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Savage She-Hulk

Marvel Legends
by Artemis

Even before she first turned into the savage She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters was saved at least twice by the superhuman status of her cousin Bruce. After Bruce was forced to donate his own blood to save her life, she manifested the ability to mutate into the raging female answer to the Green Goliath himself. However, without the mental baggage borne by her cousin, Jen quickly gained control of her super-human alter-ego, and now Jennifer Walters and the She-Hulk are one and the same. Just recently, the disappearance of the Hulk has left Jen in the unfortunate position of trying to fill her cousin's sizable shoes, and she's faced threats as great as the Abomination and Wendigo.

So what was the second time? And is it "superhuman" or "super-human?" Still, mustn't complain - this is a pretty good example of bio text, with its succinct run-down of She-Hulk's origin, the distinction between her "hulkness" and Bruce Banner's (that she's in control) and the premise of a reasonably current (but not so current as to be spoilerish) storyline, in a manner that doesn't require extraneous continuity details. Oh, it skips the subtleties - She-Hulk and Jen aren't exactly the same person - but overall, it's pretty focused and comprehensive.

Although the packaging refers to her as simply "She-Hulk," this is obviously a Savage She-Hulk, from the beginning of her superhero career when - like her cousin - she'd just get mad and fight bad guys dressed in whatever highly elastic underwear she had on at the time. In Shulkie's case that was generally a plain white slip that, though it invariably got attractively tattered, always managed to remain in one piece - John Byrne later poked fun at the whole idea by revealing Jen's lingerie had the Comics Code Authority stamp on the label, and was thus guaranteed to cover her naughty bits no matter what hit her.

Rather than try to sculpt the slip, either entirely or matching a torso sculpt to a separate skirt, Hasbro have made it a cloth garment that fits fairly tightly over her torso. In some ways it works quite well - the fit is good, and the simplicity of the garment echoes the straight-forward art on the original Savage She-Hulk title of 1979-82. And in other respects, it's not so good - the shoulders don't adequately hide the stitched seams, which of course are far out of scale, and instead of the pointy, tattered look on the prototype, the final product has a clean neckline, and rounded "points" on the skirt edge (luckily, since it is cloth, rectifying the situation takes only a couple of minutes and a nice sharp pair of scissors).

Beneath the slip Shulkie is decked out in a matching white bra and panties set, and actually looks a whole lot better - and I'm not just saying that because she's in skimpy lingerie. This isn't just Barbie-standard painted underwear, there just to prevent imaginative collectors home-making naked versions of figures - there's a full sculpt on the whole set, with separate straps, a weave texture on the panels, a tie in the centre of the bra, and even tattered edges at the top of the cups (it's not just Jen's muscles that get bigger).

The cut of both halves is also rather provocative, with a narrow crotch and back on the panties, and the bra not reaching all the way to the bottom of her breasts, which is fitting since they're meant to fit Jen, not She-Hulk. And speaking of provocative, that bra tie raises an interesting question: is that how the bra was to begin with, or was it a standard strap that snapped mid-change, and Shulkie had to hastily make repairs before charging into battle?

The reason for the attention to detail (and the slightly baffling bra tie) will become plain once I say this name: Shanna. She-Hulk's undergarments are an exact match for the She-Devil's homemade ensemble, and this is the same body we saw in Hasbro's Kazar/Shanna two-pack, just cast Caucasian rather than green.

Undergarments aside (I know, I've spent four-and-a-half paragraphs just talking about her lingerie, but you shouldn't really be surprised), she's got a pretty fair sculpt. Her body is visibly powerful but not Hulk-style super-muscular - She-Hulk generally isn't - and all the proportions stack up decently. Her bare feet, something you don't often see on action figures, look pretty good so far as feet go - diluted silver paint apps on the toenails work quite well at a glance - and the only real shortcoming of the design, in and of itself, is that the wrists are a bit thick at the end of the forearm, compared to the hands. That's taken in isolation - compared to other figures this body has a huge shortcoming, which is, aptly enough, it's much too short.

