Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ugh! Talk About Your Incomplete Story . . . Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks Flops!

The Good: Moments of character, Moments of plot development and artwork
The Bad: Radically incomplete story, No character resonation or development, Huge plot gaps, Terrifically inconsistent artwork.
The Basics: Unfortunately lacking in a number of key moments to tell a solid story or make the characters interesting, Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks is just a mess!

When I review a book, I take it as it is. I read the book for what is on the page in front of me and I evaluate it on those terms. It is important for me to mention that up front in my review of Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks because there might be fans of The Hulk and the entire Fall Of The Hulks storyline that are offended by my assertions in this review. The truth, however, is that no matter how good or how interesting Fall Of The Hulks is as a saga, the volume Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks is just an irredeemable mess.

I picked up Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks as part of my She-Hulk Year. This seemed to me to be a major crossover that Jennifer Walters was a part of and one of the next sensible volumes in my reading order. Unfortunately, the book was anything but engaging and the story might be an important tangent in the Fall Of The Hulks Saga, but on its own, Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks is a sliver of a tangent and a fraction of a story. It is, unfortunately, dramatically incomplete in the character and plot events it presents and inconsistently rendered in its artwork. The end result is a book that is entirely unsatisfying and more annoying to try to stick with than it is rewarding.

Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks opens with the story of Lyra. Lyra is a green She-Hulk with flaming red hair who is from the future (of, possibly, an alternate dimension, that’s not entirely clear) of a world where mechanical life evolved before organic life did and it enslaved humanity. The genetically-engineered daughter of Bruce Banner, Lyra is a She-Hulk freedom fighter before (inexplicably in this volume) she ends up in our time, on our Earth, where she works for the Alternate Reality Monitoring And Operational Response Agency (A.R.M.O.R.). Despite the book presenting her origin story, it leaps immediately to her as a part of A.R.M.O.R. and a time after she has met Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk), befriended her, and is now searching for the missing She-Hulk.

Lyra then runs afoul of Norman Osborn’s genetically-created gamma-ray irradiated villains, Axon (who absorbs Gamma radiation), Aberration (who was genetically-altered using Abomination’s DNA and is basically just a She-Hulk), and Morass (a mud-based gamma ray creature). After working to defeat the trio, and save a small town in the process, Lyra gets into a confusing battle with her own mother, Thundra, who appears to be hiding out in the past just to avoid her own daughter.

The story finally gets going when the Intelligencia – a group of super-smart super-villains – is introduced and they, M.O.D.O.K., Leader, and Wizard, make Lyra and offer to join their evil group. After an encounter with the Red She-Hulk and being forced to destroy her A.I. watch, Lyra is inducted into the Frightful Four and assists in capturing Reed Richards for them. She is then taken to the Intelligencia lair – a former S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier – where she almost immediately finds Jennifer Walters, is attacked by Red She-Hulk and ends up in the middle of a battle where an army of Red Hulks and hulked-out versions of recognizable superheroes (The Thing, Silver Surfer, and several others) are in the process of destroying Washington, D.C.

If that last part makes no real sense, welcome to the crux of my problem with Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks. The story does not so much take an abrupt left turn as it falls from one storyline to another in what appears to be a larger saga without any information for the reader to indicate what that story is, who is involved or why the stories overlap. The result is that the book unravels in a truly unfortunate way.

After a point, Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks is just confusing and nonsensical. On one page, Lyra is getting inducted into the Frightful Four, the next she is wearing a red Frightful Four uniform that we’ve never seen on the other three members of the villain group and the other three members are pretty much gone from the narrative. Red She-Hulk comes in and out of the story at random (it was only looking up this storyline and the story that followed it that I learned that the reader is not supposed to know who she is yet, so that bit of withholding – which was just annoying for me – makes some sense, I suppose) and the complicated relationship between Lyra and Thundra seems put in as more of an afterthought than a sense of genuine character development.

Moreover, Lyra’s nature is not made clear. Her opening backstory implies that she is from an alternate reality, not just a time-traveler. Yet, the rest of Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks - especially in her subplot with her mother – seems to assert the exact opposite.

As for the artwork, it is inconsistent at best. While the book opens looking like a nice sword and sorcery level of artwork, it degenerates into pretty standard comic book art and by the time Lyra meet Bentley (the Wizard) some of the panels look like comic strips or Cartoon Network level of animation, which is disappointing.

Ultimately, the artwork is not a serious detraction: the way Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks fails to tell a story is the serious drawback of this book and it is enough to make one not want to invest in Lyra or her 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
She-Hulk: Planet Without A Hulk


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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