She-Hulk is Strong Enough To Break Marvel’s Entire Reality
She-Hulk’s strength once reached meta-levels when she took out the villain Madcap by literally ripping him out of her comic book!
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Like her cousin The Incredible Hulk, Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk) has an incredible amount of superhuman strength. Although she wasn’t quite as strong as the original Hulk when she debuted, Jennifer’s power level has only risen, thanks to additional gamma radiation exposure and new mutations.
At one point, however, She-Hulk’s strength level went into the metafictional range, enabling her to not only pummel her enemies with her fists but literally rip them out of her comic book. Although this seems like an absurd power to give a character like She-Hulk, she was once strong enough to tear apart the fabric of her own reality!
This all happened in The Sensational She-Hulk #9, back when She-Hulk was written as a self-aware fictional character who knew she was a comic book superhero. Long before characters like Deadpool or Gwenpool became popular for breaking the fourth wall, She-Hulk was already talking back to her writer and artist through comic book panels and engaging in more metafictional antics.
The issue actually started with She-Hulk angrily calling Bobbie Chase, the editor of her comic book, asking why she wasn’t being drawn correctly. Turns out, the book had just signed on a new penciller, British artist Bryan Hitch (who would later gain fame for drawing Marvel’s The Ultimates), who didn’t have the right reference artwork for She-Hulk and had made the Jade Giantess look like “Daisy Mae” for the first few panels.
After calming down the irate star, Bobbie promised She-Hulk she’d make Bryan fix everything, only for She-Hulk to re-enter her apartment and discover the artist had filled her closet with clothes that her grandmother used to wear. Even worse, when She-Hulk stepped out of her building, she saw that Bryan had drawn a stereotypical London street instead of New York, prompting Jennifer to grumble, “This Hitch guy is British, I’ll bet.”
Interestingly, the issue’s villain was also a fourth-wall breaking, self-aware character known as Madcap. An insane man who had been exposed to a chemical that made him basically immortal, Madcap was essentially an earlier version of Deadpool – capable of chopping off his arms and legs, sticking knives through his head, and getting flattened by cars, only to rise again completely whole. To make matters worse, Madcap also had a hypnotic ability that he could use to drive people temporarily insane. Although not usually a self-aware character, Madcap began talking to the reader throughout the issue – and even had a copy of the issue with him (although he wasn’t able to skip to the end to see what would happen in advance). Madcap managed to find She-Hulk at Central Park because “The writers are friends of mine. I bought ‘em lunch!” He then proceeded to hypnotize the parkgoers into acting crazy.
When some of Madcap’s victims began throwing themselves off buildings, She-Hulk intervened – only to be struck by Madcap’s powers herself and start juggling people like balls. Although Jennifer kept shaking off the effects of Madcap’s hypnosis, the villain continued making her hallucinate outrageous things until she couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. Grumbling that she couldn’t wait until the issue was over, She-Hulk managed to grab Madcap and beat him to a pulp – only for Madcap to rise again, as good as new.
Finally seeing that fighting such a man was pointless, She-Hulk tried to ignore him – but when Madcap suggested that the Jade Giantess make him the new star of his book, an irate She-Hulk grabbed the bottom of the comic book panel, ripped it (and Madcap’s drawing) off the page, crumpled it up, and threw it into a convenient “Acme” trash can along with a match.
Victorious, She-Hulk realized she was standing in an empty page and asked Bryan Hitch to draw some scenery around her – while also warning him not to draw a lake underneath her so she would fall in. Bryan obliged, and the reader actually saw the artist’s hand and pencil (complete with Garfield eraser), enter the panel and re-draw Central Park around She-Hulk. Relieved that her issue was finally over, She-Hulk turned to go – unaware that Bryan had drawn a charging rhino right behind her.
A weird, Looney Tunes-type issue, The Sensational She-Hulk #9 basically gave readers a taste of what they could expect later from Deadpool and Gwenpool. Although She-Hulk has since gone back to being a “regular” superhero (who rarely lets on that she knows about her comic book status), her brief time as a metafictional character was a weird highlight of her career. With Tatiana Maslany now cast as Jennifer Walters for the upcoming Disney+ She-Hulk TV show, perhaps fans can look forward to a few fourth wall-breaking episodes?