Or – “Initiate THIS, Iron Dictator!”


Anthony Stark has made enemies of virtually everyone in the Marvel Universe in the last six months, faithful Spoilerites, not the least of which include many of US. And while there are those among the “Legion of Iron-Haters” who are more popular, or arguably more powerful, even some that Stark considers a bigger threat, the Iron Dictator is about to get a lesson in why not to underestimate Jennifer Walters, who combines power, intellect, and the desire to protect her family into a potent big green anti-Stark missile. Look at her eyes… Jennifer is in a rage, and the one thing we ALL remember about Hulks is: You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.

Previously, on She-Hulk: Jennifer Walters was FORCIBLY enlisted as an agent of she1.jpgSHIELD, ostensibly so that she could handle the threats that were once the purview of her missing cousin Bruce Banner. Taking down threats like The Abomination, The Wendigo, (after which she ickily found herself hitting on Wolverine) and Zzaxx, (after which she continued her downward slide and bad taste in men by sleeping with Herr Gruppenfuhrer Stark and ending up fighting an army of LMD’s in her underwear) Jen is increasing unhappy to find no sign of the missing Hulk himself. When a malfunctioning Nick Fury LMD starts repeating one of it’s recent files, speaking to someone called “Banner,” she grows suspicious of Iron Man’s ulterior motives. Jenny once again realizes that her life is out of control, and she can’t turn to her new “friend with benefits” for help this time. When Agent Clay Quartermain tries to page her for another bogus mission to find the Hulk, (though, in his defense, he doesn’t KNOW it’s bogus) She-Hulk makes up her mind to find out what the hell is going on, once and for all.


It’s time to go home again, to the law offices of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway. (For those who don’t know their Marvel history, Martin Goodman was the original publisher of Atlas/Red Circle/Timely/Marvel, whereas Lieber is Stan Lee’s real last name, and Kurtzberg is Jack Kirby’s.) She is greeted warmly by her old friends and former coworkers, and explains that she needs to extract some data. “From a severed Nick Fury head?” asks the ever-so-snotty Mallory Book. The new senior partner, Mr. Zix (Secretly an alien recorder sent to spy on She-Hulk… it’s complicated.) offers his services, and project “Get In Fury’s Head” takes off. Meanwhile, Quartermain is forced to work with an LMD to replace She-Hulk, Agent Beefcake, a “sexpionage” android designed to infiltrate and seduce. When he complains, his usual assistant, Agent Cheesecake (a female version of the same concept) points out that he doesn’t have a problem with HER on the team. It’s a very cute moment, espcially when team sorcerer Crimson starts gushing about how virile and hawt the new agent is. “Who cares if he has a well-toned physique? A perfectly sculpted jaw line. Deep blue eyes that–” Clay interrupts with the order to run silent, and I’m entertained at the way Dan Slott has taken one of the old James Bond cliches, turned it on it’s head, and pointed out some of it’s ridiculous undercarriage. Nice work, especially Crimson’s vicarious make-out session… Meanwhile, Zix has accessed SOME of the files in the head, but it’s a sure bet Jenny’s not going to like what they reveal.


Meanwhile, in a coffeeshop across town, someone gets a secret message that the files have been accessed. Could it be Nick Fury himself? We won’t know for a few minutes, because back in New Mexico, The Hulkbuster team is sneaking up on one of Bruce Banner’s abandoned lairs. The readings indicate strong Gamma Radiation emitting from within, causing the team to believe that The Hulk himself is hiding inside.


The Leader is outraged, having faked his death (TWICE!) in order to remain at large and work on his new plan, only to have Clay and company kill it in the shell. His “death-spores” are weeks away from completion, so he falls back on the old standby: killer robots. While Clay Quartermain and company prepare to die, the Nick Fury head suddenly grants complete access, even though Mr. Zix hasn’t been actually WORKING on it. What’s going on? Well, that laptop doensn’t belong to Mr. Fury at all (I really should have known better. Nick Fury wouldn’t carry a laptop.) but to Amadeus Cho, aka Mastermind Excello, a young man with a personal mission: to help The Hulk.


