I Love a Woman Who Can Kick My Ass: She-Hulk: The Dichotomy of the GreenA column article, I Love A Woman Who Can Kick My Ass by: Riagain27
She-Hulk has the potential to be our Wonder Woman. A powerful female with a strong moral center and a determination to do what's right. She's also a unique combination of brains and brawn. The ideal She-Hulk story is one that plays on both aspects of her make-up." I couldn't think of a better way to start this article than with that quote from Peter David right there. Honestly, I could practically leave the article with just that one statement as it pretty much sums up everything that makes Jennifer Walters A.K.A. the She-Hulk awesome. I’m obviously not going to do that, but I stand by the opinion that Peter David hit the nail square on with that statement.
A lot of people have been making a big deal recently about David S. Goyer’s comments in regards to She-Hulk. Enough in fact, that I decided to weigh in myself on the issue rather than my originally intended character article I had planned for this week back before he made his comments. This article series isn't about complaining though, so that's not what I intend to do. Enough internet vitriol has been spewed at Mr. Goyer at this point, we're here to look at the other side of the coin and celebrate what makes She-Hulk badass.
Her origin story is quick, easy, and probably the least important thing about her as opposed to most superheroes. For a quick recap, she's the cousin of Bruce Banner who got gunned down one day while he happened to be in town to visit her. In order to save her life, Bruce gave her a blood transfusion and as a result of receiving the gamma-irradiated blood Jennifer became the Savage She-Hulk!
Luckily, Bruce's curse turned out to be Jen's blessing. For the most part, Jennifer has complete control over her transformation into She-Hulk and the only personality changes are that she becomes more confident and assertive. In fact Jennifer has gone long periods in which she never turned back into her normal form, choosing instead to live as She-Hulk on a permanent basis. It wasn't originally this way, at first Jen's condition was similar to Bruce's but with fear as the triggering emotion rather than anger. This was a little later on cured by Michael Morbius, who Jen then went on to defend in court.
Speaking of which, one of the things that sets She-Hulk apart from most every other hero out there, and something that absolutely cannot fail to be mentioned is that Jennifer Walters is a lawyer on top of being a superhero. Sure, Daredevil pulls the same sort of thing but very few people up until recently actually knew that Daredevil and Matthew Murdock were the same person. Practically everybody in the Marvel Universe knows who She-Hulk is. She is the first name in dealing with law and how it affects or interacts with superheroes. She-Hulk is the only superhero in existence that can go from filling Ben Grimm's shoes (figuratively speaking of course) alongside the rest of the Fantastic Four in one page to appearing in court still in Hulk form and wearing a business suit to represent Speedball in another.
This dichotomy is to me the most interesting aspect of the character. Sure, the fact that Jennifer is the second most powerful woman in Marvel Comics is neat, it's impressive that she has often filled in for Thing on the FF, and nobody can argue with her multiple tenures as an Avenger, but I'm more interested in how she balances being a superhero with being a criminal defense lawyer. The two things seem somewhat exclusive, especially during the Civil War event during which Jen advised people on both sides despite initially siding with Iron Man. I can only imagine that it must have been a very trying time. She pulled through it though, along with every other problem that has been thrown her way over the years.
Jennifer's newest solo run, titled simply She-Hulk, has got to be one of the best books on the superhero market right now. I've heard it said before that a well written She-Hulk story has her cast as basically being Harvey Birdman for the Marvel Universe and after reading just the first issue I'm inclined to agree. The issue also got me right in the feels near the end. After everything that Jennifer went through in the issue dealing with first losing her job, then getting the runaround from Tony Stark's legal representative when Holly Harrow met up with her again at the end she wanted to pay Jennifer for her help. The first words out of Jen's mouth were “You really didn't have to. I didn't do it to get paid.”
This! So much this! Why can't we have more of this?! This is everyday heroics and general good samaritanism and it's almost as rare in the world of superhero comics as it is in our own! You don't see this kind of thing often, epic fights of good versus evil are a dime a dozen and something that you all have probably figured out by now doesn't impress me much. But something as simple as a lawyer helping out a widowed mother pro bono is as rare as a copy of Action Comics #1. These are the kinds of acts that upon reading them, inspire readers to go out and perform their own acts of simple human kindness when confronted with the opportunity. So kudos to She-Hulk and kudos to writer Charles Soule, you've both earned permanent spots on my pull pile.
In the end, Jennifer Walters is a pretty simple character that can be summed up with the words “do the right thing”. Sometimes she does this by busting criminals and fighting supervillains. Other times she does it by leading a disaster relief organization that she founded or defending the rights and civil liberties of others to include some of those same criminals and villains to insure that they are judged appropriately and given a fair trial. Personally I think that's probably the most awe-inspiring thing about the She-Hulk. In a world where the word lawyer is often used as a curse word and the legal system is thought of as a joke Jennifer Walters proves that a person can be an idealist while remaining an effective lawyer while simultaneously proving that the system can indeed be made to work. All in all, that sounds pretty comparable to Wonder Woman to me. Jennifer does have one thing on Diana though, to the best of my knowledge Wonder Woman has never had to defend her universe right to exist in a trial by court. DC should get on that.