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REVIEW: MARVEL UNIVERSE SHE-HULK
By Thomas Wheeler

She's big, she's green, she's been a member of both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, she's been a Marvel Legends action figure, she's been in several animated series on a guest-star basis, and she might be just a little jealous that her male cousin finally achieved some cinematic success as one of the major players in "The Avengers".

She's SHE-HULK, and she's finally made it into the ever-growing and increasingly diverse Marvel Universe line of 4" (more or less) scale action figures from Hasbro. And if you doubt the popularity of the Jade Giantess, despite the alleged axiom that female action figures don't sell well, then go try to find her. I finally picked her up off of Toys "R" Us' Web Site, despite my usual reluctance to mail-order action figures that are otherwise supposed to be available at retail. Emphasis on the "supposed to be", there.

I have hardly been a completist with the Marvel Universe line, but I do own several dozen figures at this point. My standard rule is, if it's someone I know and like, I'll likely add them to my collection, especially if they haven't had a lot of previous action figure incarnations. So my collection of Marvel Universe figures could probably be regarded as a little eclectic. The only reason I have a couple of Wolverines is because they came in sets that included other figures that I particularly wanted. They're joined by the rather unusual likes of Doc Samson, Gladiator, Captain Britain, Spider-Man 2099, Wonder Man -- you get the idea. She-Hulk is likely better known than some of these, but until they decide to put her in one of the Avengers sequels...

Her comics history has been -- interesting. The character was originally developed by Marvel largely because they were concerned that the popularity of the "Incredible Hulk" television series, which was produced by Universal, might lead Universal to come up with a female Hulk of their own that Marvel wouldn't have any rights to. The first issue of "The Savage She-Hulk" was actually written by none other than Stan Lee, and illustrated by John Buscema, some seriously high-level names for the project. The character didn't really stay "Savage" all that long, and has gone through quite a number of character revisions and team memberships over the years. Let's consider a more extensive history of the character, and then have a look at her Marvel Universe figure.

She-Hulk, real name Jennifer Walters, first appeared in Savage She-Hulk #1 (February 1980).

She-Hulk has been a member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Heroes for Hire, the Defenders, Fantastic Force, and S.H.I.E.L.D. A highly skilled lawyer, she has served as legal counsel to various superheroes on numerous occasions. She is the cousin of Bruce Banner, better known as the Incredible Hulk.

Jennifer Walters is the small and somewhat shy daughter of Los Angeles County Sheriff William Morris Walters and Elaine (née Banner) Walters (who died in a car crash when Jennifer was seventeen). Operatives of Nicholas Trask, a crime boss who had crossed paths with her father, shot and seriously wounded her on a day that Bruce Banner happened to be in town for a visit. Since no other donors with her blood type were available, Banner provided his own blood for a transfusion; as they already shared the same blood type and DNA, his radioactive blood, combined with her anger transformed Jennifer into the green-skinned She-Hulk when the mobsters tried to finish her off at the hospital.

As She-Hulk, Jennifer possessed powers similar to those of her cousin, though at a reduced level. She also possessed a less monstrous, more amazonian appearance. Initially, the transformation to her She-Hulk form was triggered (as with Bruce Banner's) by anger. Like her cousin Bruce, his counterpart, the Leader, Doc Samson, and most other persons mutated by exposure to Gamma Radiation over the years, her mutated form was originally explained as being molded by her subconscious desire to look like the ideal woman.

She eventually gains control of her transformations when Michael Morbius cures her of a lethal blood disease. As a criminal defense lawyer, she defended Dr. Michael Morbius in his trial for his vampiric killings.

Eventually, Jennifer decides that she is going to retain her She-Hulk form permanently, preferring the freedom, confidence, and assertiveness that it gave her compared to her more timorous and fragile "normal" form. After her brief solo career, she joined the Avengers. This led to her being transported to Battleworld by the Beyonder and her participation in the Secret Wars, most notable for sparking her long standing rivalry with the newly empowered Titania. After the heroes returned to Earth, she temporarily replaced the Thing as a member of the Fantastic Four.

