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Marvel Graphic Novel #18: Review

Jan 1985
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

The Sensational She-Hulk

Review & Comments

5 stars

Marvel Graphic Novel #18 Review by (March 20, 2024)

Review: She-Hulk by John Byrne is always terrific so we knew what to expect of this entry in Marvel’s Graphic Novel series. His writing and art always portray a heroine both adorable and formidable, usually at the same time. Her interplay with Wyatt and others express the same qualities. And the adventure is an impressive one. The major concession to the graphic novel form is more references to sexual matters, notably Shulkie’s unclad form and Dooley’s lechery, including the word “onan” and a reference to HUSTLER magazine (pornographic if you hadn’t heard of it). But the action scenes, especially those involving the Helicarrier and planes are spectacular. If there’s any flaw, it’s that Nick Fury’s departure, leaving SHIELD to do nasty stuff to Jen, seems a bit out of character. Oh and that we’re never told precisely what Jen was wanted for. But these are minor quibbles compared with the rest of the adventure. It’s a lot of fun.

Comments: Story takes place after FANTASTIC FOUR #284. Marvel Database places it (and several other stories) between FANTASTIC FOUR #283 and 284 which makes no sense as She-Hulk is enslaved by Psycho-Man across those two issues, leaving no time for other adventures. Sole appearance of SHIELD Agent Roger Dooley. Agent Sidney “Gaffer” Levine was introduced in STRANGE TALES #159 and appeared occasionally in INCREDIBLE HULK, mostly from issues #212-219, and other titles over the years. The baker saying, “Time to make the doughnuts” is a joke reference to contemporary commercials for the Dunkin’ Donuts chain bakeries. Marvel Universe—the Appendix once had a lot to say about the Cockroach Conspiracy but the page is missing lately. It is revealed in SHE-HULK (2004) #11 that Reed Richards lied to her and that the real reason she could no longer transform was psychological; Doc Samson had advised him to say it was the result of her exposure to radiation to make her mental state more comfortable. Colorist Petra Goldberg credited as Petra Scotese.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvel Graphic Novel #18 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The shadowy people who give SHIELD their orders pressure Nick Fury into taking action against She-Hulk, citing the threats caused by her cousin, the Hulk. Fury balks, citing Reed Richards’ obvious approval of her to join the Fantastic Four. The powers wave that away, telling him that this order comes from the Commander in Chief himself. Fury decides to take a vacation rather than deal with this….

Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters is relaxing at home when her boyfriend, Wyatt Wingfoot, arrives. Jen explains she is distracted, thinking about her late cousin Bruce Banner as the next day was his birthday (Hulk/Bruce is wrongly believed to be dead at this time). He comforts her by reminding her that without the Hulk, she would never have become She-Hulk and they would not have gotten together. They make plans to go out that evening but first, they head for the bedroom….

Dum Dum Dugan supervises the surveillance of She-Hulk though he does not like it any more than Nick Fury did….

They get ready to go out and Jen is dressed in an abbreviated version of white tie and tails, exposing a lot of green flesh. She defends it by saying that as people are going to be staring anyway, she might as well be comfortable. They take a cab to the East Village and Jen explains she has always preferred being She-Hulk because of the excitement. Near the theater, three SHIELD Mandroids teleport in and announce that Shulkie is under arrest. She fights them, with Wyatt and some passers-by trying to help but not doing much. Jen is shot with a Neuro-Stunner and halts it by hitting the Mandroid with a car. The lead Mandroid contacts base to request an emergency pull-out full quadrant teleportation. And so She-Hulk, Wyatt, and several civilians finds themselves in a SHIELD base with the Mandroids. She clobbers the Mandroids and tries to lead the civilians to safety, tearing a massive hole in a wall leading to a maintenance tunnel. The agents spray gas in the tunnel, taking down the civilians so Jen makes another exit, where she and Wyatt find an airfield. When they finally get a look outside, they discover they are aboard the Helicarrier, with nowhere else to go. So they surrender to an armed party of agents, led by Agent Roger Dooley; Dooley orders Jen to strip, threatening Wyatt with death when she balks. So Jen removes all of her clothing, denouncing SHIELD as a bunch of bad guys. Dum Dum Dugan arrives and is shocked; he rebukes Dooley, reminding him that strip searches are to be carried out in private by an Agent of the same sex as the prisoner. Dooley is unrepentant. Dugan orders Dooley away but the agent mutters threats about his friends in high places….

