Sensational She-Hulk #1

Title: “Second Chance”

Writer: John Byrne

Penciller: John Byrne

Inker: Bob Wiacek

Colorist: Glynis Oliver

Editor: Bobbie Chase

She-Hulk is at a circus, testing her strength by lifting two elephants into the air.  The circus offered to let her use their grounds as a training area. The resident strongman comments on how impressive Jen's display is, but she comments that it is nothing for someone who can bench press seventy five tons. She also mentions that her cousin, the Hulk, hid out in a circus much like this one, back in issue #1 of the Avengers comic. Bruno says that he had heard rumors about her being the Hulk's cousin, but never knew if they were true. Jen confirms that they are, but that she hasn't made a point of revealing the details of her life to the world, even though she doesn't have a secret identity. Suddenly, a voice calls out "Perhaps you'd care to tell us all about it now, Ms. Walters...." She-Hulk turns to see who spoke--and looks right into the hypnotic effect of the Ringmaster's hat!  She-Hulk has fallen into the trap of the Circus of Crime, and is now their mindless slave! The Clown reminds Ringmaster of the three million dollars they were offered...but the Ringmaster silences him.  "That money is as good as in the bank, but we will earn it in a manner of ‘my’ choosing!  The Circus of Crime may be for hire...but only on ‘my’ terms!"

Elsewhere, a group of scientists are monitoring the Circus.  One of them comments that he is uncomfortable with employing felons, but his colleague reminds him that the Circus is only presumed felons--no charges have ever been made to stick to them. Besides, he says, it isn't like they were going to act on their own against someone as powerful as She-Hulk. The man with glasses comments that he is worried about how "he" is going to react--pointing at some non-humanoid creature in the next room. His colleague says that he isn't concerned about that.

Back at the circus, Ringmaster has She-Hulk tell them of her origin.  She first tells them of how her cousin Bruce became the Hulk, and then how years later he had to give her a blood transfusion to save her life, which ended up transforming her into the She-Hulk. She then goes on to mention her membership in the Avengers and Fantastic Four, and how she is now permanently locked in She-Hulk form. Ringmaster says he has heard enough, and that it is time to move on to phase 2 of the plan.  He has the Professor, their make-up expert, begin his work...and two hours later, She-Hulk has been transformed into "Glamazonia"!  He has covered her with flesh-tone make-up to make her appear human again, and given her a red wig. As the men admire the Professor's work, Princess Python storms in and demands to know what is going on! She is supposed to be the sex appeal for their group, and she is not happy to see another woman added to the act.  Ringmaster assures her that Glamazonia is only a temporary addition, and that she'll understand better tonight.

That night, the audience arrives for a free show.  As the people arrive and take their seats, they notice that only one stand of bleachers is open, and that the seats have seatbelts. Once everyone is seated and buckled in, the Ringmaster starts the show—and Glamazonia lifts up the bleachers and carries the audience around the room! Then the Ringmaster zaps the audience with his hypnotic hat, putting them all into a trance.  Then Glamazonia tips the bleachers upside down, so that all of their wallets, purses and jewelry fall out! Zelda is impressed--it is the same scheme that the Circus usually pulls, only now they don't have to go up into the stands to steal all the booty.  It is now faster and easier for them. Glamazonia puts the audience back in their place, and the Ringmaster hypnotizes them all into believing that they have just seen the greatest show on Earth! The audience departs, raving about the show, and none of the wiser of having been robbed!

The Circus counts their loot, and the Ringmaster comments that they will do even better the next night, when they have a whole tent full of victims. Suddenly, a circus wagon comes rolling straight at them!  The men dive for cover, but She-Hulk instinctively shatters it with a punch!

Elsewhere, the scientist with glasses is concerned about this development.  He is worried about She-Hulk's body getting damaged.  His colleague agrees, and puts on his gorilla disguise, so he can get more personally involved.

He arrives at the circus to find the Ringmaster accusing Zelda of sending the wagon at them, since she was the one who didn't want Glamazonia around!  Zelda points out that she was on the opposite end of the big top when it happened, but Ringmaster suggests she could have charmed someone else into doing it for her. Bruno glances out the window and sees the gorilla!  He warns the others that one of the gorillas has escaped, and Ringmaster sends Glamazonia to retrieve it before someone alerts the authorities. As She-Hulk gives chase, Bruno remembers that this circus doesn't have any gorillas!

The gorilla leaps over She-Hulk, and grabs the Ringmaster's hat off his head!  Then he uses it to break the hypnotic spell that Jen is under! She-Hulk instantly loses all interest in the gorilla, allowing him to escape unnoticed! She-Hulk recognizes the Ringmaster, and realizes that this must be the Circus of Crime!  The criminals try to flee, but Jen throws a wagon in the air, and it lands in their path, blocking their path! They turn and run a different way, but She-Hulk tosses barrels in their way. Then to finish them off, she rips the bars off one of the cages, and throws them like javelins.  They land in a circle around the circus members, caging them in! Jen figures that will hold them while she calls the cops, but just then the cops arrive!

Later, at the police station, a female officer brings Jennifer some clothes to change into, as she washes the last of the body make-up off. The officer congratulates She-Hulk. She says that she may be the first person to make a charge stick against the Circus of Crime! She also tells Jen that when Ringmaster tried to pin the attempted murder with the wagon on Princess Python, the Professor confessed to it.  Apparently he had a crush on Zelda, and tried to kill Jen as a way of apologizing for his role in setting Jen up as Zelda's replacement. She-Hulk asks if she can speak to the prisoners--she wants to find out why they went to all the trouble of capturing and hypnotizing her. The Ringmaster informs her that they were offered three million dollars to test the extent of She-Hulk's strength and invulnerability.  Jen asks who hired them, but the Ringmaster doesn't know; all arrangements were handled through third parties. Jennifer is less than thrilled.  "Oh, great!  Some anonymous bad guy is ready to spend three million bucks to find out how tough I am...and I know how these things work!  It'll be at least my third issue before I find out who it is!"

Elsewhere, the man with the glasses, Morgan, reveals that it was he who called the police, to prevent She-Hulk from getting injured.  It also gave Nagan the opportunity to slip away undetected. As Nagan removes his gorilla mask, he comments that the Ringmaster getting arrested saves them from having to pay him the three million.  Now they can use that money to hire someone else to continue the testing. "She-Hulk is still of great interest to...the Headmen!" Nagan hands Ringmaster's hat off to Ruby. Morgan says that they ahve to learn more about the She-Hulk if they are going to bring any solace to their friend Chondu.

Site for Sore Eyes rating: 8 out of 10.

A decent first issue!  We get the obligatory origin recap out of the way quickly enough, and spend the majority of the issue dealing with the current story.

My one critique would be that due to the hypnosis, the lead character is out-of-character for the majority of the story. 

Byrne introduces the Breaking the 4th Wall gag here, but it is very minor in this issue, and isn't nearly as distracting as it sometimes becomes in later issues.

Leader's Lair rating: 8 out of 10

I agree with Dermie's synopsis, but wanted to add that I would have given the art a perfect 5 out of 5 except the fact that there isn't a large decent picture of She-Hulk in her debut issue.

Review by Dermie

Pictures by The Leader

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