She-Hulk, Volume 1: Deconstructed

 

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5 stars.

I know what it means to go through something that takes away everything. There was a time when I lost something. I was hurt. Badly. And afterwards, I didn’t… I don’t see the world the same way.

Listen, I’m amazed this book was allowed to get made.

This is not your typical Hulk book where buildings get smashed, Bruce angsts over being a monster and the government tries to take down the Hulk. This is not even your typical She-Hulk book where Jen smarts her way through most situations all the while being fabulous and extremely self assure. This is a book that does an amazingly in depth study of PTSD and anxiety. This book studies life after a trauma and unlike most comic book stories, everything is not fixed in an issue or two.

I preface this by saying I majored in psychology so I am always looking at things about trauma and psychological welfare through a more critical lens. It’s the reason I can’t always tolerate things like YA novels that dabble in these subjects or books where characters are told to just “cheer up” or “tough it out” when they’re suffering from mental illnesses. That being said, I heard Tamaki researched these themes before writing this book and I can believe it.

A memorial implies that the only victims are the ones in the ground. I think you can live through that kind of darkness every day, that you can live in a war, and that feels like a kind of dying.

Throughout this book, Jen is using a few techniques to calm herself when she feels herself losing control. She’s seeing a therapist who recommended she watch cooking shows to help manage her emotions. She’s talking herself through moments that give her anxiety. She’s taking everything one minute at a time and I think that’s such a realistic portrayal of dealing with trauma and grief.

Admittedly, I hated the CW II arc but, similar to CW, some great side books have come out of it. Power Man and Iron Fist and Ms. Marvel used it to talk about the dangers of predictive justice. This book is dealing with the aftermath of Jen’s near death experience. I’m not entirely sure if she can’t Hulk out because she’d lose control or if it’s just that she no longer can. I’ve never read a She-Hulk that didn’t retain her wits in her transformation, outside of Avengers Disassembled of course. At the end of this volume, She-Hulk talks like Hulk and I’m not entirely sure what that meant.

So, this is a quieter book in that it’s more of a character study than your typical action-packed comic. It amazes me that it’s survived this long when Marvel’s doing it’s best to run their great titles into the ground by not promoting them and then cancelling them after a few issues. I’m amazed it’s still running and so damn happy that it is. It’s a book that we need and I honestly teared up a few times reading it. It’s fantastic and it makes me want to read everything Tamaki has ever written.

Seriously, this book blew me away.

Is it a recommend?:

Definitely!

I am a monster. A different kind of monster now. A monster still breathing in a world… horrible… and worth fighting for.

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