Jen Walters slowly gets up. She thinks of her cousin, Bruce. She really screwed this one up. She is the She-Hulk, but she’s also Jen Walters. Which means she believes in truth and justice and law and order and rainbows and pretty unicorns. So she fought for the government during the superheroes civil war…
… and took the job when SHIELD called. She fought the Hulk’s old villains like the Abomination while the Hulk was off the map. Keeping appearances up for the Hulk family. She believed in what she was doing. She believed in her friends. She believed in herself. And then she found out what they did.
A little group of them sat down and decided that Bruce was too dangerous for the planet Earth. No trial, no jury, no justice. They shot him into space.
But he would have been proud of what happened next. Jen smashed (namely, she hit Iron Man). But, of course, Tony Stark was expecting that. He injected her with some kind of nanobots power inhibitor They turned her back into Jennifer and dropped her off the heli-carrier somewhere out here in Jersey in the middle of nowhere.
This must be how it feels, she figures, comparing her situation to her cousin’s. She can practically hear the theme music.
She walks up the road and holds out her thumb to hitch a ride. Need a lift? a young boy on a scooter asks, Amadeus Cho aka Mastermind Excello, kid genius on the run from the law.
He’s the smart kid, Jen remarks. So they tell him. He doesn’t seem too smart to her, she points out. SHIELD’s been hunting him for months and he stops to chat to a woman in a SHIELD uniform… who just took a swing at Iron Man, he adds. Quit the agency, got dumped out here in the wilds of Jersey and would probably dig a change of clothes and a bottle of Grape Nehi? He holds out a parcel with clothes and Jen’s favorite beverage.
The Baxter Building, New York where Reed Richards is tracking Amadeus and is in contact with Dr. Leonard Samson. Cute, Samson remarks, but anyone who’s read that Vanity Fair profile knows Jen’s favorite soda. But only someone who cracked the SHIELD mainframe could have pinpointed her location so quickly, Reed points out. Samson replies, if he’s so mindboggingly smart, why doesn’t he know Reed is tracking him? Well, he’d like to say that’s because he’s just the seventh smartest person on the planet. But, he assures Leonard, the boy knows he is being tracked. On the screen Amadeus winks at him. He probably even knows Reed wants him to know he knows. You just lost me, Samson sighs. Let’s just say Samson has his work cut out for him.
Samson is flying in one of the FF’s flying bathtubs. Samson scoffs. He’s gone head-to-head with the Hulk more than once. He doesn’t plan on letting this boy scare him. Reed reminds him the boy’s smart enough to top a tank with one well-placed pebble. And over the past three weeks he’s noticed 233 flash frames of Samson’s face inserted into the Colbert Report which he watches as often as his schedule allows him to, as anyone who’s read his Vanity Fair profile knows. Cho wants Reed to send Samson.
Reed explains that Amadeus knows what they’ve done to the Hulk. He probably thinks Samson is a likely recruit for whatever retaliation he has planned. The kid is certainly confident, Samson admits. He has every right to be, Reed points out. Samson can’t beat him intellectually, probably can’t touch him physically, but emotionally… He’s given Samson his file. He’s young and his whole world’s been shattered these past few months. He’s lost his whole family. He has nothing to lose… That makes him dangerous but vulnerable. Make use of it. Samson admits he doesn’t like this. Neither does he, Reed agrees.
Somewhere in a diner are Amadeus and Jen. He can sure put a lot away, Jen remarks. All that thinking burns a lot of energy, Amadeus admits and offers her a burger. Maybe later, comes the reply. First things first. She doesn’t works for SHIELD anymore, but she’s still a lawyer and an all around good citizen. And Amadeus is a known fugitive. So he has three minutes to explain himself before she calls the cops.
The coyote puppy Amadeus keeps in his jacket growls at her tone. Nice puppy, she remarks. Actually he’s a coyote, he corrects her. A wild animal. Illegal to keep as a pet. She wants to trust him too. She’s not interested in…
He continues. They say coyotes carry rabies. Does she know what they’d do to test him for rabies? Cut off his head, she replies. That’s right, he agrees, which is exactly what her cousin Bruce Banner wanted to do.
