What’s tall, green and stunning in both the looks and right-hook department? The answer: Marvel Comics’ Jade Giantess, Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk. A new era begins in “She-Hulk” #22 this summer, when a man who’s very familiar with green, gamma-irradiated characters takes over as the book’s regular writer. We spoke with legendary Hulk writer Peter David about what fans can expect from his run on “She-Hulk.”
David was offered “She-Hulk” shortly after he finished the story “Cassus Belli” for the “World War Hulk Prologue” book, which starred She-Hulk. “What basically happened was that Steve Wacker approached me about two months ago and we we’re batting ideas back and forth,” David told CBR News. “I think Steve was being cautious in that he wanted to see what kind of take I would have on She-Hulk. I think he was a little concerned that I might go for flat out over-the-top humor, which a lot of people associate with the character and which I don’t think he was really looking for. As it turned out, rather happily, doing exactly what people expect is kind of anathema to me. So, when the prospect of ‘She-Hulk’ was broached to me the first thing I did was eliminate the possibility of just going for straight up ‘ha-ha’ humorous situations and all that. It turns out that Steve and I were much more on the same wave length than I think he even suspected when he first approached me about it.”
The chance to chronicle She-Hulk’s monthly adventures appealed to David for a number of reasons, particularly because he often used the character in supporting roles in his previous work. “She’s been a guest star in the ‘Hulk’ and I wrote a single issue of ‘She-Hulk’ some few years back, so I’ve always found the character to be very entertaining,” David said. “For all intents and purposes she should be the Wonder Woman of the Marvel Universe. She’s incredibly strong and she’s incredibly intelligent. I happen to like big, strong, intelligent women. So I feel myself oddly drawn to her.”
David feels She-Hulk possesses many noble qualities, of which one in particular has been exploited recently. “She has a very strong sense of family and an intense loyalty to her cousin,” David explained. “I think she realizes that Tony Stark played upon that sense of loyalty to completely hose her about what had been done with Bruce.
“Another aspect is her sincere reverence for and respect for the judicial system and for the system in general, which is also something that I think took somewhat of a hit during ‘World War Hulk.'” David continued. “I think she’s come to feel that there have been some serious abuses of the system; of due process and of people’s rights. Let’s face it, whatever else you say about the Hulk; Bruce Banner remains a citizen of the United States. What Tony Stark and his peers did was no less than a federal crime. It was kidnapping. They kidnapped him. Since S.H.I.E.L.D. was involved what it really boils down to is a federally endorsed kidnapping. I think to some degree She-Hulk finds that incredibly outrageous. So a lot of the things that she believes in have taken a serious hit and she really needs to process that. It’s very difficult with her to go on with business as usual considering what she’s encountered in the past month.”
Some readers might be thinking that Jen Walters will still be coping with the traumatic events of the past few months when David’s “She-Hulk” run begins, but they would be incorrect. “At the point where I was writing my first issue of ‘She-Hulk,’ and indeed I have written my first issue, the preceding three issues just before mine had not yet been scripted, or if they had nobody seemed to be aware of it,” explained David. “Now it may be that the reason they weren’t scripted is because Dan was waiting for scripts to come in for ‘World War Hulk.’ I can tell you that nothing will get you behind on your scripts as quickly as cross-overs.”
Indeed, David prefers to have his stories flow organically from what’s come before, but as he didn’t have access to the three preceding issues of “She-Hulk,” he was forced to try a different tactic with his first issue. “Rather than cope with that, I simply side-stepped by setting the events of my story three months hence,” David said. “So I open with She-Hulk’s new status quo, with her new situation, with her new job as it were, and I figured that after I had the opportunity to read the preceding issues I will then be able to go back and fill in the gaps.
“The readers will find themselves dumped headlong into a brand new situation, which is going to leave them with some very serious questions,” David continued. “Everybody is going to have no trouble understanding the first story, but there’s going to be at least three points in the first issue where fans are going to go, ‘Huh?’ They’re not going to believe what they just read. There’s at least three key points in that issue that are just going to have a lot of fans doing double takes. I fully expect people to go back and reread my first issue immediately after having gotten to the last page to kind of go, ‘Wait a minute. What did I just read?’ Not that it’s going to be confusing but it’s going to leave them with a lot of questions.”
One question fans have right now is how different will Peter David’s “She-Hulk” be from that of Dan Slott? “She’s still recognizably Jen,” David stated. “Her new status quo, although it’s different from what’s gone on before, will still be connected to what’s gone on before. Sorry I’m not being more specific but I’m a big believer in letting the fans be somewhat surprised. It would be easy for me to tell you this, this and this happens but I’d really rather that people have the opportunity to discover it once they’re reading the book rather than dissecting it three months before it even gets to sale.”
David was similarly elusive on the subject of “She-Hulk’s” supporting cast. “I don’t want to tell you anything about the supporting cast because if I do it would blow key elements of my first issue,” David confessed. “Let’s just say that there will be a supporting cast and to a large extent it’s none of the characters from the law firm, if for no other reason than I don’t have the faintest idea of what Dan’s doing with them.”
One element David could talk about was the book’s setting, or rather lack of setting. “She-Hulk will in fact be perambulating throughout the country,” David said. “She’s going to be a bit more mobile than we’ve seen her. The first issue takes place in Minnesota. Why Minnesota? Why not?”
The tone of David’s “She-Hulk” will be composed of some similar elements from Slott’s run, but for the most part it will be decidedly different. “There will be humorous moments, as it were, but the book is not in any way, shape or form a humor book,” David declared. “We’re not going to have the Leader standing there yelling, ‘I want my lawyer!’ Not only is that not intended as a slam at Dan or for that matter John Byrne but it is instead an acknowledgement that those two gentlemen have done that type of book so well that if I tried to do it, I’m going to come across like I’m trying to cover the same ground that Dan and John did.
“Dan’s ability to mine the minutiae of Marvel Comics continuity and turn them into cleverly wrought and cleverly delineated and humorous legal tales I can’t even begin to approach, and if I did it’s just going to be embarrassing,” David continued. “John really charted the course for doing humorous ‘She-Hulk’ stories in the first place with his fourth wall-breaking and deconstructionist view of She-Hulk. Let’s keep in mind that before John Byrne took her over she was the ‘Savage She-Hulk’ and the stories were pretty much straight up standard issue Marvel tales. So, John was the one who brought a humorous bent to the character that has continued even years and years after he wrote the book. He made that kind of profound mark on the character.
“I feel it’s really time to try and do stories with the character that aren’t seen first and foremost as being humorous. It’s just really time to move away from that — if for no other reason than [because writing a humor book] is exactly what the fans are expecting me to do.”
Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.