Johanna's Last Marvel Review of 2007: Hulk/Fin Fang Foom, She-Hulk, Order

Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom -- I'm surprised no one's thought of pitting the two green laconic purple pants-wearers against each other before. I was looking forward to a fun slugfest, but I was even more surprised that Peter David's put in a story. In a situation reminiscent of The Thing, a group of Antarctic scientists discover Fin Fang Foom under the ice. The art team of Jorge Lucas and Robert Campanella do a terrific job of capturing the original beetle-browed Hulk look. I'm ordinarily not a fan of Kirby lookalikes, but it's the perfect style for this kind of no-holds-barred adventure.

David's Hulk is simple but poignant in his desire to simply be left alone. Instead of some long drawn-out miniseries, we get a quick bout that leaves us wanting more. There's also a reprint of Foom's first appearance, complete with the gaudiest four-shade coloring I've seen in a long while: yellow Asians, orange dragon, blue walls... it's like Lucky Charms spilled over the page. Good

She-Hulk #24 -- After not enjoying the previous two issues, I promised writer Peter David I'd give it one more try, since this is the issue where the fighting's over and we get lots of characterization.

And, well, to me it starts like an episode of Law & Order: SVU. She-Hulk spats with booking cop who persists in using diminutive nickname. Partner Skrull Jen similarly has attitude with perp she's bringing in. Then the two swap clever dialogue with each other before a gang of kids from the RV park where they live wander in. There's also a troubled teen with father issues.

I'm thrilled to see women with distinctive personalities lead a superhero comic, since it's rare we see more than one female talk to each other in the genre, let alone about meaningful issues, but it's just not clicking for me. I like that there are so many different characters, but so far, they're flat, one-line descriptions intead of three-dimensional people. I don't feel anything to grab onto, any need to learn more about them. Sure, they've got to hold back to have somewhere to go in future... but I'm just not interested in the ride. I wish I was. I'd like to feel the curiosity of meeting new friends instead of the tedium of attending someone else's class reunion. Okay

The Order #6 -- This comic makes me feel the way I did when I first encountered The Legion of Super-Heroes during the 1990s run. There's a whole bunch of different characters with strong personalities, unusual powers, and codenames. Interpersonal relationships matter more than superhero battles. Every issue makes me want to reread the previous to make sure I'm caught up with what's going on. It's almost too much to keep track of, but the more attention you pay, the more you're rewarded.

That's a really cool feeling. I've missed something with that depth to hang onto. I also enjoy Matt Fraction's plot structure of having one particular character be interviewed every issue, running their narration parallel with the other events. I feel like I'm learning important, in-depth things about the cast, one at a time, and it allows him to do more subtle things than many books are able to. Barry Kitson's art is attractive but can be stiff, so the face-on interview panels turn that into a strength.

Pepper Potts is running this government-sponsored corporate superhero team on behalf of Tony Stark, which makes this the best thing to come out of Civil War. This issue focuses on Milo Fields, a paralyzed veteran whose robot fighting suit makes him Supernaut. Overall, he contributes to a very rich world with plenty to involve the reader -- plus action, suspense, conflict, humor, and plenty of cool people to fantasize about. Very Good

In order to justify adding an additional eight pages to their comics to support an increased ad count over the holidays, Marvel has been running interview and behind-the-scenes text pages. In this issue, one of them is called "What do you do with your comic books?" I found it amusing that out of the nine writers and artists who answer it, five give them away to friends, kids, or charity. The remaining four box them up and promise themselves someday they'll organize them. (The word "stockpile" is also used.) That's what happens when you get too many comics, kids -- they quit being entertainment and start being a task you'll never get to.