(Obligatory intro text paragraph - feel free to skip down to the non-italic text if you've already been reading these posts.) This is the eleventh of twelve essays I'm writing, 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.
Tomorrow's might be a bit delayed, fyi, because I expect it to be filled with spoilers for the last issue of the series, and I don't necessarily want to have people accidentally reading it before they've had a chance to get the issue.
But we aren't there yet, are we? Nope - today's Issue #11, "Titanium Blues."
I wanted to check off two boxes with this issue, both of which I suspect were pretty obvious. First, I wanted to write a big fight between Titania and She-Hulk. Second, I wanted to write a big fight. And that's Issue 11!
Titania is a very cool character - she's pretty much She-Hulk's big bad. They've had some truly epic battles over the years, and in much the way it's almost mandatory for a Batman writer to eventually write a Joker story, I think She-Hulk writers tend to find their way to Titania eventually.
The lady's real name is Mary MacPherran, and she has an interesting history. She was powered up by Dr. Doom in the original Secret Wars miniseries back in the 80s, along with her best bud Volcana (who we also see in this issue.) You can bop on over to her Wikipedia entry if you want to know all the ins and outs, but the thing about Titania that most interested me was that she's always been something of a blue collar character. Some writers have hit that harder than others, but I thought it could make her a good stand-in for general anti-lawyer bias.
I mean, let's face it - some folks think lawyers are just greedy scum, using the system to their own advantage. And let's also face it - some lawyers are exactly like that. Many, many more are not, of course, but one bad apple...
So, Titania doesn't like lawyers - from where she's standing, it all comes easy to them. They don't really do anything, but they get to live the good life off the fees they charge honest, hard-working people.
While she and Volcana were hired to attack Jen as punishment for her continuing investigation of the Blue File, it's always better if you can make a fight personal. So, throwing in the anti-lawyer thing alongside the long antagonism between Titania and She-Hulk seemed like it would be a nice engine for this battle.
I also wanted to write a fight issue after 8-10, which were very talky. It would be sort of a palate-cleanser both for the readers and for Javier/Muntsa. Superhero fights are fun to construct, and I hear they're fun to draw. Reversals, unexpected allies/enemies arriving...
(Note the way Hellcat's crowbar is superheated after smacking Volcana in panels 1-2, by the way - that's some amazing work from Muntsa. Also, of course, the Fantasticar, a callback to Issue 3 - apparently Jen parked it on the roof of her building and never gave it back to the Fantastic Four.)
Both sides need to seem like they're winning and losing in almost equal measure. The fight needs to have an ebb and flow to it, like a really good song or a classical composition. As many surprises as you can come up with, really.
Such as... Hei Hei being whipped about five miles into the air by Titania, after which this happens:
So, we have a monkey that has a winged battle mode, and we also see Angie directly using what appears to be some sort of magic or superpowers in this issue. Pretty weird. What is the deal with those two?
Another neat little thing about this issue - I knew I wanted to stage the fight north of the city, because Jen would want to get civilians out of the line of fire. She's thrown down enough with Titania to know that serious property damage tends to result. Up north of NYC, we get into the Hudson Valley, where it's less populated, especially in the mountains along the river. So, I was poking around for a specific place to set the fight, and found this:
I realize that's a little small, but I wanted to get the awesome color work from Muntsa in here for the leaps - She-Hulk is green, and Titania is purple. So good. If you can't read it, the name of the mountain where they end up is Breakneck Mountain - a real place. If there's a better place in the world to set a Titania/She-Hulk fight, I don't know where it could be. Just one of those awesome happy accidents like finding the county of Divide in North Dakota (see Issue 5) or the fact that Mark of Zorro was playing at Mann's Chinese back in November 1940 (see Issue 10.)
Other things about this issue - you'll note that when Titania is doing her big rant about how much she hates lawyers because they just talk all the time... who's not talking there? Jen says almost nothing during the entire fight, in fact. When it's time to get down to business, she gets down to business.
And then, of course, the reveal on the last page - Nightwatch is behind the Blue File, and everything bad we've seen related to it in the series so far. But how? And why? You'll find out... tomorrow.
It's really four panels, but you get so much from them. Such a great sense of time passing, especially across the three "sky" panels. This might be one of my favorite bits in the whole series, actually.
Favorite character: Super Hei Hei.
Tomorrow... it all comes to an end.