Posts Tagged ‘She-Hulk Diaries’

The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta AcostaAs I mentioned, B&N is shipping Rogue Touch and The She-Hulk Diaries early. Apparently She-Hulk ships from Indiana and Rogue Touch from New Jersey, so I got She-Hulk first. In a way though, this works out, because I don’t really know that much about She-Hulk beyond what I’ve garnered through reading X-Men comics as I’m not much of a Hulk/Avengers reader. This means that, unlike Rogue, I won’t be bothered by all the ‘little things’ that butt up against established canon which could drive a fan crazy. This makes me a bit more impartial when reviewing She-Hulk Diaries.

Warning, there are some mild spoilers here but I won’t give away anything major.

First off, if you are a fan of She-Hulk, this book probably isn’t for you. If you are fan of the comics, this book likely isn’t for you either. This book is for the Twilight loving crowd who are less interested in strong action heroines and more interested in the shallow side of romance. If The She-Hulk Diaries sounds a lot like The Carrie Diaries ala Sex in the City then you’ve nailed it. Jennifer Walters spends most of the book fretting over her ex-boyfriend and all the hot guys she wants to sleep with rather than thinking about the case she is working or the mystery that needs solving.

Now, I don’t mind romance in my stories, in fact, I wish comics dealt with romance between characters a lot better with more depth and time spent, but I get annoyed when female characters are reduced to their sex lives. Superhero men have romances while saving the world, so why can’t the same be done with superhero women? Why is it that if a female superhero is given her own book it has to be written about sex and fashion instead of heroics? It’s like whoever okay’d the plot said “that’s what women like, right, Sex in the City and 50 Shades of Gray?” so that’s what was written, only PG-13-ish.

I want to be insulted that Hyperion/Marvel apparently don’t believe female readers could like female characters, or any character, purely because of said character’s full complexity which involves so much more than their love life. This book mentions She-Hulk’s time spent doing interplanetary law, going off planet, and other grandiose things as an Avenger, but instead of doing anything with that, we get ‘should I accept my co-worker’s offer for No-Strings-Attached sex?’. We also could have been given the gritty downside or heroism, such as recently highlighted in Iron Man 3 with Tony’s panic attacks and PTSD, but instead it’s all ‘my ex’s fiancé is such a bitch and totally not worthy of him’.

Like I said, I want to be insulted, but I have to face the facts that this book isn’t written for me, it’s written for that group of readers who eat this kind of stuff up. Marvel is marketing their characters to a whole other demographic. Instead of showing women that it’s okay to like and read She-Hulk, they are giving them She-Hulk in a form that Hyperion/Marvel believes is more pleasant for them. It’s almost like they are re-enforcing that gender divide of ‘guys read gritty action, girls read trashy romance’ but I don’t think it’s malicious on their end. They just want to make sure they aren’t missing any pockets to pick… so really it’s just greediness on their part.

To be fair though, there are comic book fans who also like Twilight. I know one and I’ll have to let her borrow the book and see what she thinks of it, who knows, she might consider it awesome. All I know is that if I want to read three hundred pages of a boarder-line Mary Sue day dreaming about her ex and what she’d like to do with him, I’d go read a fan fiction, at least it would be free and I could pick my OTP.

But here I go, bemoaning this book without actually telling you anything about it, which doesn’t really help you decide to trust me or not on whether this book is for you. So here are some more specific details, again, only mild spoilers.

She-HulkLet’s start with the fact that ‘She-Hulk Diaries’ is a misnomer. It should have been called The Jennifer Diaries as it’s told in first person from Jennifer’s perspective in that she’s the one writing the diary. One of the few things I knew about She-Hulk is that right now in the comics she and Jennifer are the same person. Jennifer embraced her Hulk side and is always ‘hulked-out’ even when she’s doing her daily lawyer stuff. In this book, Jennifer is the quintessential nerdy librarian who is annoyed with She-Hulk who is this party animal that got them evicted from the Avengers Mansion for setting the furniture on fire. She keeps She-Hulk on a leash and is frustrated with her to no end calling her ‘the crazy sister’ that she loves but is stuck with no matter what.

I thought to myself, “Okay, this is like an origin story, we’ll see Jennifer come to accept this side of herself in an emotionally gratifying sub-plot.” They do touch on it here and there, but instead of an emotional and over-arching character study, it’s more like a swan dive off the ‘crap-gotta-shore-up-this-plot-point’ diving board. This was as wonderful chance to really go introspective and thoughtful, to use She-Hulk as an analogue for accepting yourself and all your quirks… and it’s pushed aside so Jennifer could swoon over song lyrics she inspired and get hot and bothered when sexy guys are around.

And this really isn’t the worst of it. Jennifer’s history with her mother being shot, her almost getting killed herself, and her cousin Bruce giving her Hulk powers, is barely skimmed. Seriously, this is Grade-A character development stuff and it’s just casually mentioned as if it’s a non-issue. I mean, why wasn’t the book about that? It’s what we get in superhero movies, whether we want it or not (how many origin story movies have Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man had?). I can kinda understand not wanting to ‘rehash’ origin stories, but if you want to introduce She-Hulk to a whole new audience of readers then completely skipping the whole reason she is She-Hulk pretty much defeats the point. And to just ignore stuff like her mother’s death so Jennifer can talk about “Dr Stunning” is downright disgraceful.

