(Obligatory intro text paragraph - feel free to skip down to the non-italic text one if you've already been reading these posts.) This is the seventh of twelve essays I'm writing (we're more than halfway!), one per day as we lead up to the release of She-Hulk #12, the final issue in the current run of the title, on February 18. The idea is to look at each issue a bit more in-depth before we get to that last one. I'm doing these in conjunction with a live-tweet using the tag #12daysofshehulk on Twitter, also one per day leading up to the release of 12 starting at 7 PM EST - so you can play along at home! Feel free to @ me (I'm @charlessoule) - I'd love to hear what you think of this issue and all the others, whether it's a re-read or you're checking them out for the first time.
Issue 7 was a huge challenge for me. I'm not sure why, exactly. I knew I wanted to do a one-shot, and I had the plan to do the Hank Pym story pretty early, but getting it all to gel took me a number of drafts. I suspect that was related to a few factors - one, I was coming back into writing for Javier Pulido after a few issues writing for Ron Wimberly, which meant a switching of mental gears. Second, I was maybe a little focused on plot as opposed to what the issue would really be about. You can think up all the goofy bits with shrunken superheroes you want, but if the characters' engines aren't humming along properly, it's just a bunch of goofy bits about shrunken superheroes.
I finally cracked it when I realized that this was a perfect issue to bring the Patsy/Jen partnership/friendship to the fore. The surface story has two business partners in a spat because they can't seem to agree about how to go about their business - and that's paralleled by what happens with Hellcat and She-Hulk here.
It seemed pretty plausible to me that Patsy Walker could have a bit of an inferiority complex about her superheroing gig. She doesn't have powers, really - she can detect magic use, but in a world where people can blast mountains apart, that's not really all that much to speak of. Basically, she's an incredible acrobat and hand-to-hand fighter, and she has one hell of a lot of pizzazz. That's it.
I knew this was a thread I'd want to play out eventually, so I started hitting it early. We see it in her first beats in Issue 2, when she wants to go (drunkenly) beat up AIM, and the AIM agents straight up say she's "powerless." We see it again in Issue 6, when she's trying to figure out what happened with Tigra.
Powerless is a pretty strong word for a woman like Patsy Walker, though. I don't see her as powerless - not even a tiny bit. She might not have the most impressive superpowers, but that's not the only way you can kick some ass.
As we see in this issue.
Jen, being Jen, realizes this towards the end of the issue. - but I also wanted to make it clear that She-Hulk isn't stepping aside to give Hellcat a chance to prove her worth. As this panel shows, she trusts her with her life.
(I'm sure you all got this, too, but Patsy spends most of the issue trying to figure out how to use Ant-Man's ant-commanding helmet - she's trying to get superpowers, to measure up the way she thinks Jen and other superheroes feel she should. But when it comes down to it, how does she save the day?)
With moxy and a sharp stick. Sometimes that's all you need.
Anyway, that was pretty much the deal. Everyone learns some valuable lessons, the contract gets signed, etc. A few fun facts about this issue - the first page was a fun tease of the big storyline to come in issues 8-10, and a deliberate contrast to the aged version of Captain America we see on the last page.
As scripted, the sparrow that Ant-Man befriends off-screen in the issue was supposed to be flitting around the conference room in panel 1 of page 19, just to suggest that they'd become real buddies. I have no idea why Javier didn't include it - sometimes things just disappear between script and panel. The trick with stuff like that is not to be too precious. You pick your battles. Artists aren't robots, they're collaborative partners, and you aren't always going to see things the same way.
And finally, I was in Hong Kong when I wrote this. Hong Kong is a very vertical city - everything building is a hi-rise. My hotel was no exception, and it had a little bar near the roof, completely empty in the mornings, where I would go sit and write while I had a cup of coffee. This was the view:
Pretty amazing. I know. I love Hong Kong. While you can't see any people in that shot, if you could, I bet they'd look like... ants. I was clearly writing the right issue for that particular view.
Favorite panel: Poor Ant-Man! As a character, Hank Pym more or less can't catch a break - and I didn't want to break that streak here. He's one of the Marvel Universe's greatest geniuses, but for whatever reason, he's typically shown as flawed in one way or another. The point of this scene was to remove the "expert" from the equation - with Hank gone, She-Hulk and Hellcat were stuck on their own without any way to get big again unless they found the missing inventor they were looking for. And I didn't punk Hank too hard, really - after all, in the space of one issue, he tames that sparrow and makes the business deal he was looking for. I like Ant-Man.
And how about that sparrow? Artists blow my mind. If I tried to draw a sparrow, it would look like a marshmallow peep. If I was lucky.
Favorite character: You know, I think it's probably Rufus. While I don't think it's stated in the issue, his full name is Rufus Randall, and his partner's name is Reza Rahmani - that's why their company is named R&R&R&R. Nothing like some good old comic book alliteration. I'd love to do more with these two someday.
Tomorrow - the start of by far the hardest story arc in this run, the Daredevil/She-Hulk/Cap court case. That one almost broke me in half. See you then!