Marvel’s She-Hulk: 40 Years 10 Covers

From time to time (actually most times), we like to geek out here at Nostalgia King and go left-field from the music talk and dive into our other collecting interests which include vintage comic books. If you’ve been following my adventures via Instagram then you’ve noticed that I’ve been showcasing some of my favorite pieces from my collection as well as recent digs. Before records, my first collecting hobby was comic books and most recently, the neighborhood homie and fellow collector @yo_rnc_snaps have been digging heavy and taking road trips to dig for gems which has brought some renewed fun in collecting especially during the pandemic where buying records without being able to play them in public hasn’t been fun. Ron is heavy into artist John Byrne as well as the characters of She-Hulk and the Fantastic Four so recently he tossed an idea to cover 10 covers that span 40 years featuring that combination of those 3 entities. What he came up with is a great look into nostalgia and with Marvel films as popular as they are today, this should be right up any fans alley.

So without further delay, let’s start the show.

It’s been a cardinal couple of weeks for Stan Lee’s spin-off franchise the She-Hulk. The Disney Plus She-Hulk series announced at Comic-Con 2019 finally announced its director and star after a lengthy delay. Also, this week sees the release of immortal She-Hulk #1 the latest incarnation of a fluke Marvel character that emerged 40 years ago in a panic over intellectual rights and has evolved into a fan favorite.

In 1980 CBS’s The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno was in its third year of a powerhouse five year run on the “Tiffany” network. The details aren’t clear but it’s been noted that Stan Lee & Co were concerned that the writers at CBS would and could introduce their own characters independently of the Marvel canon. Possibly looking at the popularity of TV heroines Wonder Woman and Jamie Summers, Marvel rushed to capitalize on a feminized version of their now globally favored property. (Coincidentally, British comedian Benny Hill parodied the CBS hit with a female Hulk in S&M gear on his Thames TV variety show.)

The Savage She-Hulk debuted in February of 1980 introducing the world to Jennifer Walters, a high powered Los Angeles attorney cousin to Bruce Banner, and a distinctively west coast character in a departure from the native New Yorkers that dominated Marvels landscape. She-Hulk’s origin finds the fugitive Dr. Banner couch surfing at his cousins’ as she battles the Trask criminal organization in court. Trask orders a hit on Walters at her home and she’s shot in the back and bleeding out. In the rush to save her life Banner performs and emergency blood transfusion using his own Gamma irradiated vintage and drops her off at the ER to recover. Meanwhile, Trask sends in a trio of thugs to finish the job resulting in Walter’s initial transformation into a green Amazon with a strength threshold approaching the Hulk without the severe dumbing down.

That’s right, a Hulk that has her shit together. Here are 10 covers from 40 years of her storied career.

Savage She-Hulk 1 (1980) [Reprinted here as True Believers #1]

Jennifer Walters was introduced to the world with an homage to her cousin Bruce’s solo marquee 1962 debut. Savage She-Hulk Vol 1 ran for 25 issues over two years before folding. It was plagued by uneven storytelling and sub-par artwork that attempted to capture a contemporary “welcome to the 80s” look.
For example, Walter’s love interest drove a dune buggy and rocked a perm with a porn-stache.

savage she hulk 1

Fantastic Four #264 (1984)

The She-Hulk is introduced to the Fantastic Four by Johnny Storm with
an enthusiasm that might have her calling HR.
The Secret Wars was a miniseries with subplots across the Marvel
Universe. A Cosmic hustler named the Beyonder, (this is peak MTV 80’s think Superman if he played keys for Duran Duran) kidnaps all superheroes from Earth for a battle royale on another planet. When they return, well honestly the only thing anyone really remembers is Spider-man returned with a cool new black “suit” which we all know eventually went great for him. Meanwhile at the Baxter Building, typically moody New Yorker The Thing abandons The Fantastic Four for some off-world soul searching. Ending the first of what would be a series of stints with the Avengers, the She-Hulk replaces the Thing and more importantly is placed in the capable hands of master artist/writer John Byrne for thirty issues.

ff 265

The Sensational She-Hulk #1 (1989)

Another homage, this time National Lampoon’s infamous “dog” cover, Jen threatens the only reason readers were showing up to comic shops in that era. Marvel bookended the Big 80s with a second solo She-Hulk series, a gonzo fourth wall shattering spoof of all comics in the tradition of Howard the Duck that actually reintroduced characters from that 70s cult series along with ill-conceived heroes and villains picked from the dustbin of Marvel’s history.

sen shehulk 1

The Incredible Hulk #282 (1983)

A rare cover that keeps it in the family, Bruce and Jen are rarely paired up. The cousins double team Arsenal The Living Weapon who is not long for this world.

hulk 282

The Sensational She-Hulk #51 (1993)

Battle of the Series’ the glamorous and articulate reboot discovers and is attacked by her dumbed down and unhinged original form.

sen shehulk 51

The Fantastic Four #284 (1985)

Here’s mud in your eye. A brutal John Byrne close-up. Jen is brainwashed and forced into slave labor in an issue that compels you to buy buy buy and see if and how she gets her payback (spoiler alert: she does and it’s the favorite single panel in my entire collection).

ff 284

The Fantastic Four #291 (1986)

Comic artists love paying tribute to arguably the most important comic book in history, 1938’s Action Comics #1 which introduced Superman slamming a car into a rock as the ejected passengers scatter. Here Byrne cannily mirrors that cover for a time travel issue that finds the Fantastic Four and Nick Fury trapped in 1936 Manhattan.

ff 291

The Sensational She-Hulk #50 (1993) 

Having broken the curse of her first franchise, the She-Hulks second run reached the half-century mark, doubling the issues of her ill-fated 1980 debut. Marvel celebrates with a gorgeous green foil cover treatment illustrated by John Byrne. This series would run another 10 issues before folding.

sen shehulk 50

Hulk #1 (2016)

The 2016 incarnation was helmed by Canadian writer Mariko Tamaki and remarkably traces our changing norms by ditching the gender-based prefix. In this series launched with this amazing cover by Jeff Dekal, Jennifer Walters is battling PTSD following the second Marvel Civil War.

hulk 1

The Fantastic Four #275 (1984)

The Masterpiece. A light-hearted single-story issue by John Byrne finds Jen sunbathing on
the rooftop of the Fantastic Four headquarters at the Baxter building when shes
Ambushed Jackie Onassis style by an aggressive Paparazzo. The cover finds Jen looming over a sleazy publisher with more than a passing resemblance to Byrne’s boss Stan Lee.

ff 275

Written by Ronald Neil Clark @yo_rnc_snaps