Even If She's Green, An Analysis of She-Hulk by a Rhetorical Community

by Marina Parenti

May 13, 2008

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©Marvel Comics, Savage She-Hulk 1980
©Marvel Comics, She-Hulk No. 25, March 2008

Introduction

     Comic books and history make for a caustic combination in much the same way  She-Hulk and anger does.

 

©Marvel Comics, The Savage She-Hulk 1980

     Most everyone knows what a comic book is and may have read one or two as a child, but it is exactly that Freudian childlike state which perpetuates the dissonance between scholarly historical research and comic books.  Academicians would do well to revisit the cautionary historian Peter Novick on the merits of objectivity in regards to the mis-perceived low-culture of the comic book.

     Comic books and popular culture tend to go hand-in-hand yet the relationship is not that simplistic. The term popular culture has been defined intellectually, artistically, and as a signifying practice.  It is this third meaning of  popular culture that best defines comic books as stated by Professor of Cultural Studies John Storey, “Culture as signifying practices—would allow us to speak of soap opera, pop music, and comics as examples of culture.  These are usually referred to as cultural texts.”[Storey,2]  In looking at comics as examples of culture, I have selected the comic book superheroine She-Hulk, who has a strong socio-cultural history of narrative development with contributions from  artists, writers, editors, and most importantly, comic book fans. 

     This website is dedicated to Shulkology (She-Hulk history) from 1980 to 2008.  After considerable scholarly research I offer for your consideration, the argument that  popular culture reflections represented in She-Hulk comics are not the outcomes of her creators, on the contrary, it is through the agency of her fans which reflect their perception of popular culture onto her character and storyline. In other words, She-Hulk fans are the ultimate ‘deciders’ when it comes to how she looks, her storyline, and her overall standing in the fierce popularity contests amongst superheroes and superheroines. 

      In a sense, a utopian form of social exchange pervades the interrelatedness of the creators, fans, and She-Hulk.  Social anthropologist Mikhail Bakhtin inferred this sense of carnivalesque atmosphere where the topsy-turvy world has crowned the creators as the fans, and the fans as the creators and She-Hulk as King of Carnival. 

Sources


     The voice of the fan can be found in the back editorial pages of She-Hulk comics.  This data ranges from the first issue of Savage She-Hulk in the 1980s to the most recent as of May 2008, which comprises over one hundred issues of She-Hulk. For any completionist collector fans, no research was done on any guest appearances of She-Hulk.   A louder and edgier fan voice was found in the popular culture medium of blogging by Googling the first and most relevant hits for my topics.  Both sources are primary and are somewhat problematic, as is the case with most any popular culture source.  

     Concerning the use of editorial comments; editors tend to edit the comments that are lucky enough to be selected.  Whatever letters that do not make it to the editorial pages are voiceless. What does Marvel Entertainment do with those anyways? Editing is fairly non-existent in blogging, so it is the opposite case where any information can be shared and perhaps where all the missing unpublished letters have gone.   Furthermore, the nature of Google is by keywords, so if there was a better blogsite than the blogs that I found but not keyworded the way I searched,  it would not have popped up by design of Google. 

     A final thought is that ten days from now, the sites I found may no longer be on the “hit” page of Google because of the changing nature of the web.  Despite the lack of complete objectivity, which is impossible, [see Peter Novick] and that the sources have flaws, does not negate their merit and value in popular culture.  If anything, there is a unique history within my history of the history of the history of She-Hulk. (Also known as Historiography).

Now onto the Debates!  

Copyright
This is a scholarly media-history in popular culture website. Any images represented on this site relating to The Savage, Sensational or any image of She-Hulk, are the exclusive copyrighted property of Marvel Entertainment Inc. Theorizations and opinions found on this site are a representation of the rhetorical She-Hulk community and not necessarily those of Marvel Comics, though quotes from She-Hulks writers and artists are included. Any errata are my own. Any reproductions of She-Hulk are strictly the property of Marvel Comics. This website is a graduate level project with the sole purpose of exposition on the web for a general and scholarly audience. Comments and suggestions are always welcome, please contact me through my links page.