Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1982: Jade Jaunting part II: Secretly Tripping The Light Fantastic

By Jef Willemsen (

Stan Lee might have dreamed her up, but it was Jim Shooter who turned She-Hulk into a real star when he made her an Avenger months after her initial attempt at a solo series tanked. Today's entry focuses on Shulkie's days among Earth's mightiest and how a secret, out of this world adventure led to a most fantastic change.

During the early days of She-Hulk's Avengers tenure, writer Jim Shooter used the jade giantess as a great source of comic relief. Especially her ongoing rivalry with fellow Avenger Hawkeye was played out beautifully. In the opening page of Avengers # 222, we find She-Hulk playing mechanic after Hawkeye's trick arrows short circuited her pink cadillac an issue earlier.

Things are going great...

Finally deciding she had enough, She-Hulk smashes and folds her vehicle into a neat little package she tosses in the nearest garbage can for recycling. When you're green, you might as well embrace the eco-friendly shtick after all. Just then, the Wasp shows up and Shooter starts laying the groundwork for something unique in Avengers history up to that point: an actual friendship between two female Avengers.

Sure, the Scarlet Witch and the Wasp were always friendly, but never close. Ms. Marvel was written as such a bra burning uberfeminist that all she did was lecture the women on the team they ought to roar. Mantis spent her time being either an android stealing hussy or forced to become the mother of a celestial savior by romancing a plant... Hellcat clung more to the Beast, Jocasta felt her robotic nature precluded her from fitting in. Tigra was too much of a jumpy worrywart and as for Moondragon... Well, she wasn't exactly the congenial type either.

But Janet and the She-Hulk hit it off beautifully. The two happened to have the same, fun loving, care free personality. Janet wanted Jennifer to feel welcome and even designed a new, somewhat pirate themed outfit for her. She also offered some sage advice on dealing with Hawkeye: be nice to him.

Shulkie took that particular nugget of wisdom to heart...

But that wasn't all the fun Shooter had with Jennifer in # 222. Egghead's Masters of Evil attacked Avengers Mansion just as the team was finishing up its weekly meeting. The Wasp panicked when she saw She-Hulk getting ready to charge the Masters in her new pirate suit. More concerned with possibly ruining her latest design than, well, effectively fighting a word class threat, the leader of the Avengers insisted its newest member stripped down first...

"You can't be serious?!"

She wasn't kidding.

As far as hazing the new kid goes, having her fight crime in nothing but her color coordinated purple undies was a doozy. Other than that initial mishap, She-Hulk took to the team like a duck to water, helping out against the Fomore, among others, more than holding her own in the process. Shooter made the right call to increase her powers to the point Jen could lift more than hefty fork trucks like back in her solo days.

Shooter's successor Roger Stern continued this trend until Shulkie proved strong enough to smack around Thor's nemesis Radioactive Man during a rematch with the Masters of Evil. Of course, as any writer will tell you: one only builds up his characters so he can break them down. It just makes for good drama... Case in point:

"No! Not this!"

The Radioactive Man turned She-Hulk into plain ol' Jennifer Walters again. Seemingly unable to shift back, Jennifer became instantly depressed about losing the sense of personal security and strength the She-Hulk provided her.

Unlike her cousin Bruce Banner, she didn't consider it a curse to be a Hulk. Quite the opposite: losing that part of herself, maybe forever, caused her to wallow in despair and selfpity. Luckily, her old pal Hawkeye stood ready to give her a little peptalk...

"Is that the best you can do, She-Wimp?"

A daring gambit on Hawkeye's part, but it worked out for the best. With She-Hulk back to full fighting strength, the Avengers took care of the Masters of Evil (or, rather, showed up to find Hank Pym had done it for them).

After this, Stern focused his She-Hulk stories on the fact Jennifer had trouble adjusting to life in New York. After a lifetime in leisurely, sunny California with its many beaches and lovely weather, she found the busy, smoggy and crowded metropolis a bit much. Living in Avengers Mansion also cramped her style a little So for many an issue, she was seen trying to fit in, with New Yorkers attempting to get used to sights like this...

"... I wish they all could be California guuuuuurls!"

During this period, she met new Avengers Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and the Eternal Eros, who joined the team under the codename Starfox. She-Hulk got along well with the new recruits and even openly romanced Starfox.

She also worked with the Fantastic Four for the first time, after running headfirst into the Null-field erected by Annihilus who had invaded the Baxter Building while the FF was away on an extended excursion of the Negative Zone. This tale was told in Avengers #233 and Fantastic Four # 256, a mini-crossover drawn and (co)plotted by John Byrne which told the story from both teams' unique perspective.

Above all, Stern's She-Hulk was a fun, carefree character who despite her undeniable temper was just out to have a good time. She also was hardly a prude...Here she is hunting for her New York dream appartment in Avengers # 236.

