That wraps up the first season of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law! I don’t know about you, but I had an absolute blast with this series. Everything worked for me, but I felt like I was missing something before I watched the finale. There was something more I wanted out of the series, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then in She-Hulk episode 1×09, “Whose Show Is This?” something I didn’t anticipate happened; She-Hulk burst through my Disney+ menu and chatted with the writers’ room and K. E. V. I. N.! I couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Not only are we getting some fourth-wall breaking, but some meta humor too? It’s “Sensational!” And I do mean sensational. If you’ve never read The Sensational She-Hulk comic, no problem. Let me help explain the comic precedence we have for this kind of humor in She-Hulk.
Smashing Fourth Walls and Bad Endings
The full 60-issue run of The Sensational She-Hulk, which was originally written by John Byrne set the precedent for She-Hulk to be a fourth-wall-breaking character. Not only does she talk to the audience, but she is also aware she’s in a comic book. She walks across panels, rips through pages, and routinely makes jokes about things that aren’t allowed by The Comics Code Authority. She also informs the writer of the book, usually John Byrne, when she’s dissatisfied with how the story is going. This is two whole years before the other notorious Marvel fourth-wall-breaking character, Deadpool even existed. This is TEN years before he ever broke the fourth wall!
So yes. There is indeed precedent for this, and a good friend and Marvel podcasting cohort of mine, Robert Turnbull, has made the argument that you could almost consider the fourth wall breaking as part of She-Hulk’s power set. I’d not quite considered that before, but I think he’s onto something here, especially with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
The Larger Narrative in “Whose Show Is This?”
As my fellow She-Hulk fan and Fangirlish staff writer, Julia Mercado, has said in her review of episode 1×09, “Whose Show Is This?”, this finale is Jen’s self-actualization. It is Jen taking control of her own narrative. And truly, that’s what she’s been doing since 1989.
For the first part of the season, Jen is just going through her life, taking things as they come. She’s not driving the action; she’s simply dealing with it. In this finale, Jen’s had enough. She takes initiative, tears out all the ridiculousness she’s been dealing with, and finally takes control of the situation. It’s empowering. But here’s the thing, She-Hulk’s been doing this for years. She’s consistently been the female superhero that’s appealed to both male and female readers, making her the longest-running female solo book in Marvel history. And while she does this via silly fourth-wall breaks and good humor, she’s also inspired women to take control of their own narratives for decades. This includes She-Hulk showrunner, Jessica Gao, who fell in love with the character because of The Sensational She-Hulk comic book. Again, we’ve got precedent.
Final Finale Thoughts
I get why this finale doesn’t work for some people, and that’s fine. But I’ve got to ask the question—if you’re cool with Deadpool doing fourth wall breaks, why not She-Hulk? Yes, the Deadpool movies are a bit removed from the MCU, but both Deadpool movies came out after Disney bought Marvel. And now with a third Deadpool movie on the horizon, there’s no question about the fourth wall breaking being an established aspect of the MCU. I don’t intend to make assumptions about why people think certain things, but I do think this is a question that you might want to consider. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here, catching up on the most recent run of She-Hulk and reading my backlog of John Byrne’s Fantastic Four where She-Hulk was part of that team.
Until next time, True Believers, make mine Marvel.