Which all brings me back to my earlier point, if this book is made to introduce new readers to She-Hulk then why does it assume you already know her back story in detail? I mean, if you’re going after the fans of She-Hulk who also like Twilight then that’s not a very large demographic. This just proves to me that She-Hulk is an afterthought in the book, a book which is actually just a typical romance novel with a few She-Hulk things thrown in to justify the licensing.

And it’s not even a very good romance novel. There’s not even any angst. Everyone thinks Jennifer is just so gorgeous and datable while she thinks she’s awkward and in She-Hulk’s shadow. All the ‘romance moments’ are simple, predictable, groan worthy (not in a good way), or tropey, such as running into the ex looking disheveled like she just had sex with the guy standing next to her. (Okay, who the heck shows a guy Krav Maga maneuvers while wearing a slinky dress in the middle of a Valentine’s Day office party… and doesn’t ruin the dress?!) Every romantic plot point is as predictable as a Katherine Heigl movie… in fact, I think I started imagining Jennifer as Katherine about a third into the book.

As for the ex, I don’t know if this is canon but it sounds like it came out of a fan fiction. I mean, this guy is some former rock star who saw her dancing at one of his concerts, grabbed her, had a one night stand with her, and apparently fell desperately in love with her but couldn’t remember her name. Yeah, that’s what a lot of women, and some men, might wish would happen, but seriously? And sure, the ‘loved a life-time in a single day’ romance trope is a classic, but here it has that same touch of ‘I don’t know you but I have this crazy need to protect/love you’ that gets way over-used in OTP fan fictions where a writer puts together an established canon couple ignoring the fact that the couple had a building up period before finally hooking up.

And I’ll admit, I don’t believe in love at first sight. To me, all relationships have to be earned, so you can chalk a little biased against this particular part of the story. But when you tack on the fact that the ex’s finance is made into a total and complete bitch simply to make her unlikable rather than trying to use actual character development and emotion to prove why Jennifer and said ex should be together… it’s just really lame. Not only lame, but again, tropey and predictable. If it was going to be a semi-smutty romance then they could have at least made it a GOOD semi-smutty romance.

Jennifer WaltersAs for Jennifer herself, she is supposed to be this socially awkward, MMO playing, LARPer…which could be canon, as I said, I don’t know a lot about her, but here it feels like an afterthought and only there to reinforce stereotypes. A fair amount of comic book readers are going to be interested in at least one of these things too, so of course they have to have the main character into it. It’s like someone said, “Make sure Jennifer is relatable so make her do all that nerdy stuff that female geeks do.” Her characterization waffles, acting like Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City) the whole time until suddenly she needs to be Codex (The Guild). It’s all rather jarring with no clean edges. A woman can be a little bit of both Carrie and Codex, but there is a connection between both sides of that personality where they mesh… here, no meshing.

At one point the author seems to try to specifically say that ‘this is more than just a romance novel’ but she’s deluded herself. Any attempt at actually having any emotional discourse with the character got watered down with discussions of how much she needs to get a date while not drooling over her ex.

Don’t even talk to me about the last quarter of the book which completely dissolves into last minute plot-plugging a plot which is so contrived it’s not even worthy of a B-Grade comic book. There is also so much OOC from a well-known character that I want to be incensed on behalf of a legion of fan boys. If you’re a Fantastic Four fan, for heaven’s sake, don’t read this book!

There are other little things that bothered me, such as the gratuitous use of the words ooky and smeered (are these even legitimate words?), so overall I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone because it’s an awful comic book story and an lame romance story. I try to find redeeming qualities in everything, I really do, but the only thing I can say about She-Hulk Diaries is that it’s still a better love story than Twilight.

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That moment when something screws up in your favor but it doesn’t really matter…

Rogue Touch and She-Hulk Diaries from HyperionSo I do a lot of internet shopping because I live out in the country and sometimes it’s just easier that way, especially when I’m in no hurry to get something, such as the new Marvel books Rogue Touch and She-Hulk Diaries from Hyperion. Being a huge Rogue fan I decided I was going to read the Rogue novel even though I’m pretty sure it will be a bad fan fic. I figured I’d pick up She-Hulk Diaries as well because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.

Both novels come out June 18th so I checked Amazon and Barnes & Noble to see what would give me the best prices, options, etc. It was then that I noticed that while both books are listed as “Pre-Order” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble will just let you buy them now.

Rogue Touch

She-Hulk Diaries

According to the tracking I should get them on Friday, Monday on the outside, I can never be sure around here, as I said, I live in the country. I also don’t know if this will get fixed anytime before the 18th but somehow I seriously doubt anyone will care as I’m sure these aren’t in really high demand.

But seriously… why couldn’t this have happened when I was anxiously awaiting Butcher’s Ghost Story or anything by Rick Riordan?

Well played internet… well played…

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