Last issue ended with the appearance of Kristoff Vernard, the son (clone? Right? He was a clone at some point, right?) of Dr. Doom showing up in Jenn Walters’ office with a request: to gain political asylum in the United States. This issue picks right up with that and covers the trials and tribulations of dealing with bureaucracy as well as the dicey political situations that arise when your father has an army of robots all bent on taking you somewhere you don’t want to go. This issue takes place over a very short amount of time and, as a result, feels quite intimate despite being grandiose. It’s also a great issue for Charles Soule to set in stone a general tone and tenor for the whole book: the characters have fallen into place, this is our first opportunity to see them interacting with each other and the world at large in a new, different way. And I absolutely adore it. She-Hulk is written with equal parts humor and seriousness, often comedic but never undignified, and when marching into court in a shredded suit, that is not the easiest thing in the world, and we even get another glimpse of the mystery surrounding the enigmatic secretary Angieand the clearly-not-suspcious-at-all Hei Hei. Who is a monkey. That takes notes.
We also get to experience more of Javier Pulido’s linework, and while it may be a treat for the reader, I’m still having difficulty defining EXACTLY what it is. It’s not avante-garde, but it IS very flat, disregarding a great many of the artistic advancements in things like perspective and shading from the last twenty years, but I’d never say that makes it BAD. Quite the contrary, it’s extraordinarily stylized with an incredible eye for detail and design. I’ve said it before: it’s a total throwback, but also incredible modern. It’s Jim Steranko meets Chris Samnee, if I wanted to get reductive. But I don’t because the style is definitley all his own and the colors, by Muntsa Vicente are a critical part of the rich tapestry, standing out beautifully and brightly. This book’s tone is incredibly upbeat and more overtly comedic than most of Soule’s other collaborations, and the visuals definitely emphasize that. We also get a lot more the strange surrealism that populated the previous issue and while it’s not the same, it’s just as odd.
The visuals are highly stylized, which is good, but it makes certain parts of the issue difficult to follow. Some panels cross both pages while others don’t, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell how one’s eye should be moving across the page. There was definitely more than one occasion that I got lost, but it always became clear in retrospect.
This is one of the best books on the shelf if, for no other reason, than for how different from other books it is. It’s a superhero book with the soul of a small, indie comedy. You can know next to nothing about Marvel continuity or characters and still easily immerse yourself in it, and while I keep seeing complaints about the visual style, it’s part of what makes the book so unique and it compliments it perfectly. If you’re not reading this book, there’s still plenty of time to hop onboard either at this issue, or by picking up the previous two.