Sunday, November 27, 2016

Peter David Closes The Book On One Incarnation Of She-Hulk With She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators!

The Good: Good banter, Excellent morality, Much of the artwork, Initially engaging plot
The Bad: Abrupt end, Some of the artwork
The Basics: She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators is a fine end to this chapter of She-Hulk as the heroine teams up with other powerful women to do right and save her friend!

For a while with my blogging, I would pick a hero or heroine for my graphic novel studies and would devote a year to truly immersing myself in that subject. A few years ago, I wanted a compelling female subject and when I put out feelers, my blog readers actually helped influence me. That was the beginning of my She-Hulk Year and She-Hulk turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me, even though over the course of my She-Hulk Year, I was not able to get in nearly as many volumes as I would have hoped. Since then, though, I have tracked down some of the lingering books and She-Hulk has been one of the few characters I have enjoyed catching up on. Of course, as it frequently happens, just when I discover a character in a good arc, the arc ends and such is how it is for me with She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators.

She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators represents the end of She-Hulk's journey right before the Marvel Now! reboot of the Marvel Universe. I found my joy in discovering Peter David was writing She-Hulk came right before the title ended and it is hard not to feel bad for David; he came in right as Marvel was reworking its own universe, at the end of a successful run that left many dangling plot and character elements up in the air and when David or the Powers That Be at Marvel Comics were looking to take the title in a different direction, which had She-Hulk as a part of a team of powerful super heroes. She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators explores She-Hulk as a component of a team dynamic as she spends the book working with Valkyrie, Invisible Woman (Sue Storm), Thundra, and Jazinda, the Skrull bounty hunter Jennifer Walters befriended before the Secret Invasion crossover event when the Skrull were exposed on Earth. She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators tells a story that deals with the lingering effects of the Secret Invasion (and Jazinda's continued presence on Earth in its aftermath), She-Hulk's affiliation with the Lady Liberators, and works to wrap-up the lingering solo-She-Hulk threads before the title got cancelled. The book deals with those various threads with impressive results.

Peter David opens She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators with Jennifer Walters considering God and there is something to be said about David's quality as a writer in general when he can open an graphic novel with effective use of quotes from Voltaire and Mark Twain at the outset of his own, original work. Walters is a good character to use to make such allusions as she is an educated woman, with a strong scientific and legal background . . . who would feel that if there is a divine presence, it is probably somewhat demented and doles out karmic balance with a terrible sense of irony. So, having a calamity come shortly after Jazinda has survived her long-dreaded confrontation with her father (the Super-Skrull) and after She-Hulk and Jazinda have recovered their stolen R.V. to continue their skip-tracing bounty hunting, is a clever star and makes for an instantly engaging read.

Jennifer Walters trolls for work at Freeman Bonding and, after getting a critique on the Lady Liberators super-hero squad from Emilee (he boss there), she and Jazinda decide to go to the earthquake ravaged nation of Marinmer to help with the rescue effort. Marinmer has a repressive government and the U.S. Government refuses to intervene, so Walters convenes the Lady Liberators to go and help on the ground. With Jazinda bringing in transport, the quintet heads to Marinmer to get the aid that has been sent there to the citizens who need it the most. But when Marinmer's President-For-Life Darqon Par calls in the Winter Guard, the fight between Russia's Avengers and the Lady Liberators nearly costs both sides their lives. But when citizens of Marinmer arrive at the scene of the fight, She-Hulk is able to make a rhetorical argument to stop the Red Guardian.

But as the rescue efforts get underway, Darqon Par calls for She-Hulk and she separates from her friends to try to uncover his true agenda. While discussing his reign, Sue Storm abruptly appears and falls unconscious and Darqon Par reveals the nature of his trap; the burning candles have releases a knockout toxin and even Jennifer Walters is susceptible. But before Sue and Jen can be raped by Darqon Par, Jazinda arrives for the rescue and the solution she and She-Hulk come up with allows them to both be proud of the results. But upon returning to the United States, Jennifer Walters is taken into custody by the Justice Department and must rely upon Mallory Book to secure her release. While Jennifer Walters gets an offer from Book, Jazinda assumes her identity in the trailer park and begins a hunt for a villain who broke bail . . . running into another villain with a vendetta in the process!

Peter David has a great handle on dialogue and that comes through immediately in She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators. While one might get the feeling that Emilee's comments early on in She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators are the result of a creative argument David himself lost with Marvel Comics (why not call the group the Liberators? It's pretty obvious they are all women!) and tackling the idea that She-Hulk's super-hero group might just be a teenager's masturbatory fantasy early on by ridiculing the idea of the group as simply the "bod squad" frees up the rest of the volume for character study, witty dialogue and an actual story. But right off the bat as Valkyrie has to coax her horse and Thundra laments Jen not being a lesbian, She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators is a fun read.

More than just being fun, She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators promotes a higher standard of ethics than most graphic novels and it is refreshing to see. While there are moments that David is a bit heavyhanded pointing out (through Walters) that natural disasters seldom get international intervention unless oil is involved and there are a few dated references (like a Cheney hunting joke), for the most part, She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators finds absolutely the right balance between an ethical argument and super-hero buttkicking.

For a writer as talented as Peter David, there is something odd about the way the author does not use the word "rape" in the book. Perhaps it is a Comics Code thing, but Jennifer Walters is tied down to a bed, spread-eagled (albeit dressed) when President Darqon Par comes in to rape her repeatedly, with the threat to Sue Storm being the very same . . . yet every sentence that seems to be leading there gets cut before the character can acknowledge explicitly that the man was about to rape the women.

That said, She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators holds up remarkably well on its own, without any strong prior knowledge of where She-Hulk has been to understand everything that is going on (though Mallory Book's role is certainly enhanced by reading prior volumes, the context clues are enough to get casual readers by).

The artwork in She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators is erratic with many of the panels being beautiful, with clear depictions of the characters involved and a decent sense of movement to them. Some, however, are simple and a couple of panels with head shots of Sue Storm and Valkyrie feature virtually interchangeable likenesses. Outside a few times when the hair colors are a bit close, all of the coloring in She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators is wonderful.

At the end, She-Hulk Volume 9: Lady Liberators makes the reader wish that She-Hulk had been more like this volume all along and wish for more. Alas, it was not to be and the abrupt ending of the book feels like a kick to the crotch for anyone who enjoys reading a story that includes an intriguing super hero team led by a formidable, wisecracking leader with an intriguing backstory and amazing abilities!

For other She-Hulk books from this period in Jennifer Walter's life, please visit my reviews of:
Single Green Female
Superhuman Law
Time Trials
Laws Of Attraction
Planet Without A Hulk
Here Today
Secret Invasion


For other book reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment