Sunday, 16 February 2020

Savage She-Hulk #1. The She-Hulk Lives!

Savage She-Hulk #1, John Buscema
If there's anything I love to do on a Sunday night, it's picking up furniture and flinging it around.

That's why I've such a deep affection for the Savage She-Hulk.

OK, admittedly, I don't.

To be honest, when I first read her adventures in whichever Marvel UK book it was that reprinted them, I thought she was as dull as ditchwater and not a patch on Spider-Woman who, at least, had a hint of mystery and trauma about her.

However, as we're somewhere around the fortieth anniversary of the green gal's gamma-spawned debut, that's not going to stop me reviewing the story which introduced her to an awestruck world.

Because he's in LA, and actually has some clothes on, for once, Bruce Banner decides to drop in on his cousin the criminal lawyer Jen Walters because, as we're told, he and she have always been so close they're practically like brother and sister.

That's right. That's the woman he's never mentioned in any story, ever, in his near-two-decade history.

Savage She-Hulk #1, Jen meets BruceNot only that but, when he shows up, it quickly emerges that Jen doesn't even know he's the Hulk, which you would have thought everyone on Earth would be aware of by now. We're also told he's not seen her since he was a student.

Some observers might think they're starting to look suspiciously like total strangers.

Anyway, it turns out Jen's representing a mobster who's been framed by another mobster and, to flush the other mobster out, she's started a rumour that she has evidence against him.

Needless to say, the other mobster's not standing for that kind of thing, so he's sent his men to kill her.

And that's what they do, gunning her down in the street, outside her home.

Savage She-Hulk #1, Jen is shotExcept, it's not what they do, because Bruce just happens to be there and, after defeating the would-be assassins, with a garden hose, he eschews the idea of calling an ambulance and, instead, carries the wounded woman around the streets until he just happens to blunder across a doctor's house.

Thereupon, he breaks in and proceeds to give her a transfusion of his own radioactive blood.

When the police show up to investigate, he turns into the Hulk, off-screen, and smashes out through the wall, never to be seen again in this issue, leaving Jen to the care of the local hospital.

Unfortunately, the other mobster didn't get where he is by giving up just because his men can't cope with a garden hose, and he sends them to the hospital to have another go at killing Jen.

And this attempt's no more successful than the last because, no sooner have they started trying to drug her, than she turns green and starts throwing her weight around.

The crooks flee but she pursues them into the street, forces them to confess their wrongdoings and then hands them over to the police before returning to the hospital to plan her future in crime-fighting.

Savage She-Hulk #1, Jen gets attacked and drugged in her hospital bedIt has to be said, it's not a comic that feels like a huge amount of care's been put into it. The artwork by John Buscema is not his best. It doesn't look as attractive as we're used to. Nor does it have the energy and dynamism we associate with him. A suspicious man might say it feels suspiciously like it's something he's knocked out on auto-pilot.

Likewise, Stan Lee's script doesn't feel like a labour of love either. For the first part of the tale, despite it being her comic, Jen's a supporting character, with the story focusing entirely on Bruce Banner and his concerns. Jen's only allowed to take over as central character once Bruce has fled.

And she doesn't get to be that for long because, within a few panels of it, the She-Hulk arrives and takes over as protagonist. The truth is Stan doesn't seem very interested in Jen, a fault that possibly we might be able to level at The Man when it came to female characters in general, over the course of his writing career.

Savage She-Hulk #1, bed action
Bruce and Jen's clear lack of familiarity with each other, despite us being told they're incredibly close is jarring and yanks you out of the tale, while Bruce carrying Jen around the street, in the hopes he'll just happen to blunder across a doctor's house doesn't seem the best thought-out plan ever.

It does also strike you that the tale seems aimed at fans of the Hulk TV show, rather than those of his comics. The portrayal of Banner here, as a fugitive, fearful of the authorities unearthing his true identity, feels more in line with the Bill Bixby incarnation of the character. He's also never referred to as Bruce in the story, just, "Doc," with Lee claiming, on the splash page, that it doesn't matter what his first name is.

So, overall, it's not a great story - which is to be expected, as it was, reportedly, created for legal reasons, rather than anything else.

However, the one good thing about it is that, thanks to Lee's involvement, its second half does have the feel of a 1960s Marvel super-hero origin tale and, so, it does, at least, bring back warm and fuzzy memories of the Silver Age and the first time we met all those 1960s Marvel characters who so enchanted our childhoods.

Savage She-Hulk #1, She-Hulk appears

Potential further reading:



Redartz said...

Hi Steve, you pretty much covered my thoughts on this book. Fairly forgettable, unfortunately. It was one of the first books that got sold when I began unloading my collection years ago.

But the character eventually became a favorite, under John Byrne during his tenure on Fantastic Four. Shulkie made a great, fun replacement for Ben Grimm. And still later, her own title revived (again by Byrne) was another bit of lighthearted playfulness. Perhaps she just needed a sufficiently motivated creative team...

Steve4132 said...

