Writer: Mariko Tamaki / Artist: Nico Leon / Marvel Comics
Progress is a hard thing to navigate at times. You can feel as if you are making huge strides and moving forward but there are times when the outside world will test your improvement. We see that occurring with Jen Walters as she is just trying to live her life day-to-day. Jen is back in the swing of things and sticking up for her inhuman client, who is being forced out of her apartment despite making payments on time and keeping to herself. Walters navigates through these spaces testing her patience with sexual harassment and arrogance. Jen does better than she anticipated.
After dealing with adult bullshit and what we’d expect to perhaps trigger Jen, it isn’t until we see her at a park watching children playing that her trauma surfaces. The kids are pretending the Snowman they built is the Hulk and start attacking it. When one child plays Hawkeye and delivers the killing shot, we see Jen break. Hints are given that Jen hasn’t truly dealt with how Bruce was merked off and we don’t know if thats due to repression or just not being in the space to. Seeing Jen lock herself away and watch her cooking shows, we know how far she still has to go for recovery.
Mariko Tamaki makes it evident that this trauma is interfering more and more with Jen’s work as she misses a call from her client which leads to her situation escalating. Nico Leon art does a great job of holding up a mirror to the Jen we use to know and the one in front of us now. Seeing Jen make herself small as she tries to fight back this other self she isn’t familiar with comes across visually stunning and heartbreaking. We get a feel for Jen’s condition through minute details like her breaking her laptop and cracking her phone’s screen to show the desperation with which she tries to calm herself down using those cooking shows.
Tamaki and Leon done teased us with this appetizer of this new Hulk that Jen has within herself for the second month. I’m ready to move onto the next course and see just what type of monster Jen is dealing with now. The pacing continues to be excellent toward that unveil and this angle on Hulking out over trauma adds a great spin to an already top notch (if at times overlooked/underrated) character.
Reading Hulk? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.