She-Hulk By Soule & Pulido: The Complete Collection is finally out, and it’s probably the best $35 you’ll spend this week.
The paperback collects She-Hulk (2014) issues #1-12, as well as Wolverines #13 and material from Gwenpool Special #1. It’s written by Charles Soule and drawn mostly by Javier Pulido, with Muntsa Vicente on colors and Clayton Cowles on letters. Ron Wimberly drew issues 5 and 6, with Rico Renzi’s colors on issue 5.
This is a much beloved run on Jennifer Walters, and for very good reason. It doesn’t feel like a typical superhero book, even though it stars a character who’s been a member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. It’s something special.
In issue one, Jen leaves her job at a big law firm and opens up her own shop. The rest of the series focuses on her trying to succeed and her various cases. And, of course, there’s plenty of superhero action mixed in (one of her first cases is helping Doctor Doom’s son receive asylum in the United States!). The overall story is about Jen finding a balance between her two lives, but her law career takes center stage.
Charles Soule is a practicing attorney, in addition to being one of the most prolific comic book writers working today (at one point, the man had something like seven titles out each month). He brings his knowledge to She-Hulk, making this one of the most honest looks at our legal system in comics. He shows readers the behind-the-scenes stuff, what a lawyer’s day-to-day life is actually like, and damn is it funny – because you know it’s all true. Soule seemingly vents all of his frustrations with this book, frustrations with the system, with difficult clients, and with other lawyers. She-Hulk shows the power of lawyers, both good and bad. It’s both cynical and optimistic, making this one of the most complex and intelligent comics of the past decade, as well as one of the most fun.
“Being a lawyer is like being strong. It’s a superpower. You can do what you want with it. Some people use their power to help, and other people…well, they’re like you. Ugly. Just…poison.” – Jen Walters
She-Hulk is a story about justice, and about helping those who can’t help themselves. It’s about compassion and friendship, and doing things the right way, no matter how hard that is. That all adds up to a powerful superhero comic, but told through a real world lens, which only makes it more powerful.
Perhaps the best example of these concepts is “The Good Old Days”, a three part story told between issues 8, 9, and 10, where Jen represents Steve Rodgers, Captain America, in a wrongful death suit. This arc is the heart of Soule and Pulido’s run. It embodies everything the team is trying to say, and if you only read these three issues, it’s still worth the price of the collection.
“I think the best super hero stories are aspirational. They aren’t just thrill rides – they’re mirrors, showing us what we might be, if we become our best selves. And the best super hero stories are the ones where the heroes themselves aspire to reach that same goal too…and every once in a while, after great sacrifice and incredible effort, they get there. That’s Jennifer Walters to a T, if you ask me.” – Charles Soule, in his farewell letter to the series
Javier Pulido and Muntsa Vicente’s art is like nothing you’ll see in traditional superhero comics. It’s pop art, full of bright, vibrant, flat colors, unique panel layouts and transitions, and whimsical lettering (I’m unsure if Clayton Cowles did 100% of the lettering, or if Pulido handled some of the sound effects himself, but they’re A+ either way). Take one look at this comic and you’ll know that you’re in for something special. Fans of Rich Tommaso’s style or the tone of David Aja’s Hawkeye will find a similar experience reading She-Hulk.
Pulido’s work is nothing short of artistic sorcery. He uses such simple techniques to add a sense of motion to the action. It feels like it shouldn’t work – that these images should just look stagnant, because again, they don’t utilize the techniques we’re accustomed to seeing in superhero comics – and yet it works so well that the characters seem to literally burst off of the page with energy. The art is what’s going to have you revisiting this book time and time again.
The best part about this series is that it’s completely self-contained. You can pick up these 12 issues and enjoy them on their own, without having to worry about tie-ins, crossovers, or the scope of the Marvel Universe at large. Stories like this come too few and far between in today’s superhero comics. The landscape has become more and more concerned with events, and tying everything together. There’s something peaceful and refreshing about being able to pick up a book and read a complete story. It’s fulfilling. If you’ve become jaded with the Big Two, and maybe even sworn off superhero comics as a whole, give She-Hulk a chance. It’s probably exactly what you’ve been looking for.
She-Hulk by Soule & Pulido is a perfect storm of comic book awesomeness. The story is complex and interesting, the art is unique and powerful, and it will leave you with a smile on your face. Great stories are ones that you want to revisit instead of reading once and then letting them collect dust on your shelf. As previously stated, you’ll be re-reading She-Hulk, guaranteed.