The Savage She-Hulk #1 (February 1980)
"The She-Hulk Lives"
Stan Lee-John Buscema/Chic Stone
Doug: I never read any books in She-Hulk's original run; in the late '80's I read some of John Byrne's version and found the breaking-the-fourth-wall stuff to be mildly annoying. While it worked in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, for whatever reason I didn't care for it in comics. And what of Stan Lee? I'll bet you're wondering about the date of Stan's previous script, as compared to this one? He actually got a writing credit alongside Marv Wolfman for the previous month's Amazing Spider-Man #200; but before that you'd have to go back to January 1978's Silver Surfer original graphic novel. And before that? I think it's safe to say that by the time Stan wrote The Savage She-Hulk #1 he'd been out of the scripting game for the better part of a decade. Here is the take from Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story:
|From Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, (c) Sean Howe|
Karen: I did pick up this first issue when it came out -and that was it for me. I didn't actually care for the character at all -hated the name,still do - until many years later, when she began appearing in Avengers and Fantastic Four. Over the years I have grown to respect her, and I did read her book for a time, I believe when Dan Slott was writing it.
Doug: We had some interesting conversation on our Ms. Marvel post, and got a little mileage on Spider-Woman. Both Karen and I felt that those two stories were passable, but I'm going to have to go on record here at the top and say this one is not. First of all, we open with Banner in those god-forsaken purple pants. Hey -- raise your hand if you have ever, ever -- seen any man wearing purple pants (and if I just offended any of our readers, I don't really care. It's not a good look). Then we get the long-lost relative, making her first appearance, dropped in our laps. Talk about late to the party, as Jennifer Walters and Banner talk about old Aunt Mabel and everything else. Stan's script is just as melodramatic as it ever was, but in a story we're almost being forced to care about it's somewhat painful. "I might as well come out with it!" "Answer me, Doc! I have to know! What have you done?" Bro-therrrr. The best thing this book has going for it is that it's only 17 pages rather than the standard 20-21. Jeez, I'm writing this on a day off from school, with a snowstorm looming, and I'm as curmudgeonly as ever.
Karen: It's rough, reading this and realizing just how bad it truly is. It's Stan Lee -I want it to be good, I want to make excuses, or tell myself I'm being too hard on him, but honestly, it's just bad. I ask myself too, is it really that different from his work that I consider to be his apex, his best years on Spidey and the FF? I think so. I think this book is an example of all of his foibles as a writer being magnified, his reliance on soap opera melodramatics rather than honest drama come to the fore here.
Doug: So here's the plot -- and I have to give Stan a kudo for a little self-deprecation at the start. He introduces us to "David, or Bruce, or Bob -- what does it matter?" "Bob Banner" was a no-prize from the earliest days of the Hulk, and of course David Banner is the name the lead character on the Hulk TV show went by. Anyway, Banner's on the way into a Los Angeles law building. Finding the correct office, he walks in on a Jennifer Walters, Attorney at Law, with her nose in a big law book. What a step up from the days of women portrayed only as domestics. But how about the manner in which John Buscema chose to dress her? No business suit? Banner takes a seat and begins to tell Jennifer that he's a wanted man -- she of course cannot believe that. Saying they used to be like brother and kid sister, Bruce can tell her anything. We then get a one-page recap of the Hulk's origin, and Banner begins to pull back. Jennifer offers him to come home with her -- she is going to try to help him.
Karen: How the heck would she not know Banner was the Hulk? It's been common knowledge for years! This was just an example of laziness in the writing -or perhaps poor memory on Stan's part?
Doug: The two exit the building to a parking lot, where a couple of toughs wait in a dark sedan. Jennifer is a criminal lawyer, so we can assume this is going to go badly very shortly. As Jen and Bruce drive off, they are tailed. Jen tells Bruce a bit about a case she's working on, and Bruce tells her that her strategies could prove dangerous to her. As Jen pulls into her driveway, the thugs make their move. The sedan pulls up as Jen exits her car -- she's shot in the back. One of the baddies steps out with his piece, to finish the job. Banner races for a garden hose laying in the yard and uses it on the gunman, "I've seen cops use it -- for riot control!" It's working -- pushing him back!" Really? And the hose was on? And had the same power as a fire hose? Stan, Stan... Bruce scoops up his cousin and enters the apparently-unlocked house, closing (apparently not locking) the door behind him as another bullet screams through the wood. He goes to the window in time to see the car speed away.
Karen: A garden hose. A garden hose. I wanted to shut the book at that point, but I'm a professional. For the sake of the blog, I kept reading.
