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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To Better Know A Hero: She-Hulk

Real Name: Jennifer Walters

First Appearance: Savage She-Hulk #1 (Feb. 1980)

Nicknames and Aliases: Shulkie, Jade Giantess

Powers and Abilities: Super strength, durability, stamina, agility and healing abilities; an apparent awareness of her existence as a comic book character. Jennifer Walters is an accomplished and accredited lawyer.

Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels: Attractive men, parties, disdain for her mousy alter-ego, promiscuity

Friends and Allies
: Hulk (Bruce Banner, her cousin), John Jameson (Man-Wolf, her ex-husband), Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, Holloway (the law firm which employs her), Awesome Andy, Wyatt Wingfoot, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Defenders, Heroes for Hire, S.H.I.E.L.D

Foes and Antagonists
: Titania, Absorbing Man, Leader, Wendigo, Masters of Evil, Dr. Doom, clothes

Movies and Appearances:
She-Hulk has made appearances in various Marvel animated series, including the 1996 Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk series and the 1994 and 2006 Fantastic Four series.

Like most every Marvel character, she is licensed to appear in films, but there is no project currently in development.

One-Sentence Origin: After getting shot by mobsters and receiving a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, Jennifer Walters discovered she could transform into the super strong She-Hulk!

Memorable Moment
: She-Hulk speaks directly to the audience on the cover of Sensational She-Hulk #1.

Fun Fact: She-Hulk's creation marks the end of an era, as she is the last character credited as a Stan Lee creation before he stopped regularly writing comics to focus on the more promotional aspects of the business, and is arguably his last significant comic book creation.

Teebore’s Take: The story goes that She-Hulk was created in order to beat the Incredible Hulk TV series to the punch, and create a female version of Hulk that Marvel would have complete control over instead of the TV studio (Spider-Woman was created for similar reasons related to the Spider-Man cartoon). The seventies at Marvel saw an influx of female characters created in an attempt to cash in on the success of their male counterparts. In addition to She-Hulk, there was the aforementioned Spider-Woman as well as Ms. Marvel (and Dazzler, though she was more an attempt to cash in on the by-then-dying disco craze).

Despite the commercial and legal motivations involved in her creation, She-Hulk has proven to be a long-standing and successful part of the Marvel pantheon. While her initial series didn't last more than a couple years, high-profile roles on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four (as Thing's one-time replacement) kept her relevant enough to launch and carry more successful titles through the years, including one started by John Byrne that famously featured She-Hulk frequently breaking the fourth wall to speak to the audience while acknowledging her existence as a fictional character. Another series, by Dan Slott, followed, which used She-Hulk's background as a lawyer as a springboard for fun and critically-acclaimed stories. In terms of ongoing series and integration into the comic book zeitgeist, She-Hulk has certainly fared better through the years than her other female-analog-of-a-male-character counterparts (though both Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman have risen to prominence in the last ten years as fans who read and enjoyed their initial books as kids in the 70s are now writers at Marvel).

In addition to the fourth wall-breaking, one of the things for which She-Hulk is most well known and which makes her character unique is the relationship between her secret identity and her super-hero identity. If the Hulk represents Bruce Banner's repressed rage and anger, then She-Hulk represents Jennifer Walters repressed wild side. She-Hulk is a vivacious and fun-loving party-girl who thoroughly enjoys her power and role as a super-hero, as compared to the more reserved and introverted Jennifer Walters. This push-and-pull between identities where the super-powered side is more desirable, is great fodder for stories, bringing a certain amount of tension (romantic, humorous or otherwise) into the mix, as displayed in her most recent series when, for example, she was hired by law firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg and Holloway not because of She-Hulk's super-powers but because of Jennifer Walters skills as an attorney, or when her former husband revealed he liked Jennifer more than She-Hulk while Jennifer preferred life as the strong and confidant She-Hulk. The notion that She-Hulk is the preferred identity is also relatively unique amongst super-heroes (compared to Thing, who yearns to be normal, or Spider-Man, who's responsibilities as a super-hero constantly muck up his personal life), further helping it stand out as a defining element of She-Hulk's long term characterization.


  1. who the hell wouldn't want to be a super hero? Jackasses that's who. Oh, and the cast of Heroes.

  2. @Falen: Exactly.

    The wasted potential of that show still pisses me off...

  3. I would love to be a superhero and kill to be a super villain. And if you constantly ripped through your clothes, why wear clothes? WHY?!

  4. every time i see a commercial advertising a season for sale, i throw up in my mouth a little.

    and hannah, cuz it's the law

  5. @PalindromeAnd if you constantly ripped through your clothes, why wear clothes? WHY?!

    Well, the clothes she's ripping are Jen Walter's clothes. If she didn't wear them, she'd be naked before she turned into She-Hulk.

    Unless your question was of a more existential bent, in which case, I agree: clothes suck.

  6. Pffft...clothes, who needs them?

    Oddly, I never knew She-Hulk had an alter ego. Obviously, she was an ordinary woman at some point, but I thought she was permanently stuck in She-Hulk form. So I learned something new.

  7. @Dr. Bitz: Obviously, she was an ordinary woman at some point, but I thought she was permanently stuck in She-Hulk form.

    That's been the case at various points in her history (unable to switch back to Jen Walters) but ultimately, it comes back around to where she can toggle between identities.

    So I learned something new.

    Hopefully that new knowledge didn't push something useful out of your head, like that time you took a home wine-making course and then forgot how to drive.

  8. That reminds me of that one Married...With Children episode where Kelly went on a game show and completely filled her brain with facts only to learn something knew during the gameshow which then pushed out one fact from her brain: The name of the Chicago high schoool football player who scored four touchdowns in a single game. (Ironically, the answer was her father, Al Bundy.)

  9. @Dr. Bitz: Poor Al; he just can't catch a break, can he?

    Truly, few are the situations in life to which Married...with Children can't be applied.

  10. I was going to say what Dr. Bitz said- that up until now i just assumed she was permanently stuck in She-Hulk form, as i never see her any other way.

    I like how she threatened the XMen books when breaking the 4th wall.

    Also, do we really need another super-hero lawyer? Aren't there other jobs out there? in fact, why do super-heroes always have such specific jobs? Why aren't any of them working in call centers? or as a janitor? No, it's always Lawyer, or Rocket Scientist, or Journalist, or Billionaire Playboy.

    Also, i remembered the Married with Children ep- didn't they describe her brain as a full cup- you can add more knowlege in, but other knowlege just overflows right out

  11. @Anne: Also, do we really need another super-hero lawyer?

    All I can think of are Daredevil and She-Hulk; am I forgetting anyone else?

    why do super-heroes always have such specific jobs? Why aren't any of them working in call centers?

    It's probably related to the reason no one ever says "when I grow up, I want to be a cubicle jockey for some random company", when that's exactly what most people are going to grow up to do.


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