The early days of the “Sensational” era of She-Hulk – originally debuting in 1989, the beginning of which is collected in She-Hulk Epic Collection: Breaking the Fourth Wall – are a case study in inconsistent tone. On one hand, you have The Sensational She-Hulk: Ceremony, an ultra-serious two-issue mini-series published at the beginning of 1989 that centers on She-Hulk’s relationship with Wyatt Wingfoot and her concerns about her biological clock. On the other hand is the eponymous Sensational She-Hulk series launched a few months later by writer/artist John Byrne, which is full to the brim with hijinks, the absolute Z-est-list villains and guest stars, and the aforementioned fourth-wall-breaking that is the hallmark of the run. Character reinterpretations go hand in hand with superhero comics of course, but I find myself hard-pressed to think of a more jarring shift in characterization in a similarly short amount of time. [Read more…] about Sensational She-Hulk: Breaking the Fourth Wall Collection Review!
She-Hulk’s history has been a bit of a rocky road, one that’s gone in some wildly different directions over the years. To begin with, Jennifer Walters was plagued by the She-Hulk, and she struggled to define herself outside of her superpowered alter ego. By the end of her first series, she’d come to grips with the She-Hulk and actually preferred to stay in that form. She joined the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and took on new, fourth-wall-breaking characteristics that would later be passed onto characters like Deadpool. This again led to a change of direction of Jennifer. She died multiple times, began and ended relationships, encountered alternate reality selves, and, most recently, saw a power surge that significantly changed her personality while in Hulk form.
Today, She-Hulk has a wider array of stories to look back on than ever before, but she continues to exist at the whims of greater crossover events. Still, with a new TV series on the horizon, it feels like a great time to look back at some of the hidden gems and greatest hits of She-Hulk’s long history.
She-Hulk was allegedly created when Stan Lee started feeling nervous that DC or another comic company might try to cash in on a female version of the Hulk and he decided to rush ahead and do it before another company could get the chance. Inauspicious beginnings to be sure, but from this, the Savage She-Hulk series was born. The first issue of the series was written by Lee, though he quickly departed, having given Jennifer Walters an introduction that was thematically similar to Hulk stories of the time. Taking a format similar to the Hulk TV series, each issue was episodic, building to the story’s eventual conclusion with issue #25.
The Jennifer Walters we’ve come to know and love today is a far cry from her early appearances, which, for the most part, lacked direction and the quippy sense of humor we’ve come to expect from our She-Hulk. Still, there’s something to be said for the unmitigated anger that She-Hulk brought to the page, from the beginning mixing Walters’ intelligence and heart with a healthy dose of justified rage. Women experiencing anger as a good thing is a rarity in the media, and that’s part of what makes the early run of She-Hulk compelling despite its flaws. [Read more…] about She-Hulk Origins: Savage She-Hulk (1980-1982) Review!
When I signed up to write about the She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus, I was coming in with the context of it being a fairly popular run that I saw a lot of people hold up as the definitive She-Hulk run. What I got instead was a very uncomfortable depiction of a textually strong female character as essentially a stereotypical (in 2004) comic book fan’s ideal female protagonist. Right from the first page, Jen is depicted as a woman who is so insecure in her self image that she just has to sleep with different men almost every night to cope with it. And while, sure, Slott points out that this isn’t a healthy way to live, the entire thing just feels like the creative team is leering at her. Every single page of this book reminds the reader that it was created entirely by men. [Read more…] about She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus Review!
Jennifer Walters is one of the best late Bronze Age character additions to the Marvel Universe, popularizing an intelligent, team-friendly Hulk before Peter David and Todd McFarlane made it cool. It would be easy to underestimate Jen as a mere copycat of her cousin Bruce Banner, but She-Hulk is a powerful, fascinating individual, blending charisma, a legal degree, and powerhouse strength across the landscape of Marvel Comics. [Read more…] about She-Hulk Reading Order