10 Best 'She-Hulk' Comics to Read With Disney+ Marvel Show

2022-08-20 03:13:11 By : Mr. James Lee

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Your essential Jennifer Walters reads are all right here.

In the new Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, starring Tatiana Malsany (Orphan Black, Perry Mason) and Jameela Jamil (The Good Place), the origin of lawyer Jen Walters’s superhero code-name is the subject of legal dispute, but in real life, She-Hulk came into existence precisely to avoid such squabbles. Like Spider-Woman before her, She-Hulk was the idea of Marvel lawyers hoping to avoid trademark violations and expand the line, simply by gender-swapping an existing property. Thus, we met Bruce Banner’s heretofore unseen cousin, who gains gamma powers after a blood transfusion, becoming the Savage She-Hulk.

From those mundane beginnings, She-Hulk quickly developed into one of the most unique and compelling heroes in the Marvel Universe. Recreated into a fourth-wall-breaking comedy hero, a full decade before Deadpool was even a dour Deathstroke the Terminator rip-off, She-Hulk earned her place in fan's hearts, serving as a significant member of both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Since then, she's been a mainstay on comic store shelves, as creators line up to put their own spin on the character.

With its self-aware sitcom approach, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will thrill some and alienate others. But even if the show doesn’t work for you, you’ll find a wide range of She-Hulk adventures in these great comics.

Thanks to her immediate name recognition, She-Hulk made her debut in a solo series, 1980’s Savage She-Hulk #1. Despite boasting the talent of writer Stan Lee and artist John Buscema, the first She-Hulk story largely follows the standard superhero beats, with the newly-empowered Jen Walters turning into the Hulk to fight an evil gangster bent on revenge.

Later issues from writer David Kraft and penciler Mike Vosburg have a bit more pizzazz, but a few stand out above the crowd. That’s particularly true of her series’ third issue, which pits She-Hulk against a robot version of herself. While relatively straightforward by superhero standards, Vosburg gets inventive with some of his panels, making for a pleasing adventure.

A mere two years after her debut, She-Hulk joined the Avengers and has been a consistent member over the following decades. But her most significant team association came in 1984 when she joined the Fantastic Four. With Ben Grimm aka the Thing taking a leave of absence following the mega-crossover Secret Wars, She-Hulk became the team's new muscle. In the hands of writer/artist John Byrne, Jen truly came into her own, developing the spunky personality that set her apart from her grumpy cousin.

Byrne’s legendary run on Fantastic Four takes She-Hulk and her new teammates to places absurd and stunning. But it’s Jen’s first real adventure with the team where she makes her mark. As Reed Richards and his wife Sue (aka Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman) deal with the latter’s difficult pregnancy, She-Hulk and the Human Torch battle the mask of the FF’s arch-nemesis Dr. Doom. It’s a creepy story that not only helps Jen establish herself on the team and tells perhaps the first great She-Hulk adventure.

Not only did John Byrne fully define She-Hulk during his Fantastic Four run, but he also fell in love with the character, so much that he couldn’t stop creating new adventures for her after the Thing rejoined the team. In this second solo series, She-Hulk fully embraces her sardonic sense of humor, which often manifests in fourth-wall-breaking asides to the audience.

As with most things Byrne wrote, some of it hasn’t aged so well–he truly seems to enjoy leering at the character, even as she complains about being objectified. But he also brought renewed silliness to an objectively goofy character, resulting in stories in which She-Hulk teams with truck-driving hero U.S. Archer (star of trucker comic U.S. 1) to battle mind-controlling Yeti Xenmu the Living Hulk. During Sensational She-Hulk, Byrne set the mold that all other She-Hulk creators followed.

Although She-Hulk never went away, she languished for a bit following Byrne’s run, spending most of her time on a lackluster Avengers team. Fortunately, the downswing didn’t last long, as Dan Slott came on to keep the character’s comedic potential while also giving attention to an underexplored aspect: her job as a lawyer. Even more than Byrne, Slott’s run is the inspiration for the Disney+ series.

Slott made She-Hulk into a sitcom character, the Ally McBeal of the Marvel Universe. While that description may make some cringe, it allowed Slott to explore the various oddities of the Marvel world, taking an askance look at long-established characters. Take, for example, the “Beaus and Eros” arc, in which Jen gets involved in a sexual harassment case against her Avengers teammate (and brother to Thanos) Starfox, who has the ability to affect the emotions of others. It’s one of the best two-parters in the past twenty years and, given the fact that Harry Styles has been cast as Starfox, one unlikely to be adapted to the MCU.

