Mariko Tamaki discusses the return of The Leader!

The Leader has come for Jen Walters again. And this time, he’s conscripted her biggest fan in the fight.

On December 13, writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay present SHE-HULK #160! Jen has barely started to deal with the trauma still lingering after Civil War II and now she finds even more difficulty coming her way. Trapped between the two most Hulk-obsessed people on the planet, Jen has to ask: what do they want from her?

Mariko stopped by to give us a couple of clues!

Marvel.com: At the start of this series, we found Jen dealing with some serious stress. How has she been progressing through that emotional journey?

Mariko Tamaki: It’s been a messed up couple of months for Jennifer Walters.

After she lost her cousin, Jen has really struggled to deal with the trauma of that and her own experiences with Thanos.

Post-Civil War II, she’s been working at a new law firm where she’s tried to focus on other people’s problems instead of her own. But you can’t treat trauma like a headache, like “Well, this sucks but it will go away.” It won’t go away! The more you avoid a thing like trauma, the more it shows up in your life. Jen wants to treat her pain like a cramp and shake it off and just focus on other people’s monsters. But no matter what she does, her monster stands there waiting all the time and it’s constantly messing with her.

Marvel.com: And so the grey state comes in.

Mariko Tamaki: Yeah, the grey state acts like a heightened version of Jen’s previous green state. Everything about grey Hulk seems bigger and angrier. And being grey kind of makes it hard to connect to Jen.

Being grey is basically like rage. Pure. Rage.

Marvel.com: Tell us a little bit about The Leader and his history with The Hulk.

Mariko Tamaki: The Leader is a brain (a very big brain, thanks to gamma radiation) and a schemer. He’s a tactician. The same way gamma radiation made Hulk and She-Hulk’s rage and anger larger than life, the Leader’s ambition, ego, and desire for domination and power, are also larger than life.

Of course, the problem with big plans tends to be that they always get foiled, and the Hulk has been a foil for The Leader time and time again. So the plans get a little more evil and a little more intricate every time…

Marvel.com: What makes him so obsessed with Jen!?

Mariko Tamaki: Aside from the ongoing backstory of Leader vs. Hulk, to paraphrase “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Jinkx Monsoon, I think there might be two reasons you go after a person: you go after the person who’s good at the things you’re not good at, and you go after someone who’s good at the things you are good at.

I think for The Leader, She-Hulk seems kind of a double threat in that regard. She’s smart and strong. Also, I think at some point you pick the person you want to destroy and, once you’ve committed to that, you just have to follow through.

Marvel.com: Professor Robyn Meiser Malt shows up in this arc as well! What inspires her in this story?

Mariko Tamaki: Robyn, a scientist working with The Leader, is a huge, huge fan of She-Hulk. Robyn acts as my investigation of a kind of fan. What happens when you put someone up in a place beyond being admired? What singular thing does the object of your desire become and how does that connect to your own vision of self?

Now, at the start of issue #159, she works with The Leader. Jen gets drugged and restrained in a bunker with this woman who sees Hulk as an answer—kind of the exact opposite of how Jen sees herself. Robyn has turned Jen into this fairytale, a story that (with some help) has filled up her whole brain with this singular vision…a very dangerous singular vision.

Marvel.com: If you could give Jen one piece of advice, what would it be?

Mariko Tamaki: You need to ask for advice…and I don’t think Jen would ask for advice. Fortunately, I do think Jen might be on the cusp of leaning into, instead of avoiding, her pain. I think the more you explore it, the more you understand it. But that’s just me.

Pick up Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay’s SHE-HULK #160 on December 13!

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Mariko Tamaki fills us in on what Legacy has in store for Jen Walters!

The Leader is back on the scene to wreak havoc (it’s kind of his thing), but this time the big-headed ne’er-do-well strikes our hero when She-Hulk is at her weakest. Dealing with her new grey state has been challenging enough for Jen to face as it is, but what will happen when she is forced to face herself… literally?

SHE-HULK #159 by writer Mariko Tamaki with art by Jahnoy Lindsay presents their Legacy offering — JEN WALTERS MUST DIE: PART 1! Catch it on November 8th at a comic store near you.

We grill Mariko Tamaki on SHE-HULK Legacy and her strongest foe yet: herself.

Marvel.com: How has Jen Walters been holding up lately? Walk us through her state of mind, personally and professionally.

Mariko Tamaki: Professionally, Jen is good. Great, even! Work is busy because she’s got a full case load. Personally? Yeah, she’s burying everything under that workload. She’s still in a place where she’s not the Jen/Hulk she wants to be, but she’s determined to power through because she thinks it will be possible to deal with all the things she’s dealing with BY powering through… she is, of course, not entirely correct.