During her tenure with the Fantastic Four, She-Hulk had to prevent a radiation leak in a downed S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. This radiation exposure had a drastic effect on Jennifer: she could no longer transform back into her original human form. However, this was an agreeable turn of events for her, since she preferred being She-Hulk, and it was revealed much later that the block was purely psychological.

After her Fantastic Four years, She-Hulk rejoined the Avengers for a while. She became hypnotized by the Ringmaster into becoming a performer in his circus, and battled the Headmen. With Spider-Man, she defeated the Headmen and became an assistant District Attorney and began working for New York City district attorney Blake Tower. Here she met Louise "Weezie" Grant Mason, formerly the Golden Age superheroine the Blonde Phantom. She had a long series of unusual encounters including when she battled Doctor Bong, first contended against Xemnu the Titan, encountered "Nick St. Christopher", and encountered "Spragg the Living Hill/Comet". She-Hulk later discovered that Louise Mason had manipulated Tower into hiring her, so that Mason might again star in a comic book (and thus avoid dying of old age). This particular series was known for "knocking down the fourth wall" on repeated occasions. Later, while doing legal work for Heroes for Hire, She-Hulk spent some time dating Luke Cage.

During the Civil War storyline, She-Hulk registered under the Superhuman Registration Act, and was a supporter of Tony Stark (Iron Man). However, as an attorney, she advised individuals on both sides of the Civil War. She agreed to file suit against Peter Parker for fraud on behalf of her father-in-law, Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Her intention is to keep the suit tied up in the courts indefinitely. She is also the lawyer for Speedball in Civil War: Front Line.

In She-Hulk #14 (2006), Clay Quartermain of S.H.I.E.L.D. informs Jennifer that she has been drafted into the organization as a result of her registration. Her mission is to fight various foes of the Hulk while training heroes under the Initiative.

During the "World War Hulk" storyline, due to her involvement in S.H.I.E.L.D., She-Hulk derives a bit of information suggesting that the organization knows of her cousin's whereabouts. Anticipating a problem, Tony Stark has She-Hulk secretly injected with S.P.I.N. Tech that transforms her to human form. Enraged, she tells Stark that, although he may have taken She-Hulk out of the equation, he still has to face Jennifer Walters, one of the best lawyers in the country. Jennifer informs Stark that he's miscalculated: She-Hulk would have just pummeled him, but Jennifer Walters has the ability to destroy him.

On her way home, Jennifer runs into Amadeus Cho, a young genius out looking for friends of the Hulk. Cho, whom the Hulk once saved, discovered what the Illuminati had done to the Hulk, and he wants help in finding him. Cho temporarily restores Jennifer's powers so that she can take out Doc Samson, who came to apprehend Cho for Reed Richards and Tony Stark. Cho says he can permanently restore Jennifer's powers if she'll join him, but she politely refuses, instead directing him to Hercules and Angel.

In World War Hulk #1, a re-powered She-Hulk assists in the evacuation of Manhattan; in #2, she tries to reason with her cousin, who has just destroyed Stark Tower during his battle with Iron Man. The Hulk warns her to leave, but she stands her ground. After she lands a punch squarely to his face, the Hulk smashes her into the ground, creating a crater around her body. As he moves on to his next confrontation, all Jennifer can say is: "God help us all."

Jennifer is held captive with the other defeated heroes at Madison Square Garden, which the Hulk has converted into a gladiatorial arena. The heroes have been implanted with the same obedience discs that compelled the Hulk and his allies to fight one another during their time on the planet Sakaar.

At an unspecified time after World War Hulk, She-Hulk assists Tony Stark with Emil Blonsky's murder investigation. While in Stark's Helicarrier she is attacked and beaten by the Red Hulk, but vows to get even for the deliberate humiliation. She later helps to prevent casualties in San Francisco after the Red Hulk caused an earthquake in the area, and assembles Thundra and Valkyrie together to capture him.

