After saving New York City and snagging a new beau, Jennifer Walters returns with a familiar title in Sensational She-Hulk #1.
When writer Rainbow Rowell took over She-Hulk in 2022, many hailed her take on the character as a return to form for the Jade Giantess, who’d been saddled with divisive and often confusing interpretations for the past several years by that point. (Some of which, in my opinion, were fairly interesting and overly dunked on but that’s just me!) But the point was made clear: people want an upbeat, humorous Shulkie, and Rowell delivered. While I may not be super enamored with her run in comparison to others —John Byrne’s and Charles Soule’s in particular are my favorites— it was still enormously enjoyable and a breeze to read. And given that it originally planned for a short run that then got extended, clearly others agreed on that front. That brings us to Sensational She-Hulk #1.
If you already liked Rowell’s take on She-Hulk, that likely won’t change with Sensational She-Hulk, as it seems nothing has substantially changed from that run —which I actually take some issue with and will address shortly!– so it’s pretty much business as usual. Jen’s work-life balance seems more in control than ever, with her juggling a stable law job, a blooming romance with the explodey Jack of Hearts, and managing a flight club for superfolk like herself. So it does beg the question: why relaunch with a new title and a new number one? As ever, it seems Marvel has decided to relaunch an existing series for a mid-term sales bump and a little extra publicity, which I don’t necessarily begrudge them for. The business gonna biz.
My main issue, however, is the usage of the Sensational adjective in the title. For those who aren’t aware, the original Sensational She-Hulk run (written and largely drawn by the aforementioned Byrne) is often considered the definitive take on the character, introducing her awareness of the fourth wall and tendency to break it long before such an ability became more closely associated with Deadpool. When they announced that Rowell’s run would be continuing under the title, I was intrigued; would she also finally bring that aspect of her character back after being largely ignored over the past few decades? Unfortunately, it seems the answer to that is no, and there’s no meta angle here. It’s an extremely disappointing decision, whether it was Rowell’s herself or an editorial mandate,but also fairly baffling given how Jen’s fourth wall awareness was a defining aspect of the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series on Disney Plus. For all of the wanked-upon “MCU synergy” that comics fans complain about, this was maybe the one instance where people would have been fine with it, but alas. Perhaps this will change in later issues and she will indeed engage in some fourth wall breaking, but for now it just feels like a missed opportunity.
But that might be an unfair critique, because Sensational She-Hulk #1 is otherwise perfectly fun and readable just as it was before. I’d really like to see Rowell have a long run with the character as she did with her previous Runways tenure, and returning artist Andrés Genolet doesn’t skip a beat with his playful and expressive visuals, rendered in bright candy colors from Dee Cunniffe. It’s all good, if not especially fantastic by Shulkie’s standards, but in this instance her main villain is one shared by all superheroes in one way or another: expectations.