SHE-HULK #159

Marvel.com: Jen does so much to help save other people, but why is it so much harder for her to save herself (from herself)?

Mariko Tamaki: I think dealing with your own stuff is a whole other skill set. It’s like knowing how to explain how to play baseball and knowing how to play baseball. It’s a whole extra bit of uncomfortable work! And delving into that pain and discomfort is something Jen is afraid will undo her, so she’s mostly avoiding it. Helping people feels good, so she’s focusing on that.

Marvel.com: What has it been like working with a new series artist (the wonderful Jahnoy Lindsay)?

Mariko Tamaki: I have been incredibly lucky to work with so many amazing artists on this series. I love working with Jahnoy!

Marvel.com: Jen recently opted back to the title “She-Hulk.” Is she a little torn on whether it’s right to take on Bruce’s title of “Hulk” in light of his tragic passing

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t think Jen is concerned with being called Hulk or She-Hulk. Jen is very busy and also, most importantly, Jen knows who she is. She is Hulk and she is She-Hulk!

Marvel.com: What does the Marvel Legacy mean to you personally as a reader of and a writer for the brand?

Mariko Tamaki: To me it means going big, bringing something somewhat colossal to the story. The Leader is the perfect person to bring in now. He’s so striking and evil.  I love writing him. With the Leader, we wanted to go big with the villain in this issue, to connect a novel foe with Jen’s current mental state.

Marvel.com: How does Jen feel about her grey form? What does she like and dislike about that new development?

Mariko Tamaki: Being grey Hulk is still sort of out-of-body for Jen, literally. It’s a powerful but still unfamiliar feeling. Also it’s connected to trauma, to being in pain, and that’s not an easy thing. It’s not a form she completely trusts, at this point, and for good reason… as we shall see.

Charge over to a comic store near you on November 8th for SHE-HULK #159 by Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay, everywhere Marvel comics are sold!

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Artist Jahnoy Lindsay flexes his artistic muscles for Marvel Legacy!

Jen Walters Must Die!

…will be the name of this story’s first arc! On November 8, the sensational attorney-turned-super hero enters Marvel Legacy with SHE-HULK #159!

Writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay present Jen with a new enemy: The Leader. And our hero will do her best to fend him—and that title reference—off as a new era begins for She-Hulk.

We sat down with Jahnoy to hear about Jen’s new look, the Leader’s role, and working with Tamaki.

Marvel.com: Jen’s been through a lot in the past few years. How has all that changed her from a physical perspective?

Jahnoy Lindsay: I think she’s gotten much tougher, which seems kind of weird to think of because she’s always been such a strong character.

Marvel.com: We get a new version of She-Hulk in this book. How has it been getting used to this new style?

Jahnoy Lindsay: Admittedly, it has been a bit challenging, but definitely a ton of fun. I really want to convey just how monstrous and powerful this new She-Hulk can be.

Marvel.com: The Leader’s always been an interesting foil to whatever Hulk he faces—he’s the perfect physical counterpoint to raw power.

Jahnoy Lindsay: Absolutely—it’s the classic battle of brains vs. brawn.

Marvel.com: Mariko’s been steering the SHE-HULK ship for about a year now. How has it been working with her?

Jahnoy Lindsay: It’s been great! Her scripts are easy for me to follow and not too restricting, so I’m able to have fun and do my thing. I feel very blessed to be working with her—and my Editor, Christina Harrington—my first time around.

SHE-HULK #159, by writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay, drops on November 8!

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Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay detail Jen Walters' intro to Marvel Legacy!

She-Hulk continues to struggle with the trauma she experienced during the events of Civil War II, but the villains of the Marvel Universe don’t plan on waiting for her to adjust. The Leader has picked up on Jen’s current state—and believes it might be the perfect time to strike.

Marvel Legacy takes on a green hue when SHE-HULK #159, by writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay, lands on November 8!

Jennifer Walters needs to come to terms with her new Hulk form if she wants to stand a chance against the Leader’s latest wicked plan. Will she be able to stop fighting herself long enough to confront her old foe?

We spoke with Mariko and Jahnoy to find out.

Marvel.com: She-Hulk has been through a lot since Civil War II, but this threat from The Leader could be the biggest one yet. What has brought him out of the woodwork?

Mariko Tamaki: The Leader has always been lurking, waiting for an opportune moment. And Jen finds herself in a place where she’s a little vulnerable—an ideal time for him to strike.

Marvel.com: As she continues to grapple with her new Hulk form, does Jen even feel like she’s able to face someone like The Leader?

