STOP HULKING OUT OVER COMICS BEING COMICS [Opinion]

The Editor’s Notes is an opinion column allowing our writers to express their truest feelings about comic books, the comic book industry, and all that it inspires. The views expressed within belong solely to their author.


The announcement that She-Hulk will be the the main character in an upcoming Hulk series from Marvel, written by Mariko Tamaki with art from Nico Leon, has caused only the latest uncalled for burst of outrage over comics being comics. Will the comic book community ever stop being so close minded? Or is the outrage coming from those who don’t even comics?

Internet Nerd Rage? No Way!

new she hulk series

While browsing my Facebook feed one night, I stumbled upon an article about the “new” Hulk for Marvel Comics. The article was a complete waste of time and could have been summed up in a single sentence: She-Hulk takes over for upcoming Hulk series. But that’s not what’s important.

I noticed the high volume of comments piling up on the article and decided to dive in. What I found was a large amount of hate for Marvel, She-Hulk, women, progress, change, and creativity. Now, I’m no activist of any sort, I just really love comic books and pop culture. However, these comments were too much for me to keep my mouth shut. I’m also not saying I expected to find nothing but love for Marvel’s new Hulk, but I certainly didn’t expect over 75% of the comments to sound like Donald Trump talking about the status of superhero comics.

In Marvel, I Trust

she-hulk civil war ii

Marvel has recently taken huge steps forward in having their heroes represent groups and genders in a progressive way that reflects these modern times. I’m not here to discuss the politics. I’m not here to shave my head and cry “LEAVE MARVEL ALONE!” I’m just hear to politely ask those in outrage to please quiet down and get over themselves.

Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, taking over as the main character in Marvel’s new Hulk series – coming out after the post-Civil War II “relaunch” – makes total sense. Bruce Banner is [SPOILER] currently dead due to the events of Civil War II (which, being comics, won’t last forever). Jennifer is his gamma-powered, superhero, cousin-Hulk who’s been around since 1980 – so what’s the big deal? Do you think replacing lead characters is a new trend in comic books? Did you just start reading them? If so, why are you so upset about Hulk like he’s been a relevant character recently? Walters has put her time in as a character and deserves a shot at the spotlight, and so do fans.

she hulk civil war ii missile

My theory is this outrage, similarly to the outrage over Captain America and “Hail Hydra”, is coming from people who aren’t even reading comic books. These are people taking any chance they can possibly get to spew out the sexism and racism they can’t share at work.  Y’know, the INTERNET. Like most places on Earth, the loudest voices in the complaint department are the least informed.

If people are really upset that Bruce Banner is dead and the precious mantle of “monster everybody hates” is being passed on, maybe they should have been buying Hulk comics before Marvel decided they needed a shake-up. But I don’t think that’s really the problem. I’m willing to bet that majority of people complaining about a race or gender change to a title’s lead character haven’t been reading the books for a very long time.

What Are You Worried About Ruining?

hulk smash

For those of you who are active readers in the comic book community, what exactly about the Hulk legacy is going to be ruined? What does the Hulk even stand for other than destruction and other monster qualifying attributes?

Captain America is a living symbol for freedom and the strength of the common man. The mantle of The Mighty Thor can only be passed on to he or she that be worthy of the almighty power. Spider-Man stands for the kid who can never seem to catch a break and finds a positive in everything. The Incredible Hulk, however, is a menace in the public eye and a rage monster that at any moment could destroy and ruin everything on Earth (even when he’s a “smart-Hulk”).

Jennifer Walters is not only a completely coherent and humanistic hero as a Hulk, but is even a defense lawyer by day! At the very least, that alone may promise a Hulk story about more than a scientist trying to find a cure for his condition (which Amadeus Cho has found already).

she hulk civil war ii defense lawyer

I don’t know exactly what Marvel plans for the series, but Jennifer stepping in and maybe changing the public opinion of the Hulk is a promising premise. Perhaps Walters finds a way to make the Hulk stand for something worth looking up to? Or inspires people to think differently about what a Hulk is or can be? When the dust settles following the Civil War-ing, what place will a Hulk have in the superhero landscape?

