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Comic Book / Sensational She-Hulk

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"Okay, now. This is your second chance. If you don't buy my book this time I'm gonna come to your house and rip up all your X-Men."
She-Hulk, the cover of issue #1

Sensational She-Hulk is a Marvel Comics title published from 1989 to 1994, largely written & drawn by John Byrne note .

As suggested by the title, it stars Jennifer Walters — better known as She-Hulk — in her second ongoing series, succeeding Stan Lee & John Buscema's Savage She-Hulk, as well as a 1985 Marvel Graphic Novel with this same name, also written and drawn by Byrne himself.

Sensational She-Hulk is notable for breaking the fourth wall so rampantly that it basically doesn't exist, with Jen regularly addressing the audience mid-story, as well as chastising Byrne and his entire creative team for putting her in ridiculous circumstances that include Mole Man nearly taking her as his wife, being romantically pursued by Santa Claus, and squaring off against a team of reanimated dead mutants.


Furthermore, she even interacts with the comic book medium itself, oftentimes erasing herself from panels, grabbing boxes containing dialogue, narration or editorial notes, and tearing her way through pages to get out of a pickle.

Byrne is the creator mostly associated with this run, but other writers and artists involved in the making of Sensational She-Hulk during his time off the book (from issues #9 — #30) include Steve Gerber, Bryan Hitch, and Louise Simonson.

While Sensational She-Hulk wasn't the first comic book to break the fourth wall, it's perhaps one of the best-remembered (and earliest) examples of the trope in the medium. She doesn't acknowledge the fourth wall as much anymore in recent comics, but she still occasionally reminds readers that she knows they're there. You weren't the first to do it, Deadpool!


So you want tropes, huh?

