Jennifer Walters, the fun-loving super-powered lawyer known as She-Hulk, is missing in action right now, left for dead as the Fall of the Hulks storyline follows a couple "savage" replacements.
But next month, Jen is celebrating her 30th anniversary, so Marvel fans are getting a few special She-Hulk stories in the one-shot She-Hulk: Sensational #1 – and the man who created the character makes one of his legendary cameos.
Jen was created by Stan Lee, making her first appearance in 1980 in Savage She-Hulk #1 by Lee and artist John Buscema. Now, as she turns 30 years old, the character gets two new, full-size stories in the oversized She-Hulk: Sensational – one by writer Brian Reed and the other by Peter David. The issue also includes a reprint of a John Byrne story.
Since Jen is M.I.A. on her birthday, the new stories exist in what David described as their "own little continuity bubble."
"She's been in a curious situation because her entire position, her status in the Marvel Universe, is being undermined. She was always the biggest, strongest WOUC (Woman of Unusual Color) around, and suddenly there are not just one, but two characters horning in on her territory," David said. "She is, to put it mildly, defensive."
While regular continuity has been dealing with the Red and Savage versions of the green lady, Reed and David decided to celebrate her anniversary by showing the fun side of the character.
"Basically, I riff A Christmas Carol, as She-Hulk is nothing but sour over the prospect of hitting the big 3-0, and a cheerful otherworldly tour guide – who looks and acts a lot like Stan Lee – takes her on a dazzling view of She-Hulks past, present and future," David said. "It's a tongue-in-cheek, humorous story... the sort of story that I think works best for her.
Stan Lee signed off on his appearance, David said, adding: "It just wouldn't have been the same without him."
David, who was the most recent writer on Jen's self-titled comic before it was canceled last year, said the story he wrote for the 30th anniversary special is one he would have liked to write when he was on the book. But the writer said he couldn't do something light and humorous because of all the difficulties the character had just experienced.
"The timing of it was all wrong: I was following Dan [Slott], who also had a humorous take and our styles of humor are different. Plus she had just been screwed over by almost everyone in the Marvel Universe that she trusted," he said, "and it just seemed a dishonest direction to take her, not acknowledging everything that had happened to her. Now, of course, with things having settled down, we could explore the more humorous side of her."
Reed said he decided to take the offer to write a She-Hulk story because she's one female Marvel character he had never written before. Reed's story, which leans toward the humorous, teams She-Hulk up with two female characters he has written quite a bit in their own titles: Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel.
"Jennifer comes into this because of a case she's dealing with in her day-to-day lawyer life, and that gets She-Hulk involved in the mystery of what's going on, and hunting down clues," Reed explained. "It leads her into thinking Ms. Marvel is working with Hydra. So when she finds Ms. Marvel and starts beating the crap out of her, she finds out Ms. Marvel has been hunting Hydra as well, and that she thought Spider-Woman was dealing with them. But then they find out that Spider-Woman has been undercover with Hydra, trying to undo them from the inside. And that plan goes all to hell."
Reed said he enjoyed finding a way in his 32 pages to "give them each their moment and not have it be strictly a She-Hulk book or a Spider-Woman book, making sure they share the stage."
Iban Coello, whom Reed said brings a unique style to the gamma-powered lady, is doing pencils for both of the new stories.
"The art is a little more traditional than what was happening in Dan's run, but still very special, and very distinct from a lot of what I've been seeing lately," he said.