I love comics. I love superheroes. I have loved both for more than 30 years and have amassed a fair sized collection of comic books and collectibles over the years. Yes, I’m a grown man, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a fan, collector, or aficionado of both the medium and its most popular format. It used to irk me when people made fun of me for being a collector – as if being into comics and toys stunted my growth or made me less of a man. Well, as the years went on I’m still a fan of comics and superheroes and toys; I still have the items I grew up with and I still appreciate them with much fondness. I can’t say the same for all of those naysayers. They are a fading memory.
As the years passed, and as my reading habits matured, many different characters became favorites of mine. I like many comic book characters, superheroes or not, but in this posting I would like to discuss my favorite characters — I’ll describe a little bit about their history and origins, appearances in other mediums, and pinpoint the defining moment in the character’s rich history that made me their…Super-Fan!
Normally, I’m not a big fan of female pastiches of already established male superheroes. I prefer heroines that have their own identity, and stand apart from their male counterparts. Cue my exception to the rule: the Sensationally Savage She-Hulk! Created in 1980 by the immortal Stan Lee and the legendary John Buscema, She-Hulk entered the comic fray following in the footsteps of Spider-Woman, who had debuted and had a modicum of success a couple of years prior.
The character’s alter-ego is Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Marvel’s gamma irradiated goliath the Incredible Hulk (actually his alter ego of puny Banner). While visiting his cousin in California, Bruce Banner witnesses Jennifer get gunned down by mobsters. It turns out that Jen is a hotshot lawyer and is building a case against a nefarious mobster, the boss’s cronies tracked her down and tried to put her out of commission — permanently! Watching her bleed out, Bruce couldn’t stand idly by waiting for help, so he jimmied a transfusion apparatus and transferred his blood to his dying cousin. RAWR! Banner’s gamma infused blood reacted to Jennifer’s on a cellular level and turned her into a very scorned woman — 7ft tall, green and savage — but scorned nonetheless.
Unlike her cousin Bruce, however, Jennifer was able to retain her mental faculties and intelligence when she transforms into the She-Hulk. Normally meek, timid, and mild mannered in her natural human form, Jennifer becomes uninhibited, overtly sexual, and far more daring when she transforms into the She-Hulk. In fact, Jennifer enjoys her lifestyle so much as She-Hulk that she often chooses to remain in that form for extended periods of time — sometimes for months.
SHE-HULK – AVENGER
She-Hulk’s initial comic book run lasted 20 something issues. Realizing the potential for good stories centered around her larger than life personality, writers Jim Shooter and David Michelinie and artist Bob Hall, recruited her for membership in the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and in Avengers #221 She-Hulk joined the team. It proved to be a good selection as her ultra-feminist attitudes clashed beautifully with fellow bow slinging Avenger Clint Barton, the brash and egotistical Hawkeye. She also provided the team with some much needed muscle when the villainous Masters of Evil attacked the Avengers, and also with Thor‘s brief departure soon after. She-Hulk continued as an Avenger for almost 2 years and mysteriously left the team once the mighty heroes returned from the interstellar Secret Wars in Avengers #243.
SHE-HULK – FANTASTIC FOUR
When all of the heroes returned from the Secret Wars, many notable changes had occurred to characters and super teams inexplicably — the mini-series was actually a flashback and was released months later, thus driving eager beaver readers crazy with anticipation for explanations as to why Spider-Man was now wearing an all-black costume, and other changes…including She-Hulk defecting from the Avengers to the Fantastic Four! It turns out, Ben Grimm — the blue-eyed ever lovin’ Thing was having problems with his powers and kept reverting to his human form at inopportune times and for extended periods of time. Wanting to soul search and figure his shit out, he decided to remain on the Beyonder‘s mosaic Secret Wars world when everyone was sent back. Having battle alongside her during the War, Grimm elected She-Hulk as his replacement on the team. She lasted more than two and a half years and almost 30 issues in her first stint with the team.
She-Hulk has rejoined the Avengers and the Fantastic Four on several occasions. She has had several solo titles, of differing calibre, but she always seems to be at her best when flexing her gamma gams with other superheroes.
DEFINING MOMENT – SHE-HULK BUSTS OUT!
For She-Hulk’s defining moment, the exact moment event that made me a SuperFan of the character for life, was in a one-shot Marvel Graphic Novel #18: The Sensational She-Hulk. The book was written and illustrated by 80’s stalwart John Byrne (some of my favorite of his work to be honest). In the book, She-Hulk and her beau Wyatt Wingfoot get picked up by S.H.I.E.L.D. after a mistaken altercation with some armored agents in downtown New York. There is also side-story of some alien cockroaches that possess bodies and are charged by radioactivity. Eventually the two stories converge and it’s up to She-Hulk to SMASH things right! While in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, one of the commanding officers –a real jerkwad named Dooley — forces She-Hulk to strip naked and later puts her through a disturbing torture body search. But the Jade Gigantess handles it all in stride and Dooley (the dirty roach) gets it back in spades! All-in-all a great graphic novel, and an exciting part of She-Hulk’s colorful history!