She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) is one of my favourite heroes in Marvel canon. The cousin of Bruce Banner (The Hulk), she has been a long-standing member of the Avengers and was a temporary replacement for the Thing in the Fantastic Four. Like Daredevil, spends her days fighting the good fight in the court room, and, whenever she can slip away, brings that moral compass into the streets to stop any number of threats to the people, be they the Absorbing Man, Thundra, The Headmen or anyone else.
She was the last character that Stan Lee created for the company until his return in 1992. He only wrote her origin in issue number one, but I found it to be quite lazy.
As a proactive move against losing the rights to female version of the hulk in the then current Incredible Hulk tv show, Marvel decided to create She-Hulk. She was not a natural progression to the Hulk Mythos, nor was she really created because somebody had an idea to realize. She was a financial decision. These are not the circumstances I would want a writer or company create a character under, but I also know that this was not nearly the first nor nearly the last time this would happen. So with Stan writing and John Buscema drawing, they released The Savage She-Hulk #1 in February 1980, and as I said, it seemed like lazy writing.
Jennifer Walters is a crime lawyer, who Bruce Banner looks up for assistance with his life as Hulk’s alter ego. Coincidentally, she just happens to be under threat by the real perpetrator of a clients crimes. In an attack at her home she gets shot and is losing lots of blood. Good for her Bruce was there to fight off the criminals. But instead of turning into The Hulk giving them the justice they deserve, he just comes after them with a hose.
Being the brilliant, rational thinking, educated man that he is, he decides that instead of calling an ambulance and waiting for help the best decision is to give her a transfusion of his nuclear irradiated blood. Which makes sense, because everyone knows how quick blood transfusions compared to waiting a few minutes for an ambulance, especially with the necessary medical equipment that every lawyer has lying around their house.
So I thinks its pretty obvious what happens next, Jennifer Walters
gets terrible cancer, dies, then comes back as a green hued ghost that wreaks havoc on the lives of her attackers and Bruce gets the same powers as her jade giant cousin, and is able to bring her attackers to justice.
So maybe not Stan’s best work, but she does stay around in Marvel lore and becomes an icon in her own way. What I like about her is that unlike her cousin, she prefers her life as She-Hulk and chooses to stay big and green. She is a strong woman who became an even stronger woman, and she isn’t afraid to show it off. And
she doesn’t spend time living in her cousins shadow. Yes she is a legacy character in name and power, but she lives a completely different life. She isn’t simply a regular in his books who doesn’t show up unless he does, she establishes herself as a ally to be sought out, a valuable team-mate, and a professional whose talents are utilized in a variety of ways. She’s not really savage, she’s savvy.
Many other creators have taken a crack at her throughout the years, most notably John Byrne, Peter David, Geoff Johns, Dan Slott and Charles Soule. Each iteration has incorporated different character elements such as making her more or less of a full-time lawyer, having her build teams of her own (that usually don’t last long) and even giving her the power to break the fourth wall like Deadpool.
I was surprised at how difficult this issue was to find. I bought John Byrne’s Sensational She-hulk volume 1 thinking this was her origin. It was not, at the time I didn’t realize she was a Stan Lee creation. It wasn’t bad, but the breaking of the fourth wall took away from the story, his Sensational She-Hulk graphic novel was much better. There was no She-Hulk Classic to check it out. It wasn’t in Marvel Firsts: 1980’s. It wasn’t even in any of the Women of Marvel Trades. To read this I had to pick up the Essential Savage She-Hulk, which is a cheaply printed black and white collection. I don’t dig these books, but this was the only way to read it without buying the original issue. Even digitally, it’s not there. So I got to read it with Buscema’s pencils and ink, but no colour as it was meant to be read. Oh well.
Fandom has been clamouring for a strong female lead, but it’s unlikely we will see her in a movie any time soon, which is a shame, because there is over 30 years of great stuff out there, and in my opinion, they aren’t going to get a heroine much better than her.
Thanks for reading!