WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers #8 by Jason Aaron, David Marquez, Justin Ponsor and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.
Over the decades, one of the biggest debates in comics, one which rages to this very day, is who is the strongest Hulk. We’ve seen Bruce Banner’s Jade Giant hold that mantle for some time, and there’s no doubt his new power-up in The Immortal Hulk has made him a candidate yet again.
But there’s also been Amadeus Cho, Red Hulk (General Ross), Red She-Hulk (Betty Ross), and even Bruce’s son, Skaar. Right now, though, the title belongs to someone Avengers and Fantastic Four fans are very familiar with: Jen Walters, aka She-Hulk.
Jen has been through a lot of changes over the last few years. In Civil War II, the combined stress of fighting Thanos and losing Bruce at the same time triggered emotional reactions within her that turned her into the Grey She-Hulk, which was her largest and strongest form ever at the time.
When her psychosomatic issues subsided, she returned to her green form, which eventually led to her uniting with Cap, Iron Man, Thor (her new romantic interest) and Co. to fight off the Dark Celestials invading Earth. Ultimately, they found out humanity (which was created from the remains of a fallen Celestial) was actually meant to be a cure to wipe out the Celestials’ insectoid-like enemies, the Horde. And so they lived up to their purpose, saving the planet and whatnot, but in the process Jen’s physiology was altered again. The source of this change, though, remains a mystery.
First, she made contact with a fallen Celestial, a “good” one named Eson who connected to her mind and told her about them being Earth’s saving grace. It then teleported her to the Avengers, basically throwing her into the heat of battle — but now, she was more savage with less of her human persona present. She spoke like a baby (well, like Bruce when he turned into his Hulk) and was only interested in smashing things.
She was also outputting heavy doses of gamma radiation, using it to warm Thor when it got lethally cold at one point. The tide was turned further when she and Thor partook of this artifact, an egg containing Blood of Ymir (the first Frost Giant), which grew them to the size of a Celestial for battle.
In her giant form, literally the biggest a Hulk’s ever been, she was a force to be reckoned with, displaying Earth-shattering power-levels like never before. But in Issue #8, we learn all this came at a price. Following the fight, Jen’s body is drastically different. It’s uncertain if this was in the works before she met the Celestials, or if it’s a side effect of Eson’s cosmic energy, Ymir’s blood, or a combination of it all.
What’s for certain, as Doctor Strange runs his mystical and scientific tests, is that her gamma count is higher, which is why she’s exponentially outputting more. He tells her she’s a gamma W.M.D., with power levels more explosive than Bruce, and if she crosses this threshold he doesn’t know what’ll happen to her… or the surroundings.
Strange is concerned because if she pushes herself to the limit, as she’s been doing lately, she runs the risk of losing control. Jen promises to be responsible with her new powers, but Strange is still wary of her cutting loose. While he can’t diagnose her, a part of him is wondering if this is simply part of her evolution.
Nonetheless, she reassures him she’ll be safe, promising to be the “biggest, baddest” Hulk out there, but without going over the edge. Only time will tell if She-Hulk keeps true to her word, but right now she’s a ticking time-bomb, and someone that’s surpassed even the power levels of her famous cousin.
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