Hasbro's already given us a She-Hulk (two, if you count the SDCC exclusive variant), and far and away their best feature was that they towered over their fellow Marvel Legends. This is a human-sized body - it works fine for Shanna, but having already seen a properly imposing Shulkie from Hasbro, this She-mini-Hulk is a bitter pill to swallow. Additionally, it means that you can't swap heads between the various Hasbro She-Hulks without them looking awful, so there's no way to home-make a pissed-off modern Shulkie, or a fun Savage She-Hulk (she got quite carefree and amiable by the closing issues of Savage, it wouldn't be out of place). Cost-cutting be damned, they shouldn't have done this. Size does matter.

Disappointment aside, she's got other good qualities. Her face is nothing exceptional, but a pretty good rendition of She-Hulk as she appeared in her Savage days - she's clearly not happy, but she projects anger, rather than all-out rage. Comparing the face to the actual Savage She-Hulk artwork, it's really quite good. Strong eyebrows and narrowed eyes help sell the expression, and a darker green paint app on her lips frames her teeth nicely, and emphasizes her pissed-off scowl. Her hair is wild, windswept and tangled, and sits well away from her back, for neck mobility, without looking unnatural. It's aces all around.

Articulation is another positive mark. Her neck balljoint has a fair range to it, as mentioned, though if you tilt her head all the way back, it'll tend to work itself off the ball - it's easily replaced, and actually handy for getting the dress on and off, but the other Hasbro She-Hulks also had swappable heads and didn't have this problem. She has swivel/pin balljoint shoulders, elbows, and wrists - good mobility there - a shallow torso balljoint - swivel/pin, no side-to-side tilting - and swivel/pin hips, knees, and ankles.

People are going to bemoan the lack of double pin knees, and I'm not saying double pins aren't quite nifty, but I'm finding that I don't miss them so much on the knees. With stability being an issue, a leg bent severely at the knee will probably require equally impressive hip and ankle articulation to work in an overall pose, and at this scale, I'm okay with foregoing all that to get a fairly sleek, unbroken-looking leg. Double pin elbows would have been more useful, but all in all, I'm not troubled by the articulation on this figure.

Shulkie doesn't get any accessories, which is a bit of a shame - she's not known for weapons, granted, but given that this is her Savage incarnation, a Hulk-style half-crushed girder or somesuch thing would have been nice, especially since (to accommodate Shanna's gun and knife) her hands are sculpted for accessories. What we get instead is the head and neck of Fin Fang Foom, a pseudo-Oriental dragon (actually an alien) who's battled various Marvel heroes - usually Iron Man - now and then. Foom's going to be a big boy, clearly - his head and neck, when assembled, top out at just under 7", thanks to his big flappy ears and horns.

In terms of sculpt it's a decent-looking piece, with a nice mix of scales and dinosaur-like wrinkled hide, a cross-hatched pattern on the cartilage of the ears and good fanned-out wrinkles on the skin membrane, and a fairly accurate rendition of Foom's characteristic sneer. Paintwise things aren't so good - Hasbro is evidently fine at staying within the lines when applying colours, but not so great at effects like drybrushing, so while the teeth and the mouth are quite good, and the eyes - though simplistic - don't contain any errors, the application of a brighter green over the base colour on the forehead, cheeks, and the front of the neck is quite poorly blended. The head is mounted on a shallow balljoint - the head comes separate from the neck, and can be detached again once assembled without undue force - and the lower jaw is on a pin joint, going from only slightly open (as seen in the photo here) to really wide open, as if roaring.

I want to like this figure, I really do - and not just because She-Hulk is up there with Power Girl, Raven Hex and Artesia as my most adored comic book characters. It's not cheap, but that's the effect of the big-ass BAF piece in it - it's more like a She-Hulk/Foom's head two-pack than a figure with an accessory, and you pay accordingly. But the sculpt is good, the face is characterful and accurate to the art, the cloth slip is decent, and easy to improve, and scale aside, the use of the Shanna body works quite well. The problem is that you can't leave the scale aside - she's too small to be She-Hulk, and that's that. If this exact figure had been produced at the size of Hasbro's previous Shulkies I'd be praising it without qualification, regardless of the high price - as it is, I'm happy to have it as a She-Hulk fan, but disappointed that it's not what it should have been.

-- 09/28/08

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