I remember reading this story in the British Spider-Man/Hulk comic which I'm guessing we are a few months away from the 40th anniversary of. I'd have been 5 or 6 at the time. The concluding part of the tale is one of the few times I can remember my mum reading a comic to me. This might be because she tried to do Shulkie's voice, something I guess she wouldn't attempt with male characters who made up the bulk of protagonists in comics at the time.
As I feel amongst friends here I'll tell you something I have never shared with anyone else: I had a massive crush on the jade giantess, particularly during her savage phase. I was ridiculously excited in the early 90s when Briggete Nielsen was rumoured to portray her in a movie. Although having seen the promo photos online many years later I'm glad it never happened.

Timothy Field said...

The accepted wisdom around the creation of She Hulk is that it was a rush job in case the producers of the TV show had the idea. Looking at it now I'd guess it was more Stan hastily pitching his own Bionic Woman style spin off. The Bill Bixby characterisation of Banner would reinforce this idea.

Anonymous said...

Stan got there just in time with the comic, as a She Hulk did turn up on tv the following year. On the Benny Hill Show.
I am not making that up -

Not really sure who's female characterization was worse Steve, Stan Lee's or Benn... ok, thats unfair, as clearly Lee's wasn't that bad. But that isn't really saying much.

Lee's scripts were obviously like buses back then - you wait ages for one, and two turn up at the same time - as he also did that Silver Surfer story from Epic #1 in early 1980. To be fair, that was poor writing too and the Surfer was male...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Nice write up "Steve Does Everything!"

My last recall of She Hulk is early Hulk 400s where she and Hulk are fighting "The Bi-Beast."

Using a line from SDE, "I read it but don't recall a thing about it" other than the Be-Beast had two heads, but on top each other merged into one. So I guess the two are fighting the Bi-Beast.

Also She Hulk was posing like Daisy Mae from Li'l Abner, LOL. I think this must be early 90s stuff when girls in tights started adopting physically impossible poses so as to show both the bosoms and the buttocks, LOL. Yep, that's would make me want to buy a comic, an anatomically impossible pose... Yep, worked every time...

Anonymous said...

The Bizarre Behemoth Men call the Baleful Bi-Beast!!!
I always like that guy. I dunno why.
The appeal of She-Hulk has always been lost on me. It's a goofy premise. I think they even have a Hulk-junior now.


Anonymous said...

But do they have any Hulk-pets yet? (Not counting Rick Jones)

Hulk and She-Hulk v the Bi-Beast does sound a bit kinky somehow Charlie.
Speaking of which, while there were some really terrible artists in the early 90s, I'm not sure you can really say 60s and 70s superhero comics were always anatomically plausible...


Anonymous said...

A lotta bad stuff in the "90's, and a lotta bad art.
Erik Larsen, Ron Liefeld, that awful Spawn crap...Bane, the "death" of Superman...
Yeesh. But there was some good stuff too. Grant Morrison's JLA was a bright spot.


Steve W. said...

MP, when I had my brief spell of reading comics in the early 1990s, what most struck me was that most of the artists at Marvel seemed to draw exactly like each other, which seemed very un-Marvel to me. In the 1970s, I'd always associated the idea of "House Styles" with DC, not Marvel.

Sean, MP and Charlie, I always had a soft spot for the Bi-Beast. I liked the way his two heads would have conversations with each other. I don't have a clue what they did if they ever fell out over anything.

Sean, thanks for the Benny Hill link.

Tim, I suppose I'll have to do a post one day about who was the best Marvel character created to prevent the Marvel lawyers losing sleep; Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, She-Hulk or Spider-Woman?

Steve, the savage She-Hulk was an attractive, if grumpy woman. There's no shame in being enticed by her.

Red, Marvel clearly learnt from the Thing's example, that you can make an anti-social character much more compelling by simply turning them into a humorous one.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Oh brother... I found the She-Hulk Bi-Beast Hulk issue... it is number 412.

I suspect KD may be the most familiar with this issue b/c the gang is rallying at Rick Jones's apartment to celebrate Rick's engagement to Bruce Banner... Oops I mean Steve Rogers... Ooops I mean Cpt Marvel... Oops I mean Mario Chandler. LOL?

For some reason the Bi Beast gets involved and knocks out Doc Samson and then whatever happens...

I will say this, if you read the synopsis of that issue (URL below) it touches on sooo, sooo many various characters / subjects we've chatted about here over the years, lol.

I am vaguely recalling Peter David's run on Hulk... I enjoyed it. I think in the next issues the FORs (Friends of Rick) are watching an "adult ' Movie at his bachelor party and it turns out Mario is the "star?" Or was it Betty?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

UK Gents - I got the day off (President's Day) and nothing better than starting my morning in Chicago but with a cup of mud and a bit of "Talk Sport" Hawksbee and Jabobs. The news is saying you guys got whacked by some huge storms, folks dead, etc. Tell me you chaps are warm and dry!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ooops. It's Hulk 417 that has Ricks's Bachelor Party. Not 413. But you know, She Hulk flies out to Cali and back to meet Hulk and Rick and et al. COuldn't she just jump and save the $ like her cousin?

Steve W. said...

Charlie, we've been hit by three storms in the last week but I can confirm that I am both dry and warm. However, not all the trees round my way are still vertical.

Anonymous said...

Steve, pretty sure I never expected a time when I'd be thanked for a Benny Hill link; for that matter, I wouldn't have thought I'd ever send someone a Benny Hill link in the first place.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well Steve, I was horizontal Saturday morning watching British soccer.... I guess like some of your trees?

I just hope and pray that none of the trees stopped Sheffield's buses! Would not want the next ABC or Human League to not be able to get together and lead us to another British Invasion!

Killdumpster said...

I had the first issue of She-Hulk, and had the same opinion about her as Steve.

Some fan-boys at a comics shop were raving about her, during John Byrne's run. I read the issue at the shop without buying (travesty, I know, guilty as charged). Too silly for me.

Now, She-Hulk is a great support/team character. Loved the FF & Avenger stuff.

There was a Hulk issue where he was extremely lonely, and he was thinking about Jarella. He moped for a panel, then decided She-Hulk is the closest thing to a possible "mate".

The story was short, and hazy in my mind. I don't really recall a large battle, but I think he virtually abducted her.

From what I remember at the end, She-Hulk told Hulk that while she was complimented by his affectionate efforts, it could not work. They're related. I think the Hulk leaped off, leaving Jennifer standing on a rock.

Hmmm, high moral standards from She-Hulk? Wasn't she written more than a little flirty in alot of the team books she was in?

Plus, she shagged Juggernaut.

Killdumpster said...

If I recall correctly, Charlie, the randy bachelor party tape featured Betty.

Now I'm wondering if that led to a 'Betty still has a bit of Harpy in her' storyline.

If not, what a waste. I wasn't an avid reader during the 80's & 90's, but would read thru books when I bought collections.

Anonymous said...

Charlie is truly all things to all people.
Come to think of it, Sean, "Bi-Beast" does sound rather kinky. I'm sure we've all ran into one or two of them over the years.
Maybe not as bad as Giant-Size Man-Thing...
A lot of talk about the Corona Virus. I'm myself contracted it some years ago.
Drinking ten of them in two hours was a bad idea.
I guess I had a bad case of it...

Goodnight everybody! You've been great! (thunderous applause)


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Truth of the matter is that once a woman has had either the Juggernaut or an Android, she's pretty much off limits.

Speaking of the Hulk, I was reading Marvel Zombies collected and it's pretty cool where Hulk Zombie bites off the head of the Silver Surfer and swallows it whole.

I've had all 3 Mexican viruses: Corona, Modelo, Tecate.

Killdumpster said...

Charlie, is the Modelo you mentioned connected to Negra Modelo? Man, for a darker beer Negra Modelo is flavorful & light tasting.

A pal of mine used to drink Dos Equis mixed 50/50 in a glass with Molsen. I tried it once, and it was alright, but it was a little rich for a lite-beer drinker who gave up on heavy beverages.

Killdumpster said...

Now a question comes to mind:

Since in the last years, the Hulk has a healing factor. Does She-Hulk have one also? Can either one of them get drunk?

Wolverine slugs beer & shots down, but instantly "heals".

Can't recall Hulk or She-Hulk over indulging, and if they can't get intoxicated, does that also translate to their human forms?

I know the Thing can get buzzed,but it takes quite a bit of booze. I remember She-Hulk battling him after he had a couple kegs to knock the "blues" outta him.

Never saw Bruce partake, but I know I saw Jennifer/She-Hulk drinking, wine at least.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - I cannot specifically answer your question but I have a vague recollection of either Hulk or Thing being tipsy?

Actually Modelo is now the #1 selling beer in Chicago, beating out Miller / Miller Lite.

To the extent anyone is interested, lol, the rest of the USA typically drank Budweiser as their # 1 beer and ONLY in Chicago was Miller # 1. Go figure... but I do prefer Miller to Bud.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat surprisingly in a Comics Code approved publication, the Hulk once got a bit stoned - he was in an enclosed space with some fella smoking a jazz cigarette - so he can be intoxicated.
(Don't recall which issue, but it was in a recent Forty Years Ago Today post so pretty sure it was from '79)


Killdumpster said...

You're right, Sean.
Just like when Hulk was riding with that long-haired blonde guy in a van.

The guy was smoking a doobie, and it mellowed him enough that he changed back to Banner.

I'm uncertain if that would happen now, with current continuity.

Killdumpster said...

Remember the Outcasts, the desert plants and animals that mutated from the gamma-bomb?

I wonder if there was a humanoid marijuana plant roaming around in that crowd?

"Hey guys, the party's on me! Literally!!"

I saw Swamp Thing grow a huge bunch of weed for a party in a book once.

Killdumpster said...

Charlie, I cannot drink any Anheuser-Busch product. Instant headache the next day, even only having a couple.

Someone told me it's because it's a rice-based beer, and you have to get acclimated to it. Sorta makes sense.

When I was younger I'd drink different kinds of beer, imports & domestic. Usually felt bad the next day.

The girl I was seeing at the time suggested I stick to one brand. It worked. Smart girl.

Maybe I should have married her.

Naaaah! Lol!!!