Comics Entertainment

The She-Hulk Lives!

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Kevin Feige announced at Disney’s D23 Expo that She-Hulk would be joining the MCU with her very own Disney+ streaming series. She-Hulk has always been a favorite of mine, and I was shocked when the show was revealed and so many people seemed to have no idea who she was!

She’s She-Hulk! Shulkie! The Jade Giantess! She’s been around for nearly 40 years! She’s an Avenger! She’s been a member of the Fantastic Four! She’s an ace lawyer! Bruce Banner’s cousin! She was created by Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jovial John Buscema!

Crashing into the pages of Marvel comicbooks back in 1979/80, Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, was the last major character Stan Lee co-created for Marvel… that is, if you don’t count Ravage 2099. In the late 1970s, The Incredible Hulk television series was a huge hit for CBS. Despite the big ratings, Marvel was worried. With the success of The Bionic Woman, CBS was thinking about adding a female Hulk to the series—a character they would solely own the rights to.



Stan had recently moved out to the west coast to work on getting more Marvel characters into television and movies. He saw the writing on the wall and knew Marvel had to beat CBS to the green-fisted punch. So, Stan jumped back into the comicbook game with artist extraordinaire John Buscema and created one last classic character in the old mighty Marvel manner.

Cover dated February 1980, The Savage She-Hulk burst onto the comicbook scene with a bombastic first issue. Criminal Defense lawyer Jennifer Walters is the daughter of Los Angeles County Sheriff William Morris Walters. She’s also the cousin of Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk!).

When a crime boss sought revenge, Jennifer was targeted and shot. She was in desperate need of a blood transfusion, and Bruce Banner was the only one around who shared Jen’s blood type! Bruce gave his gamma-irradiated blood to save Jen’s life, and in doing so also transferred his Hulk curse to her.



At first, She-Hulk’s abilities were very much like the Hulk’s. Her transformation into the jade giantess was brought on by anger. But as time went on, she was freed of the Hulk’s rigid rules and gained control of her transformations while also maintaining her personality when in her hulked-out form.

The Savage She-Hulk ran for 25 issues, most of which were written by David Anthony Kraft and drawn by Mike Vosburg. After her series ended, She-Hulk made numerous guest appearances until she joined Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #221 (1982) where she’s been a permanent team member ever since. But her membership in world famous superhero teams didn’t end there!

After the events of Marvel’s big Secret Wars crossover, She-Hulk returned from Battleworld and was recruited to take The Thing’s place with the Fab Four in Fantastic Four #265 (1984). She fit right in with the dysfunctional first family as the group’s resident powerhouse. But the biggest shake-up in Shulkie’s life wouldn’t happen until 1989 with her second solo comicbook series.

The Sensational She-Hulk #1 debuted in May 1989. The series was (mostly) written and drawn by John Byrne and defined She-Hulk’s character and tone for decades to come. The series was satirical, meta, self-referential, whacky, and most importantly, immensely fun.



Breaking the fourth wall right on the cover of her first issue, She-Hulk holds up a copy of her previously canceled series and declares to the audience, “Okay, now. This is your second chance. If you don’t buy my book this time, I’m gonna come to your house and rip up all your X-Men.”

Paving the way for Deadpool, She-Hulk suddenly had a new power – she was aware that she was a comicbook character! She-Hulk used this new ability to speak directly to the reader, rip through pages, leap between panels, and even got into arguments with the writer and editor over the creative direction of the series.

She-Hulk was now a fun-loving and go-getting assistant District Attorney in New York City. She got into wild adventures fighting the likes of Doctor Doom’s Fifth Cousin, she almost married the Mole Man, she solved a serial killer case with Santa Claus, she traversed the Baloneyverse with Howard the Duck, and she even threw the writer of her own comic out the window to boost sales.

Not without controversy, the series was also known for a string of self-aware but raunchy covers and risqué art that resulted in the higher-ups “forcing” Shulkie to wear a few more layers of clothing… which was also referenced on a cover. But the series ended up being the longest running female solo title for Marvel at the time with 60 issues.

She-Hulk’s next solo series wouldn’t be until 2004, when writer Dan Slott and artist Juan Bobillo launched She-Hulk #1. The series picked up the fun tone and Shulkie personality of the previous iteration but moved She-Hulk into the 21st Century.



In the comic, Jennifer Walters got back to being a lawyer, practicing superhuman law at New York law firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway. The first three names of the fictional law firm pay tribute to Marvel Comics legends Martin Goodman, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, with Holden Holliway being the only actual law partner from the firm to fully appear in the book.

She-Hulk took cases involving superheroes and villains, including one where Spider-Man launched a libel lawsuit against J. Jonah Jameson! The series was canceled at issue #12 but was relaunched 8 months later with the same creative team and a slew of memorable covers by artist Greg Horn. Peter David took over writing duties with issue #22 and steered the ship until it ended with issue #38.

During all this time She-Hulk also continued her duties with the Avengers, getting involved in multiple major events and escapades including House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, and she even rejoined the Fantastic Four as part of the Future Foundation and was a founding member of A-Force, the all-female Avengers team.

Her next ongoing series, once again titled She-Hulk, was written by attorney Charles Soule and drawn by Javier Pulido in 2014. In the series, which lasted 12 issues, Jen faced off against another superhero lawyer, Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, in the courtroom.

Finally, a grey She-Hulk starred in a comic series simply called Hulk from 2016-2018. This series was very different than the happy-go-lucky tone of previous incarnations and dealt with the Hulk’s “death” and the trauma that She-Hulk suffered at the hands of Thanos.



As you can see, She-Hulk has been a Marvel Universe mainstay for many years, so much so that we can’t even list all of her exceptional exploits in one hulking article. Who could forget the time she married a Man-Wolf? Or when she did legal work for the cosmic court of the Living Tribunal? But we digress.

With the announcement of a She-Hulk television series, helmed by Marvel Studios and set firmly within the MCU, Shulkie’s future is looking brighter than ever. At this point we can only guess which version of the character we’ll get on screen. Personally, we’re hoping for something along the lines of John Bryne’s high-spirited Sensational She-Hulk run mixed with Dan Slott’s superhero-lawyering adventures, all while using Stan Lee’s indelible origin as a jumping off point.

Based on the D23 teaser image, one thing is for sure: Jennifer Walter’s law profession will most certainly be a prominent part of the series. Here’s hoping we get a legal dramedy that does the jade giantess justice. Would it be too much to ask for Weezi to be included as a supporting character? Or how about Awesome Android? Just a couple of suggestions.

Excelsior!

-Steve

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