During the "Fear Itself" storyline, She-Hulk joins with Howard the Duck, Nighthawk, and Frankenstein to form a four-person team called the Fearsome Four to stop the Man-Thing from its destructive path.

Sometime after a time-traveling trip by the Fantastic Four Family, She-Hulk is asked by The Thing to be a member of the Future Foundation.

She-Hulk was created by Stan Lee, who wrote only the first issue, and was the last character he created for Marvel before his return to comics with Ravage 2099 in 1992. The reason for the character's creation had to do with the success of the Incredible Hulk TV series (1977–82). Afraid that the show's executives would suddenly introduce a female Hulk, resembling the popular Bionic Woman, Marvel decided to publish their own version of such a character to make sure that if a similar one showed up in the TV series, they would own the rights.

The Savage She-Hulk series lasted until 1982 where it ended with #25 (March 1982). She-Hulk then made guest appearances in other character's books.

She-Hulk also appeared in a three-issue limited series, Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions (June to August 1982), in which numerous superheroes were kidnapped from Earth to fight in space. That miniseries was a predecessor of the more expansive, twelve-issue Secret Wars miniseries that appeared a few years later. She-Hulk's participation in Contest of Champions involved a fight depicted in issue #2.

Shortly after her post-Savage She-Hulk guest appearances, She-Hulk became a member of the Avengers, in Avengers #221 (July 1982). Although Contest of Champions continued until August, She-Hulk was not yet an Avenger during that miniseries' storyline.

During She-Hulk's tenure with the Fantastic Four, she appeared on the covers of Avengers #246 (August, 1984) and #249 (November, 1984) as a member of the Fantastic Four. Also, during her FF tenure, She-Hulk appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #16: The Aladdin Effect, Marvel Graphic Novel #17: Revenge of the Living Monolith, and Marvel Graphic Novel #18: The Sensational She-Hulk, teaming up with fellow superheroines Storm, Tigra, and Wasp in #16. All three graphic novels appeared in 1985. The last, #18, appearing in November 1985, was written and illustrated by then-Fantastic Four writer/artist John Byrne.

She-Hulk regained a solo series in 1989, The Sensational She-Hulk (maintaining the 1985 graphic novel's title). The Sensational She-Hulk ran for sixty issues. Issues #1 to #8 and #31 to #50 were written and drawn by John Byrne. As noted above, Byrne had previously written and drawn She-Hulk while she was featured in the Avengers and Fantastic Four. Byrne's She-Hulk stories satirized comic book clichés and introduced She-Hulk's awareness that she was a comic book character. The Sensational She-Hulk ran until issue #60 (February 1994), making it the longest-running She-Hulk series so far, and the longest-running solo title of any Marvel superheroine up to that point.

The character's personality has changed over the years: originally ill-tempered and violent, she is now depicted as a fun-loving, kind, empathetic, yet still feisty woman who frequently uses humor when fighting. She has stated that she does not want to kill her foes, especially ones that she has already subdued.

As to her powers and abilities, a transfusion of gamma-irradiated blood from her cousin Bruce Banner granted Jennifer Walters superhuman powers. In her She-Hulk form, she possesses enormous superhuman strength, that potentially makes her, by far, the physically strongest known woman in the Marvel Universe when her emotional state is sufficiently high.

Although She-Hulk's strength originally remained at a set level and did not increase, later in her history her strength has sporadically been stated to increase further from fear, or anger, similar to her cousin. In addition the character possesses superhuman speed, agility, stamina, and reflexes.

