Thursday, April 11, 2013

Adventures In Hulkbusting: She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk Meanders Around She-Hulk’s Post-Civil War Adventures!

The Good: Moments of character, Most of the artwork
The Bad: Not one single, concise story, Focus on exceptionally minor characters peripheral to the main story
The Basics: When She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk is focused on Jennifer Walters’s She-Hulk, the book works, but unfortunately it meanders surprisingly far from her story.

As my She-Hulk Year continues at a surprisingly fast pace, I find myself happy with the focus of my yearlong study. I have also discovered, however, that the writers of She-Hulk are saddled with fleshing out the stories of a number of very minor characters that are not nearly as interesting or cool as the female protagonist who readers are drawn to when they pick up a She-Hulk book. Moreover, many of the She-Hulk books have stories that are incomplete, with elements that are included in other books or storylines. The problem of the peripheral characters and other stories reaches its head in She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk.

She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk resolves the story of Jennifer Walters as She-Hulk after the Civil War during her brief tenure working for S.H.I.E.L.D. It also includes a number of larger Marvel Universe concepts, most notably the Earth A and standard Earth universes for the Marvel Multiverse. The bigger issue than the missing story elements is the way She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk includes an extensive focus on secondary characters who are flat-out boring.

Opening where Laws Of Attraction left off, She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk finds Jennifer Walters on Titan where she and John Jameson are in the process of breaking up. The story of Awesome Andy, the android, is told. Andy returns to the side of the Mad Thinker, who reboots the android and he goes off on his own. With her friends having abandoned her, Jennifer – as She-Hulk joins S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hulkbuster unit and she hooks up with both Clay Quartermain and Tony Stark.

For the hulkbuster unit, Jennifer Walters takes down the Abomination and works with Wolverine to capture Wen-Di-Go. When the electric-based Zzzax Walters helped capture takes over the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Project Achilles gets all of the material they need to stop Gamma-based threats to humanity. When Jennifer discovers that her cousin, Bruce Banner, has been sent to outer space, She-Hulk confronts Iron Man about his anti-Hulk action. After taking out the Leader, Iron Man executes the Project: Achilles endgame and Jennifer Walters is infected with nanotechnology that prevents her from turning into She-Hulk ever again! After Pug shows up, altered, Stu Cicero makes it back to Earth and Jennifer Walters must confront her own desire to return to being She-Hulk while the trial for the Leader begins!

She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk includes a number of missing moments, like Jen Walters apparently getting associated with the Thing again in order to borrow Ben Grimm’s apartment. Similarly, She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk alludes to events of the World Without A Hulk event that are not fleshed out or really fully explained. So, for example, exactly what happened to Bruce Banner and why and how it is resolved is only very casually mentioned without truly exploring it.

The last portion of the book – after Jennifer Walters is forced into permanent human form – finally resolves the whole Artie Zix plotline. Unfortunately, it is bogged down with the side stories of Stu Cicero who is briefly incarcerated on Duckworld and an allusion to a trial She-Hulk attended as part of the Magistrati. The tale of the Recluses seems to be included for an impending storyline with the Reckoning War.

Unfortunately, very little of the book actually focuses tightly on Jennifer Walters. Her usual moralizing about the internal conflict between herself and She-Hulk is largely absent from the book. Unfortunately, following Iron Man violating her and destroying her ability to make the transformation, she does not raise the larger moral issues of the nanotechnology being used on her. That is a huge problem with the book. Apparently, there are huge incursions in the Marvel Universe from Earth A that are in other titles, but are very casually mentioned in the last chapters of She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk, which becomes a very convenient, but annoying, for readers.

The artwork in She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk is erratic. Some of it is very detailed and others look much more like comic strips. The coloring is homogeneously good throughout the book.

Ultimately, She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk asks readers to fill in way too many blanks, which is unfortunate for those who are looking for a solid, concise She-Hulk story.

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
Laws Of Attraction


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing.

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