Jennifer Walters has, from the start, been a different kind of superhero. And Mariko Tamaki’s take on the character has been particularly unusual, exploring trauma and body image in Hulk. For issue #11, Tamaki and artist Bachan take a slightly different route, paying tribute to the character’s lighter days in the ’80s as a self-aware superhero.
This issue is themed all around Jenn going on a date. He’s age-appropriate, educated, cute, so of course, there’s a catch. But the real hook is the meta comedy. Marvel, in general, is on a throwback kick with the company’s Legacy reboot, right down to how it’s formatting covers. But Tamaki wittily draws not just from John Bryne’s run, but satirizes romantic comedy and anime tropes while she’s at it, and Bachan and letterer Travis Lanham center the comedy around the captions, which range from flowerly purple prose to texting, and which Jen covers over or even boots right off the page in frustration.
Tamaki’s run has been outstanding, but shifting gears like this could have derailed the book. Instead, it’s a reminder that even the most serious book can take a break once in a while, and a nice tribute to She-Hulk’s past without losing what makes her present run so good.
The Family Trade #1, Image Comics
Nikki Ryan, Justin Jordan, and artist Morgan Beem team up to deliver a story that’s equal parts political allegory and whimsy. Set on a politically neutral floating island called The Float, with lots of guns and a populist would-be leader (hey, we didn’t say the allegory was subtle), it’s all about the Family, a secret conspiracy of spies that truly run the Float. Well, in theory anyway. Helped by Beem’s watercolors, the book manages to balance its more fantastical aspects against what it has to say about politics without coming off as preachy, making it a fun fantasy read.
Mister Miracle #3, DC Comics
Tom King and Mitch Gerads continue their unusual take on the New Gods with this issue, where what they’re really after begins to come into focus. Scott is facing what a lot of us would call depression, just with the added factor of space battles and a terrifying political situation. But even heroes losing their minds, which Gerads depicts in a chilling sequence that closes the book, pales next to the fact that Scott is trapped. Every bad situation in his life, he’s escaped. But you can’t escape your own mind, and that haunts the book.
Defenders #6, Marvel
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez start up a new arc in their surprisingly loose team book, with a war between supervillains over who gets to rule New York’s gangs. Marquez in particular stands out, as he and colorist Justin Ponsour take the book in an unexpected art direction, depicting a trial as if a court artist is drawing it. Meanwhile, this issue impressively raises the stakes without losing the feeling of friends hanging out that makes it such a joy.
Fighting American #1, Titan Comics
The Fighting American and Speedboy travel from 1954 to the far-flung future of 2017. Gordon Rennie and Duke Mighten bring the two-fisted Golden Age hero to the modern era and, uh, well, he doesn’t quite fit in. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this concept, but the book takes the clever spin that Speedboy is a little more… receptive to the 21st century. There’s enough here to hold our attention and see where they take this idea.