Jahnoy Lindsay: Definitely—Jen still has a lot to work out within herself, but she’s still She-Hulk. She’s ready to take on anyone!

Mariko Tamaki: Jen would never back away from a threat. That’s just not her jam. Even if she’s not sure how she will manage something, it’s really not in her DNA to walk away. So yes, she’s in a place where she doesn’t completely understand her new Hulk form, but she’s always going to step up.

Marvel.com: She-Hulk’s solo series has dealt a lot with Jen’s PTSD following the events of Civil War II—and we’ve explored this focus before. Will that theme continue through Marvel Legacy and into this new arc?

Mariko Tamaki: There are a lot of layers to trauma—so as a theme, and as an experience, it has a lot of twists. For Jen, this feels like a new twist because the previous battles she’s faced, since Civil War II, have been with people she once tried to help. And that couldn’t be further from her situation with The Leader. The Leader wants to end her, and she’s going to have to fight him from a very liminal and complex space. She’s dealing with trauma…but it’s also super villain time.

Marvel.com: Jahnoy, you’re working on this book for the first time. How has everything been so far?

Jahnoy Lindsay: A lot of fun! I’m just really excited and appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to such an important part of this characters story

Marvel.com: And you two are teaming up for the first time—what has your collaboration been like?

Jahnoy Lindsay: Working together has been pretty cool. I think there’s still a lot for me to learn about making comics, so I’m glad to be able to work alongside such an experienced writer like Mariko.

Mariko Tamaki: I am loving what I’ve seen so far.

Marvel.com: What about this new story are you most excited for readers to see?

Mariko Tamaki: The Leader has been a cool character to write for sure. I mean, he has a giant brain, you know? That’s intriguing.

Jahnoy Lindsay: It may be a bit selfish, but there’s a new character we’ve introduced who I just love drawing and learning about, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that person will be received.

Check out SHE-HULK #159, by Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay, on November 8!

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A changed Jennifer Walters attends her first therapy session.

The client, Jennifer Walters, in addition to working as an attorney, has long acted as a super hero known as She-Hulk with an extensive history as an Avenger and solo adventurer. For years, she largely lived her life as She-Hulk and was happy to do so. This was but one contrast between her and her forever-conflicted cousin Bruce Banner who, even when he was in the so-called “Professor Hulk” form, struggled with revealing his—usually—green-skinned alter ego to the world.

All of this is important to note as prologue as the Walters who arrived for session was not tall, muscular, and green. Instead she presented as adult white woman of approximately average height and physical fitness. The client explained that she had suffered a traumatic physical injury that had, in ways not yet fully understood, altered her transformation process. Now, she rarely presents in her Hulk form—she is currently eschewing the addition of “She”—and when she does appears to be grey in color with bright green scars across her skin. She also described her presentation as more “out of control” and perhaps “feral” than her more recognizable green hued form.

The changes in her physical form and transformation process are not all that is different about her, she disclosed to this writer.

While she has, at times, struggled with fear and panic and for a brief time did experience moments of transformation like her cousin where she seemed to become more like a wild animal when particularly afraid, this period was a very short-lived part of her life and did not alter her overall presentation.

Now, however, she reports panic attacks and PTSD-like symptoms that result in what this writer is referring to as “micro transformations”—moments so brief that her physical changes are not even noticed by her but the results surround her. For instance, she might briefly dissociate in the midst of an attack only to realize the elevator keypad is smashed or that her hardwood floor has large finger sized divots in it.

Additionally, the client is processing feelings of grief stemming from the death of her cousin while she was in her coma. These feelings are complicated by the additional knowledge that a former teammate—Clint Barton aka Hawkeye—is the man responsible for Banner’s death and her feelings that perhaps Barton did it at Banner’s behest. She admits she has not grieved properly for her cousin and worries that it might be sometime before she is able to as she struggles to get “the rest of my life back on track.”

Given this writer’s role in assessing Barton’s fitness for trial, I have determined it may be unhelpful to the client to continue to work with me and have therefore referred her to Doctors Mariko Tamaki and Georges Duarte for further sessions. She will next see them on July 12 and their progress note can be located in file HULK #8 at that time.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist used to have a Hulk-like alter ego named the Raging Skull. It mostly just got him in trouble.

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We bring Jen Walters to a clinical psychologist for examination!

In the pages of HULK, Jen Walters struggles with her personal aftermath from Civil War II. A fight with Thanos left her in a coma, and thus powerless to stop her cousin Bruce Banner’s death at the hands of Hawkeye. In trying to move past these events, Jen has begun work at the Law Offices of Ryu, Barber, Zucker, & Scott. But when a new client appears to be going through many of the same struggles that Jen herself now faces, she sees an opportunity to help someone and maybe to handle her own trauma.

