BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Man, I love She-Hulk.
The idea of She-Hulks (plural) took me some time to get used to, but now I can see the need for each and all the fun stories that we get to read thanks to two Jade Giantesses. Part of this realization is thanks to Harrison Wilcox and Ryan Stegman, the duo that brought us the gone-too-soon She-Hulks mini-series. It was fun seeing Jennifer Walters be her big, beautiful self (even if she wasn’t so big all the time). I want to see more of Lyra as a young woman raised on a far-flung Femizon future, but what can you do with four issues, right? We had a great time with a fun and very youthful art style, the ladies were ladies as well as fighters and everyone learned a little something in the end. Facial expressions were absolutely brilliant and I feel like I know a little more about Lyra, just by watching her eyes well up with tears when she’s sad or how her mouth drops open when she’s in shock.
I miss the big and vivacious She-Hulk hiding her mousy human self behind her, but the new Jen is a lot more mature and in control; while she’s still comforting herself in bubble baths and the arms of Wyatt Wingfoot, she’s more centered and kind of heading out on a new path in her life, just with a mentee in tow. Jen and Lyra had a great rapport with not just each other, but Bruce Banner and the villains they faced. In fact, I would really like to see more of “Bruce’s Angels,” the sort of sexier, funnier version of X-Force for the Hulk set.
With the series being limited to just four issues, I think the readers missed out on a lot. The last issue had to deliver on so much it didn’t match the previous issues, making me 98% certain this wasn’t supposed to be a mini-series at all, but an ongoing (wasn’t it first solicited as an ongoing?). Even the end message is that sometimes you protect people that fear and hate you. I know what he’s getting at, but Mr. Wilcox sounds like he’s swiping from the X-Men’s tagline. Yeah, people fear and hate mutations for what that makes them in the evolutionary food chain, because there’s a science out there that can’t be easily explained or ‘cured’, that there’s some envy when the guy next door can fly and you got your dad’s pimply face gene, etc. Personally, I think people ‘fear and hate’ the Hulk (or Hulk-ism, to coin a term) because people don’t like seeing how close they are to becoming a monster themselves. The Hulk is emotionally-driven and, while we may not be able to trow a truck when we get mad, sometimes it can feel like your emotions get the best of you and you can say things you don’t mean, break things you didn’t want broken and make yourself and others miserable. We hate and fear the Hulk because science doesn’t fuel him in so much as the human condition does.
Wow, I got off track. Anyhow, She-Hulks ended on a note that Wilcox and Stegman should have had just a few more pages to explain. Because they had less time, I sort of filled in the blanks in my head; I could totally be off base and they Wilcox meant something totally different with the ending of his story, but will be ever know? Why did this feel so short? How do some stories get to be mini-series? Or back-up stories or quarterly issues?
Well, obviously there’s a lot of editorial and management decisions at work. Yeah, we all want an on-going Dazzler series, but we have to look at how many copies we’re going to sell and if we have to remove a Deadpool book just to produce this one. Marvel has done a lot of mini-series these days, their ongoing titles buoys in the tumultuous sea of new idea, fresh characters and re-invention. The House of Ideas is trying anything and everything to get you reading, sometimes to the detriment of what they’re trying to get you to read. If you like Hawkeye & Mockingbird and suddenly the series stops, I super hope you’re on top of everything and know to follow Widowmaker. If you like Luke Cage, there are two books for you to read with entirely different tones and a bit shaky continuities when compared with one another. Putting out more product that your readers can support is awesome; the more characters we have access to, the closer we get to the next superstar we can get. It’s a little like the ’90s again, isn’t it? Less pouches, but this huge renaissance of story and change and reinvention in some cases to make Marvel a little more attractive to the viewing public. Again, this is a good thing; we want people to read comics. A lot of comics. Preferably at a local comic shop (say, Metro Entertainment in Santa Barbara, CA for example…). No matter how awesome movies and TV shows and DVD sales are, comics should be why we hand out the cash.
So, you look at the shelves and there’s this huge dearth of comics and characters out there for you to choose. So many, in fact, that some comics pack in extra characters in the form of back-up stories to show you more people and even more different types of stories, art and writing to try and hook you. A lot of back-up features are done by really interesting artists, new guys with different looks. Captain America is the gold standard of my comic reading, but this in-depth political action-thriller has packed with it a teen adventure-drama in the form of Nomad.
Nomad is a great character and has been handled rather maturely for something that could just have had a brooding vampire slapped in it and shelved with the kids’ books. A character than could have been a disaster has been handled with moderate taste and a rather cool dramatic tie to the rest of the Marvel Universe. In fact, this could probably be better served by being a couple mini-series at a time, rather than paired with a book that has a different tone and art style than what they want to provide. Again, I’m no Editor nor do I know what the suits at Marvel Entertainment have in mind for how books are produced, but sometimes it feels like the delivery is just a little off. That they’re telling the best joke and the punchline is couple beats too late. Like they brought Bel Biv DeVoe to a piano recital.
It’s hard to commit to a mini-series sometimes, because you might like it. I think She-Hulks is awesome and I have no idea when or if we’ll get more of not just the characters, but the creative team on those characters giving me a story a really enjoyed and want more of. If I see it again, it might be under a new artist and/or writer. If I have She-Hulks on my LCS comic pull sheet, they might rename it something else and I’m going to have to do my homework to make sure I get the right book. This is not an easy business and it is incredibly hard to keep new and different ideas, despite people trying so many new things. If you like a title, you really have to be dedicated to it and sadly, sometimes when you want to protect something you’re dedicated to, it walks away from you.