Savage She-Hulk #8

Title: “Among the Ogres”

Writer: David Anthony Kraft

Artists: Mike Vosburg & Chic Stone

Colors:

Editors: Mary Jo Duffy & Al Milgrom

The She-Hulk is in a large cylindrical tank in a laboratory inside the time-lost city of La Hacienda in the Florida Everglades. She is immersed in the waters of the legendary Fountain of Youth, and is being monitored by two purple ogres who made the mistake of drinking from that water 500 years ago. The She-Hulk would like nothing better than to smash her way out of the tank, but she can't move because of the paralyzing gas that she has been subjected to. The ogres continue to argue amongst themselves over whether it is better to share this secret with the entire world or keep it hidden as they have for centuries.

For her part, the She-Hulk is worried that she may drown in this water since she doesn't know how long she can hold her breath in the tank. Something in the water is sapping he energy, so she decides to concentrate on how she got there in hopes she can find a way to escape.

Suddenly the water drains away from the tank, and not only can the She-Hulk breathe, she can move again. But although she is free to punch her way out of the tank and attack the ogres, she doesn't feel like it, and feels it can wait. The ogres notice the change in the She-Hulk's demeanor and comment that their Fountain of Youth has worked its wonders again. But that is not the only change. To their amazement, as the glass walls of the tank rise to release its prisoner, the She-Hulk shrinks in size and changes her skin color. Soon, the ogres no longer see a green savage, but a petite lawyer in tattered white clothing. They ask Jennifer what just happened, and she tells them that she changes into the She-Hulk whenever she is angry or feels some other violent emotion. They tell her that she need never change into the She-Hulk again and can stay in La Hacienda forever. Just as long as Jennifer bathes in the Fountain and spends her time totally relaxed, doing nothing, eternal youth is hers forever and she doesn't have a care in the world. Jen briefly wonders whether it is still important to care before she is overwhelmed by the offer and gladly accepts.

Back at the radio station, Richard Rory has been talking with Professor Slaughter, who claims to know what happened to the F.A. Schist who owns the swampland Richard wants to buy. Slaughter has been telling Richard an incredible tale about his and Schist's quest to find the Fountain of Youth, their discovery of it in La Hacienda, and the purple ogres. Richard is having trouble believing this, and now demands that Slaughter tell him where Schist is. Slaughter says he can't show him Schist because Schist is dead. The ogres tricked him into drinking from the Fountain, which turned Schist into a purple ogre like themselves. Later on, when Schist met the Man-Thing, he burned to ashes at his touch, as happens to all who fear him. Slaughter didn't let the Man-Thing burn him. Instead, he ran as fast as his legs could take him until he fell off a cliff and nearly died. He has been in a wheelchair ever since. Richard doesn't like the fact that not only can't he buy the land, there's no way to prove whether this story is true or false, but the kind-hearted Richard can't bring himself to turn away Slaughter empty handed. He gives the crippled man some money to help him back on his feet and goes off to tell Jennifer the bad news.

Meanwhile, Jennifer is having a great time. Although she felt odd at first sunbathing with people who have lived for centuries, she feels quickly at home and it seems almost like heaven on earth. Suddenly, an alligator attacks and kills a woman not far from Jennifer. The other residents of La Hacienda are unconcerned. Laura was about 250 years old and should have known better. If you are not careless, the alligators are not a problem. Jennifer almost accepts this as well, but then changes her mind. She tells the others that she is not right to sit back and passively let their friends die. Her friend Jill died recently, but Jen did everything in her power to try to save her. In contrast, nobody at La Hacienda has bothered to construct an effective alligator defense in nearly five centuries. So before you know it, Jen has rounded up everyone and is getting them to build a stockade. But the purple ogres in charge are not pleased with this new project. When they are told that Jennifer is responsible, the ogres inform her that she must go on trial for breaking the most sacred laws of La Hacienda, by “doing”.

Richard Rory has found Jennifer's van, but Jennifer herself is nowhere in sight. Richard is worried because he knows that Jen is too smart to go wandering out in the swamp by herself. Realizing he is near the nexus of the swamp, Richard gets an idea which 99% of people would think is crazy. He considers trying to find his old friend the Man-Thing and using his emphatic senses to help find Jennifer. But since Richard has no fear of the Man-Thing, he doesn't consider Manny to be a threat. He doesn't take into consideration that Jennifer may not be as enlightened as himself.

Jen has other worries than the Man-Thing at the moment. The ogres have argued that Jennifer should be put to death. Apparently, the Fountain of Youth works by eliminating anxiety and tension. But if you actually DO stuff like building a stockade, that leads to stress which overcomes the Fountain of Youth. This is the "thanks" Jennifer has given them for generously giving her the secret to eternal youth. Now Jen has to give the speech of her life. Fortunately, it's a piece of cake for this seasoned young lawyer. She points out to the people of La Hacienda that in five centuries they could have done a lot more than just build a stockade against alligators. Instead, they have done nothing? In fact, they still wear the same clothes, think the same thoughts, and live the same way they did centuries ago. That isn't really life but death. Life, for better or worse, means change and growth. It means accepting risks, losing, and winning. But what should have been a wonderful gift has now turned into a terrible curse.