Jen is given a smock and Dugan speaks to her and Wyatt in his office, apologizing for the incident. Dugan also explains that some higher-ups think she poses a threat and he is confused about what SHIELD is turning into. And then he gets a call telling him he is being reassigned to Washington and Agent Dooley is now in charge at the Helicarrier until Nick Fury returns. Dooley has Wyatt locked up and escorts Jen to a lab where she is subjected to a thorough and invasive examination by an apologetic Sidney “Gaffer” Levine. She is all wrung out when she is put in a cell with Wyatt. When she has recovered a bit, she asks about the cell. The bars are adamantium and there is a weight-sensitive alarm system which releases cyanide gas should the weight in the cage vary even a little. So Jen has Wyatt press the equivalent of her wight in the floor while she transforms back into normal Jennifer Walters and slips out between the bars and shuts off the weight alarm. She walks through the halls trying to find a way out but her lack of footwear is noticed and an alarm is sounded. Agent Dooley responds but he is seized by an elderly homeless man who was one of the civilians brought aboard with Jen and Wyatt; he sucks the life out of Dooley then replaces it with its own consciousness, manipulating Dooley’s corpse into leading them to the ship’s central control room. Jen has found her way to Dooley’s office and when he leaves (undead, remember) she enters as She-Hulk and finds the recording Dooley made of her examination and destroys the tape. And then the Helicarrier flips on its side, the possessed Dooley having cut half the rotors though everyone assumes it was She-Hulk who did it…..

With carrier tilted, two jet aircraft slide off, one crashing to the ground on top of a donut shop. With the other one, the pilot manages to land the jet on its tail but it topples over and explodes. Back in the carrier, Jen discovers the corpse of the homeless man, looking like it has been dead for a century. An Agent arrives and shoots Jen before another Agent can explain that it’s Dooley who is the bad guy. Good thing Jen is largely bulletproof. They go to the control room where Dooley has locked himself inside. Jen is told by Sidney Levine that the door is booby trapped against forced entry. So Jen goes outside and walks along the upended side of the ship and breaks in through a window. She is seized by Dooley which thinks she would be a much better host for them. Jen slams him against a wall which causes him to burst open, releasing hundreds of sentient cockroaches. Agents try to restart the engines and the ship explodes, plummeting to the Earth. The Agents escape in their pods but Shulkie wants to rescue Wyatt. Levine orders the lifters on the other side cut, hoping the gyroscopes right the carrier’s position. They do that and the Helicarrier crash lands on its bottom in the desert. Jen emerges with a battered Wyatt. Levine explains the bad part: the carrier’s atomic pile is about to explode in twenty minutes. Only She-Hulk can shut it down as she is the one with the most likely chance of surviving the extreme radiation. She makes her way through the ship and she is swarmed by the roaches, which she does not like…. Minutes later, she emerges, having shut off the reactor but covered with the detritus of dead bugs….

Epilogue 1: Jen is checked out by Reed Richards who wishes he had specimens of the sentient cockroaches for study. Then he reveals the bad news: because of her exposure to the radiation, she can no longer transform back into Jennifer Walters. She responds, “So what’s the bad news…?”

Epilogue 2: Jen and Wyatt talk and she explains that she much enjoys being She-Hulk so she won’t miss never becoming normal again. One thing does worry her: how did the sentient roaches know what SHIELD was planning?

John Byrne
Kim DeMulder
Petra Goldberg
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
John Byrne (Cover Inker)
John Byrne (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Janice Chiang.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Jennifer Walters)

Plus: Wyatt Wingfoot.

> Marvel Graphic Novel: Book info and issue index

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