  • Aborted Arc:
    • In issue #4, there was a brief scene where a mysterious adventurer named "Mr. Powers" leases out an apartment in the building She-Hulk resides in for ninety-nine years. His face is conveniently hidden, although he is described as a hunk. Apparently, he's so intent on getting an apartment next to She-Hulk he even bought out the previous tenants. Nothing more about Mr. Powers was seen or mentioned beyond this issue.
    • Issue #4 also set up a Brick Joke, in which She-Hulk's cook and butler decide to quit for the sake of their insurance policies, and She-Hulk begs them not to leave, saying, "I'm not scheduled to get my robot butler until at least the ninth issue!" Ironically, Byrne quit before the ninth issue, but not before a brief Continuity Nod to the staff quitting was made at the beginning of the eighth. When Byrne returned to the book, this plot thread was eventually resolved in issue #37, but not with a robot butler — rather, with the Black Talon's assistant, Garth (who fell for She-Hulk during the 35th issue).
  • Abusive Advertising: On the cover of the first issue of her Sensational run, She-Hulk addresses the reader, saying that if her book gets cancelled she'll destroy all your X-Men comics. Then on the last issue she demands you turn over your X-Mens for destruction.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: During Steve Gerber's run, she teamed up with Howard the Duck for an adventure visiting several dimensions, including one that consisted of nothing but giant slices of baloney floating through an endless void, which were fed on by little flying gargoyle creatures who would gleefully shout "Blo-neeeee!"
  • The Adjectival Superhero: The Sensational She-Hulk.
  • Armed with Canon: In issue #36, She-Hulk and Wheezi visit She-Hulk's father Morris Walters for the holidays, and Morris takes them in to meet's She-Hulk's never-seen-before brothers and sisters and their families. She-Hulk, in response, pulls out a copy of the sixth issue of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Master Edition and recites all her known relatives up until then, before she kicks the entire extended family out, insisting she's an only child.
    She-Hulk: Bad enough Marvel's done stories that establish both my male cousins are giant monsters! I don't want to provide any further grist for that particular mill!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The covers during John Byrne's historical run on her book are famous for loads of fourth wall breaking. The most famous are her naked using the Comics Code logo to cover herself and Volume 2 Issue 1, in which she warns the readers that, if they don't buy her book, she'll rip up all their X-Men comics. Sixty issues later, when the run's final issue came out, an angry Shulkie tells the readers that she warned them and to hand the X-Men comics over!
  • Brick Joke:
    • See her warning on the cover of issue #1? Fifty-nine issues later, she makes good on it.
    • Throughout issue #35, the "fake Todd Mac Farlane layouts" established in issue #31 are used, except the "shadow-boxes" used behind the panels are missing. At the end of the issue, however, She-Hulk enters her office to find that the final page is covered in black sheeting. Something went wrong with the comic's shipment, apparently.
    She-Hulk: Ma-a-an!! How come this kind of thing never happens over in Namor??
  • Christmas Episode: Issues #8 and #36.
  • Clothing Damage: Frequently. A rather (in)famous panel from the graphic novel has her wearing a shredded top after getting shot at by several soldiers - in a truly amazing victory for Getting Crap Past the Radar, her nipples are clearly visible, barely covered by what's left of the shirt. The inker revealed that he added them in without John Byrne's approval and that deadline crunch was most likely the reason they weren't caught.
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: In issue #34, when obscure character Mahkizmo reveals himself, a editor footnote appears congratulating the reader with a "no-prize" if they recognize him before the reveal. Two pages later, Samuel David Barone reveals himself as the Black Talon (himself an obscure character), and another footnote appears, this time asking, "Er...John, I don't mean to get picky, but didn't we just do this bit two pages ago, with Mahkizmo?"
  • End-of-Series Awareness: The last cover provides a rather threatening version.
  • Exploiting the Fourth Wall: In issue #5, She-Hulk escapes from Doctor Bong's Bongvision™ world by ripping a hole in the page, leading the other characters across two pages of ads, and ripping back into reality at a later point in the story.
  • Exact Words: Played with. During issue #8, Nick St. Christopher gives She-Hulk a present, instructing her to "use it this Christmas for something special". In issue #36, when She-Hulk wonders how to realize her father's Christmas wish despite being unable to revert to human form, Wheezi reminds her of the present and recommends making use of it. She-Hulk argues that Christmas had come and gone twice in real-time. "Not in your book," Wheezi responds.
  • Footnote Fever: In issue #38, She-Hulk chews out John Byrne for a plot development she's displeased with yet again, while Renée Whitterstaetter provides footnotes for which earlier issues she refers to in her rant, leading to thisnote :
    Awright! Awright! It's bad enough She-Hulk's reading me the riot act! You don't have to annotate it! - John
    But that's part of my job, John. You know how the readers love these footnotes. - Renée
    Sure, sure. And it helps move the back issues, so the store owners love 'em, too... but do they have to be at my expense? - John
    Well, what do you suggest I do? You know it's Marvel policy to provide a footnote for any past issue reference. It gives new readers some sense of what's going on, even if they don't actually go out and buy the back numbers. - Renée
