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Putting the Comedy in Comics

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This article is part of a series of spotlight articles on the winners of the  Broken Frontier Awards 2005 .

With books such as The Thing, GLA and Spider-Man/Human Torch under his belt, writer Dan Slott has quickly become Marvel’s “go to” guy for lighthearted superhero fare.  When it came to selecting the Paper Screen Gem for best Comedy series however, you can’t forget the girl that brought him to the dance – She-Hulk.

A critical success in 2004, the She-Hulk comic came into it’s own this year – despite spending 8 months on hiatus.  The year opened with the final issues of She-Hulk Volume III, pitting the Jade Giantess against her long-time rival, Titania.  October saw the launch of Volume IV, dropping the She-Hulk’s alter ego, lawyer Jennifer Walters, right in the middle of a time-travel defense case.

Have no doubts – Dan Slott infuses She-Hulk with plenty of action, human drama and clever plots – but the real strength of his writing is found in humor.  The book never approaches the level of 4th-wall-breaking-zaniness that the character was known for in the 1990’s, but rather is laced with wit, charm and a sarcastic self-awareness.  A frequent source of humor comes from the idea that, in the Marvel Universe, superhero comic books are considered “non-fiction”, and as such are admissible as evidence in trials.  Using this conceit, Slott creates many opportunities for comic fans to laugh at themselves, as well as their favorite characters.  Whether subtly chiding the modern fans for being too obsessed with continuity, or maligning the “wait-for-the-trade” mentality of many collectors, Slott blurs the lines between fiction and reality in a lighthearted and fun manner.

She-Hulk started out the year under the artistic reigns of Paul Pelletier (pencils) and Rick Magyar (inks).  This duo, while using a very traditional superhero look to the book, infused their characters with a sense of energy and motion that fed off Slott’s scripts.  Volume IV brought back alumni Juan Bobillo (pencils) and Marcelo Sosa (inks), an equally strong pairing that also mesh well with the tone set by Slott.  Bobillo and Sosa bring cartoonist sensibilities to the book with simple design and highly expressive characters.  Stylistically, this pairing may not create a “realistic” book, but rather add a layer of humor with their unique, vibrant art.

With the fresh start provided by the launch of Volume IV, there’s no excuse for not trying out She-Hulk.  In a market that’s filled with books that take themselves too seriously, Slott, Bobillo and company’s She-Hulk reminds us that there’s always a place for fun in comics. 

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