Saturday, May 2, 2015

She-Hulk Volume 1: Law and Disorder

Growing up, my mother was never willing to buy comic books. I was a ferocious reader (and obviously, still am) and I went through books like food. Comic books are expensive and didn't have the staying power like some books did. Now, you may be wondering why my family didn't make use of the library. I don't really have a good answer to that, other than my mom never remembered to return books. Library fines are not fun to pay. Comic books, although a potential interest, fell to the wayside. 

Until this year. BAE read comic books for much of his life and even now has a sketch comedy show about comics. Though the Batman movies have consistently been apart of popular culture for decades, the Marvel movies and now the DC television shows made superheroes (and comics) more accessible to society. Which leads me to The Hulk. The Hulk has a few movies (and a very famous TV show under it's belt) but I was more drawn to his lesser known counterpart, She-Hulk. I'm not sure where I heard about She-hulk, but without knowing much about her, I was already her biggest fan. Someone that turns green, is super strong and looks like me? Done. 

Now that I'm an adult, I can purchase my own comics and She-Hulk was my go-to. After reading the complete volume 1 and 2 by Dan Slott, BAE bought me Volume 1: Law and Disorder. To give a little background on She-Hulk: Jennifer Walters is a lawyer, whose cousin is Bruce Banner. After an accident, Jennifer needed a blood transfusion, and Bruce was the only match. However, he also passed along the "Hulkiness" (or is it the gamma rays?) and Jennifer Walters is also now a Hulk. The Complete volumes of 1 and 2 do not focus on her transformation, but rather her life as a lawyer and coming to terms with her Hulkiness. 

Alright, Law and Disorder picks up with Jennifer Walters waiting to be brought him by the partners of the law firm she works at. What I love most about the She-Hulk is the devotion to her craft. She is seen in other issues her practicing law, and her defending superheros' rights is a very big theme in the complete volumes 1 and 2. The partners bring her in and they drop a bombshell--she is let go from the firm even though she has worked her butt off and brought in a lot of billable hours. So, she cracks the table (like She-Hulk does) and starts her own firm... with lackluster results. She still has one case opened... the dreaded blue file! 

So I read some of the reviews on this volume on goodreads, and there was a lot of outcry about the art in the last two issues and that She-Hulk looked like a man, etc. etc. So I cracked open my copy of the book and looked at it. And looked at it again. 

First of all, women come in many shapes, sizes and transitions. To say that She-Hulk looks like a man in the last two issues is harmful to the way society views women and the reviewers on goodreads who said that should be ashamed. Now, for the reviewers on goodreads who expressed they didn't like the art, well now, that is a grown up way to express your displeasure. Good job. Did I prefer the work of Pulido over Wimberly? Yes, I did. I thought the panels were not set up clearly enough and I found myself reading over the issue because I wasn't  sure where it was going. Did I have a problem with the way She-Hulk looked? 

To be honest with you, no, I didn't. Along with She-Hulk's commitment to the law, I loved and admire the way Jennifer Walters embraced She-Hulk, almost to the point of hiding behind her superhero mask during points of complete volume 1 and 2. She is aggressive. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid to be sensual and sexual. She is powerful and she physically stands over others. She even goes to bed with men that are shorter than her, and all of that is ok! I feel like I am oversimplifying her character a bit, and that's not all who she is, but the main point is that she embraced all of the physical characteristics of She-Hulk--big, bulky, powerful and green, which are all characteristics that women do not want to be.

At this point in time, I have spent more time being shorter than most power than not, but girls never forget the times where they felt bigger, fatter and out of place. Women are constantly bombarded with the message that the proper woman and the right woman, is someone thin, or even skinny, and petite. They are quiet, sweet and nice. Those are traits that women should strive for and even though many women (myself included) try to fight those messages, it still seeps into our subconscious. It's the idea that women shouldn't take up space. 

Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, takes up some motherfucking space with all 7ft and 300+ of her. So what if the art in the issues #5 and #6 is funky? She looks different and it's OK for women to look like that! It's OK for them to have angular faces, an Adam's apple and beefy arms. It's OK for them to be svelte or hippy, or have round faces or square faces. It's all OK! I think the point of the art is to show a different version of She-Hulk and that she can represents different manners of women. Women don't have to look good to men. She-Hulk doesn't have to look a certain way to please men (and to make her less threatening). She-Hulk is going to do whatever she damn pleases, beefy arms and weird hair included. 

Now where is my She-Hulk show?! 

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