king of Mycenae. Despite a conspiracy perpetrated by Hera and Luciana to prevent the birth; Hercules was born after seven days of labor, to rule those around him, by the decree of Zeus. The mammoth child would indeed traverse many perils to grow into a mighty leader of men, whose strength became the stuff of legends.

When Jennifer Walters was the victim of a retribution shooting by a crime boss out to hurt her sheriff father; Bruce Banner, Jennifer's cousin, was forced to offer his blood as a match for a transfusion. The gamma irradiated donor blood carried over properties that turned the timid Jennifer Walters into a savage She-Hulk!
Like her cousin; She-Hulk possesses superhuman strength and durability, but unlike Banner's Hulk, she is able to control her transformations.

Both Hercules and She-Hulk have been charter members of the Defenders and the Avengers, racking up many miles of experience in battling the foremost threats in the Marvel Universe.

- Bran Murphy is an apparently violent Irishman willing to go to great lengths to inflict pain and suffering upon She-Hulk.
The motive behind his initial attack, which involved blowing up a bar populated by both the hero and innocent civilians, remains unknown. Further investigation, however, reveals the potential influences of ancient powers who may have in fact manipulated Murphy as a human host.

Math: Hercules & She-Hulk Ranking: She-Hulk (#237)

What Went Down...
Offered a full pardon in exchange for her services as the sensational She-Hulk; Jennifer Walters negotiates the release of a fellow jailbird, before stepping directly out of the pan, into the fire of a sixty-foot tall demigod called Bran!

Running the rooftops above, in a torn shirt, is the outlaw prince of power - Hercules! The Greek demigod, whose involvement is strictly non-official, suffers a dismissive swat as he launches himself at his Celtic rival.

The harsh descent leaves Hercules pron, but even as he struggles beneath the mighty heel of the towering Bran, She-Hulk makes her presence known with a leaping fist to the chest! The unsuspecting Celt swipes back, but is swept off his feet by the prince of power, whose godly muscles give him the strength to topple Bran the Blessed like a glorified caber!

Shulkie flexes her own bulging biceps in the nick of time to stop the toppling titan crushing scrambling citizens at ground level. Bran the Blessed defers blame to his Greek counterpart whilst shrinking to a less dangerous size, all the while denouncing the once worshipped demigod as an ego too arrogant to care for the lives of humans around him.

Hercules takes exception to the accusation, but before he can channel his rage in PPI, She-Hulk puts a grapple on to probe for information. The exposition proves brief as Bran lets fly the taunts, stirring Hercules' temper to boiling point!
He effortlessly tosses his jade-skinned ally aside to reach his foe, but before a Herculean beating can be dealt, the giant-sized demigod turns to flee, fearful for the requisite safety of his host -- Bran Murphy -- now discovered by Jazinda.

She-Hulk again lays her hands on her ally in battle, this time to propel Hercules with an offensive maneuver known in some circles as the fastball special...

The velocity of the pitch turns Hercules into a humanoid torpedo, allowing him to deliver the finishing blow -- a decapitation strike to the Celt's vulnerable throat!
With the demigods' block literally knocked off, (by way of a mythic weakness incurred by the historic removal of the immortal kings' head), Herc and She-Hulk are free to make a hasty exit (for some lovin's, as it were).

The Hammer...
Y'know, we've been talking Hercules up as the year's most improved player, so it seems fitting he finally pick up the win with the vital assist coming from She-Hulk!

Time and economics have conspired against any valid commentary or reflection on the battles of 2008, but while out and about, I decided to make a couple of a concessions at the not-so-local newsagent. This issue of She-Hulk was one of the things I grabbed off the shelves, and admittedly, I kinda had my hopes set on a post-WWH She-Hulk/Hercules gaff. Alas, t'was team-up I did find within these pages.

It's been quite a while since I picked up She-Hulk.
Actually, those conspiring forces that have kept me away from most recent monthlies have been doing a pretty good job of it for quite some time now.
It was the break between 'seasons' that saw my dedication to the breakout hit of 2004 wane substantially to the point of missing out on the eventual reboot.

I'm an ideas man, but the more I indulge, the more I realise refreshing art direction can be as important to my reading habits as anything else.
While it was undoubtedly Dan Slott's ability to play with all corners of the Marvel Universe and the high-concept of superhero law, in his absence, I begin to appreciate the importance of Juan Bobillo's stay puft pencils.

Val Semeiks delivers competent sequences and some big time superhero action, but falls short in the finer details. His She-Hulk, while packing a suitable amount of presence, teeters a little uncomfortably on the bulky side of human anatomy. This is something that appears to carry through with his figures who have the air of appearing somehow incomplete, but I wonder if that might not be partly the responsibility of Chris Sotomayor on gradient-happy digital colours.

Conceptually, She-Hulk's being driven by a variety of influences that have now come to include [Peter] David's own cross promotion with pet project, X-Factor. While everything you would expect of a baseline comic is well covered, one can't help but shake the sensation that this is a superhero title at it's most forgettable. As much as we've come to champion the seemingly inconsequential on the Infinite Wars, given the history of the book, it's just such a shame to come back to this.

Dan Slott's first year on She-Hulk brought such a vibrancy and delightfully refreshing kitsch that it's impossible to ignore comparison. As a character, She-Hulk continues to have enough personality, albeit, defined by her sex-drive, that she deserves a solo-title. Yet, I almost feel such a pedestrian read is counter-productive, if not a discredit to the potential of a fringe series.

"GG Studios' Vincenzo Cucca" is looming on the "next issue" horizon with a far superior digital render to his artwork. Perhaps for the first time since Bobillo, the series looks to get a visually distinct treatment that appears both new, yet undeniably suitable. I had to get that last bit in, because I'm sure the faint presence of animé-inspired artwork will get other reviewers' Y-fronts in a twist.

I enjoyed revisiting She-Hulk. Trainspotters will know she served as an anchor on our monthly Super Stock rankings for a long time. I'm fond of the character! I just wish it could've been under different circumstances.
The apparently stacatto'd presence of a conspiracy-plot, told through unwinding structural devices, seems tedious and uninteresting, devoid of any real hook.
Though fun, #34 reads like a classic assembly line comic maintaining the brand, and I'm not entirely convinced that isn't the case in previous issues also.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 3.5

Not convinced? Disagree? Want to know more?
You can pre-order Vol.7 of She-Hulk in collected trade (including this Hercules-packed issue and the X-Factor crossover) through Amazon. Not only do they offer affordable prices and convenience, but by using purchases links supplied, you also help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! Alternatively, if you want to fall in love with the initial Slott/Bobillo revival of the character, you should check out Vol.1, or any of the other titles on offer in the Amazonian Gift Shoppe! On offer are a wide variety of titles containing issues reviewed in the Secret Archives. Mixed bag o' fun, t'be sher!

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