Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trade Waiting - She-Hulk Vol 1 and Ghost Rider Vol 5

Although Marvel leads the sales charts month in and month out, many of the their better books can be found in the mid to lower rankings, not the top. This time around I'll be taking a look at Dan Slott's She-Hulk and the first volume of Jason Aaron's critically acclaimed run on Ghost Rider. Hit the jump for the reviews.

Written by Dan Slott
Art by Juan Bobillo and Paul Pelletier
Collects She-Hulk #1-6

She-Hulk is Dan Slott's cult hit book involving superhuman law that revels in the superhero genre and all that comes with it.

She-Hulk is a law book, specifically superhuman law, which gives Slott a surprising amount of room when it comes to writing stories, which he take full advantage of. He does a wonderful job of mixing the mundane world of law with the fantastical world of super heroes, which is one of the main charms of the book. He does a lot of great work mixing the two and showing the "real world" effects of super hero comics without the massive cynicism that usually accompanies the theme. The second issue is a perfect example of this, even though it's not bright and cheery the entire time.

Slott makes use of continuity as well, but much like Geoff Johns, it never gets in the way of the story and only helps to reinforce it. The stories, most of which are done-in-one types, also have some nice twists that add an extra bit of enjoyment. There is also a fantastically odd supporting cast, which does help the book by adding some consistency to the done-in-one style of storytelling. There's also plenty of humour to be found and Slott's enjoyment in writing the dialogue and jokes shines through the writing. The Spider-Man/Jonah Jameson lawsuit issue is particularly funny. The only thing I didn't like about Slott's writing was when he tried to say that comic books in the Marvel Universe are legal documents that can be used in court. It just seems like he's trying too hard to say that "comics are awesome", but it just doesn't work for me.

The art is a bit more problematic. Bobillo does the first four issues and some of it is good, some of it is bad and it's seemingly at random. He is also inconsistent at times with how he depicts characters. It's nothing that kills the book or anything but it's not doing it any favours either. Pelletier does the last two issues and, while much better than Bobillo's work, it isn't quite up to the level of his Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy work.

Verdict - Must Read. Despite its flaws, She-Hulk is still an excellent work that takes pleasure in its genre and medium creating an even more enjoyable story.

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Roland Boschi and Tan Eng Huat
Collects Ghost Rider #20-25

Although I enjoy Jason Aaron's work, he had two huge hurdles to get over for me to like Ghost Rider - 1) the stupid status quo/retcon Way left him with about Ghost Rider being an angel and 2) he's writing Ghost Rider, one of the most absurd character concepts in comics today. Surprisingly, or perhaps not if you are familiar with any of his other work, Aaron manages to overcome both problems and deliver a highly entertaining story.

I'll admit it, I think comics would probably be better off without a Ghost Rider-like character, which has grown to become the epitomy of the grim and gritty 90's extreme character, which is why it took me so long to actually buy this trade, desite the critical acclaim associated with Aaron's run. Ghost Rider is a bunch of "cool" ideas stuck together without really working as a functioning, long term character to me. Aaron makes Ghost Rider work for his story, but whether he will work beyond that, or without Aaron, is not something that I can say one way or the other as of yet.

Aaron's story, though, is good. Ghost Rider, now an angel, is on another mission of vengeance. But this time against the angel, Zadkiel, who made him into Ghost Rider in the first place. The first arc involved Johnny Blaze going to a small town in the middle of nowhere where he runs into some trouble in the form of killer nurses, cannibals and man eating ghosts. As you can tell, Aaron uses a lot of off beat ideas, much in the spirit of books such as Immortal Iron Fist, The Order and so on. It seems like a bit much for only four issues, but none of it is really strong enough to to carry four issues on their own and Aaron does a good job of balancing it all out to create an entertaining story out of it all.

The second arc, which was made up of the remaining two issues, has more of a back story feel to it. However, Blaze does fight a horribly proportioned strong man and kills him with an oversized Bible, so there are some ironically entertaining moments.

The art isn't stunning in this volume, but, for the most part, it works for the book. Boschi does the first arc and I like his work better than what Huat does on the second due to some anatomy and proportion issues.

Verdict - Must Read. Aaron basically "creates something out of nothing" and manages to deliver an entertaining tale that his fans should enjoy as well as comic readers in general.

Like these reviews? Interested in these books? Purchase She-Hulk Vol 1: Single Green Female or Ghost Rider Vol 5: Hell Bent and Heaven Bound from and help support The Weekly Crisis!

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Klep said...

Basically that entire She-Hulk comic is up on Marvel Digital Comics and it is one of the things I really enjoy going back and reading from time to time. I love the absurd way in which it treats the tension between the rule-bound world of law and the chaotic one of superheroes and supervillains. It's nothing that's particularly deep or enlightening, but it's good fun the entire way through.

Andrenn said...

I read the first arc of Aaron's GR and just thought it was okay and have the series on trade waiting.

Matt Ampersand said...

Andrenn, I wasn't blown away by the first few issues of Aaron's run, but it picks up on intensity and madness as the story goes on.

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