Because you should be. 8)
Because She-Hulk is epic, and so is this book. It’s only a couple of issues in, and I’m enjoying the continuing adventures of She-Hulk: Super Powered Lawyer. Because half of this book is beating the snot out of people who deserve it, and the other half is legal wrangling. And as strange as it is, I’m enjoying her escapades in setting up a law office and dealing with court cases as much as I am watching her punch Doom Bots.
And I really, really like watching her punch Doom Bots.
But I’ve heard a lot of people reluctant to give this book a try, despite the flawed, humorous, sharp, brilliant main character. Despite the fact that they’ve started to introduce some supporting characters that I’m very excited to see back on the comics pages. The only complaint I keep hearing is that people don’t like the art. They find it offputting. The art is very stylized, very sharp, and very idiosyncratic.
You know what else it is? It’s not pretty.
I do not say this to insult the artist, Javier Pulido. I think the art is GREAT. It’s clean, it’s crisp, it’s easy to follow, it’s very identifyable. It’s unique, in the cookie cutter world of comic book art, and that’s great.
But it’s not pretty.
And that is important. Why? Because it’s a female led book, that is not forced to adhere to a standard of ‘pretty.’
When the director of “Frozen” said, it’s hard to animate women who look different, what he really meant, and let’s be honest here, was that it’s hard to animate women who look different but STILL REMAIN CONVENTIONALLY PRETTY. That’s the problem. That’s the sticking point that animators and designers and video game creators can’t seem to move beyond. It’s not that women are so very difficult. It’s the struggle to make every single woman visually appealing in a conventional way, and still differentiate them. All of them with big eyes and winged brows and narrow, pointed chins and button noses and perfect cupid’s bow lips, and they are all the same. Men are easier, because we’ve been trained to accept a wider variety of 'good-looking’ men. But the trade off for women in media is, if they lead a property, they must be pretty.
And the current run of She-Hulk is not.
I can’t overstate how important I find this to be. That there are comics right now, with female leads, where the powers in charge are not panicking and thinking, 'well, unless we make her T and A material, no male will buy this! Better get that guy who does pin-ups to do the art!’ Because that was the thing that seemed to happen. Over. And over. And over.
I loved Fearless Defenders. I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I thought the concept was great. Why didn’t I talk about Fearless Defenders? Because the art made me so uncomfortable, took me out of the story so many times, that I didn’t want to tell people, go read this. I didn’t want new readers to look at it, and go, oh, so this is comics.
Because it doesn’t have to be.
Women in comics doesn’t have to be brokeback poses and cropping panels so the breasts make it in but the face doesn’t. Women in comics doesn’t have to be shots framed with legs, or balloon breasts tacked onto torsos without internal organs. Women in comics don’t have to exist for the male gaze. And She-Hulk proves it. Recent runs on Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel and so many others prove that, and I love it.
I love that I picked up my box last week, and there were two issues waiting for me. She-Hulk, punching Doom Bots and turning down polite advances from yet another super hero (and that’s two in three issues, guys, she’s living the dream), and looking wild and crazy while doing it. And Loki: Agent of Asgard, where Loki is just lovely (and I say that without a trace of irony, he’s a hot mess in this comic, but the emphasis is on 'hot’ and I don’t even like the little twit) and they are not flinching away from just how lovely he is.
C'mon. Comics are far from perfect right now. I know that, you know that, everyone knows that. But She-Hulk can punch Doom Bots. And when her clothes rip, it’s not panting fanboy fodder. It’s a woman who’s had a good workout and is damn proud of herself, with the messy hair and ripped pants and psychotic grin to prove that. And Loki has a shower scene in book one. Also produces slash for the Midgardian internet. Good for him.
So give She-Hulk a try. Because the art is BRILLIANT, and sharp and fits just right, and makes it clear, this is a character who doesn’t quite fit in the mold, and that’s just fine. Give Loki a try as well. Because of the All-Mother and Verity and Sigurd and all of the really poor choices.