Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It’s Like Muppet Babies For Marvel: Marvel Her-oes!

The Good: Consistent artwork, Decent general concept and progression
The Bad: Woefully revisionist, Silly concept, Sets up an uninspiring and uninspired franchise
The Basics: Marvel Her-oes seems more like a cashgrab than a legitimate or compelling concept.

The way to be a reviewer on the cheap is to either get corporate endorsements or to find ways to review products for free. For me, with my annual study of a different super hero each year, that means using the local (and statewide) library system quite extensively. However, one of the consequences of using the local library system thus is that one sometimes ends up with books that are only tangentially related to the subject one wishes to study. With Marvel Her-oes, that is exactly what happened. I came into possession of Marvel Her-oes as part of my She-Hulk Year and it is not exactly canon, so it is virtually impossible for me to care about it and actually impossible for me to endorse it.

Apparently capitalizing on the current popularity of Manga, Marvel decided to make a limited series of kid-themed comics, one of which was Her-oes. Assembled as a single, very short volume, Marvel Her-oes is the four-issue Heroes series “The Truth Stings.” In graphic novel form, Marvel Her-oes includes The Savage She-Hulk Issue #1, which serves almost to say, “Screw you for buying this book; see how it was all just crap? This is the real origin story of She-Hulk, which undermines everything you just read! Thanks for your dollars!” Marvel Her-oes is non-canonical, acting much like Muppet Babies did in relation to The Muppets.

Set in Cresskill, New Jersey, young Janet Van Dyne finds herself struggling with her sense of identity. She wants to be a normal girl who can just ask out a cute guy and put some distance between herself and her parents (one of whom is a famous scientist), but she knows she is not normal. Gifted, following an accident at her father’s laboratory, with the ability to change sizes, Janet works to keep her secret, even from her bookworm friend, Jenny Walters. After taking a risk and asking out Wade Cooper, Janet is cornered by the most popular girl in school, Namora. In defending herself against Namora, Janet instinctively shrinks and Namora reveals that she has a super power as well.

Shortly after the two realize they have more in common than they thought, Namora and Janet Van Dyne are approached by Miss America, an agent of the government who monitors meta-humans and keeps them in check. Her assignment includes monitoring Jenny Walters, who is the She-Hulk. When the trio of girls is attacked by Moonstone, who wants to sell the girls to the highest bidder for use in an evil team of mutants and villains, Namora, Janet Van Dyne, and Jenny Walters team up to protect one another and survive the day!

The story is a very simple one and it focuses very tightly on Janet Van Dyne. In Marvel Her-oes, she is a heroine in the process of becoming. Jenny chides her for never actually finishing a project or taking the initiative, so much of the point of the book is to illustrate to young people just how much one can accomplish when they stop dreaming and start doing. Infused with obvious lessons on teamwork, Marvel Her-oes is a basic assembly story as Janet learns there are others like her and they begin to work together for their common survival.

Moonstone is presented as a pretty generic villain and her team is less remarkable than most meta-human villain teams. In fact, she is so blandly presented that there is no real depth or struggle to her. She is simply a meta-mercenary and that makes her an entirely uninspired villain.

The initial story in Marvel Her-oes is completely undone by the inclusion of the story of Jennifer Walters and how she became She-Hulk, which is included in this anthology. Having never been a teenager and mutated, she seems an odd choice to be a part of what appears to be a girl power mutant group for Her-oes. Moreover, Marvel Her-oes takes a very retro view of She-Hulk as a woman struggling not to get angry (her more recent incarnations have her transformations triggered by other emotions than simple anger).

The artwork in Marvel Her-oes is fine. It trades on being simple in almost every way, so most of the panels look like a comic book or comic strip with more even tones (lacking real depth and shading) than most of today’s graphic novels. The artwork style is also a little simpler with characters like Jenny Walters and the hair on almost all of the characters looking a bit more blockish than their regular appearances. Angular reworks aside, Marvel Her-oes is not significantly brought down by the artwork.

The result is that Marvel Her-oes might be intended for young adults, but it seems obvious and unchallenging even to that demographic. There is certainly nothing here for adults or fans of any of the adult versions of the characters who appear in this book!

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
Fall Of The Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks


For other book reviews, please visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing of all of the books I have reviewed!

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