Issue(s): She-Hulk #1
Bruce Banner decides to find his cousin Jennifer Walters, who he used to be close with, to confide in.
Jennifer says that she hasn't seen Bruce, "since you quit med school for nuclear physics". I didn't even know that Bruce had medical training, but i suppose that's a necessary insertion for this story, as we'll see below. The idea that Jen hasn't seen Bruce since he was in med school is contradicted by the continuity insert in Giant-Size Hulk #1 that has Bruce taking Jen to the hospital for an appendix problem. As Gary notes in the comments, the fact that Jen doesn't know that Bruce is the Hulk is at best a stretch, since it's public knowledge at this point. But the idea that they haven't seen each other since before Bruce was the Hulk can't be true, thanks to that continuity insert. I guess the appendix problem was so bad she blocked out all memory of the incident.
Jen is a lawyer now, and the mob wants to get her out of the way (and let's pause right here to admit that those mobsters have an awesome sense of style).
She's injured, and Banner is forced to perform a blood transfusion.
Banner then slinks off leaving Jen to find out for herself that she now turns into a monster.
Nice art by Buscema,anyway. Kind of annoying that the shirt the She-Hulk is wearing in this issue, which is basically a ripped up hospital gown, becomes her "costume" for her entire first series.
Quality Rating: C-
Historical Significance Rating: 8 - first She-Hulk
Chronological Placement Considerations: When Banner was leaving Stark International in Iron Man #133, he asked to be taken "somewhere west". He's starting this issue in Los Angeles.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Giant-Size She-Hulk #1
Inbound References (13): show
Before this, there was an unnamed "She-Hulk" on the British Benny Hill TV show, which was a parody sketch of the TV Incredible Hulk. Instead of her muscles getting huge, her clothes would rip because her boobs got enormous.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 4, 2011 7:39 PM
Honestly though people may say there is a derivation, it is hard to figure another way for Shulkie to exist without it being blood. Yes there had been other gamma creatures and females prior to this (see Betty as the Harpy for one) but to make Jen Bruce's cousin gives us both a reason for her to exist and actually gives us something that Bruce had lacked prior to this: family he can relate to. In the back of my head, considering how this was a while after we started getting Samson delving into Bruce (without going full throttle like what will happen alter), my feeling is somehow Bruce finally realized through some of these treatments that as hard as he had it, he did have someone he could turn to that was blood and who was his lifeline in his cousin Jennifer. Maybe it is weird he wouldn't tell Samson this but my guess is since she is one of the few good things he had in his life, he just didn't want to get her involved in this until it was pressed upon him. And considering how ridiculous the extents that both Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman went...maybe it was smarter that Stan the Man went the safe route with Jen.
And yeah, it really did take good writers getting her (Stern, Byrne, Slott) to make Jen who she is now...well that and not forced into weird scenarios like Jessica Drew and Carol Danvers but lets' not get into that. Not bad for a girl created to prevent Universal from making their own.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 30, 2013 6:48 PM
I thought at this point the fact that Bruce was the Hulk had become public knowledge, but Jen appears not to know. (Of course, a later continuity insert in GIANT-SIZE HULK #1 will show she did know, but that's not the only problem with that story.)
Posted by: Gary Himes | June 4, 2014 7:18 PM
I was going to say that you might be able to chalk up Jen not knowing the Bruce was the Hulk due to her not keeping up with the news and maybe being in too much pain in the GSH issue because of her appendix problem and she never realized that he Hulked out there. But i looked at this issue again and realized she said that she hasn't seen Bruce since he quit med school to go into nuclear physics. So yeah, that GSH issue seems to be a mistake, but i'll still No-Prize it away with the idea that maybe Bruce went to visit Jen and found her in such pain that he had to rush her to the hospital and she doesn't remember the incident.
Thanks for pointing this out, Gary.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 4, 2014 10:37 PM
I do feel like weirdly strange that if Jen did care so much about Bruce that she would be out of the loop for so long prior to him returning to his life here; especially since the knowledge of Bruce Banner being the Hulk was rather common knowledge. My theory thinking things over a bit is just the situation Jen was in prior to this issue. She probably was in college herself during the early days of the Hulk and campuses generally are oasises on their own which are rather cut off from the real world; let alone if Jen was pre-law then she probably would have been in college through law school. And of course just trying to make herself established as a lawyer to the point when she becomes She-Hulk is another matter altogether.