Coming off of Slott’s run, it was a bit of a letdown when Peter David took over as writer. But much of that disappointment stems not from the quality of the comics themselves, but from the expectations that came with him. David’s unprecedented ten-year run on the Hulk defined the character, giving Jen’s cousin psychological depth while also applying sitcom-level humor. He seemed like the ideal candidate to follow what Slott began.

But instead of giving us more legal hijinks, David put Jen on a different path, one in which she could use both her legal knowledge and her Hulk powers. As a bounty hunter teamed with partner Jazinda, an incognito Skrull, She-Hulk goes looking through the stranger corners of the Marvel Universe to fight oddities such as the Man-Elephant and a full-on Skrull invasion. Although the covers by Greg Land leave much to be desired, the interiors from Shawn Moll, Val Semeiks, and Victor Olazaba supercharge David’s action-packed plots.

The Fantastic Four and Avengers gave She-Hulk plenty of opportunities to rub shoulders with the heavy hitters of the Marvel Universe. But as a lawyer, Jen Walters spent her time with C- and D-listers. That changed when writer Charles Soule sent Jen on a new career path, launching a solo practice and trying cases for luminaries such as Kristoff, son of Victor Von Doom.

Perhaps the best example of Soule’s take is in the three-part arc “The Good Old Days,” in which Steve Rogers, temporarily reverted to old age and retired from his Captain America identity, hires Jen to defend him against assault charges. The prosecuting attorney in the case? Matt Murdock aka Daredevil. Despite the all-star cast, Soule and artist Javier Pulido give the story a light, character-driven touch. The brought colors and strong expressions underscore a tale about superheroes dealing with the consequences of their actions.

Almost from the beginning, She-Hulk has been the smarter counterpart to the regular Hulk. Where fits of uncontrollable rage regularly overtook Bruce, her cousin Jen could keep her brain even when getting big and green. But all that changed in Marvel’s second Civil War crossover, in which she develops the powers (and code-name) of the Hulk.

Carefully paced by writer Mariko Tamaki, the first six issues of Jen’s Hulk series put the title character in a new situation. No longer able to be free and feisty, Jen has to tread carefully to avoid triggering the new beast inside of her. Complicating matters is one of Hulk’s oldest nemeses, returning to challenge this new version. With moody art from Nico Leon, “Deconstructed” pushes She-Hulk in new directions, forever changing the way we think of the character.

While her cousin Bruce was a founding member, She-Hulk tends to be the most prominent gamma-irradiated bruiser on the Avengers. She provides not only the muscle needed by Earth's Mightiest Heroes but also the self-awareness to handle situations going south. That is until Jen lost her She-Hulk identity and became the Hulk. While Tamaki and Leon explore this new aspect in the solo Hulk book, Jason Aaron and Javier Garron look at Jen’s new role on a team.

Jen’s Hulk state comes to the forefront during Aaron and Garron’s five-part story “World War She-Hulk.” When Russian Avengers the Winter Guard attack, they focus their strike on Hulk herself, making her worst nightmare a reality by setting her against her friends. Although the story contains all the Marvel oddness you’d expect, including a surprisingly dramatic turn from Gorilla Man, the story explores the true cost of being a hulk.

Coming off the events of “World War She-Hulk,” Jen Walters has finally shed the savage Hulk persona and regained control of her personality and her life. As she tries to reignite her law career and enjoy the fruits of being She-Hulk, Jen finds herself beset by frequent rival Titiana and participating in an underground superhero Fight Club.

“Jen, Again" may feel like a bit of a retread, but it's better to think of it as a soft reboot. After years of She-Hulk as Hulk, the series reminds us of everything we loved about the character. Plus, with best-selling novelist Rainbow Rowell on writing duties, Jen feels fresh and grounded in a whole new way, especially when drawn by Rogê Antônio and colored by Rico Renzi.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law involves exploring the weird world of Marvel Heroes, where people think it’s completely reasonable to put on green tights and call themselves Frog-Man. Some of the more enjoyable C-level baddies in the show are the Wrecking Crew, a team of disgruntled construction workers who have their tools enhanced by Loki so they can fight Thor. Even as She-Hulk: Attorney at Law massages that origin a bit, it retains the goofier nature of a bunch of lunkheads who fight superheroes instead of working toward journeyman status.

Despite their seemingly silly M.O., the Wrecking Crew has tangled with nearly every Marvel hero and taken part in major events, including Secret Wars. To be sure, Secret Wars is no one’s favorite comic run–it was literally created to sell action figures. But it does cement the Wrecking Crew’s place in the Marvel Universe, as well as introduce She-Hulk’s arch-enemy, Titania. Written by then Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and cleanly drawn by Mike Zeck, Secret Wars set the stage for the next decade of Marvel Comics.