She-Hulk Volume Four #7

“Beaus and Eros, Part 2: Change of Heart”

Y’know, it’s funny. The friend who originally said to me, “You need to pick up She-Hulk, because it’s a lot of fun,” has recently told me that he thinks it’s gotten too silly, and thus he’s now reading /nothing/ published by Marvel. I wondered if, perhaps, /She-Hulk /had just stayed the same course which he’d once enjoyed, but he’d been wanting something to change, without realizing it. I suppose this is Marvel’s dilemma right now. Half the fans say they want the kinds of comics that attracted them to comics to begin with, and half want the envelope’s walls to be always in motion, always threatening to tear under the strain. And neither half knows its own minds well enough, so, when they get what they asked for, it isn’t actually what they wanted.

But I maintain that She-Hulk, like /The Thing/ and /Knights 4, /is still a very satisfying book for those who truly want to be able to play in a Marvel Universe untainted by the trends of big guns, dig damn deaths, and photo-realistic art laid over scripts lifted from /Law and Order. /Issue Seven did what I ask of a comic: It made me laugh out loud, it made me like the characters (even Eros, whom I’ve never really liked) and it threw out some satirical moments I could really appreciate. All the while, it showed me guest stars and cameos that reminded me that old friends are still around, and it stayed true to the characters as they’ve been established.

I mentioned that this issue made me like Eros. Actually, I felt this issue gave Eros a clearly defined character for the first time since… well, ever. I’ve read all his Avengers appearances, and a smattering of others. I always felt he was mostly a one-trick pony. He’s the guy that makes women fall in love with them, and loves to play. He’s a cleaner-shaved Hercules. He’s not much more than that here, but the impact of such a character on the people around him is more fully realized than it’s ever seemed before. We really delve into how it might feel to have someone manipulate your emotions. We get to laugh and not take it too seriously, but we also get to share the anger of someone like Jen that what she thought was real actually wasn’t.

We get to see what it’s like for a mother and wife to be hit with a spell that makes her want to be unfaithful. We get to see how Eros’s antics polarize his colleagues – the men are pretty much on his side, the women are pretty uncomfortable. Except that Tigra admits that she’s had a fling with him, and Cap put his responsibilities as a role model ahead of Eros’s plight, and Hank realizes that he should /never/ be involved in any discussion of the treatment of women, and Jan, breaking the mold as always, says, sure, she’ll stand up for him. (Probably not because she’s still a victim, or has no sympathy for a woman who’s been ill-used, but because she realizes that the good and the bad need to be balanced. After all, lest we forget, Jan once took advantage of someone’s emotional breakdown to trick him into marrying her.)

As always, the story is made by its nice, little touches: Jan being the one of the Avengers who notices and is disturbed by Jen’s submissiveness with John Jameson (’cause Jan knows a bit about submissiveness, and how it can make a person go wrong) ; a male Hydra agent still being madly in love with Eros (daring, given Marvel’s current mixed-message policy about gays); Starfox playing video games while standing trial; Stu the archives guy, speaking for part of comics fandom, saying that he doesn’t want to see all that sex-stuff filed in his long-boxes.

All in all, great fun, and a great break from everyday life. We need comics like this, and we need them to keep coming. Oh, and if you’re still looking for envelope-pushing but still want the kind of respect for comics history that She-Hulk brings, let me make an unashamed plug for /Young Avengers. /Like /New X-Men /(and by that I mean the ones from 1974. Remember, I’m old), it builds on a classic foundation, but has space to go its own direction without stepping on the toes of its predecessor.

Now, let’s see if She-Hulk can make /Civil War /at all entertaining….

She-Hulk, Volume Four, Issue Seven

Rating: 4.5
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Will Conrad
Colors: Avalon Studios’ Dave Kemp
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Asst Editors: Schmidt , Lazer & Stitterson
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
June, 2006
2.99
Rated A
Cover by Greg Horn