Marvel Champs Monday: The Fractured Mind of She-Hulk

Luke: She-Hulk is perhaps the most divisive character in the entire Marvel Champions line-up. She’s easily the character I’ve had some of the hardest time with, and while the duality of the character can be a boon, it can make her design feel fractured.

Phil: Fitting for a character that’s split between two personalities.

Luke: Except traditionally she isn’t. Jennifer Walters, while she can transform to her human self, rarely does, maintaining her personality and ideals no matter what form she takes. She has, for a long time, represented the opposite of her cousin, being both a legal genius and unstoppable physical force.

Phil: Most of her series involve her starting or working in a law firm of some kind, taking commanding roles wherever she goes while helping the superhuman and helpless get justice.

At least, until Civil War 2.

Luke: [sighs] Yes. That.

For those unfamiliar, after the death of Bruce Banner for the umpteenth time, a recent interpretation of Jennifer Walters has rendered her emotionally unstable, showing signs of PTSD that make it hard for her to control her reactions and powers.

Phil: Which, as you suggested earlier, is very strange for the emerald hero.

Luke: Jennifer is confident. Overly confident in most comics, to the point where she gets herself kicked out of the Avengers Mansion because she is so full of herself. She is always in control; her flaw comes from what she does with that control.

Recent comics, however, has leaned into this more Hulk-lite interpretation of the character, an influence that can very easily be seen here. Sure, Legal Practice and Supernatural Law Division can be helpful tools, but compared to her arsenal of attacks, they rarely amount to much.

Phil: Especially when both are Alter-Ego-only actions and require some hefty payment.

Luke: Art from this more recent version of She-Hulk, can be seen in Focused Rage, Split Personality, and the powerful Gamma Slam. These images come from a series tellingly labeled Hulk, making her a stand-in for Bruce until his eventual return… except she never rebounded from this personality shift, at least not yet.

Phil: The series was later re-labeled as a She-Hulk title, but only in the last couple of issues, but by then, the damage was already done. While the series concludes with her coming to terms with her trauma, the Avengers series published shortly after continues to present Jennifer as a barbaric brute, taking on the monosyllabic speaking pattern Hulk is known for.

This is also where the image for Superhuman Strength comes from, again showing off a more raged-out version of She-Hulk.

Luke: That’s the tricky thing with comics; with different authors penning the same characters all the time, the interpretations of a given hero can range drastically. And while one author may want their interpretation of a character to have a conclusion to the story arch they crafted, another may just choose to… ignore that shift in favor of their own narrative designs.

Phil: Sooooo, what does that have to do with Marvel Champions? … Luke? Any ideas?

Luke: Well, to my mind, She-Hulk should have been more balanced between thwarting and attacking. As it stands, she has tools to do both, but the design is clearly lopsided in favor of punching things. This is also shown through the use of art, with many of the assets being pulled specifically from these more recent comics that show Jennifer in a less flattering light.

Phil: It’s also telling that both her thwarting tools are original art, whereas all her aggressive cards are the ones to feature art from comics. That means it’s unlikely that as much inspiration was pulled from her comics released prior to 2016.

Luke: We don’t know that for sure, but the design speaks volumes. Sure, the legal elements are still there, but they’re underplayed and far more situational.

Phil: A lot of people online are theorizing that the upcoming Hulk hero pack will present a better version of this hero design, and I’m inclined to agree, but only slightly. I think Hulk will end up being a better version of what this design feels like it wants to do; be hyper-aggressive with a few mitigation tools.

Luke: Ultimately, I think She-Hulk is a strong hero to play with, despite her thematic disconnects. I definitely want to revisit her now that we’ve taken a closer look at her origins, and I think what flexibility is here can be very helpful.

Phil: It’s a shame that this is the version we’re more likely to see of Jenn moving forwards in popular media. I’m really hoping the Disney+ show is more in line with her earlier work, but I can’t imagine that will be the case.

Luke: Thanks so much for taking the time to read this particularly different article. Let us know your thoughts and if you’d want to see more content like this down the road. See ya’ll next week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *