Marvels Advance -- Johanna Drops She-Hulk, Tries Iron Man Annual

She-Hulk #23 -- I gave it another shot, but I see nothing here to stick around for. The cliffhanger is resolved though a typical Marvel "all rules out the window" substitution, and one that makes me fear upcoming event crossover (spoiler: the broken-necked Jen is a Skrull). When Peter David's wisecracks suit the characters and fit the situations, they're gorgeous. Here, they're more like generic, seen before or bolted on regardless of character voice. She-Hulk doesn't solve her own problems (like the miniature Titania in her ear canal); instead, she hits things until everything's resolved. Bravo for a strong female hero, but it would be nice if she a) showed some brains as well and b) didn't disavow being a superhero constantly. And since when does she have a Wolverine-like instant healing power? Super-tough, sure, but the rest of it didn't feel right.

Lots of fighting, too, which isn't what I read superhero books for. (I know, I'm not the target audience.) The stuff with Jen feels like filler, there just to meet page count. Even the stuff that should be cool, like a giant shark exploding out of a broken tank towards the stunned She-Hulk and Absorbing Man, isn't, due to lackluster presentation.

I sound really harsh about this, but it's coming out of my disappointment. There are few enough Marvel comics I enjoy, and this one used to be one of them. It hasn't been for years, though, and this new direction has little to do with it. It's another example of Marvel retreating to their core competency in the face of fear of change. It's not bad enough to be Awful, so Eh with a drop.

Iron Man Annual -- This is the kind of thing that should be done with Tony Stark -- treating him like James Bond, Superhero. He heads off to Madripoor to depose its current ruler, Madame Hydra.

Lots of good roles for women, too, as Stark's undercover support staff. Too bad they all look like blow-up dolls. I guess that's in keeping with the milieu, but a little diversity would make me think the artist was capable of more than aping Jim Lee. I don't think men realize that a woman who was the absolute ruler of a country would bother dressing as though she was getting paid by the evening.

Not as fun as it could be because of the old-school Image look, but amusing. Christos Gage writes, and he's quickly gaining a spot on my list of writers to watch. Okay shading towards Good, held back by the art.