Having given up on Captain Marvel for the time being, I decided to give a different female superhero a try. She-Hulk had been recommended to me before, and this seemed like a good time. Now I wish I’d switched much sooner.
Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk spent most of Civil War II in a coma, having sustained near-fatal injuries during the battle with Thanos that kicked off the whole thing. While she was comatose, her cousin Bruce Banner aka Hulk was killed. So she wakes up to find the world a very different place. Marvel quietly dropped the “She” from her regular title, which is a nice touch, but the collected version is back to being She-Hulk, which seems an odd choice. Anyhow…
Written by Mariko Tamaki, this first arc deals with Jennifer trying to put her life back together. She has a new job at a new law firm and a nasty case of PTSD which is written as well and realistically as any I have seen. With her Hulk alter-ego, Jennifer is a risky choice of character to write about mental health issues but the portrayal never gets exaggerated or descends into parody. While no two cases of PTSD are identical, I recognise elements of what Jennifer is going through from real life. Her determination to be “normal” and her struggles to fit back into her life are easy to identify and empathise with.
And this first story arc has a good plot, too, revolving around a young Inhuman facing eviction from her apartment who comes to Jennifer as a client. Maise Brewn has her own PTSD, is essentially a shut-in and the parallels between her story and Jennifer’s are nicely drawn. What appears to be a simple case of a racist landlord being an asshole turns out to be more complex, giving both women more layers than I was expecting.
But it was Jennifer’s struggle I really loved reading: her avoiding her old friends, her use of YouTube cooking videos as a calming mechanism, the courage it takes just to get up every morning when she’s so afraid of losing control again. It’s beautifully drawn (in both the literal and metaphorical sense) and I am looking forward to reading more of this series.