Jennifer Walters is mad. Instead of green, she’s grey. And now she’s reclaiming her name as She-Hulk.
This November, writer Mariko Tamaki’s Hulk segues to the character’s original title She-Hulk – with a legacy renumbering to #159. With this, Tamaki is welcoming in new series artist Jahnoy Lindsay just in time for Walters ‘ first modern confrontation with classic Hulk villain the Leader. The Leader’s super intelligent – but does he know what he’s dealing with now with Jen as she is now?
Newsarama talked with both Tamaki and Lindsay about their upcoming run together, the confrontation with the Leader, and the legacy of Hulk and the name ‘She-Hulk.’
Newsarama: Mariko, what's happening with Jennifer as she segues into "Legacy"?
Mariko Tamaki: Jen is going through what feels to her like an endless adjustment process since her injury and Bruce’s death. She’s getting used to this new form, but it’s still not completely clear to her what being this new kind of Hulk means (aside from being grey, there’s bigger questions like, can I control myself when I'm Hulk now?). So, she’s in this sort of liminal place, somewhere between where she was and where she wants to be, as Hulk and as Jen. And, in all this, she’s still working and trying to help others who are having similar struggles.
It’s a constant back and forth between, “everything’s fine” and “everything’s not fine,” which is the way things are when you’ve just come from that place of “this is the actual worst.”
Jahnoy Lindsay: She-Hulk #159 is a great jumping on point for readers. I think It really touches on what makes She-Hulk who she is as character as well as set up the stakes for the rest of the arc.
Nrama: Jennifer has faced the Leader before, but never in this current state of mind. What kind of unique challenge does he now present for her?
Tamaki: For the past two arcs, Jen fought for people. She’s put her energy into saving other monsters, people whose struggles she understands. In some ways, Jen has worked over the last few issues to try and save herself by saving others. The Leader is not a monster who needs saving, he’s the opposite. With the Leader, Jen is fighting a supervillain, with (current) a singular purpose: her destruction. It’s a unique challenge because Jen still feels like she’s getting up off the mat. And that’s a pretty terrible feeling for someone like Jen, who’s a fighter, who wants to face the things that come at her head on.
Nrama: Jahnoy, have you had a chance to familiarize yourself with drawing the Leader yet?
Lindsay: Yeah, I believe I have. I've been given enough freedom with characters where I'm able to kinda do what I want, and for the Leader, I wanted things to be familiar and classic. I definitely think I've found my happy place with his design.
Nrama: And what about the leading lady, She-Hulk?
Lindsay: Drawing She-hulk has been a lot of fun! I've always thought Jennifer was cool, but I'd never say she was one of my favorite characters. Drawing her as much as I have recently is definitely changing that!
Nrama: And what about him - is the Leader really aware of Jennifer's current mental state?
Tamaki: The Leader is a supervillain with master plans, and this battle is one that was designed with an eye on Jen’s current state. The Leader’s goal is to manipulate Jen’s weaknesses, play on her sense of self, her internal conflicts, to bring about a personal gut-wrenching end.
Nrama: This will be the third story arc with you and Jen. How have your views on her and this title changed/grown since you've been writing it for so long now?
Tamaki: For me, every issue of these past two arcs has been a building block. I feel like every issue I find something I didn’t see last time, a connection or a piece of the puzzle. In a way, it’s like spending time with a person, the more time you spend the more you know them, the more you get a sense of all the intricacies that go into their person. It's meant a lot to me to have this space to write about trauma and rage, and getting into Jen’s experience of unleashing that over the last few issues. I also just really enjoy hearing Jen’s voice and writing about the world from her point of view, more and more as time goes on.
Nrama: Jahnoy, this is your first ongoing run after doing issues of Totally Awesome Hulk and Uncanny Avengers. How did you get asked to do She-Hulk?
Lindsay: Even after working on those issues, I continued to share samples of my art with everyone I could. I think it was Rickey Purdin who shared my work with Christina Harrington and I guess she liked what she saw. She reached out to me one afternoon and asked if I'd like to be a part of what they were planning for She-Hulk and I accepted right away!
Nrama: As part of "Legacy," Marvel is retitling and renumbering this to be She-Hulk #159 - and retroactively renaming the first Hulk collection to She-Hulk. What do you think about Jennifer re-taking the title 'She-Hulk’ (and no longer Hulk), and will this happen in-story as well?
Tamaki: Hulk is Jen Walters and Jen Walters is She-Hulk. For Jen, in story, she is Hulk. That is her legacy, the thing she carries on after the death of Bruce Banner. She's also been She-Hulk for a long time. So... she's both.
Nrama: What does "Legacy" mean for Jennifer as a whole?
Tamaki: I think for the story of Jen, “Legacy” is about facing not just A demon but your demon, your greatest challenge, your biggest fear. I think Jen would say that she’s pretty good with the fears she’s faced and it’s enough already. Like, back off. But really, Jennifer Walters, no matter what, no matter when, is never going to back down from a fight. Never. N. E. V. E. R. So, you know, bring it.
Nrama: And what does this "Legacy" branding mean for you as a storyteller?
Tamaki: I had a great time talking about this storyline with my editors, and thinking about where to take Jen that felt like a step up. This story was also something I’d thought of writing for Hulk since I first got this gig, so I was glad I could play it out in this arc. I loved the idea of creating something with the Leader, and writing that character. I love a big villain. What’s not to love about a villain with a giant brain?
And here is the solicit for Jennifer Walter’s first issue under the “Marvel Legacy” umbrella:
MARIKO TAMAKI (W) • JAHNOY LINDSAY (A)
Cover by MIKE DEODATO JR.
JEN WALTERS MUST DIE Part 1
The LEADER is back and he’s using his gamma-enhanced super-intelligence to strike at She-Hulk! But how do you hurt an almost indestructible She-Hulk? By turning Jen against HERSELF!