Monday, March 11, 2013

A Clever Arc For She-Hulk, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction Kept Me Guessing!

The Good: Smart plotting, Interesting character arc, Good humor
The Bad: Requires a lot of Marvel knowledge outside the book to actually get the most out of it, Erratic artwork.
The Basics: A smart continuation of the She-Hulk story, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction gets rid of some conceits that did not work and progresses the She-Hulk character through the Marvel Civil War.

I began my She-Hulk Year at something of a disadvantage. Previously, the only character in the Marvel Universe I devoted a year to was Daredevil and I picked him purposely; I wanted a character who was not embroiled in the bulk of the crossovers and universe-changing events. I wanted something of an introverted, vigilante character to study. So, when I went with the advice of some fans who thought I should go with She-Hulk for the year, one of the first things I learned was that she was – at various points in her character’s arc – a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. While I correctly divined that this might finally get me to read the Marvel Civil War story arc that I had actually been intrigued by, I did not realize how many allusions the books would make to other Marvel Comics. In fact, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction - the latest volume of She-Hulk I have read – makes allusions in its final chapters to stories that She-Hulk was not even directly a part of!

She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction is one of the volumes I have easily enjoyed the most so far, but it is also one I felt was most hampered by my lack of knowledge of the general Marvel Universe. While I enjoy the long character arcs that Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) seems to be a part of, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction does not stand as well on its own as a result. This is very much dependent upon understanding some of the character intricacies of earlier She-Hulk books, even though the story begins and ends with a focus on the peripheral Titan character, Eros.

As well, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction smartly gets rid of storytelling conceits that are not working as well – gone are Southpaw, the disembodied head, and other issues from earlier volumes – and replaces them with problems that can be much more compelling and interesting future arcs for the character. Chief among these structural issues is the Gamma Charger that Jennifer Walters has been forced to use (for at least the prior graphic novel, Time Trials). Writer Dan Slott dispenses with that quickly enough.

Still working for the mysterious Mr. Zix at the superhuman law firm, Jennifer Walters continues to wrestle with an erratic ability to shift between her human form and the form of the She-Hulk. This is complicated by her relationship with John Jameson, the heroic test pilot who is uncomfortable with superhumans. Walters finds herself working with the former Avenger, Eros, in a date rape case that has a personal bent for her. After her fights with John stop abruptly and Mallory Book’s crush on the Two-Gun Kid ends abruptly for a startlingly physical reaction with Awesome Andy, She-Hulk becomes suspicious and Eros flees Earth fearing for his life. Almost immediately, Jen surprises all of her peers by marrying Jameson abruptly in Vegas.

This happens as the Marvel Civil War hits with the Superhuman Registration Act sending the superheroes reeling. With half the heroes believing registration is a responsible act and the other half falling into the camp that it is a violation of their rights to privacy, She-Hulk [in another volume, but summarized here] comes out in favor of the Act. Nevertheless, Jennifer Jameson takes a case involving the right to privacy for some of the individual heroes at the heart of the controversy. She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction reaches its peak as Pug figures out why the office dynamic has shifted and the guilty party stops exerting influence over everyone. This, unfortunately, comes at the inopportune time when Jen is called to perform her work as a member of the Magistrati and her husband is transformed into a Man-Wolf and the Stargod!

The final chapters of She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction is what really sold me on the book. Until then, it is a pretty average graphic novel. But in its last section, She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction has some truly clever reversals – John Jameson’s transformation into a creature, which is something his family is exceptionally prejudiced against, is compelling and sets up a wonderful sense of conflict – and makes all of the less-important characters have real value. Despite the issues with the She-Hulk aspect of the story, the far-flung elements are very well-explained. So, the plot between Eros and Thantos is detailed enough to let readers who have never seen a story with that particular villain understand the extent of his power and villainy.

The artwork in She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction is erratic, but not to the level of the previous volume. In this one, all of the characters are recognizable throughout.

She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction sets up well real conflicts for Jennifer Jameson to wrestle with and I cannot recall a time I finished a graphic novel and was so eager to see what direction the character went in as when I finished this one! Dan Slott . . . it may have taken a little faith, but after only four books, you’ve gotten me hooked on the She-Hulk!

For other She-Hulk books, please visit my reviews of:
The Sensational She-Hulk
Single Green Female
The Avengers: The Search For She-Hulk
Superhuman Law
Time Trials


For other graphic novel reviews, please visit my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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