Doug: I don't know about you, but I'd assume that someone hit in the back or shoulder area would be a) losing blood, b) be in danger of a spinal injury, or collapsed lung, or c) partially paralyzed. Well, we'd be wrong. No blood, apparently no danger of moving Jennifer before stabilizing her spine, and she's able to support some of her weight though unconscious. I think the deadline on this issue must have been two days. Bruce knows she needs a doctor, but there's no time for an ambulance. He spies a "doctor's shingle" across the street (I have no idea -- is this common?), and carries Jen to the front door. No answer, no sign of anyone around, so Bruce breaks in. Finding an examining room in the home, he starts the procedures for a blood transfusion. He says, "I still remember -- her blood type -- same as mine!" Raise your hand (again) if you know your own blood type, let alone that of your cousins. Man... this just gets worse. As it appears that Jen (no stitches on the wound, mind you) appears to be OK, Bruce calls the police.
Karen: It just gets worse and worse... Jen is supposedly dying but looks as if she's just fainted. Bruce somehow is an expert on blood transfusions. There's conveniently a doctor across the street who happens not to be home. Jen recovers minutes after receiving the transfusion...ye Gods, I can't take any more! Might I add, the art is also less than inspired -very pedestrian.
Doug: As the cops arrive, they of course want to question Banner. Taken to the local precinct, he's not carrying any ID of any sort, which the cops don't like. They call the D.A. and tell Banner he was to wait. That's not going to happen, so Banner allows himself to Hulk-out and smashes through the wall of the station house. Gone. The next day, he's wearing the same clothes he'd destroyed the previous evening. Additionally, he reads in a newspaper a story about the attempted murder, and that Jen will survive without any complications. Understanding that, he takes his leave of She-Hulk #1. In the hospital, Jennifer's not even in ICU (shoot, she doesn't even have an IV)-- just a regular room. She thinks about what has happened, and how she feels strange. Suddenly, the gooniest looking orderlies enter her room. She is leery of them, and they attack her. One guy tries to put a cloth over her mouth. The next thing they know the room explodes with furious power and the bad guys are scattered. Where once had been Jennifer Walters now stands a huge green woman, christened the She-Hulk by one of the goons.
Karen: Banner's the lucky one -he got to leave.
Karen: Jen looks very comfy in her bed, as if she hadn't been shot in the back and lost a tremendous amount of blood which required a transfusion. Sigh....
Doug: So in the ongoing discussion of unstable molecules and those that aren't, Ms. Walters seems to have burst her bra but not her hospital pajamas. And speaking of which, she was brought in in an ambulance wearing the clothes she'd had on the previous day -- have you all seen hospital-issued gowns? Yeah, they're pretty open and breezy in the back. Not here. Nope. The She-Hulk wears the sexiest tattered whites we have ever witnessed! The same guy who tried to off her earlier pulls his gun again, but She-Hulk picks up her hospital bed and uses it as a shield -- and then throws it at the crooks as they peel out into the hall. She gives pursuit, and rips open the doors of the elevator. Seeing that the car was descending, she grabs the coils and pulls it up. Now I'm no expert on elevators, but I am pretty certain they have to lock into place at some point. Apparently I'm wrong, because She-Hulk is able to use the door she's wrenched open to punch through the roof of the car, yet the bad guys exit hastily out the regular doors of the elevator. I must be dumb. Once outside, She-Hulk uses a lamp post like a boomerang and disables the getaway car. Pouncing on it, her mere presence prompts a confession from the thugs, a confession loud enough for the now-assembled police to hear. Of course one cop wants to detain her, but his partner talks him down -- after all, there isn't any law against green skin (nevermind the fact that she's 6'7", 300 lbs., and bursting out all over in public!) he says. For whatever reason, the She-Hulk feels she must return to the hospital and does so -- and right into some fresh-as-new PJs. Wow. And hey -- she didn't think they'd run a blood test on her at some point during her stay? Anyway, she says that whatever Jennifer Walters can't handle, the She-Hulk can! This girl's embracing her gamma-irradiated curse!
Karen: At one point She-Hulk says she's "throbbing with power" - by the time I was done reading this my head was throbbing with pain.
Doug: I'm going to let Karen close this one up, as it's pretty clear what I feel about the effort. I will say one thing about the art. It's John Buscema, which is always going to be better than a lot of guys who could have garnered this assignment. We've commented in the past that Chic Stone wasn't the best fit to embellish J.B., but overall I'd say Big John's heart wasn't fully committed to this assignment. There's pride in the work, but he's not loving it -- we can tell.
Karen: What more can be said? It's a hack job, pure and simple, poorly written, and certainly not John Buscema's best effort. They wanted to protect the Hulk name, and they did, but it's nothing to be proud of. You can pass this one by, amigos. Thankfully, the character herself has grown and become far better than this ignominious beginning.