Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / She-Hulk

Go To
The strong arm of justice.

"She-Hulk has the potential to be our Wonder Woman. A powerful female with a strong moral center and a determination to do what's right. She's also a unique combination of brains and brawn. The ideal She-Hulk story is one that plays on both aspects of her make-up."

Once upon a time, there was Bruce Banner, whose gamma-irradiated blood made him the Hulk. He keeps going on about how you wouldn't like him when he's angry, but he's actually pretty damn popular. During the height of the 1970s TV series, the same producers created a successful TV adaptation of Martin Caidin's Cyborg as The Six Million Dollar Man and, seeing an opportunity, created an original spin-off character: Jaimie Sommer's The Bionic Woman, which they owned completely.

Marvel Comics, knowing as they do the power of a Distaff Counterpart and not wanting to lose partial control of their franchise, were quick to snag the name She-Hulk for trademark reasons, which became one of Stan Lee's last original creations for Marvel. Thus, Bruce Banner's lawyerly cousin, Jennifer Walters, became gravely injured and received an emergency transfusion of his irradiated blood, becoming first The Savage, and then, eventually, The Sensational She-Hulk: "The Second Strongest One There Is". The character first appeared in Savage She-Hulk #1 (February, 1980), created by Stan Lee and John Buscema.

She-Hulk's Jekyll & Hyde tendencies are rather more subtle than the Hulk's. Jennifer Walters is a slightly timid, insecure lawyer who, under the effects of gamma radiation, can voluntarily transform into the seven-foot-tall green-skinned Amazonian Beauty. While She-Hulk was originally a rampaging rage monster not unlike her cousin, it turned out Jennifer's psychological issues were far easier to deal with than Bruce's, She-Hulk gained intelligence equal to that of Jennifer herself and began acting out the fantasies Jen found too intimidating, becoming both a powerful warrior and a voluptuous flirtatious party girl. In fact, for a long time Jennifer was permanently stuck in her super-powered form and didn't mind at all, and friends and close allies regularly addressed her by her human name, thus implying — at least under most writers — that the only differences between the She-Hulk and Jennifer Walters personas from then on were of physical nature. She was able to pursue a successful career as a lawyer despite being a green-skinned amazon, and had a much better control of her temper than her cousin (although, for Jennifer Walters, fear became the trigger of Involuntary Shapeshifting, not anger). She's a sex symbol both within the Marvel Universe and without. Oh, and occasionally she had romantic/erotic dreams of Hercules. Literally, since Herc exists as a real person in the Marvel Universe. About two decades after turning her into She-Hulk for good, the permanence of this state was reverted, and psychological problems that had never really been an issue before were introduced.

She's been a member of The Avengers as well as the Fantastic Four, Future Foundation, The Defenders, Heroes for Hire, S.H.I.E.L.D. and created the "Lady Liberators", to take down the Red Hulk. Her solo title got cancelled (for the fourth time), but she rejoined the Fantastic Four. After Fall of the Hulks and WWH, she's joined her cousin in the team book Incredible Hulks (written by Greg Pak), the first time they've been on a team together. She also co-starred with the Hulk's daughter Lyra in the mini-series She-Hulks (written by Harrison Wilcox).

During She-Hulk's second run under John Byrne, she became completely Fourth Wall Savvy, and once even ran across advertisements trying to reach the next page. (Meanwhile, in a guest appearance in the parodistic Damage Control title, her medium awareness was parodied, depicting her as a crazy lunatic who believes she's a character in a comic book. And the same issue subverted that by having her react to a caption pointing this out. Too bad she never had a crossover with Deadpool... until Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and later this Byrne-inspired Variant Cover.) During the Dan Slott run, when Jen learns that Marvel comics are canon accounts of actual events & authentic enough to be admissible as evidence in court, she's asked if she possesses the ability of fourth wall breaking and she replies — while looking directly at the Fourth Wall — that of course she doesn't.

Charles Soule — himself a practicing attorney — launched a new ongoing series of Jen's solo title in 2014, placing an emphasis on her non-superhero occupation as lawyer and featuring Hellcat as her new private investigator. Due to low sales, the title only ran for twelve issues before getting canceled a year later.

