I never picked up any of the Dan Slott “She-Hulk” comics. In fact, I haven’t read anything She-Hulk-related since John Byrne gave way to Bryan Hitch in the late 1980s. So I read “She-Hulk” #27 not knowing much about the direction of this series, except for some vague contextual knowledge that Jennifer Walters was a kind of superhero lawyer. According to the text box for this issue, that’s no longer the case — She-Hulk’s now a “skip-tracer,” a type of bounty hunter, with a Skrull sidekick.
A superhero bounty hunter buddy comic? Sounds like a good enough premise to me.
Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t make me want to come back for more.
Writer Peter David mashes the Marvel superhero milieu with the standard conventions of an episodic road story. She-Hulk and partner roll into town — Allentown, PA, specifically — get involved with the trial of some guy named Larry and attempt to save him from unjust prosecution. I like David’s attempt to avoid She-Hulk using her powers to benefit herself or Larry. Her powers, her superhuman-ness get in the way, actually, and land her behind bars, so she’s forced to use her intellect to save the man. Except, “using her intellect” means begging someone else to come in and save the day. Ultimately, it’s the appearance of a former friend, someone who has betrayed everything she stands for, that allows Larry to avoid a long prison term.
The problem with the comic is that it’s completely character based, and David doesn’t seem to have much to say about the characters. She-Hulk comes across as impulsive and incompetent, a bumbler who gets lucky by calling in some favors. And I don’t know what the purpose of the Skrull sidekick is, other than to give She-Hulk someone to talk to as she cruises around the country, “solving” problems. Structurally, it’s a sit-com, but it’s not funny. And it doesn’t even present a believably consistent world. She-Hulk accidentally rips the door of a prison cell off as she’s talking to the man she’s trying to help, and all of a sudden a full riot squad shows up? Is that supposed to be one of the jokes? Was the entire Allentown police force waiting in the hallway with all their gear? And then, after they march in on her, they put her in the same cell with the guy she just “attempted to free”? I guess it’s some kind of Everybody Loves Raymond logic, and the laugh track is supposed to kick in when we cut to Jennifer Walters sitting behind bars. Sorry, Peter David, the laughter never came.
And if the comic isn’t supposed to be funny, I don’t know what virtues it offers. I like that David is trying for something other than superhero slugfest, but this comic just doesn’t have enough interesting character moments to make me want to read issue #28.