It is sort of sad, though, that really Bruce and Jen's whole relationship prior to this point was mostly when they were younger. Considering the troubles Bruce was probably going through at home with an abusive father, I do sort of wonder if Bruce could have even tried to talk to the other side of the family about the turmoil back home or if he just ignored it altogether since he couldn't burden Jen and her family with his problems. More or less his times with his cousin was probably just a means of sanctuary considering his hell back home.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 5, 2014 8:40 AM
Spidey 110 was Stan Lee's last, actually. Gerry Conway completed Lee's Gibbon story in 111.
Posted by: Hayydn | June 7, 2014 6:49 PM
Taking another look at this issue, it occurs to me it actually would fit better in the continuity of the INCREDIBE HULK tv series that was airing at this time rather than with the comics storyline. Not only was David Banner of the show an actual medical doctor (and not a nuclear physicist) but it would also explain Banner's line about being a "wanted man" with the police after him -- the tv Hulk was wanted in connection with the (supposed) death of David Banner and (actual, but not his fault) of Dr. Elaine Marks. The comics Banner was more the target of the Army than local law enforcement. My guess is this story actually started life as a spec script for the INCREDIBLE HULK tv series and then got adapted to comic form.
Posted by: Gary Himes | September 10, 2014 8:30 PM
I'm not sure if this was intended as an actual script for the TV show, but I strongly suspect it was at least written with the TV show in mind. Note that the opening narration says "Call him David, or Bruce, or Bob" (is there any reason for Comic!Hulk to ever be called "David"?), and then doesn't refer to him by first name the entire rest of the story, with Jen being given a tendency to refer to him as "Doc" to keep her from referring to him by first name. Dr. Banner has more than a passing resemblance to Bill Bixby as well.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 22, 2015 6:23 PM
I've recently been buying Marvels from the 1980's (my personal Golden Age), and purchased a complete lot of She-Hulk 1-25 (on the cheap). While I agree there is a lot of goofy and downright poor material during this time, I tend to look on these stories as pure nostalgic fun. I think this spirit of fun is largely missing from today's books, which are too grim and foreboding; everything is so serious and dark. If I were forced to choose between the current books and the books of thirty years ago, I'd pick the older ones. Hands down. I wonder how many other visitors to this site feel the same?
Posted by: Jim W. | July 19, 2015 9:10 PM
Jim, judging by the comments around here, I think many of us look back fondly on the 80s and perhaps even more particularly the early 80s. Some of it is no doubt just nostalgia for our lost youths, but I do think Marvel was in particularly good form then.
The earliest comics I read go back to 1973 (still very fond of them, too), and I was collecting seriously but selectively in the 70s. Despite some landmark works from that time, such as Starlin's Warlock saga, my feeling as a critical reader was that comics generally improved in the early 80s. That period still has the highest density of favorites for me, among them:
* Claremont and Byrne's classic run on The Uncanny X-Men, which really hit its stride, I think, with the Proteus story seguing into Dark Phoenix (I was buying these now-valuable items off the racks.)
* Much of Byrne's subsequent run on FF (and also a few of his Alpha Flight stories, notably 11-13)
* The Stan Lee/Byrne one-shot Silver Surfer (a timeless parable which I've always regarded as underrated)
* Claremont/Walt Simonson's X-Men/Teen Titans crossover (my all-time fave crossover comic)
* Claremont/Brent Anderson's X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel
* The Bruce Jones/Anderson Ka-Zar the Savage (which really elevated this character and genre)
* Starlin's The Death of Captain Marvel (probably to this day my all-time favorite comic)
* the early parts of Starlin's Dreadstar saga (which is rightfully not considered part of the Marvel canon but crazy-great nonetheless)
* Claremont & Sienkiewicz's Demon Bear trilogy in New Mutants (primarily for the spectacular eye-opening art, which blew me away)
(A lot of people would put Frank Miller's run on Daredevil, which I followed, on the list; but I am no fan of Miller. And I also know what he took from the great Will Eisner.)
All that is from late 1979 to 1984. Hard to believe.
Those were all Marvel (with the one crossover), and I'm no doubt forgetting some things. And others will have their own favorites. About the only thing I can come up with from DC at that time that's even close to that caliber for me is The Great Darkness Saga. (I'm a longtime fan of The Legion and The New Gods, even if they're rarely done well.)
But my feeling was that the momentum shifted toward DC in the mid-80s with Alan Moore's classic Superman tales and Watchmen series and Byrne's move. Byrne's Superman reboot is still for me the "definitive" Man of Steel.
Of course, for many of us, Watchmen and V for Vendetta seemed to herald a new era in comics, more "mature," "realistic," "cynical," "deconstructive." I admire those works, of course, (more than I love them) but feel somewhat ambivalent about their influence and legacy. That's where your "serious and dark" really begins in earnest, I suspect (along with some of Miller's offerings). New horizons opened up, but a feeling of lost innocence began to settle in.