As much as I want to hate his little fatigue-jacket-wearing, puppy-carrying, cute-as-a-button supergenius self, I am actually finding Cho to be pretty charming, right down to his little scooter. Perhaps it’s just that he’s acting on the side of “screw with Iron Man” but I’m actively rooting for the boy. The Nick Fury LMD shows She-Hulk the whole truth: The Illuminati (Iron Man, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange and Black Bolt) rocketed her cousin into space “to protect innocents,” even though for years Marvel has maintained that The Hulk’s rampages were never fatal to anyone. Quartermain and his team manage to outsmart the Leader, (proving that he’s at least smarter than a fifth grader, as The Hulk has done it three dozen times) radioing back that they’ve caught “a big one.” The SHIELD agents misinterpret the staticky communique as reporting that they’ve caught THE Big One, and cheer that the Hulk is finally caught. The team sets up a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner, and brings Iron Man up to surprise him. “I believe there’s been some kind of mistake,” says Tony, and he’s right. But HE’S the one who made it. As he tries to figure out what’s going on, She-Hulk smashes her flying car right into the helicarrier, and stomps out of the wreckage to confront him. “YOU AND ME, SHELLHEAD! RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!” Stark is nonplussed, asking “What on Earth is your problem?” “My problem isn’t ON Earth!” She tells him that she knows what he’s up to, and Tony responds in the only way he apparently knows how, anymore…


…with betrayal. @$$hat! Who the @#&* does he think he IS? Arrrgh! Thankfully, Jennifer is as angry as I am, and that makes her considerably more powerful than usual. Being both a lawyer and one of Stark’s confidantes, it makes her considerably better able to try and make her point and make him explain his actions. But, since Iron Man can’t hear anything but the dull roar inside his own head, she is forced to punctuate her sentences with gamma-powered fists. He reminds her than he beat her before, and she reminds him that the last time, he sucker-punched her, she wasn’t in her right mind, AND he had backup from twenty other Avengers. After she remarks that he needs “She-Hulkbuster armor” he snottily says that EVERY armor is She-Hulkbuster armor. Arrogant much? Jen gets even more angry at that, saying “You really think that? That you’ve got me figured out? That I’m just some variable you can plug into your equations? You sold me on YOUR side of the Civil War, said we had to stand for law and order! So when did your precious inner circle appoint yourselves as my cousin’s judge and jury?”


She’s absolutely right. It’s telling to me that Marvel would allow one of their writers to make these points so loudly and so obviously about a major character, indicating that they KNOW that Iron Man has jumped the shark, but I suspect it’s one of their “master plans” for the next five years. Bah. All I know is, when one hero makes her case this strong, and the other hero doesn’t at least try to explain his actions, he’s a damn villain. Case in point?


Remember how I wasn’t sure about Project Achilles and it’s sinister undertones? Turns out there’s a good reason why. Project Achilles was an attempt to find a way to remove the Hulk’s powers FOR GOOD, using the other gamma powered beings as test subjects. That’s not a bad idea at all, and probably could have been done without trying to kill him. Iron Man tells She-Hulk that they’ve perfected the formula, that he just injected it into her system, and that the effects are seemingly permanent. It’s the “seemingly” that’s important, there. Tony is smug about having removed one threat to his reign as King of Latveria Director of SHIELD, and is certain that he’s perfectly capable of handling the Hulk…


Get him, Jennifer! Kick his lily @$$! I soo hate Iron Man. Hate him, hate him, hate him. There’s just no excuse for having one of your flagship characters be this big of a tool unless you mean to turn him heel. I hope there’s a big twist coming up, but I doubt it. This is, after all, one Marvel, under Bendis, and apparently we are to believe that anybody that rich and powerful must also be a scum#$*$. Either way, I am very much looking forward to Jen’s next actions, as SHE HAS THE PROOF. She has tangible evidence that the director of SHIELD worked in concert with a foreign national, the leader of the Fantastic Four and an unafilliated private contractor who is now a wanted fugitive to, essentially, murder an American citizen without trial! I don’t care if you ARE Iron Man, that kind of thing is going to affect your bottom line.

