It continues to baffle me why this book is titled “Red She-Hulk” as it’s more clear with every issue that a She-Hulk story is simply not the book Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan and Wellinton Alves present month after month.
Betty Ross has felt like a guest star in her own book since day one of this title and unfortunately “Red She-Hulk” #63 continues this tradition, going so far as to spend the first three pages featuring a television show that’s discussing the character. The idea is actually great — tying realistic media commentary into the story in a smart way — but because this book has struggled to give Betty agency in her own book, this just ends up feeling like another roadblock. Most of this series so far has been about discussing Betty, which effectively keeps readers at arms length. The actual portrayal of Betty isn’t bad, but she continues to lack star power and personality, leaving the title with a decidedly unfocused feeling. Despite my interest in this character, I know very little about her and care about her not at all six issues in. That is, obviously, a failure. With so many books to choose from, it’s impossible to keep reading a book when you have no attachment to the supposed lead.
All of this is too bad, because Jeff Parker’s writing has been good throughout the run thus far. It’s not breaking any boundaries or setting the world on fire, but it’s been strong and consistent work. It just perhaps belongs in a different book, or this book is deserving of a different focus and title.
The art for “Red She-Hulk” by Pagulayan and Alves continues to be perfunctory at best. It’s functional enough and gets the job done but it’s not particularly beautiful or compelling. After putting the book down it’s honestly difficult to remember anything visual from the book, absolutely nothing stays with you. While She-Hulk herself continues to be the best-drawn aspect of the book, all other characters feel flat and expressionless. There’s a lack of depth and consideration that’s frustrating. The action doesn’t fare much better, though it isn’t confusing, it just doesn’t feel like the most interesting or dynamic choices are being made. Francesco Francavilla’s cover image is twice as exciting as anything inside.
I have stuck with this book out of interest in the character and hope that Jeff Parker’s solid writing could eventually turn this title into something compelling. Unfortunately, a combination of passionless art and She-Hulk’s continued minor role and lack of agency in her own book has finally forced me to move on. Maybe next time, Red She-Hulk.