Avengers #20 // Review
Jen “She-Hulk” Walters has been through a tremendous amount over the past 40 years. A few months back, she exploded. She confronts herself on the dizzying complexities of a fractured life, in the latest issue of The Avengers. Writer Jason Aaron handles the most recent turn for the life of Marvel’s most consistently compelling character in an issue drawn by Ed McGuinness. Jen’s jades, greens and all of the rest of the color come to the page courtesy of Jason Keith. She-Hulk needs her own series again. Intended or not, Aaron and McGuinness make a solid case for another She-Hulk series in this latest issue of Avengers.
She-Hulk’s latest incarnation is put on trial. The prosecuting attorney? That would be Jen Walter. The honorable Judge Jennifer Walters presides over the trial. This isn’t a dream. Black Panther refers to it as “psychoactive calisthenics.” Things have been particularly rough for Walters since her encounter with the cosmic power of a dying Celestial. She’s struggling to keep it all together as she and the rest of the Avengers deal with the War of the Gods. Personal drama is thrown against the larger tapestry of a war that has been brought to earth from the Nine Realms of Norse Cosmology.
Some time ago, writer Peter David did deep psychoanalysis of the life of Bruce Banner as it pertained to the Hulk. It was somewhere in the vicinity of the 30th anniversary of the character. Jennifer Walters is well over 40 years old now. Aaron takes a compelling look at the long and winding history of the character in and within the context of a major invasion from another realm. Aaron even manages to fuse the Byrne-era fourth wall awareness of the character into her personality in narration that ties together a very compelling story. (There’s even rather direct reference to an unexpectedly classic Byrne Fantastic Four which centered around She-Hulk.) Aaron isn’t exactly exploring terribly new ground with the character, but She-Hulk is given a long-range perspective on her biography that Marvel rarely offers characters these days. It’s quite refreshing and refreshingly concise. Here’s hoping that enough people take a look at this issue to prompt Marvel to take another look at giving Jen her own title again.
McGinnis and Morales allow She-Hulk to dominate the page. She’s as big, powerful, and totally overwhelming as her powers and her problems, both psychological and external. The conflict bursts across the page in vast expanses of page amidst the glow of the green, rippling muscles and the blur of motion lines. Elsewhere, still, moments take a look at Jen and her inner turmoil in moody close-ups that have her crowding-out everything else on the page. It’s an impressively varied and nuanced look at the many struggles of She-Hulk.
So much of what Aaron has been doing with his end of War of the Realms in the Avengers seems to have been a process of testing various characters for future projects. The Squadron Supreme issue felt a bit off, but this issue and the one before it (featuring Gorilla-Man) show a willingness to further explore aspects of the Marvel Universe that have faded out of the center of the frame in recent months. This closer look at She-Hulk turns out to have been one of the best issues in the whole War of the Realms event thus far.