Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s “She-Hulk” #1, which follows Jennifer Walters’ adventures as both a lawyer and superhero, is a smart strong debut, even if it’s a little out of balance.
Soule clearly knows his law, and this book is laden with lawyer talk, to both good and ill effect. The story is well constructed, setting Jennifer up as a relatable and humanized lead heading confidently into her performance review at her law firm. When things go unexpectedly awry in her review, Jen finds herself out of a job and acting out (with good reason). When someone approaches her with a seemingly legitimate claim against Tony Stark, Jen decides to help out. While there are some great moments sprinkled throughout the book as a result of this lawsuit — including Tony Stark’s humorous and almost matter-of-fact appearance — readers expecting a more traditional, action-based superhero book may find it a bit dull.
In Soule’s defense, the lawyer aspects of the book absolutely feel realistic, but the balance between “She-Hulk, attorney at law” and “She-Hulk, superhero at large” is off. While these elements don’t need to be equal by any means, there’s very little of the “superhero” element here at all. The book cuts away during the one “action scene” before Jennifer even throws a punch. While the subsequent scene is perhaps funnier for that cutaway, the mix remains decidedly out of balance with no other opportunities for action in the book. There is one other humorous action-based moment in the book, but it’s only two panels, and again, while this works for the funny side of the book, it almost entirely ignores the expected action component. I quite enjoyed the setup — especially since the lawyer aspects felt so authentic. It worked for me, but I can see readers more interested in superheroes than law feeling a bit unfulfilled. Regardless, Soule presents a strong first issue and the building blocks are here for a fantastic (and well-balanced) series.
Pulido’s highly cartoonish style is a fantastic fit for Jen as a character and he totally embraces her gigantic Amazon-like frame. An opening montage showing She-Hulk drinking with Thor has her towering above him, as it should be, and it’s a sign right from the first page that Pulido gets it. Jen looks fantastic and professional in her suit and even better when she has taken the jacket off and rolled up the sleeves for some heavy consolation drinking at the bar. She looks adorable in braids and weekend casual, and even better when she’s forced to Hulk out, destroying those weekend casual threads. Pulido’s visual understanding of the character and both her physical (and mental) variations is exceptional and easily the best part of the book.
More generally, Pulido’s work has a flat highly stylized look that won’t be for everyone, but tonally it’s spot-on for this book and a character like She-Hulk. Muntsa Vicente’s colors are similarly flat and bright, but in the best of ways. Vicente pays particularly close attention to Jen’s skin tone, subtly adjusting the green tones to her environment — Jen’s coloring has a darker and slightly more olive hue in a dark bar, and a brighter almost more lime tone on a sunny afternoon. It’s an element that many colorists miss, or would choose to ignore given their lead’s odd skin color, but instead Vicente embraces it and uses it to her advantage. The action throughout is clear and clean, with smart storytelling choices, and when the script gives Pulido the opportunity, she does well with both the jokes and the action. In Pulido and Vicente’s hands, this is a Jen I can’t wait to see tear things up. If the issue’s opening montage page is any indication, readers are in for a huge visual treat.
Overall, “She-Hulk” #1 is a great start to a new series for a character well deserving of the spotlight. If Soule can find a way to better balance the lawyer element of the book by sprinkling in a bit more action, he and Pulido are likely to have a hit on their hands.