Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Pull List: She-Hulk #12 Review

Alright, I got my tears out when I went and picked up the last issue of She-Hulk this past Wednesday. Well, I sniffled and pouted a bit because I sincerely adore this series and am sad to see it go the way of the dodo. Granted, I will be able to see Jen again with The A-Force coming this summer, but it just won't be the same.

The thing is, I see this happening to a lot of my favorite female leads in comics. Elektra's book is canceled (I'll be reviewing that next week, believe you me), and Catwoman, Storm, and Black Widow do not consistently get the sales numbers that their male contemporaries do*. I don't necessarily believe it's because people aren't reading them; they just don't get the same coverage as books led by male characters have by default. Think of how much advertising went into that whole Death of Wolverine thing. Then compare that to the utter lack of hoopla to Selina Kyle taking over a crime syndicate (I know they are different publishers, but DC and Marvel both have shitty records at promoting their female-led titles). I understand that comics is a business, and companies can't just publish a book that isn't bringing in readers, both old and new, but just look at what happens when they believe in something? Look at the numbers for Spider-Gwen. For Batgirl. For Ms. Marvel. It's a little disheartening that all of these women are young - which is not a bad thing - but it definitely does have an effect on me. Do they care about a 31-year-old woman comic reader who'd like to see characters her age dealing with issues she does? I'm not a lawyer, and I certainly haven't been irradiated by gamma rays, but Jennifer Walters, aside from sharing given names, has a lot in common with me. She fights and lives in a world where her identity isn't a mystery to herself or to anyone around her. She's not trying to prove herself or define her as anything other than Jen or She-Hulk. She is confident and competent, kind and a little impulsive. I loved reading about her each month, and now, I won't get to do that.

But enough of that. To the review.
She-Hulk #12
Anka Variant
Via Marvel Comics
I don't know when Marvel execs told Charles Soule that She-Hulk was coming to an end**, but this final issue really does seem rushed to resolution. The Blue File has lingered in the background for a while, due to Captain America's trial, and it just bursts into the forefront, as Angie reveals in issue #11 that Nightwatch has been behind everything. The flashback was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole issue - seeing Monica as Captain Marvel again made me smile - but I did feel that some portions were a little too "talky." There were also several dangling threads that left me a little more than dissatisfied, such as what in the hell is Angie*** and how is Jen going to defend the Inhumans after the events in AXIS, but perhaps these will be picked up in other series.

Now, I quite liked the concept of Nightwatch manipulating reality to his benefit, and his gray-area morality is a theme that a book focused on a lawyer, like She-Hulk just happens to be, naturally handles. But still, it seemed like a really anticlimactic ending, especially considering the crazy awesomeness that was the previous issue. Perhaps I'll learn to love the finale like I did with the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's season four, "Restless," which is now my absolute favorite of the entire series. I'm going to give it a month or so and then read the entire series over again, so expect a follow-up response once I've done that. Perhaps my lackluster response to this conclusion will change by then.

* It is important to note that Ms. Marvel is the top seller digitally for Marvel, and that is huge. Not only is she a woman, but she is a woman of color, which is sadly normally not a big seller.
** He did have a 12-issue outline, apparently, but I'm thinking he was under the impression initially that he would be able to expand past that final 12th issue. We'll never know, I suppose.
*** She broke Jen out of Nightwatch's spell with little more than a shout and a gesture right before she's about to pummel Patsy. Even Jen asks what she is on the second to last page, to which Angie responds, "Your paralegal."
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