Waiting For The Trade – Hulk: Fall of the Hulks – The Savage She-Hulks

Writers: Fred Van Lente, Jeff Parker
Artists: Michael Ryan, Salva Espin, Sergio Arino, Zach Howard, Jonboy Meyers
Colourists: Guru EFX
Letterers: Simon Bowland, Joe Caramagna

Collects: Fall of the Hulks – The Savage She-Hulks #1-3 and backup stories from Incredible Hulk 600-605

An award-winning collection (the award in question being “Most uses of the word Hulk in the title of a TPB”) which contains two story arcs featuring the character of the Savage She-Hulk AKA Lyra AKA the future-born daughter of the Hulk and Thundra, who now resides in the present-day Marvel U accompanied only by her wrist-borne computer Boudicca. Okay, so it’s not the most straightforward set-up for a character that I’ve ever seen but it’s not without merit. I think it’s something of a shame that Lyra was introduced at a time when the number of Hulks in the Marvel Universe it at an all-time high, and as such she’s not really being given much chance to make an impact.

As we join things Lyra is working for A.R.M.O.R. (Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response agency) another one of Marvel’s acronymed pseudo-governmental law enforcement agencies and clashes with a group of female criminals imbued with the powers of some of the Hulk’s greatest foes…if it sounds a little trite then unfortunately that’s because it is. I can’t understand why female characters must always be made to fight female characters…it’s okay for men and women to hate one another and fight, it’s going on many times everywhere in the world as I type this. I don’t know if it’s some weird from of equal-rights or whether it’s commercial logic that says “Dave is willing to buy a book with a female protagonist so having shown he likes the ladies let’s load him up with a few more”, either way I don’t get it.

Not that this arc is bad, the bad girls are given an interesting enough backstory and the 3 (backup) issue fight scene is good fun. The art’s good also, I particularly appreciate that Lyra’s drawn as a muscular woman. One of my artistic bugbears is when She-Hulk(s) are drawn as wiry or without any bulk to their muscles…it just doesn’t fit the character in my mind and is one reason why John Byrne’s She-Hulk will never be my definitive version, but I digress.

The art in the second arc, which is the FotH – TSSH min-series, isn’t quite to my liking, it goes a little manga in places and the use of foreshortening isn’t pulled off successfully in a couple of places, one of which is the “heroine moment” splash page at the end of the book. The plot is more interesting although it falls into that trap of pulling the female characters together at times it does give a non-gender-specific challenge to the heroines. It’s obvious there are other events in the MU relating to Hulks that I’ve not read as there’s a scene that makes no sense to me other than what I’ve seen in solicits and I think it may have spoiled me on the identity of one of the Red Hulks. The way that Lyra’s relationship with her mother is treated pretty well, if a little gushy, and there’s some character development in there.

However truth be told neither of these stories feel like they really needed to be told (especially the first) and I’m becoming less patient with passably good stories as time goes by.

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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