She-Hulk Annual #1 Review

by Charles Martin on August 28, 2019

She-Hulk Annual #1 Review
Writer: Alexander Petri
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I knew it was a mistake to publicly announce my antipathy to any given character. Just one week after I confess I don't like Bullseye, who is She-Hulk up against? That's right!

It's the latest in Marvel's curiously-conceived "Acts of Evil!" sort-of-but-not-quite-a-series, where heroes spend an oversized annual issue fighting villains they've never fought before.

Forgive me if I get spoiler-y here, but there's really no way to discuss the merits of this comic without laying out its high concept in a way the solicit hesitates to do. 

A rich old man who lost his son to a supervillain puts out a huge bounty on his killer, collectible only by a superhero. Bullseye aims to get that loot - even though the targeted villain is Bullseye. To do it, he's going to make She-Hulk his "deadly weapon" du jour.

The sci-fi techno-trickery that makes it possible is an ill-conceived Reed Richards plan given an unscrupulous twist by Machinesmith. It's not just a hero-villain showdown; it's a hero-villain showdown with a bodyswap angle!

Andy MacDonald's hard work on the art is bucking (effectively!) for a role as the book's strongest point. He uses a very organic line-style that never lets the feeling of a human hand guiding the pencil slip away. Yet his subject matter is stuffed with high-tech robots and vehicles and gear that would send a lesser artist screaming to 3D modelling software. It all looks gorgeous and it looks naturally gorgeous. It's a high-tech story made realistic the old-fashioned way: Through the tireless effort of a talented artist.

Matt Milla's colours enhance the visuals significantly. They're on the same wavelength as the art in that they peg realism as priority one. That means using a constrained palette that eschews super-high-intensity colours. But that doesn't make the colour work simplistic; Mr. Milla works hard to set off different materials and bring out the third dimension of the figures with nuanced shading. (He even breaks out some subtle gradients to fit the look of Machinesmith's retro vehicles.)

Alexander Petri's script does an admirable job of setting up the complicated premise and then paying it off with a fast, exciting conflict. It's satisfying to see an obviously-questionable idea like Reed's mind-copying tech introduced and immediately turned to nefarious purposes; in the past, Marvel has built whole events out of setting up ideas like this and then forcing heroes to overlook the obvious downsides for hundreds of pages.

The character work is enjoyable if not abyssal-deep. There are plenty of snappy lines and fun moments. Real insight, though, is in short supply. Once it's all over, Jen does touch, barely, on the ways this bodyswap shenanigan might reflect meaningfully on her dualistic personality. But the script does not so much excavate nuggets of wisdom on that score as it provides a shovel and a vague wave toward a patch of promising ground.

What we get in She-Hulk Annual #1 is a fun, fast fight story built on an admirably twisty premise. It entertains without disappointing, and the art is a powerful workhorse that hauls the story into believable realism. She-Hulk or Bullseye fans aren't going to find the sort of revelations here that make a comic a must-read, though.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I am not so anti-Bullseye that I would deny he gets some great lines: "Time to kill two birds with one stone. Which, for me, is low. Aim a stone right, you can get five birds. More if they're in formation."