Following the end of Soule's run on her title, Jen showed up in the pages of G. Willow Wilson's A-Force —Marvel's new (all-female) team of Avengers— as their leader. She was also a supporting character in Kate Leth's Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! ongoing series, following Soule's lead in continuing Jen's newfound friendship with Patsy.

In December 2016, another comic was launched with She-Hulk as the lead, this time entitled simply Hulk. She-Hulk, after being in a coma due to the events of Civil War II and learning that she lost someone very close during it, must now process her trauma and learn to overcome her anger. Notable for leaning towards a darker storyline and having a grey She-Hulk, this book is written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Nico Leon.

In June 2017, Jennifer went back to being the normal green-skinned She-Hulk as part of the Marvel Legacy initiative. Hulk was retitled She-Hulk and given the Legacy numbering of #159 (combining all of her runs)

In modern comics, Jennifer Walters is one of two She-Hulks. The other one is Lyra, the young adult daughter of Bruce Banner and Thundra, who was raised 300 years into the future where the world is a matriarchy society that is at war with men. Lyra was a student at Avengers Academy and assisted Doctor Strange during the Serpent War. The two She-Hulks had starred in a mini-series titled She-Hulks.

Betty Ross had been turned into a "Red She-Hulk" for a few years as the result of the Leader's machinations before being depowered. She was a member of an incarnation of The Defenders and briefly starred in her own solo series.

Like her male counterpart, She-Hulk has appeared in Ultimate Marvel, though as always with an Ultimate Universe counterpart, there are some changes: Jennifer Walters is still involved, but not as She-Hulk; in this continuity, Jennifer Walters is no relative of Banner's and is, instead, a female scientist who manages to create an "improved" version of the Hulk serum that doesn't affect the subject's mind. However, it is Betty Ross who steals the serum and uses it to become She-Hulk. For more Information on them, see here

She-Hulk joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the 2022 Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, played by Tatiana Maslany.


