Jennifer Walters is getting her life together. After several years as a savage She-Hulk, Jen is finally back in her right mind, with a new job and a new place to live to boot. The current She-Hulk ongoing series launched in January, with Jen’s adventures now being guided by former Runaways scribe Rainbow Rowell and artists Rogê Antônio and Luca Maresca. Since the launch of the series, She-Hulk has also found herself with an unexpected roommate in a newly-resurrected Jack of Hearts, a fellow Avengers with whom Jen has some painful history. Who are the shadowy figures behind Jack’s return, and what do they want with the jade giantess?
All of this comes ahead of She-Hulk’s Marvel Cinematic Universe debut later this year in a new Tatiana Maslany-starring Disney+ TV series. The Beat chatted with Rainbow Rowell about writing a character with as varied a history as She-Hulk, tackling the character as she’s about to go big-time on TV, and why you should hire Jennifer Walters as your attorney in a heartbeat. Check that out, along with an exclusive preview of She-Hulk #4 and an early look at the cover and solicitation text for the series’ sixth issue, below.
Joe Grunenwald: Jennifer Walters is a character who has had a lot of status quos (statuses quo?) over the years, and the first few issues of your series have seen her sort of settling into another new one. How do you reconcile all of those aspects of the character and her past while still pushing her forward?
Rainbow Rowell: When a character has forty years of continuity, you really can’t reconcile everything…
When I signed on for the book, I did a lot of reading and rereading. (I tried to read every She-Hulk appearance.) And then I did a lot of thinking about what feels essential to Jen’s character. What do fans really love about her? What parts of her history have most affected her character? What sticks?
For me, Jen’s big appeal is her personality. She’s genuinely funny, even with different people writing her. She’s committed to justice – the sort of person who would still keep practicing law even after she gets her superpowers. And she’s fundamentally loyal. What you see in She-Hulk’s history is someone who always shows up for her friends.
I wanted to tell a story that feels like classic Jen, even if it’s a very different kind of adventure for her.
Grunenwald: Jack of Hearts has been a big part of the series so far, and obviously he and Jen have history together. How did you decide to bring him into the book, and what about he and Jen and their interactions appeals to you?
Rowell: I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but the initial appeal was his costume. I collect playing cards, and I’ve always loved Jack’s look. When I was reading through Jen’s time with the Avengers, I was happy to see Jack show up – then intrigued by the way his power interacts with hers. (He touched her once and disrupted her gamma radiation so much that she went on one of her only real rampages.)
The other reason I was drawn to Jack is – he has a relatively thin history for a Marvel character, even though he’s shown up for a few big events. As a writer, there’s a little more space to play there.
Also, when Jack has shown up, he’s usually been unlucky. Wrong-footed. A bad fit for every team. He’s best known for dying.
He’s sort of the opposite of She-Hulk, a character who gels with everyone and always makes a contribution.
Grunenwald: Aside from a brief fight with Titania in the first issue Jen hasn’t really fought anyone so far in this series, and even that Titania fight ended with the two of them sort of becoming friends. What do you think that says about She-Hulk both as a hero in the Marvel Universe and as a character in general?
Rowell: It is interesting that Jen’s best-known villain is only sort of a villain, and someone whom Jen has helped out a number of times in the past …
What I love about She-Hulk is that she seems more like a person than other characters. There’s some alchemy there that makes her feel real. (Maybe it goes back to Sensational She-Hulk and her tendency to look the reader right in the eye.)
She’s just an incredibly rich character. She’s as interesting in conversation as she is in battle. As likely to use her brain – or her heart – to solve a problem as her brawn. Plus she has very human problems and motivations – she’s lonely, she’s ambitious, she’s broke. She’s interesting from every angle.
Grunenwald: We’ve seen that there are some mysterious figures who seem to be pulling Jen and Jack’s strings. Can you offer any hints about who our mystery villains might be? Are they characters we’ve seen before?
Rowell: They are not! They’re new. She-Hulk doesn’t have many recurring villains or a nemesis. (Which is an ongoing joke in our book.) Historically, she tends to help other heroes fight their battles. So we put some thought into the sort of people who might get tangled up with Jen. And who might really challenge her.
Grunenwald: Your last book was Runaways, a series with a fairly large cast compared to the solo-starring She-Hulk. What’s that transition between series been like for you? Any surprises working on a solo book vs. a team book, or with older characters vs. younger ones?
Rowell: I kind of miss having that big cast! I really loved the juggling aspect. The big conversations. The way each character had their own voice and niche.
But Jen knows everyone in the Marvel Universe, so there are far more guest-star opportunities than I had with Runaways. And I was able to mine her past series for the best characters.
Honestly, it’s kind of nice writing adults. I’ve written Marvel teens, and I’ve written a lot of young adult novels. It’s refreshing to write someone slightly closer to my own age.
Grunenwald: With She-Hulk’s Disney+ series coming up, a lot of new people are going to be discovering this character for the first time. Does that put any added pressure on you as you’re working on her comic adventures, knowing that they might be the first She-Hulk comics someone reads?
Rowell: Hmm. I was in a similar situation with Runaways … I don’t mind it. I think there’s a way to write a character or team that welcomes new readers and rewards “old” readers. This story arc is about Jen starting over, so it feels like an especially good entry point for new people.
Grunenwald: Why should someone hire Jennifer Walters to be their lawyer?
Rowell: Pfft. Because she’s the best! She’s honest and intelligent, and she genuinely cares about justice. She won’t stop fighting for you. And if the Impossible Man crashes your hearing, she’ll deal with it.
Published by Marvel Comics, She-Hulk #4 is due out in stores and digitally in June. And here’s the solicitation and cover image for She-Hulk #6, coming in August:
Written by RAINBOW ROWELL
Art by LUCA MARESCA
Cover by JEN BARTEL
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