She-Hulk's next big break came when Jim Shooter drafted her and the other Avengers to take part in 1984's Secret Wars, Marvel's first company wide crossover/12 issue limited series / unabashed sales hit /shameless toy licensing scheme. 

Finding herself on the newly created composite planet dubbed Battleworld, She-Hulk joined the Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-men and her cousin the Hulk in opposing the likes of Galactus and Doctor Doom's army of villains. 

Secret Wars had a unique hook: most books coverdated April 1984 ended with the hero(es) being drawn towards a massive, mysterious construct that had suddenly appeared in Central Park's Sheep Meadow. The moment the heroes entered it, they were instantly teleported away... only to return the next month (about a week in Marvel time), changed and visibly shaken up by the experience.

Spider-Man was wearing black, professor Xavier walked and sported a horrible costume, Hulk returned with a leg brace and a crutch... and as for She-Hulk...

"You'd think that wearing a Fantastic Four uniform would make it easier to get a cab!"

Just imagine the impact it had on the readership back in 1984. With no internet, messageboards or online advance sollicitations spoiling the story three months in advance, having She-Hulk simply show up in Avengers #243 wearing a FF-uniform caused a lot of ruckus. The answers to all these questions were slowly revealed over a year's time, starting in May 1984's Secret Wars # 1. 

She-Hulk's initial involvement in the Secret Wars was slightly limited, however. When you are on a team with Thor, Thing and the friggin' Hulk it's safe to say Shulkie wasn't exactly essential in the raw strength department. Heck, Hulk saved all the heroes in Secret Wars # 4 by bench pressing a mountain range the size of the rockies, all while Jennifer was lying around unconscious.

But She-Hulk finally got her chance to shine after the Wasp fell prey to the Wrecking Crew in #6. The crew delivered her corpse to the alien village the heroes were using for a base in #7, unceremoniously tossing it out of their ready-for-a-toy-version vehicle.


While the heroes pondered their next move, She-Hulk had only one thing on her mind: avenge her best friend. Not waiting around for the others to reach a decision, she went to Doom's base and smashed her way in. She-Hulk took out the Wrecker and his crew before the other supervillains realised what was going on. One of the first to arrive was was neophyte villainess Titania (Mary 'Skeeter' MacPherran), who would become her chief nemesis in the years to come...

"You...! Doom's muscle-woman!"

Holding her own against Titania, She-Hulk proved no match for the combined might of Titania, Absorbing Man, Doctor Octopus and the recovered Wrecking Crew who proceeded to pound her into emerald paste. By then, the heroes arrived after realising what She-Hulk was up to. After routing the villains, Reed Richards managed to save her... literally with one arm tied behind his back.

"I'M amazed that the She-Hulk survived that beating!"

Thanks to the Beyonder, no one ever really died on Battleworld. By the time the heroes returned to the alien village, they discovered the Wasp had been resurrected. Janet seemed none the worse for wear and was more concerned with her hair and make up than how she returned from beyond the veil. Similarly, She-Hulk recovered from her wounds in record time. She was ready to engage in the final battle against Doctor Doom, who had managed to usurp the power of the Beyonder himself.

While fighting the demonoid horde Doom had called up, Shulkie had a moment with Fantastic Four strongman Thing, who was more than a little moved, intrigued and swayed by the fact that something on the Beyonder's makeshift marble of a world allowed him to control his transformation.

"Just keep clobberin', lady!"

Prophetic words... After Doom was defeated by the Beyonder, Reed Richards mastered the teleportation mechanism that brought them to Battleworld and set it for a return trip. The heroes said their goodbyes and took off, but not everyone was going home...

"I'm not going with you guys, I'm taking Ben's place in the Fantastic Four!"

And so she did. She-Hulk returned home with the Fantastic Four, which we will cover in part III... However, she was officially still part of the Avengers, which caused the team's chairman the Vision to come up with a special membership status in Avengers # 243 that effectively took care of both Shulkie and Thor's flexible presence...

"Therefore, I propose the establishment of a special "detached membership" status"

With that, She-Hulk truly was a free agent who spent most of her time from then on as part of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four. But we'll cover those myriad misadventures in part III of Jade Jaunting: Voyages Into The Fantastic... 


  1. This is a great example of "salvaging" a character. These issues made me a fan of Shulkie to this day. Really appreciate the effort you put into posts like these!

  2. Professor X could walk before he, and the X-Men, were abducted to Battleworld, courtesy of his cloned body.

  3. Fair enough, but that was only a recent development, maybe even a few days after Xavier revealed he could walk again in New Mutants # 14. He arrived on Battleworld in his wheelchair, as the splash page in Secret Wars # 1 clearly shows. During the series, Xavier comments he is still feeling uneasy as a battlefield commander and slightly exhausted from walking all the time. Either way, that doesn't excuse the urine yellow outfit with the giant black X. It made him look like a reject member of the Resistants...



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