Sunday, March 09, 2008

Profile: She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk
First appearance: The Savage She-Hulk #1, February 1980. She was one of the last superhero-type protagonists created by Stan Lee, with John Buscema the co-creating artist. Her initial adventures, which were scripted mainly by David Anthony Kraft, were played mostly straight, but it was decided early on to make her into more of a tongue-in-cheek character who could have comedic potential, and 7 years after the first series ended, during which time she was an Avengers and Fantastic Four co-star, that potential was realized in The Sensational She-Hulk, which ran 1989-93.

Current status: continuing with her job as an attorney that she began in Los Angeles.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: while there were a good amount of stories in Fantastic Four where Jennifer shone, there were still a few cases where she got knocked down far too easily (on the cover of Fantastic Four #284, she was shown being kicked in the head). In West Coast Avengers, she certainly took a much too easy blow from the Mole Man when he zapped her with his cane. In the Red Zone storyline in the Avengers circa 2003, Jack of Hearts’ powers interfered with hers, initially all-but draining her own powers but then sending her berserk, later leading to a fight between her and her male cousin, the Hulk in a town called Bone in Idaho. In Avengers: Disassembled, she was sent berserk by the Scarlet Witch’s powers when her fellow Avenger was depicted out-of-character. And in Civil War, she leaned in the very direction that Tony Stark was, in support of the Superhero Registration Act.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Sometimes, when she took a tumble in Fantastic Four, it seemed way too easy – and biased. But the battle with the Mole Man in West Coast Avengers, where she can’t even take as much as her male counterparts can when facing him, that was really ludicrous and awful, one of John Byrne’s definite nadirs in writing.

As for “The Search for She-Hulk” that followed on the heels of Red Zone, aside from how that was a terrible story to begin with, the fight between her and the Hulk was one of the silliest and weakest clashes between even anti-heroes I’ve ever seen, or read about in dialogue (is writing dialogue like “I was here first!” the best that Geoff Johns could do?). Pretty anemic and lethargic. And the storyline featured in Disassembled was throughly egregious.

As of now, we can sure say that the way Jennifer was written in Civil War was definitely uncalled for. I think there was even a story that she was going to file suit on behalf of J. Jonah Jameson against Peter Parker for fraud, something that for now has been forgotten following what happened in the execrable One More Day. I don’t think Jenn would ever go against Spider-Man, and Civil War, and the storylines that it led to, were absolutely uncalled for.

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