Video Games

Live-Action TV

Western Animation

She-Hulk provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Of course! They are related to the Incredible Hulk after all!
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Jennifer Walters, generally, was considered to be a mousy and reserved woman. The adaptation She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, however, has all of Jen's bossiness and snark as things she enjoys in her human form.
  • All-Loving Hero: She-Hulk is easily one of the by far genuinely kindest, most altrustic, idealistic, philanthropic, and virtually incorruptible Marvel Comics characters, especially contrasted by such an otherwise mostly dark, dystopian, morbid, and depressing setting. Given that she grows more powerful from emotions, and Jarella proved during the Chaos War that Hulks can use any sufficiently strong emotion to empower themselves or others, including love, it is strange that no writers seem to have focused on She-Hulk using positive, rather than negative, emotions to grow more powerful yet.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Jen and Lyra are both gamma green.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Jennifer is the Marvel Universe's standout example, and she has company in Lyra. The only notable exception was in Sensational She-Hulk #16 (Vol. 1, May 1990), where Jen temporarily assumed a Grey She-Hulk form. She's even taller and even more muscular, but is quite the Brawn Hilda and uses a speech pattern similar to that of her cousin. In many respects, it's like the anti-Grey Hulk/Joe Fixit.
    • Since 2016 She-Hulk is now shown as over seven feet tall and extremely muscular, as large as Bruce Banner's Hulk. While retaining her intellect, Jennifer has difficulty speaking and can only talk in a halting, monosyllabic manner. In-Universe, Thor Odinson finds this form admirable, to the point of kissing her twice during the same mission in Avengers (2018) #5 thru #6, and becoming a couple in Empyre #1. "World War She-Hulk" ends with Jen restored to her traditional She-Hulk form.
  • Author Tract: The Avengers (Jason Aaron) #20 is pretty much an entire issue dedicated to Jason Aaron using Jennifer to deliver a meta-mockery of everyone who has criticized his run on her. The most infamous highlight has to be the sequence where she notes that Bruce Banner once confessed to envying her, because her Hulk form was far less threatening and more socially acceptable than his own deformed and monstrous body and she, incensed by it, retorted by complaining to him how her form was less frightening, but she was also the target of constantly being hit on by her allies, lusted after by civilians, exploited by sleazy paparazzi, and groped during her fights with supervillains. The issue literally concludes with her stating that she loves being ugly and scary like Bruce, and she wouldn't go back to her older She-Hulk bodies if she had the choice. It should also be noted that this doesn't seem to be a view held by all even within Marvel, as an Immortal Hulk special stated this behavior was due to the trauma she suffered in Civil War II and the revelations about gamma mutants in Immortal itself.
  • Badass Bookworm: Again, she's a practicing lawyer and either she or Matt Murdock are usually regarded as being the best public defender in the Marvel Universe.
  • Badass Family: They both are related to Bruce Banner. Jennifer is his cousin and Lyra is his daughter.
    • Lyra also has Thundra as her mother.
  • Best Friend: In Charles Soule's 2014 run, he re-introduced Hellcat (who appeared in two issues of the original The Savage She-Hulk run) as not only a private investigator working for Jen, but also her best friend. Hellcat has subsequently appeared as a supporting character in every subsequent book including Mariko Tamaki's Hulk (2016) and currently Rainbow Rowell's She-Hulk (2022). Jennifer has returned the favor and appeared as a supporting character in Kate Leth's Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat!, and makes a cameo appearance in the final issue of Christopher Cantwell's Hellcat (2023). Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp, is also one of She-Hulk's best friends. After Janet was temporarily killed by the Wrecking Crew during the first Secret War, Jennifer stormed off to avenge her by attacking Doctor Doom's army all by herself.
  • Bounty Hunter: Jen became this during the Peter David run after being disbarred.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jennifer did this in the John Byrne run, years before Deadpool was doing it. Her friend and supporting cast member, Louise "Weezi" Grant, also broke the fourth wall on occasion.
  • Breakout Character: She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) started out as a less extreme female copy of the Hulk, and gradually developed into an arguably much more interesting, distinctive, inspirational, and unique character.
  • Breath Weapon: In the Jason Aaron run, Jennifer got her powers upgraded from exposure to a dying Celestial, Eson the Searcher. With her new power to manipulate gamma radiation, she can breathe out a gamma-ray blast
  • Brawn Hilda: Even after gaining Jennifer Walters's intelligence and Jen gaining the ability to switch into She-Hulk at will, certain triggers have proven able to She-Hulk to hulk out a second time and become more anger motivated, more bestial in appearance and larger overall. While Jennifer Walters was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress disorder she skipped the "second" Hulk Out altogether, turning into her bestial form without control or warning.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower:
    • Jennifer Walters's super strength in her Hulk form is proportional to how strong her base human form is. During an issue where she was preparing to fight The Champion in a boxing match, she spent months training in her regular Jennifer Walters form, and by the end of it was several magnitudes more powerful in her hulk form than she had been.