How many Bruce Banner Hulk stories do we really need? Readers can’t keep being fed the same stories over and over again without feeling fatigued. Marvel is well aware of what sells and what does not sell at comic book shops, they know fans want character evolution and progression. And for those of you who do not? There are decades worth of green rage monster stories for you to read at very affordable costs and in every format available.

Let The Art Speak For Itself

marvel new lead comics

My next point is the most important: Be as pre-judgy as you want about all the wacky announcements that comic book publishers make, but let the art speak for itself. Despite all the negative press and commentary you may find, Marvel’s recent track record for a change like this is pretty strong.

I didn’t know how Thor would turn out with a leading lady, and was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly well-written and interesting the series has been. Remember when people were mad about there being a black Spider-Man? Miles Morales has been one of the most popular and beloved comic book heroes to come out in decades. All-New Wolverine, Captain America: Sam Wilson, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Totally Awesome Hulk, and The Mighty Thor have all been (for the most part) interesting and exciting series.

Give these books a chance, don’t write them off simply because they are different. Generally, Marvel wants to put out compelling comics that fans want to read and not just shock-value cash-grabs (there’s not a lot of money in this industry to begin with). The creative teams behind these comics deserve to be given a shot at telling these stories; and readers deserve to be served fresh story ideas and taken places they have not gone to before.

Marvel, You Do You

she-hulk new series internet outrage

My hope is that Marvel, in this social age, will not listen to the idiots jumping to hateful conclusions. Marvel should not be demonized for having new ideas, they should only receive negativity when they put out crappy comic books. The company’s creative decisions should be in response to its readers, not internet assholes who aren’t buying their comic books in the first place. My message to Marvel Comics is this: you do you baby girl, I got you.

For the people out there who want to remain a useless, negative force, yelling into the internet void about your pent up aggression towards some sort of past rejection – nobody cares. You’re no different than the scumbags in X-Men comics holding a “KILL ALL MUTIES” sign and spitting at little mutant kids just because they’re different and times are changing.

If you really MUST have a male Hulk in your comics, pipe down and read Totally Awesome Hulk.

About Brandon Griffin

3 comments on “STOP HULKING OUT OVER COMICS BEING COMICS [Opinion]

  1. Im a man and glad she is getting the attention. She deserves. About time i hope they. Do the same for doc sampson and the new quasar.

  2. “Jennifer is his gamma-powered, superhero, cousin-Hulk who’s been around since 1980 – so what’s the big deal?”

    This. Jen’s established. She’s not some new character shoehorned in to usurp the title and dance on Banner’s grave. And it’s not like other hulks, even female hulks, haven’t been the focus of a ‘Hulk’ title.

    “For those of you who are active readers in the comic book community, what exactly about the Hulk legacy is going to be ruined? What does the Hulk even stand for other than destruction and other monster qualifying attributes?”

    Gonna be honest, only one title in the Dark Horse stable might qualify me as still an active reader, though I don’t think that counts when we’re talking about Marvel. But the Hulk is partly the reason for that – he is, or was, my favourite character, but I haven’t enjoyed his title in years. Not even the Greg Pak highlights. Part of that is the long, slow warping of the view of the tantrum monster from his semi-horror roots into a misunderstood hero, which was fine for a long time but seems to have come to a head in recent years with weird rationalisations like “Banner was in there the whole time doing hyper-maths ergo the Hulk never killed or even hurt anyone. Not. A. Single. One.” Which is easily refuted with a glance at his history, but it seems to have been lapped up so readily by fans.

    But then I thought that the rot set in when they got rid of Professor Hulk and then Peter David. And the former was before my time as a comics reader, even. It seems that even from David’s earliest issues, he realised that the rampaging ‘Savage Hulk’ had gone as far as it could go and needed a reinvention (and that was back in the mid-eighties!), first by taking the Hulk back to his roots with the grey Hulk he inherited, then tearing him down with Doc Samson’s psychoanalysis and building him back up as the Professor. As ever with successive writers in comics, people just seemed to want to backslide afterwards, to some degree. Since then, any kind of ‘progression’ with the Hulk seems to have had more to do with chronology than character. (Even Planet Hulk was a warmed-over Jarella story with added Conan.)

