My cat wasn’t too impressed.

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Acosta stirs more laughs and some pathos from Jennifer’s everydayness than from She-Hulk’s wildness. She charts her New Year’s vow of self-improvement; her resolutions to land a job and a new apartment and score a real date for Valentine’s Day; her frank and frisky chatter with a hairstylist BFF who actually refers to herself as the “wacky ethnic sidekick”; her therapy sessions and karate classes and singles mixers and Game of Thrones marathon parties. The OMGs here greatly outnumber the KAPOWs.

Like the stars of other dishy single-in-the-city tales, Jennifer can’t eat a doughnut without splooging jelly on her collar. But in the ways that matter, she isn’t that relatable. She’s courted by Manhattan’s largest law firms to take lead on their biggest cases, and everywhere she goes, the city’s most handsome men—lawyers, rock stars, and Avengers—fall for her. No less an authority than Tony Stark (as in Iron Man) celebrates Jennifer’s gorgeous legs. While not a key figure here, Stark, an ex of Jennifer’s, figures into Acosta’s two choicest pieces of Marvel Universe gossip: 1. He is an “amazing” lover but “he’s always more interested in the real-time hologram display over his bed than in his lovely partner”; 2. He invented nanobots to “retrieve wayward sperm.”

Alan Scherstuhl

Details

Rogue Touch
By Christine Woodward
Hyperion, 288 pp., $14.99

The She-Hulk Diaries By Marta Acosta
Hyperion, 336 pp., $14.99

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Occasionally, Jennifer even beats down dickish guys without turning into She-Hulk, which is sassy and empowering and an upending of the monster-inside fantasy: Seriously, being Jennifer Walters sounds every bit as awesome as being She-Hulk. For her, superheroing isn’t the blessing/curse it is for regular Hulk or Spider-Man or Rogue—it’s another me-time release, part workout and part ladies’ night.

She-Hulk action hits every 60 pages or so, but these adventures are never invested with the imaginative energy Acosta applies to the scenes of Jennifer dishing with her BFF. The action seems scaled not for blockbusters or comic books but for modestly budgeted TV.

That’s not a bad idea, actually. A slow-to-develop courtroom plot involving cloning, a Jamba Juice–like company, and lots of sick kids who need someone to stick up for them gives Jennifer and her book smarts the chance to be the hero—and may be more satisfying doled out over a season’s worth of episodes, or a year’s worth of issues, rather than crammed into five months’ worth of busy diary entries. But it does come together, with surprising comic power. Better still, unlike most of the blockbuster movies assailing us this summer, when this story wears a little long, it doesn’t ask us to get off on the deaths of thousands. Instead, it asks us to know one woman and her world, and it builds that world rather than tears it down. It also gives a full new answer to the question, “You like She-Hulk? Which one?”

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