This story arc provides a unique look at a super hero dealing with common mental health issues. We sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi to get a better of idea of what Jen’s going through and how her Hulk side is coloring her experience.

Marvel.com: Internal monologue is a very common device in comics, but it’s used even more in this book to highlight Jen’s fragile mental state following the events of Civil War II.

Andrea Letamendi: For this narrative, one of the reasons that it’s important for us to get her internal monologue is for us to see the two sides of her. We obviously know the two sides that this character is built on, but in these first few issues we’re seeing another duality. With the internal monologue, we see those constant worries, intrusive thoughts, the second-guessing and reminding herself that everything’s not normal. And that’s out of sync with her professional voice, the person she has to be on the outside.

I really appreciated Jen’s internal monologue that would include statements about what’s normal and not normal; how things moving forward would not be normal. Because that’s definitely a common experience for someone who’s been psychologically transformed after a traumatic event. And it underscores the idea that whether we want to label it or not, her mental health condition—her post-traumatic response—is not considered a disease, it’s a normal response to something that was abnormal. I love that this series is framing that for us, to let us know that yes, she’s questioning normality, but she is still intact. She’s acknowledging that she is still normal, and that helps readers to realize that what was crazy or abnormal, it wasn’t the person, but what happened to the person.

Marvel.com: In Jen’s previous solo series SHE-HULK, she was working at her own practice. But following her trauma, instead of returning to that work, she seeks to surround herself with people who can support her. Yet at the same time, these people provide a completely new source of stress…

Andrea Letamendi: I think it would be fair to say through these issues we’re seeing presentations of post-traumatic stress responses. The other people in the personal and professional aspects of her life are offering support, and are actually quite kind and gentle toward her and want to be around her and to connect with her. But she’s rejecting them because they are triggering her; they are sources of stress for her because she’s reminded of her loss and her memory of what happened to Bruce.

Her urge to get back into the office, and to get back to practicing law, is a very common reaction. She’s trying to establish normalcy again; she’s trying to get distracted with every day—almost mundane—activities so that she can reestablish what she thinks the world should look like. Of course, it’s not that simple and straightforward. She’s still going to be haunted by her past, and yet the yearning for those mundane activities, for the routine, is very relatable. She’s trying to grasp on to anything that feels like her pre-trauma life.

Marvel.com: Jen uses a series of online baking tutorials as a sort of stress-relief outlet. Would you say that’s reflective of the kind of thing that someone in this situation would lean on?

Andrea Letamendi: Yes, I thought it was quite realistic in the sense that she’s looking for something that is not just calming and neutral but a bit of a distraction from her world. There’s something about watching these videos that distracts Jen enough to get away from the memories of her pain and trauma. In many ways, having some sort of coping strategy in your back pocket—in your super hero toolbox, if you will—that’ll help manage the bad mood you’re in or the anxiety you feel or even just the thoughts that are stressing you out. On the other hand, I was really fascinated with her use of these videos because if she’s relying too much on this baking program to escape the memories of her trauma, over the long run she won’t give herself the opportunity to recover from it. So there’s almost a healthy dose of getting to a place where you can find balance, center yourself, and manage your own emotions so you can go back to what you’re doing and function well, but you still have to address the trauma at some point.

Marvel.com: Even over the course of these first four issues, you can see the videos starting to become a sort of crutch. Jen loses control in small doses when she feels like she needs to watch these videos and she’s so stressed that she “Hulks out” a bit and breaks part of her laptop or cracks her phone screen. The reader is left to worry about what could happen to Jen if she needs these videos and can’t get to them.

Andrea Letamendi: Absolutely. I found two things about her Hulk persona interesting. One is that she mentioned that it’s always there. I believe that she’s referring to both her trauma—in other words, she’s never going to be able to forget the complex trauma she’s experienced—and I also think she’s referring to her Hulk persona. She understands that this is a characteristic of herself that is always a part of her, and she’s trying to integrate her Jen-self with her Hulk-self and that’s where a lot of the struggle comes from. And the other thing that I think is quite wonderfully pointed out by this story is that she seems to be almost triggered by the transformation. In the past, the transformation was empowering and satisfying, but right now, the transformation is painful and chaotic. So she tries to repress it because it reminds her of her trauma.

Marvel.com: Prior to this, Jen had reached a sort of state of balance with her normal self and her Hulk self, so much so that she was almost always in her Hulk form. The issues that she’s grappling with now seem to stem from the fact that even in that form she didn’t have the power to stop these things from happening, throwing that balance into turmoil.

