Tuesday, May 6, 2014

She-Hulk: Laws of Attraction

She-Hulk: Laws of Attraction is utterly insane. Having never read any She-Hulk before (frankly, I didn't know she actually existed until a few weeks ago), my expectations weren't very high. However, I ended up really loving this volume, which collects issues #6-#13. Written by Dan Slott, “Laws of Attraction”/ “I Married a Man-Wolf” somehow, at least in my mind, managed to reconcile the fact that Jennifer Walters is a lawyer (what is it with Marvel and lawyers who are also superheroes?) who just happens to be Hulk's cousin and therefore has the ability to transform into a giant green woman—with flying, super-powered demigods from outer space who play with Earth's people willy-nilly (much like Wonder Woman: Blood)--oh yeah, and love triangles, Jonah Jameson going mental, and a Man-Wolf. It's a wonder it all doesn't spin horribly out of control, but I find myself really enjoying the show.

It was a bit hard to stomach, at first, a world where supervillains are suing superheroes (ie, bringing it all down to reality without going the noir route of TDK/TDKR). I was also a bit resentful of the fact that Jennifer/Shulkie could be so dense as not to understand the torch the character Pugliese is holding for her (which is obvious to someone who just picked up the comic!). There are also some other strange characters like Andy the Android whose face is a mallet (but desperately wants love, awww) and the Two-Gun Kid (who I don't quite get; he dresses like the Lone Ranger). There are definitely gender issues going on in She-Hulk, including Shulkie's boyfriend John Jameson objecting to her being big and green. And then there's Starfox, a demigod who has the power of Eros. And his being brought to trial for sexual assault brings up the very good point: can we condone even in comics form the actions of a cosmic Lothario who can use his love powers to seduce any woman, even against her will? The issue comes to the fore when it becomes clear Starfox used his powers to cause John and Jennifer to fall deeply in love when their relationship was on the rocks. Did he then, therefore, use his powers to seduce Jennifer years before during their one-night stand? If so, should she be representing him in a court of law?!

In the middle of all this is the so-called Civil War, which, despite my first misgivings, I'm rather liking the sound of. As a reaction to a tragedy, the superheroes of Earth have split into two factions: one that believes superheroes should be trained and registered and held accountable for their actions, therefore unmasked as their human alter egos (led by, unsurprisingly, Tony Stark/Iron Man), and the other, led by that champion of American civil liberties, Captain America, who doesn't like where this regulation stuff is going. Jennifer/She-Hulk is somewhat caught in the middle herself. Like Avengers vs. X-Men, this starts off as a rather stupid-sounding splitting of hairs and becomes a question about civil liberty itself. I will definitely looking for more Civil War when I get the chance.

I have read some reviews decrying the romantic element of Laws of Attraction (ie, they would prefer more action in their comics, less snogging, less talking), but—and maybe this is part of the gendered debate and maybe it isn't—I really quite liked it. It took on a wacky soap opera element that made it difficult to put down and made it laugh-out-loud funny as well. This really reaches a head in #9, “The Big Reveal.” I'd love to tell you all about it, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

Then things get even stranger, when She-Hulk has to go to Titan (yes, a planet or a moon or something) where the Titans live, to be part of their impartial justice system (rather like scenes from “The Stones of Blood,” I find, though with a bigger budget).

The art here is rather interesting in its polar opposites. Quite an old-fashioned, draughtsman-esque style is expounded by Will Conrad, while Paul Smith wows with quite a punchy, looser style, and Rick Burchett (who I love) knocks the ball out of the park in the latter few issues. Lovely colors, as well, by Dave Kemp.

Someone no less than my boyfriend said that he found She-Hulk rather sexy, and I have to believe that that is one reason why the title endures. Yet I also like her as a character and would be interested to see where the story goes from here.

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