For Bruce Banner, being a gamma powered goliath was a curse, the Marvel Comics hero’s unstoppable physical power fueled by a boundless anger. But his cousin, Jennifer Walters, lacked this rage and as as the Sensational She-Hulk, was able to use her boundless strength alongside the positive qualities that drove her, like courage and a determination to protect the innocent. As a result, Jen built a successful career as both a superhero and a lawyer. So what happens though when tragedy strikes, and Walters suddenly finds herself dealing with many of the personal demons her cousin wrestled with?
That’s one of the central questions of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s December-launching “Hulk” series, which finds Jen Walters juggling her responsibilities as hero and attorney while dealing with the physical and emotional wounds she suffered during “Civil War II,” where she almost died in a battle with Thanos and her cousin was killed by the hero Hawkeye who was later acquitted. We spoke with Tamaki about her take on how being a Hulk has changed for Jen, which aspects of the character’s life she’s initially interested in exploring, and how the tone of “Hulk” will compare to Walters previous “She-Hulk” books.
CBR: For years, Jennifer Walters has been an upbeat character who has been able to enjoy a dual life as both a hero and a lawyer, but when you pick up with her in “Hulk” #1 she’ll be coping with the fact that she almost died. On top of that, while she was comatose, one of her closest family members was murdered. Initially, how will those events effect Jen’s sense of self?
Mariko Tamaki: I think when horrible things happen, it doesn’t necessarily change you, but it changes the way you are in the world. That’s the tricky thing about it, really. You, the person you are, is still there, but you’re stuck in this space that makes it hard to be you. I suppose in terms of a sense of self, one thing trauma can bring out is all these parts of yourself you didn’t even know you had. It’s a party, and everyone you didn’t invite is invited. Jen’s going to be dealing with all of that.
Jen has had occasional moments of intense rage in the past, but unlike other Hulks, anger was never much of an issue for her. It sounds like that’s changed given the events of “Civil War II.”
Being Hulk is definitely a different thing for Jen now. Both the physicality and meaning of being Hulk has changed for Jen after Bruce’s death.
Jen’s past series have been about how she juggles being a hero and an attorney in the strange and often humorous world of superhuman law. Will you be adopting a similar approach in “Hulk?” How does “Hulk” compare to Jen’s past solo titles?
I was very inspired by earlier She-Hulk comics. I love Jen’s sense of humor and her personality. I’ve done my best to carry that into this series. I think serious and funny is the best combination. And yes, Jen is still a lawyer. There are superhumans out there who need good legal representation! Justice, as we all know, comes in many forms.
What does that mean for the types of stories we’ll initially see in your book? Will the action unfold both on the streets and in the court room?
I was intrigued by the idea of a superhuman lawyer, so that’s definitely in there. I’m also interested in that first step off the battle field, and that’s the step Jen will be taking in this first series. But yes, many of those steps will be taken in a lawyer-like suit jacket.
Who are some of the supporting cast members Jen will initially interact with in “Hulk?” Will we see some familiar faces from previous series? New characters? Or a mixture of both?
Most of the focus, for the moment, is on Jen. But her friends are definitely looking out for her.
What types of antagonists are you initially interested in pitting Jen against? Will we see some new foes and perhaps some familiar faces like Titania?
I researched some very odd combinations of things writing this villain, and watched a lot of TV. I’m not sure if that tells you anything.
Your collaborator on “Hulk” is artist Nico Leon. His recent work on books like “Ms. Marvel” and “Spider-Man” really showed his skill at depicting action, humor, and emotion. What do you enjoy most about Nico’s style?
I love how Nico pulls out the most interesting details and uses them to tell a story. He and I have had so many fascinating conversations working on this. He is so funny.
Jen’s career as a lawyer and her friendly demeanor made her one of the most connected heroes in the Marvel Universe. Will that continue in “Hulk?” Do you have plans for guest stars?
My focus is definitely on Jen for this, but Jen is definitely still the connected person she was. So I can’t imagine these people not finding their way into her life some how.
Finally, “Hulk” is likely to be some readers first exposure to your work. For those readers who might be curious about some of the other work you’ve done or are doing what are some of your books that you recommend?
If people would like to read my past work, they can pick up the two comics I co-created with my cousin, Jillian Tamaki, “This One Summer” and “Skim.” Currently I have a few upcoming projects, including a graphic novel in progress with the amazing Rosemary Valero-O’Connell called “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me,” which I’m super excited about. You can pick up “Tomb Raider,” which I work on with Phillip Sevy, in stores now, or in a few months you can pick up “Supergirl: Being Super” with Joëlle Jones.
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