Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Rick Burchett
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Iíve been a strong supporter of SHE-HULK since the very beginning. Itís been fun to watch Dan Slott not only develop the character, but develop as a writer through this title. SHE-HULK was one of those titles that stood out among the rest of the Marvel crop in that it embraced the Marvel Universe and its rich history. Not only that, but it took a fantastic element from John Byrneís classic run with the character--namely the fact that it didnít take itself too seriously.
For the longest time, I could always count on a guffaw or two while reading this title. Slott seemed to have a wealth of knowledge about the Marvel U and knew how to tell a funny yarn inside of it. Lately, though, my love affair with SHE-HULK the comic has been strained. And I canít blame Dan Slott for this.
No, itís not Slottís fault at all. First and foremost, my growing disinterest in this title has more to do with the state of the Marvel Universe and the fact that even a humorous book like SHE-HULK has been sucked up into the whirlpool that is CIVIL WAR. Not only has this series lost its identity due to that crossover, but now it is directly tying into WORLD WAR HULK. Like the Spider-Man series which have tucked away their own storylines in order to fit into the grand scheme of things, thusly forgetting things like character, plot, identity, and cohesiveness of a monthly book, SHE-HULK has been stricken with the same malady.
In the last few issues, we have followed She-Hulk as she takes up as a SHIELD agent under Tony Starkís new regime as SHIELD director. Sheís been assigned on a wild goose chase to find the Hulk, but in actuality, we all know it was Tony himself who banished the Hulk from Earth to a galaxy far, far away. So for the last few issues, She-Hulk has been tracking down gamma radiation, only to find former Hulk foes instead. These have been entertaining reads. Slott shows that he can shelve the humorous stuff for a bit and we actually get a whole heck of a lot of straightforward superheroism and action. Itís stuff like that that proved to me what I had suspected: that Dan Slott is not just a one trick pony. Heís a good writer who CAN tell a good super-hero story.
But with this issue, a problem that has been festering in me for a while hit its boiling point and I had to write about it.
Simply put, this book would have been a much better read had there been a different artist on board telling the story. I know Rick Burchett has been a name in comics for a while, doing some amazing work with Batman and Superman at DC. I know that Slott was uber-psyched that he was coming on board SHE-HULK. But I simply canít stand the guyís artwork. Itís not that it is bad, but it is unsuitable. Think of casting Johnny Knoxville to play Hamlet. Think of casting Judy Densch to play Malcolm X. Think of Jody Foster playing a hot chick. These are mismatches. It doesnít take anything away from the character or the actors trying to play them, but any way you slice it, the pairing just isnít going to work. Thatís kind of how the artwork on SHE-HULK was to me.
Slott is trying to tell an action tale. This is THE big issue when She-Hulk realizes Stark has been dicking her around for months, not telling her that the Hulk wasnít on the planet. I want to be engulfed in that story. But I wasnít because the panels and characters looked flat, stiff, disproportional, and cartoon-like. Characters have no grounding or weight. Limited expressions are utilized. Shading and realism are out of the window, in favor of straight-forward angles and little or no depth whatsoever within the panel with even less attention paid attention to background. I donít want to take away from Burchettís style. It is fitting for a book that may be catering to a younger audience like the WB cartoon books like SUPERMAN and BATMAN, but in a weighty story about anger, loss, and betrayal, it just doesnít fit.
A well told comic book is an effortless read where the reader doesnít think about the writer tapping away at the keys of his computer or an artist at his drawing board. It engulfs the reader. I long for these types of comics, and while SHE-HULK has the capability of enveloping me with the story, the artwork does just the opposite. This is simply a case of wrong artist for the material. Had this story been a goofy romp, maybe I would have been more lenient on it. But since this is a balls-out action with ramifications style drama, the book failed for me because the art was unable to carry that type of heft.