As She-Hulk, Walters is exponentially stronger than she is in her Jennifer Walters form; therefore any extra strength gained as Jennifer Walters through intense physical training will be amplified, making her She-Hulk form even stronger. After being defeated by the Champion of the Universe, She-Hulk exercised for several months in her Jennifer Walters form, resulting in a significant gain in strength and muscular mass in her She-Hulk form and allowing her to soundly defeat the Champion in a rematch. At this time she was able to effortlessly sustain the Thing's maximum weight with a single arm, while her strength was greatly restrained by a "Jupiter suit," and she was shown as considerably stronger than Hercules. Her calm strength level has since receded, but remains somewhat higher than, for example, Wonder Man.

She-Hulk's body is superhumanly durable and nearly impervious to force, pain, and disease: her skin can withstand extremes of temperature, as well as tremendous stresses and impacts without puncture wounds or lacerations. Her enhanced physiology renders her immune to all terrestrial diseases. She-Hulk also possesses a healing factor, which enabled her to completely recover, within minutes, from a skewering by the Wendigo.

Unlike Hulk, Jennifer's personality and intelligence are less affected when she transforms into She-Hulk, although she becomes more self-confident and assertive. She can switch between human and She-Hulk forms at will.

She-Hulk is a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained by Captain America and Gamora. Even in her Jennifer Walters form, she possesses sufficient skill in the martial arts to dispatch several would-be muggers much larger than she is. She once displayed sufficient knowledge of acupressure to render the Abomination insensate by striking several nerve clusters after first using psychology to distract him.

So, how's the figure? Really extremely impressive. This is one of the finer action figures that I've seen in the Marvel Universe line.

For starters, it's an entirely new figure. She-Hulk is definitely larger than the "typical" female figure in this line. She stands roughly 4-1/2" in height. Compare that to, for example, Spider-Woman, a more typically-sized female figure, who is 4". A half-inch may not sound like much, but at this scale, it's significant.

For that matter, consider her height relative to some of the male figures. A standard-sized male figure, such as Spider-Man, stands about 4-1/8". She-Hulk still has the height advantage. Even if you consider some of the larger male figures -- and I don't mean the Hulk -- but such as Doc Samson, Luke Cage, or Wonder Man, who stand slightly over 4-1/2", She-Hulk still does an impressive job of measuring up among the powerhouses of the Marvel Universe.

Heck, given Hasbro's near-monopoly of the 4" scale, she could do an effective job kicking butt in any number of other concepts, for those inclined to try some unofficial action figure crossovers. Watch her render a squad of Cobra Vipers, who stand about 4-1/8" in height, unconscious over in the G.I. Joe universe, and then let her tear apart some Battle Droids over in the Star Wars universe.

As one would expect, She-Hulk is green. Now, for whatever reason, toy companies seem to have a bit of trouble with characters that are mostly humanoid in appearance, but have green skin. Consider Mattel's DC Universe line. You've got Brainiac, Martian Manhunter, Brainiac 5, Beast Boy, Poison Ivy -- every last one of them is a different color green. If they ever do Jade, I'll be interested to see what color she turns out.

From an artistic standpoint, I can understand the problem. It's one thing to see green skin on the printed page. It's another to see it in a three-dimensional, "real-world" situation, even if it's just on an action figure. Green skin is not something we're used to seeing on a person. It's one thing to see it in live-action television, such as the 1970's "Hulk" series, or the Orions in Star Trek, but our minds are not geared to readily accept green people. So it may well be something of a challenge to come up with a color of plastic that looks sufficiently like it could represent a green person in action figure form.

She-Hulk's coloration -- I would call it "bright olive". It works. It's not a really intense, bright green, but neither is it too dark a green, which is something I've encountered in the past. Even Mego's original Incredible Hulk figure was honestly too dark a green. Hasbro's Marvel Universe She-Hulk is an excellent shade of green.

The headsculpt is excellent. She-Hulk, unlike her cousin, doesn't really have any exaggerated proportions. She's pretty much a normally proportioned woman, maybe a bit more muscular-looking than most. But, she has a normal proportioned face and body -- it just happens to be green and close to seven feet in height.

Allowing for that, She-Hulk has most often been portrayed as an attractive young woman, and the figure definitely reflects this. The face is very nicely rendered, with just the hint of a smile on her face.

