She-Hulk Volume Four #21

“Another Me, Another U”

And here we are again… another “Dan Slott’s last issue of She-Hulk.”  Seems like only… well, it was only 22 issues ago, wasn’t it?  But this time, sadly, it looks to be not a dream, not an imaginary story.  Dan’s off to other projects, notably Avengers: The Initiative.  Hardly a fit substitute for his 37-issue run on She-Hulk, is it?  We can but hope that his humor and his love of Marvel as something other than a platform for shock-and-awe will begin to show through on that lamentable title.  (And AI is improving, to give Dan his due.)

And what a send-off Dan and Ty and Rick and Cliff have given us!  “Another Me, Another U” is a loving parody of the DC Comics Earth-One / Earth-Two stories of days gone by, and a pleasant nod to the Distinguished Competition’s current Countdown series, in which the powers-that-be are attempting to deal with the problem of a reborn multiverse, and the resultant problem of those pesky humans insisting on opening doors between its component universes.

We open with Shulkie battling the Rhino.  But didn’t Tony Stark (Boo! Hiss! Oh, and don’t miss the Iron Man trailer!  http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/ironman/  ‘Nuff Said!)  Didn’t Tony de-power She-Hulk forever?  And isn’t Rhino in a wheelchair?  Turns out the combatants are something called Alphas.  They’re arrested, we turn the page, and… God bless you, Dan Slott!  Thanks for one last set of cameos by old friends.  What more can this 33-year Avengers fan ask than to see a non-disassembled Scarlet Witch, not to mention a living Jack of Hearts, the 3-D Man, Monica Rambeau… wow.  Sorry, but the Scarlet Witch is and always will be my favorite Marvel character.  Seeing even one panel of her whole and healthy is therapeutic for me since she’s been sacrificed on the alter of courting new readers with death, destruction and darkness.

What’s going on here?  What’s an Alpha?  Why are we seeing people we shouldn’t be seeing, in forms they shouldn’t have?  It’s all about a guy named Albert DeVoor.  Surely you remember him?  No?  Neither did I, till this issue came out.  He was the guy who bought the Fantastic Four, way back in FF #160.  (Coincidentally the first issue of FF this reviewer ever bought at the ole’ 7-11.)  DeVoor was part of a storyline concerning a multi-dimensional war, and one of the involved dimensions was an alternate earth where Reed Richards had become the Thing, while his dear friends Ben and Sue Grimm had not similarly become cosmic-ray powered heroes.

Seems DeVoor’s new business is inter-dimensional vacations.  It works like this: denizens of the alternate Earth-A are sent through an atomic re-sequencer to Earth-B (the real one), where they’re realigned at the atomic level, so that they now share the powers of their Earth-B counterparts.  (On Earth-A, only Reed is super-powered.  On Earth-B, pretty much everyone is.  Except maybe J. Jonah Jameson.  Heck, even Aunt May has the power to have a heart attack every month!)

Some time back, Jen Walters Alpha went through this process, and became Earth-B’s second She-Hulk.  (Mystery solved! It was THIS Jen who slept with the Juggernaut during Chuck Austen’s time on X-Men.)  Now she still has the powers, because Tony Stark didn’t get his creepy little nanites into her.  All of this is exposited (exposed?) in a nice little sequence featuring Slott-standby Captain Ultra.  Nice to see him again, too.

In the classic fashion of stories in which the heroes of two earths meet, Jen-B and Shulkie-A become buddies, and even propose trading places in dimensions, since Earth-B needs a She-Hulk, and Earth-A knows how to live without one.  The big sequence where all the Alphas are returned is nice.  Jen gives Reed Richards-Beta the telling-off he absolutely deserves, and Teddy Altman’s Earth-A counterpart demands of our own Hulkling, “You registered?  You joined the army under our names?”  Meanwhile, his laddie-love Wiccan of Earth-A wonders, “We’re in the Initiative?  What idiot thought that was a good idea?”

The final resolution and set-up for the Peter David run of the title is cleverly done, and actually manages to give readers of all stripe the endings they wanted to see for Jen and Pug.  (Except for those mental cases who probably wanted Pug to die with the Baxter Building dropped on his sternum.  You know who your are!)

Next time, a whole new beginning for Shulkie.  I’m reserving judgment as to whether I’ll continue reviewing the title.  I have to look Peter David in the eye when he makes his multi-annual trips to my home town, after all.  I’m sure he’ll do a great job, but I’ll certainly miss the She-Hulk we’ve come to know and love for the past four years.

She-Hulk, Volume Four, Issue Twenty-One
Rating: 5.0
Writers: Dan Slott & Ty Templeton
Pencils: Rick Burchett
Inks: Cliff Rathburn
Colors: Avalon Studios’ Andy Troy
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Production: Rich Ginter
Asst Editors: Molly Lazer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
JULY, 2007
2.99
Rated T+
Cover by Greg Horn