    So while the Hulk might’ve been shot in the head by Hawkeye, I can’t mourn too much. For one, despite being a favourite character, I can’t ignore that the Hulk seemed played-out (to me) and it was almost a mercy-killing.

    For another, he’ll be back. Of course he’ll be back. It’s comics.

    (Okay, for three, I don’t read Marvel comics anymore. Even though I like to keep up with what’s going on generally, in case I want to dip back in [and this She-Hulk news is tempting] there’s still a certain distance. A ‘meta-viewpoint’, if you like.)

    “Jennifer Walters is not only a completely coherent and humanistic hero as a Hulk, but is even a defense lawyer by day! At the very least, that alone may promise a Hulk story about more than a scientist trying to find a cure for his condition (which Amadeus Cho has found already).

    I don’t know exactly what Marvel plans for the series, but Jennifer stepping in and maybe changing the public opinion of the Hulk is a promising premise. Perhaps Walters finds a way to make the Hulk stand for something worth looking up to? Or inspires people to think differently about what a Hulk is or can be? When the dust settles following the Civil War-ing, what place will a Hulk have in the superhero landscape?”

    Not to sound bitter or anything, but we had something that in the first (non-incredible, somewhat ignored) ‘Hulk’ title. Red Hulk’s Loeb-penned intro was cringey, and there seems to be a boo-hiss attitude towards Thunderbolt Ross, but Jeff Parker’s arc with the character was some of the best writing, one of the best character deconstructions, I’ve ever seen. An exploration of Ross’ thoughts and feelings now that his Hulk-hunting days are behind him; that *he’s* the hulk, and all that implies; and how he can best use his new power towards his debt to society and the general good. All while being someone who could form complete sentences and didn’t threaten to flatten cities (or break worlds) on any given tuesday. (I tell ya, I almost got teary when Cap accepted him onto the Avengers)

    And then, thanks to the cyclical, regurgitative nature of superhero comic writing, they turned him back into a villain in that execrable Thunderbolts arc…

    “And for those of you who do not? There are decades worth of green rage monster stories for you to read at very affordable costs and in every format available.”

    On one hand, I agree with this because I’ve been trying to read more 80’s comics after becoming dissatisfied with the current crop. On the other hand… I recently discovered that the Peter David Hulk masterworks volumes kind of petered out (no pun intended) and only two of them are available digitally. Collecting (and paying for) the individual issues seems a little exhausting and not altogether ‘very affordable’, even if they’re all available.

    Not to mention that it seems a little exclusionary. Ironic, considering the attitude of the people you direct it at, but still… They might be a noisy minority, excluded for good reason, but I can’t help but feel that the general solution of ‘don’t like it don’t buy it’, for whatever reason, isn’t the preferred one for any business. Can the market for ongoing comics, in particular, afford it? The people who complain about changes may not read many comics, but what about people who complain about lack of changes? E.g. in the media uproar over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover, how many bloggers and commenters on either side actually bought the comic in question?

    In the case of developments like female Thor, X-23 as Wolverine, etc., I’m afraid I have to play devil’s advocate again, to some degree. What you call progressiveness can also be seen as a certain kind of tokenism. Despite how played-out the original characters might be, replacing some of your best-known examples with gender- or ethnicity-swapped characters, all in a fairly short time-frame, feels like a kind of enforced diversity. Taking over the roles, titles, even names of the original characters smacks of an admission that these characters aren’t going to sell well enough on their own without riding on coat-tails and a dose of sensationalism or controversy. (From what I hear about comic sales figures, and my experience of the quality of writing that drove me from Marvel comics, I wouldn’t be surprised)
    Sorry to say, but no matter how much you enjoy the actual writing, that’s going to hang over some of these titles. And it’s not the only thing: Banner will be back. So will Logan. Thor will be worthy again. Steve Rogers is already all serumed-up again. What happens to all the progressive characters filling the roles and the titles? They’ll have to be shooed out, go back to being also-rans behind the white men. With that hanging over them, by taking on those well-established mantles, they never stopped being also-rans. Maybe they wouldn’t have that much time in the sun if they were more original characters, but they’d be more… ‘honest’, in a way.