The painted facial detail is amazing. I never cease to be impressed at how well such fine, small details can be painted. She-Hulk has very even eyebrows, truly superb eyes with the whites of the eyes, green irises, black pupils, and a line of black over the eyes, painted with astounding precision. A bit of green lipstick -- metallic green, interestingly enough -- completes the image.

Then there's her hair. Obviously this was a separately molded piece. She-Hulk's hair has changed over the years. When she was the "Savage" She-Hulk, it was, shall we say, rather unkempt. When the character regained her mind, and John Byrne started illustrating her in everything from her own title to both Avengers and Fantastic Four, he gave her this huge mane of hair that if it had been any longer and thicker, every one of the swallows returning to Capistrano could have nested in it for a break. Subsequent to this, She-Hulk's hair remained quite long, but wasn't quite so thick and wavy that it presented a potential fire hazard. This was arguably the basis for the Marvel Legends She-Hulk figure from a few years back.

The Marvel Universe figure -- pretty much splits the difference between Byrne and post-Byrne. The hair is definitely thicker-looking than the Marvel Legends version, but it's not quite as impossibly thick as Byrne tended to draw it. It looks good and works superbly well on this figure, and is an extremely elegant and complicated sculpt that allows for quite a bit of "free-flowing" looking hair, especially in the back.

The body is interesting, in that all of the costume details are entirely painted on -- not sculpted. Granted, She-Hulk's costume tends to readily allow for this, but one can't escape the notion that Hasbro's objective here -- and one can hardly blame them -- was to create a "larger female" set of body molds that could be used for multiple characters, if they so wish. You've got the likes of Titania, Thundra, Red She-Hulk, and a few others that could fit well into this motif, and now, the basic body form is ready to go, having doubtless seen its most prominent use.

The overall body design is superb. As indicated before, She-Hulk is nowhere near as exaggerated in her appearance as her cousin. She really looks like a relatively normally-proportioned, if somewhat muscular, tall, green female. The figure reflects this very well. There's a certain amount of muscle definition beyond the more standard-sized female figures in this line, but not enough to make She-Hulk look musclebound.

She-Hulk is wearing what is arguably her best-known costume, which as much as anything looks like a one-piece swimsuit with a high collar, accompanied by boots and gloves. The suit is white on the front and back, and purple on the sides.

This is something of a reflection of "Hulk" colors, as well as original She-Hulk colors, since when She-Hulk first appeared in her "Savage" form, she was dressed in white tatters. And Hulk is certainly best known for purple pants. This costume isn't torn, but it does have the right colors. The purple trim is metallic.

She-Hulk's gloves only go to her wrists, and leave her fingers and the backs of her hands exposed. Like the trim on her costume, these are metallic purple.

The boots are a little unusual, as sometimes She-Hulk seems to prefer wearing white sneakers, but she has been known to wear boots, so they work well here, and they also manage to conceal the lower leg swivel just by ending at the articulation point.

A limited amount of very light blue airbrush detail has been added to the white areas of the costume. It's not the sort of thing I usually approve of, but it doesn't look bad here.

Of course, articulation is superb. She-Hulk is fully poseable at the head (and the hair is flexible enough to allow for a fair bit of head movement), arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, lower leg swivel, and ankles. There's a rather astounding amount of articulation in the ankles, as they pivot as well as move up and down.

So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely pleased and impressed with this figure. It's superbly designed, moves well, is marvelously detailed and painted, and it stands well, although due to the hair, she is a little top-heavy. But she can stand up on her own.

Overall, this is an excellent rendition of a popular character in the Marvel Universe, who's probably just a bit overdue for inclusion in this line. Well, here she is, and she was well worth the wait. Anyone who's a fan of She-Hulk will be abundantly pleased with this figure. I know that I certainly am.

The MARVEL UNIVERSE figure of SHE-HULK definitely has my highest recommendation!