So, let’s see if I have this straight: She-Hulk, who was thrown into a portal, jumps back into said portal. Her enemies follow through the portal, then get thrown back into it, and then one comes back through it, and so everyone jumps into the portal-body of their new friend to escape.
Frankly, it’s a bit of a mess. There have been some narrative gaps in previous issues, but now in #3, these gaps have compounded so much that the storyline feels like it’s being told in a stream-of-consciousness game of Telephone. There are important character beats that hit without being set up, there are leaps of logic that seem downright non-sequitur, and things appear on panel as if teleported during the space of the gutter.
Case in point— the very first page. It begins with a series of captions from She-Hulk’s thoughts that are meant as a kind of recap. That’s fine, but She-Hulk’s inner voice knows more about what’s going on in issue than She-Hulk has ever been exposed to through the whole series so far. She talks about “a universe incarnate” which must be meant to be the new character who remains unnamed and unexplored, and the matter of her universe-incarnate nature certainly never been broached except in message boards and comics news sites that I’m sure have yet to appear in She-Hulk’s Arcadia. She-Hulk also makes the leap that the troubles they’ve encountered means that “someone is trying to destabilize Arcadia.” What? Since when has this even been an option? Even Dr. House has to spend the first half an hour of his show eliminating possibilities before deciding the answer is lupus. Likewise, I’m not sure how simply jumping through a portal allows She-Hulk to A) know that it is magic and B) know that it’s from Arcadia and C) confirm that it must be a plot to destabilize the land.
Back on the first page, there are tigers in the abandoned buildings, which is awesome, but they must be giant tigers that fill half the square footage of a corner apartment, which is either terrifying or an artistic error. Speaking of artistic error, She-Hulk goes from laying prone under a boot of a giant Sentinel to standing with enough room to rip off the boot. She also apparently rips of a head of a Sentinel at some point, because the head is shown being thrown at her enemies. Enemies which went from close-quarter combat to being far enough away to throw a giant robot head at. From Giant Robots that were going to shoot She-Hulk but then must have just been standing around as Thor-People fought her instead and one of them lost a head somehow. Later, when Gamorra-Thor is thrown into a portal by Medusa, she grabs the hair that was just released to throw her inside, then the next panel has hold of no hair at all.
But at least the enemies are thrown back into a portal, right? Even though in this very issue She-Hulk jumped back through after entering it last issue. Or did it close? The colors of the sky sure is different afterwards, so maybe. But if so, why does Dazzler want everyone to hide? And if “everyone” went to hide, why are a few of the key players standing around Medusa’s body in A-Force headquarters? If there is such an urgency, why does everyone go home to go to sleep? The portal must have reappeared at night, with Gamorra-Thor returning, along with others that drop from the sky like comets, not through portals. And none of Arcadia’s heroes are hiding like they said. They’re in their homes or patrolling on rooftops! In fact, A-Force never scattered and is all together with Storm until the still-unnamed Universe Incarnate stands wide and lets She-Hulk stick her hand into the starfield of her body. The end.
Despite some missteps when drawing sequentially, Jorge Molina’s art along with Craig Yeung is quite pleasant when rendering the characters emotions or having them pose dramatically in any given panel. From the distraught feelings as their teammate falls to something as simple as a character jumping/flying, each figure is dynamic and emotive. Particularly cute and expressive is the Universe Incarnate, who relies on body language and stark white eyes to create feeling and interact with the others. It’s lovely to see her reach out to Nico, for example, in a nice emotional beat, enhanced by the lack of background to focus solely on the character’s expression. So I wonder if some of the problems of the sequential art, the lack of logical progression from panel to panel, is more of a scripting problem.
I am anxious to see how the series wraps up, and how it might continue into the Marvel universe when Secret Wars ends, but I’m way more skeptical about it now than after reading issue 1.
The point tally is starting to stack up against this series, as too many plotting and artistic errors are making this comic too messy for its own good. It’s enjoyable for some pretty art, and everyone loves the number of Easter Eggy-cameos, but the narrative through-line is too jumbled and the sequential art is too uneven that it feels below the basic expectations of a high-profile comicbook.