The other citizens of La Hacienda realize she's right. Since they always had tomorrow, they have completely forgotten about today. Even the ogres agree with her and note that humans grow by striving against their limitations. By removing the biggest limitation
of all, mortality, they have smothered the true spirit of life. The mob rushes up to destroy the fountain of youth. In return for granting them their freedom, the people of La Hacienda give Jennifer hers, and she is free to go.

A few moments after leaving La Hacienda, Jennifer remembers Richard Rory. She tries to hurry back so she can stop him from buying the swamp which to her is completely worthless. However, the thick mud makes it very difficult for her to walk since she is only wearing a tattered white blouse and no shoes. Then she sees something that chills her to the bone… the Man-Thing! The empathic swamp creature is drawn toward violent emotions, like Jennifer's terror. And like all who fear him, Jennifer's flesh begins to burn when the Man-Thing grabs her arm. This would surely be the end of her, but the same violent emotions that attract the Man-Thing also trigger Jen's metamorphosis, and within moments the Man-Thing is no longer facing a terrified, helpless lawyer but a fighting mad She-Hulk!

Man-Thing throws Shulkie into a tree. The emerald Amazon is unhurt and gets up spoiling for a big fight. But She-Hulk resists her urge to tear the Man-Thing apart since she is determined to prove that she is not a monster like he is… even if this costs her her very life. That seems to be the least of her concerns since she is unable to hurt Manny at all. Every punch she lands is simply absorbed by the Man-Thing even though every one is harder than her last blow. Manny hurls the She-Hulk far away from him. It's not that he is bothered by her blows or her blows. Rather, the Man-Thing is attacking the She-Hulk for the same reason he attacked her alter ego Jennifer… it is her violent emotions that are hurting him, so for his own protection he tries to destroy the source of his pain.

For her part, the She-Hulk is not only fighting the Man-Thing, but the remnants of the Fountain of Youth which is still trying to suppress her emotions. While she is trying to catch her breath, the Man-Thing grabs her by the hair and flips the green giantess over his head so she is pounded into the swamp. Nobody does that to She-Hulk! She grabs his arm determined to rip it out of its socket and is shocked when she succeeds in tearing off his hand. The Man-Thing doesn't seem bothered in the slightest. She-Hulk yells at him in frustration since she would have beaten any normal foe by now, but nothing she does will make the Man-Thing fall.

Almost in response to her words, the Man-Thing stiffens and falls in a heap. Her fury is simply too much for his senses to absorb, so he collapses, knocked out by the emotional overload. This is not the way the She-Hulk wanted the fight to end, and even though she has "won", she is still steaming mad. She leaves the Man-Thing, knocking down trees as she walks through the swamp.

Richard Rory has been unable to find either Jen or the Man-Thing so far. Then he hears loud crashing noises and sees trees in the distance falling down. He sees that whoever is wrecking the woods is heading towards him, and poor Richard is too petrified to run. But just when it seems he's done for, Jen Walters steps out of the woods. She asks Richard to help him since she's physically and emotionally exhausted. He does not question why she is only wearing white tatters again, but is glad to see that she is safe. Jen warns him that the swamp is worthless, but learns that the reason he wanted to buy it was simply keep it as a nature preserve where his friend the Man-Thing could live in peace. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like he can buy it at all, and he quickly relates to her Professor Slaughter's story about La Hacienda and the Fountain of Youth, which Richard doesn't believe at all. Jen smiles and says he may have been telling the truth.

The next day, Richard drives Jen to the airport where they reluctantly say good-bye. Jen has to go back to her law office in L.A., and Richard is staying behind to run the radio station he bought. He hopes that the new money he won will give him a new chance and now that he will be earning his own money things will be different and he will be better… like Jennifer. Richard tells Jen that she is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Jen asks Richard to look her up if he is ever in Los Angeles again. He says that will not be an "if" but a "when." The two share a passionate good-bye kiss.

As the plane takes off, Richard says to himself that she is one woman who has got it made. That would certainly be true were not that Jen Walters was also...the Savage She-Hulk!

Site for Sore Eyes rating: 9 out of 10

Writing: 5 out of 5   I may be biased because this is one of my favorite She-Hulk issues (and one reason for THAT is that both Jen and She-Hulk are wearing tattered white clothing throughout much of the story! ;-)   ) but the writing does hold up on a second reading. The speech Jen makes to the people of La Hacienda rings true, and I like the way the confrontation between her and the Man-Thing works out. The fight of course ends up in a draw but doesn't seem forced at all. It was also refreshing to read Richard's dialogue and the prospect of he and Jen getting back together again is something to look forward to...

Art: 4 out of 5. Overall, the quality of art in this issue is the same as in issue #7, but there are two continuity errors that really bug me. After the She-Hulk changes back to Jen Walters, her tatters change for no reason into a strapless outfit. Then when Jen meets the Man-Thing again, not only does her tatters grow shoulder straps again, but the Man-Thing is grabbing She-Hulk's right arm when he originally was holding Jen's left arm. Looks like editors Mary Jo Duffy and Al Milgrom were asleep at the wheel. Also, I should not that the cover by Michael Golden looks horrible.

Leader's Lair rating: 7 out of 10

Just as Eddie gave the same score as last issue so do I and for the same reasons.

Review by Eddie Cunningham

Pictures by The Leader

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