For Your Consideration: Marvel’s She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Dan Slott’s a funny guy. He cut his teeth writing comics’ more amusing comics for DC Comics and Marvel Comics before being given a shot on a series title. His work on Arkham Asylum: Living Hell in 2003, finally got him noticed and Marvel came calling, offering him a She-Hulk ongoing title.

What no one realized at the time, was that he had been trained for a decade and was ready to explode. His work on that series propelled him to the top of readers’ favorite lists and despite low sales, the series was relaunched and thanks to cleverly tie-ins, rose in sales. This set the stage for his promotion to Spider-Man, where he became a superstar.

She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus

She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus


It’s appropriate now to look back at those early works and enjoy anew Slott’s fresh take on the heroine. His entire run of She-Hulk (2004) #1-12, She-Hulk (2005) #1-21 and Marvel Westerns: Two-Gun Kid will be presented in She-Hulk by Dan Slott Omnibus.

Prior to the Slott take on the character, She-Hulk was larger than life in many ways and was a truly liberated woman who indulged in drinking, partying, and sleeping with men at whim without mooning over them. Jennifer Walters embraced her life until she crossed a line and was asked to leave Avengers Mansion. She accepted working at Goodman, Leiber, Kurtzburg, Holliway, and Book’s law library with the understanding that she work in her human form.

She-Hulk #8

She-Hulk #8


The firm is located in Timely Plaza, a nice nod to the early days of Marvel when it was run by Martin Goodman, Stanley Leiber, and Jacob Kurtzburg, among others. The series also benefitted from a diverse and rich supporting cast including Awesome Andy, once the Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android but now communicating through his ever-present chalkboard; the time-displaced Two-Gun Kid as their retainered bounty-hunter/bailiff; and Stu, her fellow librarian who appears to be Slott’s mouthpiece throughout the series.

That first year was largely drawn by Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa (1-4, 7-8), relying on Paul Pelletier, Tom Simmons, Don Hillsman, Roland Paris (5-6), and Pelletier and Rick Magyar (9-12) for some help. The clever covers came from Adi Granov (1-4) and Mike Mayhew (5-12).

Sales were soft enough for the book to be canceled but then there came a clamor so it was almost immediately revived and this time it outlasted Slott. One again, art came from Bobillo and Sosa (1-3, 5), Scot Kolins (4), Will Conrad (6-7), Paul Smith (8), Joe Rubinstein (9), Rich Burchett and Nelson DeCastro (10), and Cliff Rathburn (11-21). These covers came from Greg Horn (1-19) and Emily Watson (20-21).

She-Hulk #5

She-Hulk #5


The first year was chockfull of guest stars because Slott later admitted he wanted to play with them while he had a chance, sure he’d be tossed out sooner or later. There were cosmic beings with claims against the Earth, villains looking to sue a hero, and so on. For example, we have the trial of Charles Czarkowski whose jury, in the interests of impartiality, is plucked from the past. One such juror proves to be Clint Barton, Hawkeye, then believed to be dead in the continuity. Similarly, the Two-Gun Kind winds up being brought forward in time and stays, working for the law firm, and adjusting to a new century. That’s where Marvel Westerns: Two-Gun Kid comes in, a fun tale from Slott and Eduardo Barreto.

She-Hulk #6

She-Hulk #6


By the second series, Slott began to add some shadings to the suits until Jennifer herself pressed a law suit against her former fellow Avenger Starfox. Eros of Titan, brother to Thanos, had used his innate abilities to initiate a sexual relationship with Jen, one she realized she didn’t really want.

She returns to the courtroom to press her sexual-assault case. Not since Matt Murdock actually tried cases was there this much fun in a courtroom. Considering the slyly named firm specialized in super-hero law, each issue was packed with heroes and villains making walk-throughs. And the antics were not just limited to Earth as the living Tribunal, Thanos and Stafox’s Titan relatives all pay a visit. In turn, the Living Tribunal brings her to Titan as part of the proceedings.

She-Hulk #12

She-Hulk #12


All of this comes to the attention of the Time Variance Authority, which becomes a regular thorn in Jen’s side, climaxing in a trial that would determine if the She-Hulk should be erased from the timeline. This story ran in 2005’s She-Hulk #3, which, according to creative counting, also doubled as She-Hulk #100. Slott wrote the oversized story with art from Bobillo, Pelletier, Scott Kolins, Mike Vosburg, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, Ron Frenz, Joe Sinnott & Sal Buscema; Mike Mayhew, Don Simpson, Lee Weeks, and Eric Powell.

Osvaldo Oyola at the Hooded Utilitarian wrote, “At the heart of Dan Slott’s run on what are referred to as She-Hulk volumes 1 & 2… is an alternately critical and nostalgic concern with the subjects of continuity and rupture in serialized superhero comic book narratives. Slott uses the space of a marginal title that probably never sold very well to undertake a meta-narrative project that is as much enmeshed in the insularity of the mainstream comics world (what many people refer to as “continuity porn”) as it is a critique of such obsessions.”

Slott doesn’t shy away from the big questions, the moral decisions Jennifer has to make in both her incarnations. She has to choose a side during the Civil War and determine if it is appropriate for S.H.I.E.L.D. to expect her to tackle her cousin’s enemies after the Illuminati sent Bruce Banner into space. He also has no problem taking on his bosses with comments and asides that skewer some of the continuity convolutions that plague readers. This is especially true with issue #20, cowritten with Ty Templeton, and just before he got tapped to join the Spider-Man team.

She-Hulk #11

She-Hulk #11


It’s not all legal antics and super-hero action. She also initiates a romantic relationship with John Jameson, getting engaged to and marrying the man only to lose him to his Man-Wolf alter ego. When she learns her whirlwind romance was courtesy of Starfox, she has to deal with her new domesticity (complicated by Jameson being genuinely in love with her).

Oyola added, “The comic has a lot of respect and attention to the minute convolutions of Marvel Comic history—one might even go so far to say it has a reverence for them—while never forgetting they are just funny books. The fun is in engaging with the stories to find ways as fans to make sense of it all (or just make fun of the fact that it doesn’t make sense), but not to take it all so seriously that you come off as if trying to argue a federal case from comic books.”

There are too few comics at Marvel these days that so gleefully plays with the comic book conventions and Marvel continuity and this collection reminds us how much fun that could be.

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