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1985-09-01 00:04:30
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Power Pack #15
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1985/Box 21/EiC: Jim Shooter
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Sensational She-Hulk (Marvel Graphic Novel #18)

Issue(s): Sensational She-Hulk (Marvel Graphic Novel #18)
Published Date: 1985
Title: "The Sensational She-Hulk"
Credits:
John Byrne - Writer
John Byrne - Penciler
Kim DeMulder - Inker
Michael Higgins - Assistant Editor
Mike Carlin - Editor

Review/plot:
Mike Carlin & Michael Higgins are both listed as "Editors" in the credits for this issue. I'm assuming Higgins was assistant here as he was for the FF title.

This is another Graphic Novel that falls in the "good super-hero story" category, which is better than "bad super-hero story" but still seems a little short of what was intended for the line.

But hey, i like good super-hero stories, and this is a fun one. SHIELD is ordered by whoever gives orders to SHIELD (their faces are blurred but they say the order comes from the Commander-in-Chief, implying that it's US government agents) to capture and analyze She-Hulk (something about wearing Mandroid armor must make you an overconfident jerk).

Nick Fury refuses to do it, cashing in some vacation time instead, and Dum Dum Dugan doesn't like it either and winds up getting relieved of duty by an Agent Dooley, who has "friends in high places".

Wyatt Wingfoot is held hostage in order to force She-Hulk to comply, but she finds a way to fight back. At one point she escapes a cage she's being held in my transforming back into Jennifer Walters.

When SHIELD first abducted Jen and Wyatt, they teleported in a crowd of bystanders as well. And one of them is a corpse possessed by super-intelligent cockroaches. The cockroaches transfer themselves to Dooley, and he sabotages the SHIELD helicarrier.

She-Hulk confronts Dooley as the helicarrier is falling.

After the crash (mitigated thanks to the efforts of SHIELD's Gaffer), the helicarrier's nuclear reactor is in danger of exploding near a small town, and She-Hulk has to approach the reactor in order to shut it down, and she confronts the cockroaches again.

She absorbs a lot of radiation in the process, and the net result is that She-Hulk gets stuck in She-Hulk form; she can no longer change back into Jen Walters. She-Hulk is ok with this.

It's implied that the cockroaches were deliberately involved at the site of She-Hulk's capture, but we don't learn what their true goals were.

It's a fun, funny, well-written, beautifully drawn story that handles the Jen/Wyatt relationship well, does a nice job of showing She-Hulk feeling emotional over the recent banishment of her cousin the Hulk, and in general doing a great job depicting Shulkie's gruff nature. The fact that she's not all that disturbed by getting stuck in that form is a nice touch. My B+ rating is based on all that.

But there's also an element to this Novel that leaves me a little uncomfortable. There's an exploitative quality to the art and story. It starts with the very strange outfit that the She-Hulk decides to wear on her date with Wyatt.

And once she's captured, She-Hulk is forced to submit to a strip-search several times.

And all these circumstances also lead to her having to run around in a torn smock.

She does eventually get a proper outfit, but, um...

Which is a particular shame because when she's trying to help with the crash, she zips up her shirt and generally looks pretty cool from what i can see of the outfit.

But then she's back to being unzipped later on.

It has the feel of a 1970s women's prison exploitation film. Not nearly as explicit, and mitigated by plenty of scenes depicting She-Hulk as a strong character. But it's there.

The cover of this issue shows a slightly more bulky She-Hulk than usual. It put me in mind of Kelly Thompson's critique of female comic book art and this picture in particular (which i wish i could paste onto every super-hero comic book artist's drawing board). Even with the strip-search scenes and the weird outfit, there's nothing in this comic that reaches the atrocities of the comics of the 90s and beyond, but there's also no doubt that She-Hulk's sexiness is a "feature" of this graphic novel, and it's becoming more and more of a trend.

According to the lettercol in Thing #24, John Byrne stopped writing the Thing series so that he could concentrate on this instead. And in the lettercol for Thing #29, it's said that this was originally intended to be a limited series. If so, the decision was changed (or the art was re-worked) in time to prevent this from feeling episodic.

Quality Rating: B+

Historical Significance Rating: 3 - She-Hulk can no longer change back into Jen Walters

Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place while the Hulk is still banished in the Crossroad (or at least before she's aware that he's escaped. Needs to take place prior to Fantastic Four #285, where She-Hulk mentions that she can no longer change forms. Since She-Hulk rarely changed back into Jen Walters even when she had the ability (the last time was in FF #275, i think), there's some leeway as to where this needs to go, and i'm placing it prior to Secret Wars II #3 and Fantastic Four annual #19 just in case i change my mind about the placement of FF #285 (see the notes on the annual and #285 for more details about that).

References:

  • No footnote, but the Hulk was banished in Hulk #300.

Cross-over: N/A

Continuity Implant? N

Reprinted In: N/A

Inbound References (6): show

Characters Appearing: Dum Dum Dugan, Gaffer (SHIELD Scientist), Mr. Fantastic, Nick Fury, She-Hulk, Wyatt Wingfoot

Previous:
Power Pack #15
Up:
Main
1985/Box 21/EiC: Jim Shooter
Next:
West Coast Avengers #3

Comments

This is complicated, since a Helicarrier shows up in Power Man and Iron Fist 121. And in FF 289, She-Hulk implies that she didn't think SHIELD had a new Helicarrier. So does this issue take place after Power Man and Iron Fist 121, or did SHIELD have a spare Helicarrier that also got destroyed in an untold story before FF 289?

There has been some controversy about whether or not Byrne exposed She-Hulk's nipples in that "torn smock" panel.

The cockroach-stuffed corpse scenes may have been yanked from Stephen King's "Creepshow', both film and graphic novel versions.

Yeah, I think Jen definitely had a "wardrobe malfunction with the torn smock. And for some reason I have a distinct memory of seeing some fluff in her lower belly in the following panel but have never been able to find a confirming image. Maybe it was my teen-age imagination on hormones.

Well, I didn't think I'd get a chance to bring this up, but Bryne has been known to draw women barechested at least once so that the colouring and such covers it up.

There was a little incident in which a volume of Essential X-Men, due to being published without color, exposed a nipple on Storm's naked body in a sequence in which is was supposed to be covered up by the shadows.

It was Uncanny X-Men #123. Specifically when Arcade kidnaps Storm just as she leaves the shower. I think later reprints of Essential corrected this, but its a rather unusal case of accidental nudity from a comic book artist.


 
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