She-Hulk Volume Four #20

“The Clock is Ticking”

As Stan Lee might have said back in the day, “This one’s got it all.” Revelations, pathos, humor, universes in crisis and, of course, ducks.

The clock is, indeed, ticking, and not just in Mr. Zix’s robotic chest cavity. This is the next-to-the-last issue of Dan Slott’s brilliant 34-issue run on She-Hulk, and he’s got to get everything wrapped up before Peter David arrives to do what I understand will be a very different kind of book. If the pace is a bit rushed, well, I assume it’s because Dan’s plans for the book were probably cast by the wayside while the powers that be demanded he write six months of dreary Civil War tie-ins, instead of continuing the story he’d started.

And the pace is rushed, make no mistake. It’s so rushed that a story that should have been told in two issues or an annual is summarized in two panels, as if it had occurred in a back issue, though it never did, to my knowledge. I refer to She-Hulk’s memories of defending the existence of the Marvel Universe to the Living Tribunal, who thought that the Ultimates Universe (ugh!) was cleaner and more elegant, and that it should replace the original. Shulkie’s defense? “Our universe is fun!” (I wonder if Joe Quesada, Emperor of Gloom and Doom Marvel, would agree. Or would he declare that Dan Slott is backsliding, after “coming of age” by writing Avengers: The Initiative, which kowtows to the party line that all Marvel Universe Comics should be dark, angry and childishly sarcastic.)

It’s great to see Two-Gun, Mallory, Stu, John Jameson and the rest back in this issue. Even Awesome Andy (here’s the pathos) is seen again, though he’s no longer himself. (Color question — when did JJ become a red-head? Or is that just a bad Summer dye job?) The supporting cast was the strength of Slott’s run, and they deserve a decent finale. Even Richard Rory appears again, making me pull out my very oldest She-Hulk issues to remind myself who he was. But no Pug! Disappointing, that.

It’s been revealed that Jen will no longer be with GLK&H in Peter David’s run, so we may have seen the last of a lot of these characters for some time. I’m guessing the question of whether Mallory or Jen gets a partnership will figure prominently into Jen’s parting with the firm, but I could be wrong.

Greg Horn’s Stu the Human cover is whimsical and well-done, summing up a major story point, even if it shows something that doesn’t actually happen in the book.

All in all, the beginning of a pleasant send-off for Slott and company. One can only hope that, post She-Hulk, he can find something equally fun to write, or that Avengers: The Initiative gets a makeover along the lines of the one X-Factor was given after its disappointing start.