by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Peter David, Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
I have recently experienced quite a surprising change of heart when it comes to comic book art. I am a gigantic snob when it involves art that I ‘think’ I do not like; I immediately dismiss the comic and move on to something I find more palatable. However for the last 44 weeks I have been reviewing every new Marvel comic that comes into the 616 universe and that means that I am regularly reading some books that I hate. Interestingly that has had two very divergent effects. On the one hand there are books that I hate which I fight through the terrible art and find there is a story beneath which is worth reading. I find if I hang on long enough I get lucky and at the end of an arc they change the artist to someone I like.* However the other side of that is over time I start to appreciate art which initially I wanted to run away from. Fair enough, there is some which I will never appreciate** but books such as Silver Surfer have given me an appreciation for the Allreds which previously I thought would require mind altering drugs to achieve.
So, what possible relevance to this series does that entire paragraph have? Well nine issues ago I absolutely hated the art on this book; with a passion almost as much as I hate Francavilla’s art***. Therefore when I was starting out writing this review I loaded up the first few issues of this series, so convinced that the artist must have changed, or must have moulded his style as time as gone on. No, not a thing, no change whatsoever, it looks identical. Sometimes it just shows that persevering with something really does change your opinion of it. Then again I do not think a thousand years is long enough to make me like the art in She-Hulk.
Having defended my u-turn on the art style in this comic series, perhaps I should spend a bit of time talking about this specific issue. And what an issue it is; Georgia had just met her mother for the first time and she was then kidnapped by her father, the super villain Mori, owner of the nefarious shopping mall. Yes, that didn’t sound right to me either, but it is actually a very villainous cover because he knows that anywhere that is open 24/7 for civilians gives him a permanent human shield. This issue covers a lot of ground, helped by the panel layout which allows a lot of action to take place on each page, without adding to the reading length with lots of text. It is a great example for anyone to follow as it squeezes perhaps 4 wide panels into the space of one normal one, each containing more action and spreading the dialogue amongst them.
This comic is not perfect, there are a few things in it which annoy me. Matter transporters are for me problematic in any world as they create problems which need to be explained in advance. If you have them then no situation is problematic as you can immediately pull people out, but then they have to invent reasons why they cannot do it; watch any episode of Star Trek for the near infinite reasons why the plot will not allow something to happen. This being said it does create the final page, which is fantastic, and as long as the next issue picks up on the reason I think it happened then I definitely appreciate it. But I bet it will be followed by a long explanation of why they could not simply use the device again to rectify the problem.
There is so much about this comic which deserves talking about and that is partly because of the rapid panel style that allows a lot to take place in a limited space. I cannot praise it enough for the speed and motion it provides to the comic as it dives in and out of close ups and wide shots like a seasoned cinematographer in a block buster film. Even characters I traditionally dislike, Gambit and Quicksliver, stand up well along side characters I appreciate, Polaris and Danger, but this might be because the bad and funny things seem to happen to the people I do not like and the badass moments are given to the people I do like; it is almost like they are writing this comic specifically for me.
This series needs to go in the pile containing Thunderbolts and Nova as comics which at first I either hated or was not convinced about, but that have subsequently improved every issue, even if that improvement was entirely in the eye of the beholder. I expect this will have a dramatic conclusion in the next couple of issues and I really hope they carry this on to a point where we find out just what Serval Industries is really all about.
* Steve Dillions run on Thunderbolts is a prime example; it is now in my top 3 books currently with an artist that I love.
** Looking squarely at you She-Hulk. Three artists in 5 issues and I still want to go blind to save my sanity!
*** I’m sorry the guy is probably the nicest comic artist around at the moment with the best twitter feed, but I simply detest his colouring with a burning hatred.