The other day I went to pick up the puppy-corn bucket we’d painted for our dog Winston at Color Me Mine and decided to stop at the Target up there while I was out, since I needed a couple things. When the Starbucks inside somehow didn’t have a functioning coffee machine, my dumb ass decided to jet on over to the Barnes & Noble across the street to get my Starbucks fix… and for an excuse to probably spend money I shouldn’t on books (I already have plenty I still need to read). Naturally, the first book to catch my eye was $20 for a 50 page “novel” that apparently won the Nobel Prize in Literature. I was intrigued enough to set aside my issue with the price, even after sitting with that decision for 5-10 minutes as I perused the rest of the store and got my coffee (which wound up tasting more like cool mint mocha than peppermint mocha for some reason). I gave myself all that time to come to my senses and I stuck with it because, as the title says, I make bad life decisions.
That all being said, the book is an interesting exercise in fiction, telling the story of two twins growing up as babies from their perspective. I’m sure literary folks would slap me for making this reference, but it’s like how Rugrats, by giving voices to babies, managed to frame things we don’t give a second thought to about childhood in fun and fascinating ways. These twins, Marigold and Rose, have so much going on between their ears, they just don’t yet have the capability to put it all into words for their parents. However, we get to see it put into words here on the page as best they can with their limited understanding of the world. I just wish it went on longer, because the ending felt more like the author gave up than they brought it to a natural conclusion.
This is what I’ve been waiting for, the issue that hits on all cylinders. Funny that it’s the one that doesn’t include She-Hulk herself. Here, we get the backstory of She-Hulk’s captors, which does a lovely job of humanizing them and making you understand how they truly did start from an honest, good-hearted place. Like the best supervillains, they are rooted in something simple and real, in this case a desire to have the power that The Hulk and She-Hulk have because they feel they could make proper use of that life-changing power. And they’re not over-the-top evil; they just got lost along the way and wound up going too far down the wrong path. It’s really a master class.
Then She-Hulk returns to the fray and they’re back into cheesy villain mode and shit’s hitting the fan in every regard, with powers changing hands and others regaining powers… and it just feels messy and like a huge step down from the more nuanced storytelling of the issue before. Like these issues were written by two different authors altogether. The villains don’t feel quite the same and even our main characters, popping back into the story, don’t pop from the page the way they had been recently. Suffice it to say, Rainbow Rowell’s She-Hulk run has been a rollercoaster, to say the absolute least.