(Obligatory intro text paragraph – feel free to skip down to the non-italic text one if you’ve already been reading these posts.)
This is the sixth of twelve essays I’m writing, one per day as we lead up to the release of She-Hulk #12, the final issue in the current run of the title, on February 18. The idea is to look at each issue a bit more in-depth before we get to that last one. I’m doing these in conjunction with a live-tweet using the tag #12daysofshehulk on Twitter, also one per day leading up to the release of 12 starting at 7 PM EST – so you can play along at home! Feel free to @ me (I’m @charlessoule) – I’d love to hear what you think of this issue and all the others, whether it’s a re-read or you’re checking them out for the first time.
Okay, first off, yes, I ended the last issue (#5) with a literal cliffhanger. Wyatt Wingfoot, Jen’s sometime fella, was hanging off a cliff with a bunch of cub scouts dangling from a safety line below him. We knew by this point that (a) Wyatt Wingfoot was involved with the Blue File (the mysterious legal case Jen’s been investigating in the series) and (b) the moment anyone mentions certain trigger names to people involved in that case, they go berserk, killing those around them and then themselves. When we ended Issue 5, Jen was just about to say one of those trigger words to Wyatt – the expectation being that he would flip out and all those poor cub scouts would pancake down into a bloody mess at the bottom of the cliff, followed shortly by Mr. Wingfoot himself.
Cliffhangers are fun – I try to do them every issue, not just because it’s a really good idea to set the hook and bring people back for the next one, but because I like thinking them up. There are a number of types – there’s the “whoa, I can’t wait to see that…” bit, when you bring in an awesome new character or reveal a setup for the next issue, and then there’s the “no… he wouldn’t…” type, when you set up something so horrible for your beloved characters that the readers can’t help but come back to see how it all pans out. The trick with those is that sometimes you need to fulfill that promise. Sometimes Wyatt does need to fall off the cliff, because if you never follow through on the cliffhanger, then your readers will think you’re bluffing every time. It’s like a game of chicken with the audience.
In this case… Wyatt does not fall off the cliff. He loses cell reception just as Jen says the magic death words. But perhaps next time, gentle readers… he will. You never know. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!
This, also, is Wyatt’s one main appearance in the series so far, despite him being (traditionally) her main romantic interest – her Mary Jane, so to speak. There’s a major element in She-Hulk’s typical storyline that I didn’t address at all in this run, purposefully – her romantic entanglements. You get the idea that she’s dated folks in the past, maybe even a lot of people, but she doesn’t have a boyfriend in these first 12 issues. It doesn’t even come up, really. Now, I like romance – I had a blast with the Superman-Wonder Woman series I did for DC, and I’m doing some stuff with that in the Attilan Rising series I’m working on right now for Marvel. However, I thought it was important here to get away from that, and focus more on Jen’s professional life as she worked to define herself in that way. Jen’s not who she’s dating – really, no one is.
Issue 6 was designed to move the Blue File storyline ahead substantially, while not giving everything away. There were a million plot threads to juggle – first, there was the fact that poor Angie Huang had been shot in the head. Then this happens:
This was our first strong evidence that something truly bizarre was going on with Angie and Hei Hei. As far as I know, ordinary monkeys cannot bring their dead friends back to life. But what do I know?
We also get a visit from the very cool, very smooth NIGHTWATCH. Nightwatch hadn’t appeared in Marvel Comics for over 20 years, since around 1992. He was originally a Spider-Man character, a hero, who was spun off into his own title for twelve issues. The word is that he was supposed to capitalize on the then-mania for the Image Comics character Spawn by, ah, being Spawn. While I have no specific evidence for this theory, there’s this:
It didn’t seem to work as well as Marvel might have hoped, and that was that… until now! This happens all the time – people show up, don’t make the splash their creators and the company are hoping for, and sink back into oblivion. Until they are resurrected decades later by continuity-mining writers hoping to show off how much they know about Marvel Comics history, anyway.
I dig Nightwatch immensely – I think of him as being a perfect Billy Dee Williams character. His inclusion here wasn’t just a stunt, either. I think that when you read the run as a whole, this issue will read very differently than it did the first time around, especially scenes like this:
How about Sharon King with a shotgun? She’s the best. This scene was also another chance to see what the weird, cool renters at IdeaHive were capable of – and it seems like they are entirely able to fight off an attack by weird demons who all seem strangely focused on Jen Walters.
Favorite character: Nightwatch. I mean, look at this cool cat.
Tomorrow – Honey I Shrunk the Superheroes!