    Even then I acknowledge that it isn’t so simple as that, and it depends (or is refuted) on an individual character basis. Miles Morales is a completely inoffensive, likeable ‘casting’ choice, and I like the fact he’s been brought into the main continuity. (Is it still called the 616, after that whole DC-style reboot?) Carol Danvers is like Jen: well established; and an air force officer going by ‘Captain Marvel’ (dressed in something more than a swimsuit) is perfectly organic. (Though I almost fell asleep at the soap operatics when I tried getting into the title. Multiple reboots of an ongoing title suggest it didn’t click with other readers, either) Laura Kinney, despite being an unoriginal cash-in of an overdone character (clone of a raging berserker trying to control his berserker rages, is a raging berserker trying to control her berserker rages) seems to have her fans…

    I guess most of my cynicism is reserved for female Thor. I think it started with the whole media circus of “No really, this is the one, true, real Thor from now on!” It wasn’t helped by the fact that, yeah, ‘Thor’ is his name, being the actual norse god (in Marvel continuity), not just the ‘hero identity’ of some random dude who had an accident with chemicals and radioactivity. (As petty as that reason may be) I’m trying to avoid the term and it’s connotations, but those assertions honestly did come across as pandering, when we all know that it’s not ‘Thor’ Thor, and it’s not going to last. There’ll be a time when Lady Thor will be as topical and relevant as Thunderstrike, or (sorry to say) Beta Ray Bill.
    I hold my hands up, I’ve said that I’ve stopped reading Marvel several times, so you’ve got the advantage on the fine details of Lady Thor comics. I can’t deny you if you enjoyed it, but from bits and pieces that I’ve gleaned, I don’t think I would. It seems to be Marvel writers’ business as usual.
    And it turned out to be Jane Foster. Blimey. There’s ‘established’ and then there’s ‘undergoing fossilisation’. Was it because of Natalie Portman dragging the character up from prehistory and irrelevance? The character who was dumped decades ago because she was a simpering basket case who nearly had a breakdown the *first* time she was transformed into an asgardian? If Thor’s been a bad boy and Mjolnir’s to be passed onto a woman, I can immediately think of one who’s way more worthy, in more ways than one.

    And read Totally Awesome Hulk instead? No. Not because Amadeus Cho is asian; oh no. Because, well… I’m watching the ending of Iron Man 2 as I type this, and Senator Shandling says it best: “funny how annoying a little prick can be, isn’t it?”

    I guess I might be tarred with the ‘mutant-hating scum’ brush for some of that. I dunno. And I’m dismayed that it comes about because of truly virulent racist and misogynistic comments online. (I’d like to think that some of it is due to a real lack of articulation to say what’s really bugging them, but that’s probably wishful thinking) But I’ve never enjoyed watching debate devolve into butting heads and dismissal on both sides, whenever vaguely political matters come up.

    1. “Jeff Parker’s arc with the character was some of the best writing, one of the best character deconstructions, I’ve ever seen. An exploration of Ross’ thoughts and feelings now that his Hulk-hunting days are behind him; that *he’s* the hulk, and all that implies; and how he can best use his new power towards his debt to society and the general good.”

      Wait, I had a point there… Much as I’m interested in a new She-Hulk ongoing, I’m sceptical that she can bring some of that kind of fresh perspective to it. As you say, she’s been a hulk since 1980, about 2/3rds of the number of years that Banner’s been one. She’s had her own hulk-outs since then, too, and it hasn’t dented her public image or legal career much. How will any outcast-underdog angle fit in?

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