Monday, April 5, 2010

And Lo, There Came A Shulkie Week!

Long time readers may recall that I, Mike, have enormous affection bordering on a personality disorder for comic book super-heroine Jennifer 'She-Hulk' Walters. And it's the 30th Anniversary of She-Hulk's first appearance in 1980. YAY! So in the dwindling hopes of garnering as much attention as I apparently got on Legion Week back in November, I'm going to shoot for a post per weekday.
Most people (including my beloved and, let's face it, long-suffering wife) know that 5 posts will barely scratch the surface of how much I can blather on about this PARTICULAR topic. THE SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK.
Her story began in the very early eighties with one visionary and iconic man.Yes, Benjamin J. Hill, creator of the She-Hulk... oh, what? That doesn't count? Sorry, Marvel's legal department is beaming telepathic messages into my cortex suggesting that Stan Lee and John Buscema created She-Hulk in the very early 1980's. Go figure.
I'm pretty sure Stan and Jack created the Hulk, so I imagine Hill's estate's not getting any royalties. But I haven't done any research, so, who the hell knows?
Scott Tipton has a splendid blog history of She-Hulk's comic book appearances. Read them, they're undoubtedly better than mine.
In a nutshell, mousy Los Angelino lawyer Jen Walters is shot by gangsters while her cousin Bruce 'You May Remember Me As Television's Bill Bixby' Banner just HAPPENS to be in town and JUST HAPPENS to have the same blood type and it JUST SO HAPPENS to be gamma irradiated, and hey, presto: you have a green-skinned cash machine who (in theory) appeals to sex-starved teen boys (and roue Benny Hills of all ages) and 'newly' liberated roller-disco girls who, now that it is the eighties, are fully entitled to read comics, too, or at least do lines of coke off of them.
Shulkie's first series lasted longer than it really deserved because, well, 30 years ago they didn't cancel books just because they were terrible. (This tradition has declined in recent years but is ongoing.) The Jade Giantess even got a couple of trade paperbacks before the days when EVERYTHING was suddenly worthy of a trade paperback, and one of those may well have outsold Dazzler's! I kid you. The Disco Dazzler had about 50 issues, just like Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman. She-Hulk had 25. Then Jen did some crossovers, then she joined the Avengers. Tossed from writer to writer, each more confused and befuddled than the last, the Green Glamazon rocketed to recognition (or at least became slightly less obscure) when John Byrne made her a member of the Fantastic Four. Byrne apparently fell in deep and unsettling love with She-Hulk, made her much more vivacious, intelligent, and funny, got her a second, MUCH superior book. Paving the way for Steve Gerber, Dwayne McDuffie, and then some lesser lights who got to ride it into the ground again at issue 60.
All was silence for nigh on ten years. If the decades have a place reserved for them in hell, I hope the 1990's are on the very bottom.
She-Hulk never went entirely away but tended to be the muscle/eye-candy in the Avengers if you couldn't get the X-Gals or Carol Danvers. Then in the noughties, presumably for some kind of legal reason (?) they dusted poor Jenny off again, with some good parts in Busiek & Perez's Avengers, then Geoff Johns 'The Search for She-Hulk' storyline. 2005 saw much rejoicing (mostly by me) when She-Hulk's third volume was launched by Dan Slott. It was 100% worthy of the excessive praise I heaped upon it. Templeton, Loeb, Pak, Van Lente, Parker and others have served her well since. Depending on who was writing, she was strong and clever and sexy, or a mindless violent mess, or some kind of damn bounty hunter in a Torchwood rip-off. Depending on who was reading, she was a role model, Good Girl Art pin-up, silly parody or nothing whatever to write home about, and certainly nothing to keep buying. And if you're keeping score, that's 4 times a She-Hulk series got cancelled.
I cannot stress this point enough: THIS IS MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO.
Created by putting boobs on the Hulk so nobody else (except Benny Hill) could do it first. Created just after Girly Thor, Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel and thankfully long before Wolverine-With-Boobs X-23.
Why, oh, why don't I have a sensible favorite superhero like the Silver Surfer or Mary Marvel? Man, oh, man, that would be SO much easier! But, no, I cannot in honesty deny my first comic book crush. And I do mean CRUSH!

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