She-Hulk #2 Spoiler-Free Review
Charles Soule (w), Javier Pulido (p/i), Muntsa Vicente (c)
A great second issue is one of the hardest things in all of comicdom to write. If the first issue is all about setting up the core themes or conflicts of your story, then the second has the much harder job of reiterating those ideas while simultaneously building upon them. The first is “What is this story going to be about?” and the second, “How?” It’s a bigger question, and one that you will spend a long time answering, but it’s also the most important question of them all. It isn’t until #2 that most comics really begin to dive in and tackle what the book will look like on a month-to-month basis. This is where a lot of books really start their constant downward slide.
I was a big fan of She-Hulk #1, but there are a great many excellent debuts I read in any given year. Many of those begin to falter once the novelty wears off and they have to make due solely on the backs of their storytelling skills. She-Hulk #2 is a strong argument that Soule, Pulido, and Vicente will not have this problem. The issue, which finds She-Hulk panicking after opening her own law office almost on a whim, focuses heavily on building a supporting cast for our heroine, an essential but often-skipped step. A good supporting cast can lend the book emotional resonance, open up new plotlines, make danger more personal, and give the lead people to bounce off. It can also drive the story from within, rather than relying on constantly escalating threats from outside sources, something Soule pulls off quite well here.
Javier Pulido and Muntsa Vicente continue to impress. Splash pages and two-page spreads are perhaps two of the most widely misused artistic devices in the medium. Great splashes don’t typically just show off action; they enhance and emphasize. And they should be enhancing a hell of a lot more than simply ‘Punchyman punches extra hard this time,’ if we’re being serious. In the first issue, Pulido and Vicente used an innovative layout on a two-page spread to disorient the reader and take us inside She-Hulk’s head; here, they use that two-page spread as a big, fat exclamation point on a dramatic scene. Pulido is quickly demonstrating a particular aptitude for innovative, eye-catching layouts that are functional rather than show-offy.
This is just good comics, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Soule’s scripts are sharp; he’s a practicing lawyer, which gives the legal plots more heft than they normally might, but he’s also typically a very character-driven writer, which grounds the legalese in relatable (super)human conflicts. Which is good! In many comics, plot is something that happens to the characters. The heroes are almost the antagonists of the story, since they are trying to stop the plot from moving forward. Soule is making sure the action of She-Hulk #2 stays focused on She-Hulk and her supporting cast, and stems from who they are and what they want. Like the first issue, She-Hulk #2 is snappy, character-driven, smart, and a joy to read. And it’s making a strong case for itself as Marvel’s best new ongoing series.
Rating: 4.5 / 5