I wouldn’t have bothered, what with most of this $4.99 publication being irrelevant or reheated. First off, Gary Frank’s cover, coloured by Emily Warren, is a beaut. It’s a bit of a strange choice for a celebration issue, mind, with our heroine looking distinctly down at heel – the taxi number/signature, GF06, hints that what we have here is actually a four-year-old unused cover, from the time Jen was sacked from her law firm. What a fantastic birthday gift.
I suppose at a pinch the art could go with Peter David’s opening story, the sole part of the book that’s relevant to Shulkie’s anniversary. It looks back to the days of John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk with lots of fourth wall-breaking fun as the jade giantess gets the blues over having been around three decades. Luckily her creator, Stan Lee himself, is on hand to send her on a familiar journey in ‘The She-Hulk Story That’s a Riff on A Christmas Carol’.
Marvel were ahead, and they should have quit. For the next story doesn’t just reek of inventory, it admits as much with a first panel ‘Skrull Queen’s’ note telling us the story takes place before Secret Invasion. That in itself wouldn’t make the strip annoying, but as you plough through it and realise it’s not a She-Hulk piece at all, but a ‘one-size fits all’ entry co-starring Spider-Woman and Ms Marvel … that’s annoying.
Of course, were it a great done-in-one, the day could perhaps be saved. It’s not. Brian Reed’s script presents the three women as so irritatingly stupid you realise why the story’s sat around for a couple of years. And if this is set before Secret Invasion, presumably the Spider-Woman here is the disguised Skrull Queen, yet her thoughts aren’t those of an evil spider-mole. Maybe this is a plot point covered elsewhere, perhaps she’s in such deep cover she thinks she is Jessica. I dunno, and I shouldn’t be expected to know in what’s presented as a special tale of She-Hulk.
Oh, and can we have a moritorium on female team-ups called ‘Ladies’ Night’?
I like the artwork by Iban Coello and Andrew Hennessy, it’s pleasantly powerful, with the senseless catfights presented effectively, but I’d rather it were in the service of a good script – and Reed can provide them.