Andrea Letamendi: When we think of ways to cope with a traumatic experience, we often compartmentalize that way. Where we try to identify ourselves as different or separate from the trauma. So we try to maybe even think of a different part of ourselves as being traumatized and we try to hide that part of ourselves. And of course, as this comic is wonderfully depicting, that actually puts us in a position of experiencing more conflict and pain.

Marvel.com: This is what’s so interesting to me about exploring aspects of psychology through super heroes. When it comes to mental health, there are so many abstract concepts that can be difficult to understand. But demonstrating these things with a character like Jen allows for things like compartmentalization to become concrete; Jen is trying to lock away an actual part of herself.

Andrea Letamendi: Absolutely. I think that witnessing and understanding a super hero experience some of these things allows us to feel more secure or open to the idea that it could happen to us. So there’s that sense that if you are into super heroes, you look up to these characters. You know they’re not real, but you hold a level of closeness to them. So I think that when you see them go through something like this, you begin to normalize it and understand that as something that you could experience and accept as a part of yourself as well.

Marvel.com: The power of a story like this to help remove stigma from certain aspects of mental health is fascinating.

Andrea Letamendi: Yes! Apart from the arc and the narrative that Jen’s going through on a larger level, we’re seeing a pretty well-known super hero wrestling with the word “crazy” and reaching out to another person who might be going through something very similar. The value of the story is that it’s normalizing and approaching mental health in a way that’s accurate and relatable that provides a lot of validation for readers who might be experiencing something similar.

Hulk #5 cover by Jeff Dekal

Marvel.com: You brought up reaching out to someone else going through something similar, and that’s Maise Brewn, her first new client at the law firm. What are your thoughts on Maise as a foil to Jen? Experiencing something similar, but in a very different way.

Andrea Letamendi: I know Maise in her current form is intended to be seen as a little strange, but as off-putting as that character initially is, my understanding is that Jen is allowing us—through their dialogue together and through Jen’s recognition that she’s not crazy—to be brought into this connection. I do think that, even though a lot of us can relate to Jen, many people relate to Maise in that sense of no longer being a person, just being so far down or so lost following her near-death experience. So I see it as an opportunity for Jen to educate us and allow us to connect with the person whose struggle and pain is so intense that she’s not able to even reach a point of understanding. I think that’s really important for readers to see.

Marvel.com: That was what I thought of the way that we see Maise, the way that she’s drawn. We know for sure that Maise is—or at least was—human. But she appears very much like some of the other more non-human characters coming through the law firm. Something else about her has changed and it’s almost like we’re seeing that character as she now sees herself: as something less than or other than human.

Andrea Letamendi: I think it’s important to understand her backstory, once we realize that she owned this yoga studio, that she was into wellness.  To see how drastically she’s changed, I think it’s another example of that duality: because of what happened to her, she’s transformed into the opposite of the thing that she used to teach. That’s very difficult to convey, and I think how [the HULK creative team of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon] did this is really lovely. We’re seeing almost the death of a person. They still have a body, they’re still walking around and seeking help, but ultimately this person seems like she’s lost her soul, her meaning.

In my work, when we work with folks who have experienced a severe or intense trauma, there’s oftentimes a shift or transformation in their worldview. So in my language we’d say there’s a cognitive disturbance. These are usually in three areas: the way they think about the future, the way they think about the world, and the way they think about themselves. The way they think about the future, that’s pretty straightforward. It’s hopeless, nothing will get better—and Jen had some of these thoughts, too. “There is no normal anymore, nothing is the same.” and “I’m a failure, and I’ll continue to fail.” In terms of their view of the world around them, it’s similarly negative generalizations. Thoughts like “the world is unsafe,” “the world will harm me,” “I can’t trust people, I can’t get close to people, because if I do I might lose them and that’s too painful.” Then the thoughts about the self are incredibly damaging to the overall personhood and self-esteem. This idea that “I’m not a person anymore, I’m not valuable. The interpersonal violation against me took something away from me and so I no longer see myself as a whole person, therefore I’m not worthy of being a person or being around other people.” In a way, you see that extreme version with Maise, and you see Jen begin to wrestle and struggle with the same thoughts.

Marvel.com: One of the people that I think helps Jen a lot is her new assistant Bradley. Many people are superficially nice to Jen. They want to show that they care, they want to make her feel welcome, but there’s still sort of that distance there. But Bradley, as her assistant, not only is he helping her get back into the swing of things professionally, but he’s taking a personal interest in her well-being.

Andrea Letamendi: Bradley may be the one person that is able to see her vulnerability and still not treat her any differently. One of the important aspects of that is he’s had a recent loss, as well. So he’s able to exercise his own empathy and understand that recovery is a journey. Even though he didn’t say it in those words, I think in his assurances and the way that he supports her, we can tell that he understands she’s going to recover in her own way.

Marvel.com: To bring up another foil, the relationship that Jen’s forming with Bradley serves as a contrast to her existing relationship with Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat. We see throughout this story text messages from Patsy that go unanswered, and then the phone call that ends in the impromptu rooftop meeting. Patsy’s going through the familiar “Why are you pushing me away? I’m trying to be here for you” mentality and we get to see this other side to how people provide support when their friends are dealing with trauma.

Andrea Letamendi: It’s helpful to us as readers to see the different ways in which people extend their support. They do it in ways that they think the other person needs, so it’s ultimately very forgivable because that’s how humans work. “I know how to help you in the ways that I’ve been helped, so I’m thinking about those resources or those types of support or just even in the way that I offer support.” A lot of this is cultural, as well. In some families or communities, we ask directly “Hey, are you in pain, what can I do?” And in others, we don’t say that, but we make our appearances, we make sure to be available. That’s what Patsy does; she is insistent that she gets face to face with Jen so she can offer up herself. I like that in this story we’re seeing various ways in which people are trying to extend their support and some of them Jen can tolerate, some of them she’s very amenable to, and some of them she just rejects. So when it comes to Patsy, just because of all the emotions she brings up for Jen, she’s really unable to go to that place psychologically, so she needs to put some distance between them.

Marvel.com: As we wrap up HULK #4—having seen what her Hulk persona means for her and her mental state—we end with Jen in a position where it seems impossible that she can avoid that persona. With everything that we’ve seen, how do you think she’s going to handle that?

Andrea Letamendi: I hope there’s an element of struggle for Jen to integrate her Hulk persona again. If this is truly trying to use the parallel between “Hulk” and “trauma” and how we’re trying to preserve our personhood by integrating that trauma into our whole self, then I’d like to see that struggle there. I think it would be important for us to see that, in her transformation, she has to face some memories that are difficult to think about and feelings that are difficult to process. She may even have to face or address some of those negative, damaging thoughts about herself and her value that are now central to that persona.

Hopefully, there’s this journey where she’s able to integrate herself and her traumatic experience so she achieves what could be considered post-traumatic growth. She would be able to acknowledge that she experienced something terrifying, painful, and horrific, and that becomes a part of her whole person. Right now, Maise isn’t in a place to do a lot of things. Maybe Jen’s able to be there for her, but she has to face her own trauma to really enact that.

Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon continue the psychological examination of Jen Walters in HULK #5 on April 26!

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Mariko Tamaki examines the long-term fallout for Jen Walters’ recent trials!

Civil War II had some pretty dramatic ramifications for a lot of folks across the Marvel Universe, including Jen Walters. Recently, in HULK, we’ve seen the erstwhile She-Hulk trying to recover from the loss of her cousin, Bruce Banner, and put her life back together.

We caught up with writer Mariko Tamaki in advance of HULK #4 on March 22 about how Jen will cope, and what we can expect from her story moving forward.

Marvel.com: Jen has always had a belief in the justice system, which has led her to defend people who aren’t necessarily popular in the public eye. But the way things went down with Hawkeye really affected her. Has it changed her outlook on the justice system?

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t think it has. My take on it is that, she goes back to work because she has an enduring belief in the justice system. Regardless of how she might feel about what happened to her cousin, I think she still feels everyone deserves a trial. I’d consider this one of the more complex aspects of Jen, but I think it grounds a character to have these kinds of core values. I also think that, while this is a sustaining belief of hers, it doesn’t cover over the other feelings she has around what happened to Bruce.

And I’ve always liked that we get to see Jen as a working super hero. She still goes to the office every day and does her lawyer thing, in addition to punching out bad guys in space.

Marvel.com: Bruce, a family member, could uniquely understand what Jen goes through. How has losing him changed her?

Mariko Tamaki: It’s a pretty significant loss in her life. Losing someone like that can feel life-changing. Those people help to shape your world, and when you lose them, it can feel like you now have a piece missing. I think that’s the place where we find Jen right now.

Marvel.com: It seems like Jen feels, to an extent, like Carol Danvers let her down, because her decisions in part led to Bruce’s death. So that relationship has been affected, too. How has that impacted Jen?

Mariko Tamaki: We see Jen kind of isolating herself from everybody right now. Part of this issue, and this series, entails looking [at] how she has specifically separated herself from her friends. She has made a distinction between her old life and her new life, but I see that as a false dichotomy because her old life still exists, those people go on living. At the moment, we won’t see her dealing with her specific feelings about anybody, as much as we’ll see her trying to block out whatever she feels about everything that has happened.

Marvel.com: Jen is trying to rebuild her career, and move into a new phase of her life. What do you think that will look like for her moving forward? How will it be different from the career and life she had pre-Civil War II?

Mariko Tamaki: Well, we’ll see her in a liminal space, still trying to figure that out. Of course her super hero identity is a key part of her story, but right now, she doesn’t quite know what that will look like. She’ll always find herself feeling pushed toward life as a super hero, and now she faces the question of how to respond to that. For example, she finds herself drawn to her new client, Maise, who needs more help from her than a regular client would. So even when she might consciously choose to distance herself from her super hero life, she still moves in that direction. We could imagine an alternate reality where Jen retires to Florida and everything is cool. But that’s not the interesting story. What I find interesting is how our resolutions butt up against our destinies, and I see Jen as destined to fight for justice as more than just a lawyer.

Marvel.com: In issue #4, Jen will face her client’s fear, which is so strong it becomes a force of its own. Does this in some ways parallel Jen’s own experience? She has had to face some of her own anxieties lately.

Mariko Tamaki: I wanted to put Jen in this space with this person who I see as maybe a little farther along down this path than Jen, and who has taken a similar but different route. Jen has decided that being the Hulk feels like too much and she doesn’t want to do it, and Maise sees the entire world as too overwhelming, and she just wants to close herself off from it. And I like this idea of having a manifestation of dark, psychic energy. For Jen, her anxieties and traumas manifest through her transformation, and for Maise, they manifest in a different way. Jen feels drawn to Maise’s story because she can relate to what Maise has gone through.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention or tease anything else?

Mariko Tamaki: I’ve had a lot of fun working with artist Nico Leon, colorist Matt Milla, and editor Mark Paniccia. I’ve really considered it a privilege to work with someone who adds so much—we see so much happening in the background of this comic that could make up a complete story in and of itself, thanks to Nico. And I hope readers enjoy that part of it too, because in every scene, you’ll see the foreground, but also something really weird or interesting in the background, and I recommend people check that out as they read it.

Follow the next steps in Jen’s journey through HULK #4 on March 22!

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Look back on Jennifer Walters’ powerful past to prepare for her next chapter!

Back in her own ongoing series, Jen Walters once again reigns as the Queen of Green in HULK #1, out December 28. Her career’s long and storied, but though she’s looking to the future, she can’t deny her past as one of the Marvel Universe’s most fascinating figures…

Savage She-Hulk (1980) #1

Savage She-Hulk (1980) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Savage
Lawyer Jennifer Walters took a bullet for her cousin Bruce Banner, and transformed into a mean, green hulking machine after he gave his own blood to save her life. As She-Hulk, she worked hard to manage her anger issues, and eventually gained control of it to stand as a hero alongside both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

Sensational
Jen’s law career expanded by leaps and bounds, elevating her to the role of Assistant District Attorney in New York, but after many adventures both in and out of court, She-Hulk’s string of good fortune snapped when a maddened Scarlet Witch manipulated her into kicking off the dissembling of the Avengers. Afterward, Jen withdrew into self-exile.

She-Hulk (2005) #15

She-Hulk (2005) #15

What is Marvel Unlimited?
S.H.I.E.L.D.
She-Hulk found renewed empowerment by strengthening her Jennifer Walters form, but also suffered through the loss and regaining of her powers. When the super hero Civil War broke out, she registered with the government and took on a role with S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent and a trainer of young heroes. This also led to a spot for her on the new Hulkbusters team.

Secrets
When her cousin The Hulk declared Manhattan as his kingdom, She-Hulk helped to evacuate the island before confronting him. Later, she admitted to a deep-held secret, that she’d become addicted to her gamma-spawned persona. The mystery of the Red Hulk provided some focus for Jen, and she assembled a team to hunt him down.

She-Hulk (2005) #37

She-Hulk (2005) #37

  • Published: January 28, 2009
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 16, 2009
  • Rating: A
  • Writer: Peter David
  • Penciller: Steve Scott
What is Marvel Unlimited?
Shake-up
Her life now complicated, Jen joined the Lady Liberators to help the quake-stricken country of Marinmer, fell prey to the Red She-Hulk, joined the Future Foundation, and struggled with a supposed cure from her cousin’s “Doc Green” persona. Recently, she took a serious wound in the opening salvo of Civil War II, leading to a new evolution yet to be seen.

Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon chronicle the next chapter for Jennifer Walters in HULK #1 on December 28!

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Get a first look inside the smashing new series!

Jennifer Walters has survived the Civil War, but not unscathed. On December 28, she rises from the rubble, re-entering the world as a different kind of hero in the brand new HULK #1! Marvel is pleased to present your look inside the debut issue from Eisner Award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and rising star artist Nico Leon (SPIDER-MAN)! Be there as they chronicle the ongoing adventures of Jennifer Walters – and bring you a Hulk book for Marvel NOW! the likes of which you’ve never seen before!

Following the traumatic events of Civil War II, Jen is determined to move forward, to go on with her life. But there is something bubbling under the surface. A quiet rage. The physical and mental wounds are still fresh. The pain of the past and all she’s lost is always there – an undercurrent, a pulse, waiting to quicken and trigger her transformation into the one thing she doesn’t have control over…the HULK! Jennifer Walters’ greatest battle is about to begin. One that will pit her against the monster inside. Can she control the rage that consumed her cousin Bruce for so long? Or will she succumb to it? Find out when Tamaki and Leon bring you the can’t-miss HULK #1 – coming to comic shops and digital devices on December 28!

HULK #1 (OCT160788)
Written by MARIKO TAMAKI
Art by NICO LEON
Cover by JEFF DEKAL
Variant Cover by PIA GUERRA (OCT160791) and DALE KEOWN (OCT160789)
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (OCT160794)
Hip-Hop Variant by RAHZZAH (OCT160793)
Classic Variant by JUNE BRIGMAN (OCT160792)
Young Variant by SKOTTIE YOUNG (OCT160790)
ICX Variant Also Available (OCT160795)
FOC – 12/5/16, On-Sale – 12/28/16

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Writer Mariko Tamaki transforms Jennifer Walters into a new kind of Grey Goliath!

The upcoming HULK #1 hitting in December will see Jennifer Walters—usually known as She-Hulk—dealing with some pretty heavy stuff.

Jen barely made it through the events of Civil War II, but the loss and pain of recent events remain with her. Will this trigger the thing she’s afraid of, the thing she doesn’t have control over?

We asked writer Mariko Tamaki about what we can expect.

Marvel.com: Jen almost died as a result of decisions Carol Danvers. And Hawkeye killed her cousin as a result of one of Ulysses’ visions. How will this affect these relationships? Can Jen forgive Carol?

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t think you live through the sequence of events these characters have experienced and not have some damage to the relationship, so it makes sense that Carol and Jen’s relationship will change. I think they’ve both become accustomed to going through extraordinary things, but death has a tendency to transcend even the extraordinary.

Marvel.com: Jen has always believed in the power of justice, and the rule of law. Yet Hawkeye, who killed Bruce, is let go. This seems like it could really challenge some of her core beliefs. How will this impact her?

Mariko Tamaki: I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means, to lose the ground from beneath you. I think the thing is, once something like this happens, something you never imagined even after you’ve hung out a lot in the realm of the unimaginable, it can make everything seem unstable, precarious. In those cases, even though it might not seem logical, you reach out and grab for something you think you can depend on. You set boundaries for yourself, rules and limits, and you try to build up a world around you that makes sense.

Marvel.com: In some ways, Jen maybe should have sided with Tony Stark all along. She believes in giving everyone a fair trial, and has defended unpopular people. This doesn’t always mesh with predictive justice. Do you think the recent developments will cause her to reassess? 

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t see Jen as someone who would easily put complete faith in one person’s vision of the future. No matter how compelling that vision. I don’t think Jen is reassessing her view of the legal system at the moment, so much as she’s trying feel as close to normal as possible.

Marvel.com: It seems like recent events have started to awaken her anger. How will she deal with it?

Mariko Tamaki: Everyone has their own approach to trauma and tragedy. I think there are those who want to dive into it, get in people’s faces about it, find something that feels like the truth. And there are people who have the opposite reaction, who want to get as far away from the pain and the past as possible. For now, Jen chooses Plan B.

Marvel.com: How will these events impact the way she approaches being a super hero?

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t think Jen feels like acting as a super hero right at this moment. Instead, she wants to bury herself in her work as a lawyer.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us a little about some of the conflicts she’ll face?

Mariko Tamaki: Without giving too much away, Jen will go back to work, with the goal of doing her best to help out her fellow heroes. She’ll also have to deal with some pretty big demons. And she’s not alone.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you can tease about the book?

Mariko Tamaki: I can tell you that I’ve been chatting with artist Nico Leon recently, and getting really giddy about this book. I can tell you that my Evernote notebook with my reference materials for this book both terrifies me and makes me smile every time I look at it.

A new breed of HULK smashes down this December from Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon!

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