Marvel had a few outstanding graphic novels in the late 80s, but I started to drift away from comics then, in part because of life, in part because I got sick of various things, e.g., retcons, multi-title big events, destruction of the universe or multiverse sagas, characters being written without too much respect for (or perhaps just knowledge of) the past, gratuitous violence, too much seemingly manipulative cheesecake, etc. So, ironically, some of the things in this "more liberated" period that were supposed to appeal to "more mature" readers turned me off even as I was aging. I guess I always have looked to comics for an escape--but an escape that somehow shed, however obliquely, a little light on reality ... or at least enhanced it.
I haven't paid as close attention since then, as I have a lot of other interests, but have gotten back into things more recently, in this era of collected editions, always on the lookout for something that really appeals to me and also forever patching up holes in my limited understanding of what occurred in the past (and this site is great for help with that!). Among more recent stuff, there isn't much I'm aware of that I'd rank with what I listed above, but I can't really say how much of that is just purely subjective.
This particular comic perhaps shows once again that even giants such as Lee and Buscema are human ... but also that their conceptions are far more enduring than most.
Okay, that was a long-winded answer, even if it's still just skimming the surface, but at least you got one. :-)
Posted by: Instantiation | July 20, 2015 9:05 PM
Instantiation, our tastes are amazingly similar. Your list reads almost identical to mine. I have to admit I've never read Ka-Zar or Dreadstar (though I really don't know why). For me, John Byrne in his prime ruled the 1980's.
A few of my personal picks I would add to the list:
The only recent run of books that compares to this period would be Captain America by Ed Brubaker, depending on how one feels about the return of Bucky. And I agree, nostalgia does play a part in the re-reading of these stories. Sometimes it's fun to forget the world for a while and become a ten year old once again! (1978 was the year I was introduced to this wonderful medium).
Posted by: Jim W. | July 21, 2015 7:03 PM
That's cool, Jim. Glad we're on a similar wavelength. Ka-Zar and Dreadstar stood apart, of course, from the typical superhero stuff. Maybe you'll get to them some day. And just to be clear: I was referring to Dreadstar before the actual series, what's collected in "Dreadstar: The Beginning," i.e., material from Epic Illustrated and the two graphic novels. (The series, which starts out strong, is more problematic for me.) I read recently that Starlin is planning to return to Dreadstar. Also, there is apparently talk of a TV series and a film.
Nice picks. I'm sure the Avengers "Under Siege" would be on many people's lists for mid-80s Marvel. I never could buy into Beta Ray Bill somehow, but Simonson is a great artist with an epic imagination, and there are things like that all-splash-page battle with the Midgard Serpent that certainly stand out in my mind.
To be fair to more recent comics, I do have to note that some awesome artists came along after the 80s. Alex Ross, Jim Lee, John Cassaday, and Shane Davis come right to mind. Also, coloring has really improved. There are amazing light effects now that would have been unimaginable in the 70s and 80s. I guess we just all need to keep exploring . . .
Posted by: Instantiation | July 21, 2015 9:08 PM
Y'know Jim I don't think it's just nostalgia at play. I've read Simonson's Thor and Stern's awesome Spidey and Captain America runs and loved them in my mid-twenties.
Posted by: david banes | July 21, 2015 10:22 PM
You're right David- a great story is fun to read no matter what your age! Mid-twenties or late forties, I still love them!
Posted by: Jim W. | July 22, 2015 7:59 AM
Interesting to note that creators as diverse as Alan Moore and John Byrne have both owned and openly deplored their own past culpability in the darkening of comics for many years now.
Posted by: BU | July 22, 2015 11:37 AM
I just finished watching the 1978 Spider-Man tokusatsu (it's strange but fun for those who are into that sort of thing, plus the missing link in Super Sentai between J.A.K.Q. and Battle Fever J). And strangely enough, Takuya Yamashiro, the hero who became Spider-Man, feels more and more like the basis for Jennifer Walters' origin the more I think about it. In the series, Takyua becomes Spider-Man by a special transfusion of blood he receives from an alien named Garia, who both has his own alien blood plus the genetics of spiders that bit him over 400 years in a cave he was buried in. Further several episodes later, Takuya ends up saving the life of a boy who gets hurt due to spying on the main villains by transfusing blood, giving the boy similar "powers" such as an advanced healing factor.
Considering how much is made of the "Universal" element of Shulkie's origin (plus the knowledge that Stan Lee had of Marvel's Japanese products; he even wrote an article promoting the Sentai Sun Vulcan!), I wouldn't be surprised if somehow he knew of this and used some of that aspect when writing the origins for Shulkie.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 30, 2017 7:48 PM
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