    • One of She-Hulk's lesser-known foes is Ultima, a woman who can enhance her physical abilities to superhuman levels for brief periods of time, a technique she unlocked through intense meditation and discipline. This ability is known as "Positive Mental Attitude" and was taught to her by her father, Jack Wordman.
  • Combination Attack: Jen has one with Thor called Gamma Storm. She grabs him and channels gamma radiation into him and he shoots out a gamma-ray lightning bolt. This attack is powerful enough to hurt the Nigh-Invulnerable Cosmic Ghost Rider.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Jen is rivaled only by Matt Murdock for being the best lawyer you can hope for in the Marvel Universe.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Mariko Tamaki run is the darkest Jen's adventures have been since her original publication. The run has Jen dealing with the PTSD from being injured and rendered comatose during Civil War II and her grief over her cousin's death. She has lost control of her transformations.
  • Emotional Powers: Jen can involuntarily Hulk Out when she is scared though she normally is in control of her transformations.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: It's often been implied that Titania desires Jen sexually.
  • Fanservice: She has a long tradition of swimsuit-style costumes, and revealing civilian clothes.
  • Force and Finesse: Jen and Jazinda during the Peter David run. Jen relies on her brute strength while Jazinda is a shapeshifter.
  • Fusion Dance: Marvel's second Captain Marvel has the ability to shift into any form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes gamma rays. This allows her to make Hulked Out gamma mutates like She-Hulk even more powerful by inhabiting their bodies.
  • Genius Bruiser: Jen is a gamma mutate with super strength and is a trained lawyer.
  • Having a Blast: After her power upgrade from Eson the Searcher, Jen can release the gamma radiation in a powerful radiation blast centered on her
  • Hulk Speak: Originally, but the She-Hulk eventually became more intelligent to the point she speaks exactly the same way Jennifer Walters does. In an inversion from Bruce Banner, who sometimes takes on a more eloquent "Grey Hulk" form from his usual Third Speaking Green Hulk form, occasionally something triggers a Grey She-Hulk for Jennifer, who still speaks in third person.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Jennifer has enormous amounts of willpower and idealism that make her virtually impossible to corrupt, even by extremely prolonged torture and brainwashing at the hands of the Russian Red Room that produced the Black Widow.
  • Leotard of Power: As seen in the picture above, her Iconic Outfit is a white leotard with purple trim, which, (unlike most superheroines with this kind of costume) shows off not just her nice legs but enormous muscles as well. She's probably tied with Ms. Marvel for the title of most iconic leotard-wearer in the Marvel universe.
  • Nice Girl: Jennifer is traditionally an amazingly kind and moral individual, including systematically helping even dangerous criminals to be treated decently via her legal work, creating her own disaster relief organisation, and being as good as impossible to corrupt, even after weeks of systematic torture and brainwashing. Her personal catchphrase might as well be "She-Hulk is the nicest one there is!", and quite deservedly so.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: She-Hulk's comics have a noticeable habit of discarding the previous run's supporting cast for a new one.
  • The Paragon: She is usually up there with Captain America as the most purely heroic Marvel Comics character, and is always kind, friendly, and inspirational to regular people, rather than considering herself above them.
  • Parental Substitute: Bruce Banner invoked this trope with Jen and Lyra — after a brief talk with his daughter he has decided that, coming from a world where men and women live separately, she doesn't need a father, but has serious issues about Parental Abandonment on her mother's side, so he asked Jen to become her legal guardian and help her get a normal life.
  • Physical Therapy Plot: Jennifer's co-worker Mallory Book was severely injured during a battle between She-Hulk and Titania, and spent months receiving physical therapy from Awesome Andy in order to learn how to walk again.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: In Marvel Graphic Novel #18, Jen has an encounter with a swarm of radioactive cockroaches which traps her in She-Hulk form permanently. She doesn't seem to mind much.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Jennifer and Lyra both qualify.
  • Super-Strength: Both gained this from Bruce.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Besides becoming much stronger over the years, in the Jason Aaron run of The Avengers, Jennifer gets upgraded by a Celestial and becomes even stronger and can manipulate her gamma radiation so that she's not pure melee.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Hotness: She-Hulk is typically portrayed as much sexier than Jennifer. Part of this is Jen having a Loss of Inhibitions as She-Hulk, being more confident and forthright about her sexual desires. Part of it is that, along with lots of height and weight in muscle, her transformation gives her the Most Common Superpower.
  • Workout Fanservice: While various comic book superheroines have been shown working out, She-Hulk is probably the most prone to doing actual powerlifting exercises like superheavy bench presses and squats, given her whole appeal is being an Amazonian Beauty. Initially She-Hulk seemed to work out just to pass time until she lost to Champion Of The Universe and realized she could benefit much more by working out as Jennifer Walters instead.


Video Example(s):


Gamma Is A Girl's Best Friend

Bruce angsts about having turned his cousin into a gamma mutant, but Jen/She-Hulk doesn't mind because she much prefers her new appearance and powers.

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / WithGreatPowerComesGreatHotness

Media sources: