Tamaki and Leon's 'Hulk' is one of the best comics on stands right now

Cover to ‘Hulk’ #4. Art by Jeff Dekal/Marvel Comics

By Arpad Okay.  If you think She-Hulk has changed, you’re incorrect. Jennifer Walters is different, her life turned upside-down by PTSD. Once a statue in jade, now reduced to a mouse in a purple scarf. But in the pages of Tamaki, Leon, and Milla’s Hulk, the spirit of She-Hulk endures.

She-Hulk is a lawyer who is incidentally a superhero. Her invulnerability has always taken a backseat to the power of her convictions. But Jen? Jen is in the sunken place. There is no outlet for her grief in the world she woke up to. She pushes her gamma-irradiated rage down, and it in turn pushes her down. Life takes the reigns, and Jen has to deal with what real lawyers wrestle with all the time: failure.

Yeah, it’s a dark book. Taking a pillar of positivity like She-Hulk and turning it into a horror title was met with some critical skepticism, but I am willing to bet that taking the concept of the Hulk and turning them into a lawyer was also a hard sell. She-Hulk has a tradition of successfully defying conventions, and in that sense Hulk does not break the mold. So when I said Jennifer Walters is a superhero on the side, that translates here as magical realism. Walters has wandered away from life as an Avenger, but now she walks in shadows. And whether or not she can find her way back to being She-Hulk is becoming a real problem.

On the other hand Jen’s principal client has no trouble tapping into the supernatural, and the shadows do some appalling things. The evil is sudden, swift, fierce, and it works because the terror is built on a meticulously laid foundation of suspense. Hulk oozes with dread. The reader and Jen alike are held captive by Walters’ relentless inner monologue. Her inability to cope is endlessly chasing its own tail.

That’s Hulk, Jennifer Walters’ life, Walters’ struggle, the everyday unable to reach an equilibrium. The focus isn’t monsters, it’s on women who have survived trauma and are trying to find peace. It just happens to have monsters in it, too.

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Mariko Tamaki.

Art by Nico Leon.

Colors by Matt Milla.

Letters by Cory Petit.

7 out of 10