The first issue of this mini-series was really rather good, and it ended with Jen Walters’ former Avengers teammate Jack of Hearts turning up at her apartment. Last time She-Hulk saw him he’d just been killed…
This time Jack tells Jen he left the Avengers because he feared his tendency to absorb her gamma radiation made him a danger to her. Indeed, his innate instability was such a worry that Jack flew off into outer space, fully expecting to blow up as radiation built within him.
Before that could happen, though, he was captured by… someone.
Jack managed to escape and found his way back to Earth, tracking down Jen by tuning into her gamma vibes. He doesn’t know why he wanted to talk to her, but distraction comes in the form of appetite. For the first time since his scientist father’s ’zero fluid’ sparked his alien physiology into life, Jack is famished.
Afterwards, despite his insistence that he doesn’t need sleep, Jack conks out. He’s still asleep when Jen wakes the following day. She leaves for her new job with old attorney rival Mallory Book, along the way helping out an ambulance stuck in traffic. And at the office…
As cartoon dog Droopy used to say, exciting isn’t it?
Nope. That’s a full page, one of only 20 in this $3.99 comic book. And the rest aren’t much more interesting. The most intriguing page follows this one, but that’s where the issue ends. The whole comic can be summed up as: Jack of Hearts is back, he doesn’t know where he’s been, his humanity seems to have returned, Jen begins Day Two of her new job and Mystery on Final Page.
Rainbow Rowell’s dialogue is good – there’s a nice line about inveterate team joiner Jen being ‘between affiliations’ – but sparse. There’s just not enough happening in this issue. It’s as if Rowell went to editor Nick Lowe, said she had an idea for a three-issue mini-series, and was told that, actually, five issues was the current standard length so take it slowly. The vast majority of pages have just four panels – even a double-page ‘spread’. And in terms of what we do get, it’s far too Jack-centric. Whose comic is it, anyway?
Artist Rogê Antônio produces expressive work, but doesn’t seem to have been especially challenged. My favourite page is that shot of Jack in the glass, above, though it’s a shame our hero’s ridiculously, wonderfully ornate original costume has been somewhat simplified over the years.
Rico Renzi adds warmth with his colours and Joe Caramagna’s lettering is first rate (though I still hate the kiddie upper and lower case font).
Jen Bartel’s cover is, like last issue’s, stunning, though a tad sedate. Next issue’s has a similar Businesswoman of the Month vibe… I really hope Shulkie gets to fight someone soon, allowing Bartel to draw something dynamic.
I’ll be back next time, in the hope this issue is likely Rowell getting the exposition out of the way before the action kicks in. Heck, I’d even settle for some good old lawyering. Just something to excite the eyes and mind.