She-Hulk #5 Review

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She-Hulk’s law practice is getting off the ground, but she’s still concerned about The Blue File, a case where she herself is named as a defendant, but cannot remember why!  What’s really going on here?  Your Major Spoilers review of She-Hulk #5 awaits!

She-Hulk5CoverSHE-HULK #5
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Wimberly
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer & Tom Brennan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in She-Hulk:  While working a case with her previous firm, Jennifer Walters came across the Blue File, a record of a lawsuit by a man in North Dakota, named Tigra, Doctor Druid, Nightwatch and other heroes as defendants.  This is double concerning to the She-Hulk, as she herself is also listed on the document (along with villains Vibro and The Shocker), but she doesn’t recall anything about the lawsuit or the events therein contained.  Having moved on and started her own firm, Jennifer is now ready to tackle the mysteries in that file, with a little help from her pal Hellcat and her new genius paralegal.  But are the answers more than even a gamma-powered dynamo able to deal with?

OMINOUS EVENTS AND ALLEGATIONS

From the very first page of this issue, with She-Hulk standing outside the apartment of Herman Schultz (aka The Shocker) trying to ask him about the events outlined in the Blue File.  The perspective on the shot is…  just odd, as though looking down through the peephole of a door, with a bulbous Shultz and a truly bizarre looking She-Hulk.  It’s very distracting, which I’ll get to in a moment.  Schultz takes it on the run, but She-Hulk out-thinks him and offers to buy him Chinese food in return for an interview regarding the events that she doesn’t remember.  At the same time, investigator Patsy “Hellcat” Walker is interviewing Greer Grant “Tigra” Nelson about the Blue File, while paralegal Angie Huang has actually driven all the way out to North Dakota to find the paper files documenting the case, as there aren’t any digital ones to be found.  All three situations turn bad, with She-Hulk and Shocker the least severe as Herman reveals that his vibratory powers have messed with his memory.  When asked about the file, Tigra suddenly goes feral and attacks her “costume buddy” Hellcat, while Angie finds important information, only to have a gun pointed at her head by a clearly mesmerized legal clerk.  It’s reminiscent of a John Grisham legal thriller, only with super-powers and a central mystery that involves half a dozen super-dupers.

ART REMINISCENT OF PETER CHUNG’S ‘AEON FLUX.’

The biggest problem comes in the art, which continues it’s weird, towering bulbous constructions, reminding me of the Aeon Flux cartoon in all the wrong ways.  Hellcat and Tigra’s tussle is physically dizzying (and not in a good way), while the strange facial structures of our hero make her look like a big green Play-Doh sculpture at certain points.  The final page is supposed to make us worry about the safety of Wyatt Wingfoot (She-Hulk’s once-and-future boyfriend, himself a litigant listed in the Blue File) but instead makes me wonder how exactly the artist thinks rock-climbing and gravity work.  It’s spectacularly weird and unpleasant to look at, and while I can see that editorial was going for a style that would be as stylized as regular artist Javier Pulido’s work, this is a critical misstep this early in the history of the comic.  I’m reminded of the previous volume of Captain Marvel, wherein an interesting story was wholly torpedoed by weird, inappropriate or just plain ugly art, and I’m worried that the same is going to happen with She-Hulk  On the one hand, I appreciate creative larks and experimental work, but on the other, this book likely doesn’t have the established, loyal audience that will put up with wild visual experimentation, especially when it’s just not successful…

THE BOTTOM LINE: EFFECTIVE STORY, BUT THAT ART

Soule delivers on the promise of mystery, and there is some nice character stuff going on here (Tigra actually references She-Hulk’s short-lived Liberators team from the gawdawful early issues of Red Hulk, which is the most character development she’s had since Avengers: The Initiative, it seems).  All in all, the strength of that story makes the art problems even more of a shame, leaving me wondering what this might have looked like under the pen of the regular team.  She-Hulk #5 is the rare comic where one half of the story/art equation can keep the whole thing afloat, but still can’t overcome the weaknesses of the artist, leaving an overall 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  As a comics fan of several decades tenure, I’ll tell you a rule of thumb:  If you can’t recognize a character as distinctive as Tigra, a furry supermodel with STRIPES gallivanting about in a bikini, then your art has passed through avant garde and landed squarely on the shores of incoherent…