In the Marvel Universe there’s just one “Incredible Hulk,” but there are two very different “Sensational” and “Savage” She-Hulks. Jennifer Walters, the original She-Hulk, assumed her emerald hued, super strong alter ego thanks to a blood transfusion from her gamma irradiated cousin, Bruce Banner. Lyra is a young soldier from a possible dystopian future world where men and women are at war. Her ability to transform into a jade giantess stems from the fact that her mother created her with DNA stolen from the Hulk.
Recently, the two She-Hulks crossed paths when Lyra traveled back in time. Jen helped this new She-Hulk escape the clutches of Norman Osborn during the “Dark Reign” storyline. In the recent “World War Hulks” storyline Lyra would return the favor when she helped liberate Jen from the custody of the villainous think-tank known as the Intelligentsia.
“World War Hulks” has ended, but the adventure is just beginning for both women in the recently-launched four issue “She-Hulks” miniseries by writer Harrison Wilcox and artist Ryan Stegman. When Jen and Lyra find themselves living together, Lyra must navigate the confusing world of high school as Jen finds herself in the even more bewildering role of guardian to a teenage girl. Fortunately the duo have an escape: They get to spend evenings and weekends chasing down the fugitive members of the Intelligentsia.
“She-Hulks” #2 is in stores this week and CBR News spoke with Wilcox about what readers can expect from the rest of the series.
CBR News: Harrison, let’s start with the big question. It was recently revealed that “She-Hulks” is now a four issue mini-series instead of an ongoing. How did this change affect the story you wanted to tell? Were you able to properly wrap up most of the story threads you introduced, or were some threads left hanging?
Harrison Wilcox: To be honest, not much has changed. Each arc was intended to stand on its own, none more so than the first. We were building a foundation for our characters and wanted to make sure it was solid all by itself. For any storytelling medium, especially in this climate, you have to plan for the worst and make sure everything sorts itself out in the time you know you have to tell the story. Everything will be properly wrapped up by issue #4. Ryan and I certainly had more ideas for the characters down the road, but they’ll have to wait to be told another day.
In #1 you changed the dynamic between the She-Hulks a little by sending Lyra to live with Jen and enrolling her in high school. How do you think this will affect their relationship? Are either of them ready to relate to each other in this new almost parent-daughter style relationship?
I think Jen feels more and more pressure to be a good role model. Before she only had to worry about herself in regards to both her personal life and her life as a superhero. Now she’s got the added weight of Lyra who is a complete fish out of water. It’s hard raising a girl alone in New York City, and it’s just as hard to teach someone how to be a superhero. Jen has to do both at once and never mind that Lyra’s also from a “savage future.” This pressure is going to lead to a lot of tension and frustration as both She-Hulks learn to get comfortable in their new lives.
Speaking of new and uncomfortable experiences, much of the action in “She-Hulks” #1 revolved around Lyra’s first day as a high school student. What made you want to put her in a school environment and how much time will Lyra spend in high school in upcoming issues?
Putting her in high school seemed like a natural fit. I know that it can be argued to be cliche, but from a storytelling perspective it’s a great place to send your characters. Just look at Peter Parker when he’s in high school. There’s so much condensed drama and conflict and then also a certain familiarity and relatability for the audience. There’s tons of stuff for characters to react to and develop from. And when you only have 22 pages and also have the Hulk Smash stuff to get to, it also becomes a tool of speed. Beyond that there’s always a different way to spin the classic new kid in school story. I wanted to start with the sort of first-impression-common-misconception that everyone experiences on some level, and have the characters live and grow through that. Perceptions can change the more people learn about one another.
To answer your second question, yes, there will be more high school scenes in the upcoming issues.
In terms of plot and theme, what are the remaining chapters of “She-Hulks” about?
All four issues, while they work as individual stories, are also a part of one big story. So the plots and themes you see in the first issue carry through for the remaining three.
It looks like the adversaries for the remaining chapters of “She-Hulks” will be the fugitive members of the Intelligentsia. Is that correct? In your mind what makes these characters such good foils for the She-Hulks? Just how personal is the conflict between the She-Hulks and the fugitive Intelligentsia members?
Yes, the book focuses on the She-Hulks rounding up the remaining members of the Intelligentsia. Right now they’re in various stages of licking their wounds, rebuilding their lives, or contemplating retirement after what happened in “World War Hulks.” To Banner it makes sense to round them up before they start causing trouble again.
Don’t forget these guys all had a hand in She-Hulk’s imprisonment, so she definitely has a stake in rounding these guys up. It seemed like the logical choice for Banner to send the She-Hulks after them. Just the right amount of bad for the She-Hulks to take down while getting used to fighting alongside one another.
Who are some of the other important supporting players in the remaining issues of this series?
The story stays mostly on Jen and Lyra, but both Amelia and Jake [Lyra’s classmates] have parts to play in Lyra’s growth as a hero in the current Marvel world. Someone from Jen’s past will show up a few times, too!
What kind of tone will we see from the remaining issues of “She-Hulks?” It seems like both action and humor are integral elements for this series?
There will be lots more fun action, and I hope what people also consider humor! Now that we’ve sort of set up their world in this book, you’ll see more of the She-Hulks playing off one another in the next three issues as they get more comfortable with one another.
What’s it like working with artist Ryan Stegman? What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?
Well, I’m sure he’s going to read this so I better be nice… He’s great. Gonna be huge someday soon. I feel very lucky to have the chance to work with him while we’re both still early in our careers. We have a certain drive and ambition to do the absolute best book we can. We’re both learning new and better ways to tell stories and I think that’s evident in the four issues. Each book is better than the last.
Any other upcoming work, comic related or otherwise, that fans of your work should be on the look out for?
I’m working at Marvel TV now for Mr. [Jeph] Loeb. First project up is the “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated show. Lots of big talented people involved in that, but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet!