Thanks to a smart, simple, done-in-one idea and a charming execution, Charles Soule and Javier Pulido deliver the best issue yet of their wonderfully off-beat “She-Hulk” series. After two-issues with a guest artist — two issues that didn’t quite work visually even though they had some redeeming qualities — Pulido is back on art duties and better than ever with his flat cartoonish style that is a perfect match for Soule’s off-beat and humorous tone.
Borrowing lightly from 1989’s “Honey I Shrunk The Kids,” Soule has She-Hulk, Hellcat and Hank Pym shrink themselves down and hunt around a backyard to find the co-inventor of a shrinking device that has deliberately hidden himself and the plans and is now of course in all kinds of giant backyard danger. The story is wonderfully simple, genuinely funny, and completely adorable. Soule manages to subvert expectations right out of the gate by having Hank explain the danger of the mission, reassuring She-Hulk and Hellcat that he’s got everything under control, only for him to be swooshed away by a sparrow before he can finish his sentence. It’s a stroke of hilarious genius that changes the entire tone of the book. The strength of “She-Hulk” has been, and remains, the chemistry between Jennifer and Patsy. They don’t have an easy relationship, but it feels real and earned. There are rocky aspects, but at the core it’s full of love, respect and trust.
For his part, Pulido absolutely kills the visuals (with one small exception — more on that later). He maximizes the laughs on every page without ever making the story feel inconsequential or minimizing their risk — no pun intended. In Pulido’s hands, this book continues to have a look that feels unlike any other book out there. It’s an almost retro, throwback vibe that captures the spirit of Jennifer: a bold and funny character with a unique perspective on life. Pulido does a great job keeping She-Hulk appropriately tall and buff (though she could be taller) and he’s far more interested in clear storytelling, fantastic expression work, and delivering the joke than in making Jennifer always appear conventionally pretty — all great and appropriate things for a She-Hulk book. However, Pulido’s Achilles heel is an unfortunate chain link fence that does not change link size appropriately as the characters shrink and grow. There are a few places in the art where it seems wrong but you can hand wave it away, but there are few places where the links are painfully the wrong size in relation to our heroes. To make matters worse, the chain link fence shows up a lot and so once you’ve noticed it, ignoring it is a near impossibility.
Muntsa Vincente’s colors are a flat gorgeous paradise. In this era of modern coloring that frequently looks far too slick and overly-rendered, and often either too bright or too dark, the simplicity of the colors on this book is just a wonderful breath of fresh air. It’s all perfectly fitting for the off-kilter tone and an excellent match for Pulido’s simple cartoonish style. There’s not a lot of lighting or mood shifts for the color in this issue, thanks largely to the book taking place almost entirely outside on a bright sunlit day. There probably are a few missed opportunities color-wise since our heroes are tiny among blades of grass, but it’s hard to complain when everything is so wonderfully vibrant and bold.
Not every “She-Hulk” story can or should be a simple done-in-one as this is, but Soule, Pulido and Vincente have found the magic in this issue and I hope they can hold onto it. “She-Hulk” is a book unlike any out there right now and the chemistry between the characters and creators is near perfect. This one is a slam-dunk and I hope there are many more to come.