SHE-HULK #1 (1980 and 1989) with Kate (and Dan)

::Kate is crying. Sobbing. Like, big snot bubbles kind of sobbing::

D: Kate? What’s up, Red? Um…? Can I… er… do something…? Hey, how about not crying anymore? Uh… want some ice cream?

K: ::wipes all the snot on her sleeve:: God, you are so bad at this.

D: This is true. Dan no do good when girls cry.

K: Ha! Stop trying to cheer me up with your Hulk talk. I just got so damn mad. It’s not even a big deal. Some jerk in a pickup truck with those stupid truck-nuts wouldn’t let me over. I missed my exit and ended up being late to work. By the time I got there, all the donuts for Lab Appreciation Week were gone. I LOVE those donuts.

And then… and then… and then… I GOT REALLY MAD.

D: So what did you do?

K: I came home at lunchtime and got worked up and then I cried and then you came home and did a shitty job trying to make me feel better.

D: Sounds about right. So hey, why don’t we check out another smart, sexy lady with anger issues?

::drops two different SHE-HULK #1’s on the table::

K: Yeah! Jennifer Walters is a gal who’s got it together! We are so much alike! Strong-willed. Independent. Educated ladies who don’t take a backseat to anyone!

D: She just wears her hair longer. And is taller than you. And she’s… you know. Green.

K: Ain’t that just like a man: always looking at the physical.

D: I LIKE THE PHYSICAL!

K: Shut up and let’s read the comics.

 

::Many comics are read. The room starts to smell a bit musty::

K: Woof. I hate that “old book smell.”

D: ::hides bottle of Olde Book Shoppe cologne:: Hey, THE SAVAGE SHE-HULK#1 came out in February, 1980. That great old-timey smell just can’t be duplicated by digital comics.

K: ::holds nose::

D: So here it is: Jennifer Walters, The Savage She-Hulk, is the last super-hero to be created by Stan Lee. And with an opening splash page with the header “THE SHE-HULK LIVES,” Stan has his by-line right there.

“Created and written by Stan Lee. Illustrated by John Buscema and Chic Stone.”

K: I admit it: I went into this book with low expectations. But I really liked this story. A self-contained origin tale, THE SHE-HULK LIVES is a really good action story introducing the world to Jen Walters. Jen is Bruce Banner’s cousin. He visits her at her criminal attorney practice in Los Angeles because he’s in need of a friendly ear to help with his “Incredible Hulk” problem. It’s a really big problem, since he IS the Incredible Hulk!

D: But Jen has problems of her own. She’s got some nasty gangsters mad at her.

K: And when those gangsters ambush her and tag her with a gunshot wound, she’s in danger of bleeding to death!

D: Her only hope for an emergency blood transfusion is her gamma-infused cousin Bruce. And it works! Jen is saved! All is well.

K: Until the gangsters make a second try for her at the hospital. And she gets MAD.

D: And that “incredible” gamma blood proves to have a side effect.

K: Yep. Jennifer Walters is now the super-strong She-Hulk! She makes short work of the bad guys, and the story ends with Jen accepting her new condition and braced to face the world.

D: This is a really underrated book. Stan Lee tells the story in a very straightforward manner, and I can’t say enough about John Buscema’s art. Buscema is a comic book legend. His detailed pencils portray action as well as emotion. And for as much as Bruce is in the story, I loved how the Hulk only really appears in a flashback panel. This is some good comic-booking. Plus, bonus bellbottoms on the cover!

K: Let’s fast-forward 9 years to THE SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK written and penciled by John Byrne. Holy Hanna, you can tell immediately that this book came out in 1989. Just look at She-Hulk’s huge hair and huge shoulders on the cover! It’s like she had shoulder pad implants put in.

D: I still wouldn’t mess with her. She threatens to come to my house and rip up my X-MEN comics if I don’t buy the book. It’s right there on the cover! And speaking of the cover, it’s pretty meta. Like you mentioned, she’s on the cover speaking directly to the readers. “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!” And she’s holding a copy of SAVAGE SHE-HULK #1!

K: MIND. BLOWN. She is all green and Hulk-ragey. This #1 has kind of an odd plot. The book opens with her using a circus as a training ground and using their elephants for weight lifting.

D: As you do…

K: After she’s done benching the pachyderms, The Ringmaster from the Circus of Crime hypnotizes her with a spinny- hypnotizing -wheel-thing on his pink top hat. Who wears a pink top hat? Also, it’s kind of sad that the She-Hulk can be overtaken with a spinny-hypnotizing-wheel-thing on a hat. Maybe she should do fewer squats and more crossword puzzles.

D: You’re pretty judgemental. Those spinny-things can give the nastiest headaches. So I’ve heard. Once The Ringmaster has She-Hulk under his command he can totally make her do whatever he wants. Like get him donuts. Sexy, sexy donuts. But what does he do instead? He gets her a full body makeover and she becomes “Glamazonia” and an act in the circus. Her act is really nothing more than lifting the grandstand, and shaking the audience so their cash and change fall out of their pockets.

K: And then she fights a blue gorilla after the gorilla breaks the hypnotic spell that had been cast on her. She quickly captures the Circus of Crime and brings them to jail. The Ringmaster spills the beans that the circus had been paid by The Headman to capture her and test her invulnerability. And we don’t really meet The Headman until the last panel, and they’re…well…really, really weird. Which really sums up this book. Weird. But on page 29, things get all meta again. Jen is bemoaning the hidden mastermind pulling the strings… and then makes mention that it won’t be until at least her THIRD ISSUE before she finds out who it is! And then says, us readers will probably find out on the next page! This is crazy! Super-heroes never broke the fourth wall before!

D: The 80’s were weird. John Byrne was clearly trying to take the new She-Hulk in a new direction. We first met her when the decade began and Byrne knew it was time to chart a new path for the big green gal as the 1990’s approached. Byrne was the perfect man for the job. Just look at the opening scene alone: She-Hulk, lifting elephants, with the rest of the circus looking on in awe. You could stare at that page all day, and still find new bits of detail you hadn’t seen before.

K: It doesn’t matter if her adventures are straight-up adventure, or odd meta-stories with clowns. In fact, her most recent series have focused more on the courtroom side of things. She’s more than just a “lady Hulk.” She can smash heads with the best of them, but more often than not, she’ll beat you with brains.

D: Come on. Let’s go out for donuts. And then find that guy with pickup truck.

K: Yeah. Let’s go kick him in the truck-nuts.