This issue was rather a surprising letdown –- surprising that I felt let down when the issue abruptly ended –- just as the story was truly picking up. Augie shared some thoughts about a previous She-Hulk run in Pipeline last week, perhaps serendipitously that this issue was hitting the stands this week.
Van Lente gives us a main character that is completely familiar and yet undefined. Lyra wears the garb of Thundra and has the complexion of the jade giants that call the Marvel Universe home. As revealed in a previous tale, Thundra (from Earth 8009) gathered some DNA from the Hulk and mingled it with her own to spawn Lyra. Now Lyra has come back the present on a mission of timely importance. The fact that Van Lente spends so much time focusing on this blank slate character -– though it is her title, of sorts –- and makes me care about her speaks volumes to Van Lente's writing. Sure, I could be interested in the virtual pet, Boudicca, or what A.R.M.O.R. is really up to, but I'm certain these are just snippets of why I found this issue readable.
The art, while created by a tag team of pencilers and inkers, holds together amazingly well, with no glaring distinction between the panels rendered by Vale or Atkins. To that end, however, it is also difficult for me to offer praise or criticism to one artist over the other. Parts of the issue carry a style similar to Steve Sadowski while other sections of the book are more along the lines of Andrea DeVito. The art is able to maintain a level of quality throughout, and in some cases is actually quite stunning in detail and layout.
This issue is the start of a larger tale for certain, as the end of this issue leaves a hole open in the story. Given the limited nature of this series, coupled with the tangent drawn from one of Marvel's more popular characters in the Hulk, this story is destined for collection where it will preclude the tension present on the final story page. That said, however, this issue is a fun read, with adventure, history and multiple nods to the wider landscape of the Marvel Universe that most comic fans will appreciate.
"All-New Savage She-Hulk" #1 is rounded out with a seven-page behind the scenes conversation with Fred Van Lente, Jeff Parker, and Paul Tobin, moderated by editor Mark Paniccia. This may not be the most ideal way to try to justify the extra buck this issue runs above many other shelfmates, but it does offer a little more creativity than some randomly fished out reprint would. Check out the preview here.