Above: Cover for the Book, She Hulk and Savage She Hulk are engaged in battle (which doesn’t happen in the book) Savage She Hulk falling upon She Hulk from the right, fist raised, yelling, She Hulk juts her rotund breasts out in a kind of defense display, opposing fist raised. Both of them bear muscular arms and thighs, which do not alight properly with their hips. Their belly buttons are clearly visible through vacuum sealed suits. Their hair is the largest part of their bodies. And in the background, Hulk’s growling visage takes this entire scene in, adding a nice layer of creepy, considering everyone here is related.
Plotwise, She Hulks is not particularly impressive or terrible.
(Spoilers Follow) It follows She Hulk, Jennifer Walters and Savage She Hulk, Lyra, who is Hulk and Thundra’s daughter from the future as they live in New York at the behest of Bruce Banner.
They fight bad guys, make one liners, go on shopping sprees, and Lyra is made to attend high school like a “Normal Girl” creating a certain amount of drama as she works to fit in. This all felt tired to me though as it followed the plot of many teen romcoms and hell, even a lot of young hero comics now, but it didn’t bring anything engaging to the table or really fulfill the potential of the material. Lyra comes from a dystopian future where men and women all fight each other (I’m dubious on the battle of the binary theme, but haven’t read the material to have an opinion.) She’s set up as a warrior, as someone who’d rather punch things than talk–but we don’t get to see that come through in her interactions with her peers much at all. When we do see it–in a brilliant exchange with two footballers who try to pressure her into sex and in an emotionally jarring dodgeball scene–it works well and brings something engaging into the story. But these moments are infrequent and the spaces between are filled in with dress shopping and Jennifer lounging in a bathtub, reuniting with an old flame and behaving pretty irresponsibly for someone who’s supposed to be an ace attorney. I’m hoping that’s explained in outside volumes, because here I didn’t get much contest for her behavior. The story also frustrates me because after Lyra makes a mistake in trying to pass herself as a “civilian,” Bruce jumps on Jennifer saying if she doesn’t shape up she’ll have to go back to the headquarters with him. This frustrates me in the fish out of water stories, because it often comes immediately upon the first mistake of the fish in question and when said fish has received no guidance or training in how to behave. Bruce is the one who says Lyra needs to be with her peers, but he doesn’t try and offer her any advice, neither does Jennifer, they just drop her in High School and expect her to adjust to a time period and culture that’s entirely alien to her. Gee, I wonder why things went wrong? It’s always struck me as a weak plot device that makes competent characters logically blind for the sake of a weak conflict point.
But overall, the story isn’t bad, it’s entertaining watching the She Hulks knock out bad guys when they aren’t pretending to be civilians, there are some genuinely good moments when they are in civvies and the book passes quickly. Though this volume ends on a rather brutal note which harkens back to the Marvel Universe’s “Civilians hate super heroes/mutants Rawwwr Go home!” tendencies, which I’m not crazy over..
My biggest problem with this book is the art–this book initially ran in 2010, but its art bears a hearty nineties influence.Hulk is absurdly massive in comparison to his female counterparts, who in their Hulk forms put on little visible muscle mass or height, despite the fact that the book cites She-Hulk at 700lbs. Instead they appear green and statuesque, the most growth their Hulk forms show is in their breasts, an aspect which is highlighted through several inappropriately sexual panels–which is disturbing considering Savage She Hulk is scarcely 15.
This unfortunately is a pervasive problem in mainstream superhero comics, the heroines, even ones who are meant to be heavy hitters, are often designed to look more scintillating than intimidating. This is actually worsened in the bonus issue celebrating She-Hulk’s anniversary at the end of the book, where several “haw haw, She Hulk’s so Sexy” jokes are dropped and worse, on the ending splash page both her and Red She-Hulk’s nipples are visibly poking through their costumes.
This is the unappealing and demeaning cherry on top of the gratuitous amount of cleavage present on this page (again including Savage She-Hulk, whose nipples are thankfully not present). It’s also anatomically incorrect, which is a huge beef of mine with big name comics. Okay, you want to draw the women sexy, that’s annoying in itself when you make every character sexy, but it’s way worse when you break the laws of physics and anatomy to do so. The artist has their nipples canted downward and too far off to the side just for the sake of putting them in there, while maintaining the perfectly spherical shape of their breasts. It’s layers of anatomical inaccuracy in the name of titillation (sure, pun intended). This feeds into the disturbing notion that women heroes cannot be sexy if drawn as powerful as they’re meant to be, or even anatomically accurate. The ridiculous attempts at sexualizing the She Hulks, to the detriment of depicting them as muscular or daring giving them waists wider than their heads, ruined this book for me.