    Granted. But usually these things are just, you know, dry-as-dust historical notations. Oh, sure, sometimes we try to make 'em seem more colorful or even humorous, but the fact of the matter...
    She-Hulk: (getting crowded out by the footnotes) DO YOU MIND?!?
  • The Ghost: The villain of Issue #48, which She-Hulk explains wasn't determined, so they let the reader imagine their favorite being involved in the story. The villain's appearance is kept entirely off panel, and their name and traits are portrayed in character dialogue as modifiers.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Issue #12, in which Jen travels to Hollywood to investigate a movie being made about her.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • The series is famous for its characters' acknowledgement of the comic medium, including climbing across panel borders, referencing captions, and other related awareness.
    • When she gained her sidekick Weezi, Shulkie asked how Weezi was able to walk between comic panels, only to be told that it's similar to the way She-Hulk is able to talk to the reader. It's also because Weezi is an ex-comic heroine herself (from Marvel's predecessor in the 1940s), who used the same schtick in her series. Weezi knows that she was aware that she and her (late) husband began aging in "real time" because they were no longer appearing regularly in published stories, and thus deliberately insinuated herself into Shulkie's life (and then-new series).
    • In the 50th issue, the book's editor, Renee, kidnapped John Byrne and locked him Bound and Gagged in a closet so she and She-Hulk could find a new writer for the book. The issue ended with She-Hulk accidentally killing Byrne.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Just few examples during Byrne's run. In first several pages of issue #40, She-Hulk is skipping rope, apparently naked (actually wearing skimpy undies that were hidden by the blur lines.) In #45, nearly all the story is filled with a big, casual pinup of Jen that steals the spotlight from the actual story narrated in the box.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Parodied in issue #12, when Jen is ambushed by an Entertainment Tonight film crew led by Mary Hart.
      She-Hulk: Shouldn't we be giving you a parody name or something? Like Mary Spleen?
      Mary Hart: Get real. Like we care if we're in a comic book.
    • Later in the same issue, it's revealed that Jen is going to be played in a biopic by the petite starlet "P. Isadora". Jen immediately lampshades the fact that her name got changed.
  • No Fourth Wall: As mentioned above, this series breaks the fourth wall so frequently that it basically doesn't exist, and a large chunk of its humor derives from Jen exploiting her knowledge of the comic book medium and that she's a fictional character.
  • Off-Model: Issue #12, the Horrible Hollywood issue, has a few panels depicting the filming of a Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. The colorist gave Geordi Data's skin tone and Riker Geordi's. (This may have been intentional.)
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: During the story arc where She-Hulk battles Spragg the Living Hill in space (Issues #40-43), She-Hulk defeats Spragg in issue #42, only to end up fighting Xemnu the Titan in the following issue before the arc wraps up.
  • Shameful Strip: In issue #18, she is forced to strip after being captured by semi-rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Somewhat subverted in that she's found great confidence and positive self-image in her She-Hulk form. She even drops her (already Fanservice-y) outfit on the floor and asks "Okay, bright boys, now what? Maybe you'd like me to jump rope for you?" (Of course, her boyfriend, Wyatt, who is also being held hostage, is clearly not amused by it any of it, and neither is Dugan when he shows up in the next scene.)
  • Shirtless Scene: In Issue #38, when She-Hulk suffers Clothing Damage from fighting Mahkizmo which leaves her topless, Wyatt takes off his shirt so he could give it to her, leading her to comment that her female readers got something to look at for once.
  • Shout-Out: Issue #12, the Horrible Hollywood issue, has several shout-outs to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Benny the Cab has a cameo appearance, and Jen does an inadvertent Roger Rabbit impersonation after having something heavy dropped on her head. Also, the villain's plot turns out to be a rip-off of the plot of The Producers, which Jen immediately lampshades.
  • Trapped in TV Land: She-Hulk met old Howard the Duck foe Doctor Bong when he set about changing television shows' internal reality (just roll with it) and accidentally zapped her into them. Possibly the most infamously surreal Shulkie story ever.
  • Travel Montage: A panel in issue #12 shows Jen flying across country in the traditional red-line-on-map format. The next panel shows that her plane literally has an enormous red line trailing behind it, with an airport worker in the background muttering that Indiana Jones has a lot to answer for.
  • Tricked Into Signing: In issue #12, the villain uses the old "can I have your autograph?" trick to get Jen's signature on a release form allowing him to make a film of her life. One would think she'd be too smart to fall for that one.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: Issue #38.
  • Weight Woe: In Issue #42, Weezi quits the storyline in protest of Byrne making her fat again. She returns in the following issue after negotiating to be only slightly overweight.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In issue #12, Jen visits the set of a movie being made about her. Several people mistake her for an aspiring actress or stunt double, and they all criticize her "costume".

"OK, kids, we had a deal... now hand over those X-Men comics!"
She-Hulk, the cover of issue #60

Alternative Title(s): The Sensational She Hulk


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