This issue gave me three things I desperately wanted to see: Jennifer realizing where her heart truly lies, one of Tony’s underlings seeing through his facade of lies, and somebody beating the snot out of the Iron Dictator. Given that Hulk #106 (the next chapter of Jen’s story) has already come out, I’m feeling like there may be some positive moments coming in the Marvel Universe, and I’m a bit excited about that. At least I don’t have to watch a character I like sleeping with the enemy anymore. This is an excellent issue, from character, to plot, to pretty art, and the look on Jennifer’s face when she set out to confront Tony is absolutely worth a half-star all by itself. She-Hulk #18 rates a very impressive 4.5 stars out of 5, and a little more Iron Man beating could have won them the big gold prize. C’est la vie, I guess…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Tony Stark makes Dirk Anger look like a perfectly reasonable and sane military leader.

    And I H.A.T.E. him for being such a facist dick and for having always a tech-trick up his sleeve to save his sorry @$$!

    Go Jen! Go Bruce!

  2. Uh-Oh…as Chav’s may or may not say, Jen-Jen got the Mad on.

    Anyho…this Title’s being called she-Hulk means that that ‘seemingly’ will come back to haunt Tony with the vengeance of Hamlet (“‘Seems’, Mother? I Know Not ‘Seems'”), who I think should be at least bruised.

    All the best to Bruce…

  3. Once again, I refer to the weird, weird myopia of Joe Quesada and company: “Oh, Tony’s not evil! Tony’s just doing what he has to!” Which leads me to believe either

    a. They really are planning a massive swerve, and going to acknowledge they’ve built Tony into a bad guy and plan to embrace it.
    b. They have only realized now their audience means it when they say he’s now a bad guy, have no clue how to fix it/deal with it, so they’re planning to tow the original party line until they figure something out.
    c. They really have no clue, and really have no pulse on their audience, basing public opinion solely on sales. (By this sort of reasoning, Vader was always a good guy because Empire Strike Back did so well. Hey wait, didn’t Lucas decide this too?)

  4. It’s really sad that the “better” Iron Man stories don’t even occur in his own monthy title. The characterization of Tony Stark is clearly something that has gotten away from Marvel during the Civil Crisis on Multiple Continuities. Don’t get me started on Peter Parker vowing to kill Aunt May’s shooter…

  5. Every time I read an article like this, (and the comments that attend it) I’m reminded that the average comic fan isn’t exactly mature or overly intelligent. Let me see if I understand this: You guys are all angry at Iron Man because “nobody ever gets hurt in the Marvel universe”, so his steps protect civilians are therefore “evil”. Does that about sum up what you’re saying?

  6. Matthew Peterson on

    Not at all… Indeed, it’s more a question of degree. Iron Man obviously had the best interests of the world in mind, but his TACTICS are not those of a hero. They’re those of an autocrat, a man who is used to everyone deferring to him because he’s rich and handsome.

    I’m upset with Iron Man because he bugged the BEDROOM of a man he called an ally. I’m upset with Iron Man because he didn’t PERSONALLY handle the prisoner transfer of an old friend, someone he claims to respect. I’m upset with Iron Man because he profiteered from Civil War, using it for both monetary gain, and to take command of SHIELD. Most of all, I’m upset with Iron Man for repeatedly responding with force to situations that could have been handled with diplomacy, and for unilaterally deciding for the entire superhuman communicty what course to take, then FORCING them to go along, rather than sharing some of his much-vaunted “futurist” hunches beforehand.

    Just as an aside, Maven… All comments are appreciated here, but adversarialism isn’t always the best way to get your point across.

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