When he was on the run, Banner, sitting at another table in the diner, told Amadeus to give up the pup to the cop who was demanding him, stating they had a rabies alert on Tuesday.
But Amadeus wasn’t feeling it and so got away on his scooter. Neither was the Hulk, who soon threatened the cop.
You don’t run out on a friend just ‘cause some jerk in a uniform says he is dangerous!
He’s not her friend, Jen points out. He’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about the Hulk. And he’s quickly gathering from their little chat that she doesn’t have the guts to help him. Shut up. Listen. Learn, Jen instructs him.
She nearly died because of a bunch of self-righteous idiots like him. Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Black Widow and the rest of the so-called Champions. They were at UCLA, about to get honored by the president for saving the world but they heard the Hulk had been sighted in a traffic jam on the 405. So, of course, they attacked. Froze him in ice. Hit him with gas. Punched him in the gut. Because the Hulk was a monster and they were the freaking Champions!
But the Hulk wasn’t there to fight them. She was in the car he was carrying, with a ruptured appendix. The Hulk was just trying to get her to the hospital.
She’s proving his point, Amadeus insists The Hulk deserves better treatment. She’s not talking about the Hulk, Jen interrupts. She’s talking about him. He’s making the same mistake the Champions, made.
What is she talking about? All they could see was a monster. And all he can see is the hero. Amadeus caught the Hulk once on a good day. But he has no idea who the Hulk really is, what he is getting into.
Well, if that’s the way she feels, he replies and gets up, he guesses she’ll be fine when they pump him full of stupid pills and cut out his frontal lobe. What is he talking about? Jen protests. Nobody is going to… Man, she really is a piece of work! he scoffs. They inject her with nanobots to strip her of her powers and she’s still defending him. She runs outside after him. Him, who?
The dude he’s been waiting for, Amadeus replies, her shrink. And indeed, Leonard Sampson is already waiting outside.
Samson spreads his arms as though welcoming them and then claps his hands. Hard. The ensuing shockwave hurls Jen and Amadeus away. Samson himself seems surprised at the effect. Jen runs to the side of the injured teenager. Angrily she shouts at Len that he’s just a kid.
Looking startled, Len explains that Reed said he had a device. It would emit a counter shockwave to block the brunt of his thunder clap.
Miss Walters, can you… Amadeus moans and pokes at the zipper of his jacket. Jen helps him open it to see the injured coyote puppy. Does she get it now? Amadeus asks her. She’s working for the bad guys. So no more fooling around. Here’s why he came. The Hulk needs help. And no matter what he’s done or what they’ve done, they are still his friends.
Samson replies that Amadeus doesn’t understand. It’s precisely because he’s the Hulk’s friend that he’s doing this.
Amadeus talks to Jen. How does she think they figured out how to get Banner into that shuttle? And who gave Tony Stark the psych report that said he had to be depowered? Ol’ Doc Samson always knows what’s best.
So what’s his solution? Samson asks. Tear everything to pieces, just like the Hulk? That won’t do a thing to address what’s really tearing him apart. Amadeus is angry because he’s helpless. For all his intelligence he hasn’t been able to find the people who killed his family. He offers his help.
Amadeus looks at the crouching Jen and replies with a grin. Their hour’s up.
Jen hulks up and smashes Samson into a car that explodes. She walks towards him. They shot Bruce into space! They shot her full of nanobots! Len t ells her to calm down. He’s her doctor. He always acts with her best interests in mind. He lifts a car while telling her he disapproves of violence.
Snarling like an animal, she runs at him. He throws the car at her and asks her to look at her behavior. This is exactly the kind of acting out they feared they’d see if she were allowed to become She-Hulk again so soon after her fight with Tony. Now he knows she’s disappointed with him…
She’s not disappointed, Jen stresses. She’s mad! She slugs him sky high.
All right, kid, she announces, she’s sorry she… kid? Amadeus is gone. But the phone in a phone booth nearby is ringing. Big ‘n’ green ‘n’ mean, Amadeus greets her. How did he do it? she asks. A few strands of replicating code bonded with glucose temporarily gums up the nanobots. The grape nehi, she realizes.
He’d have given her the permanent fix, but first he had to know if she was in. So, is she in?
She turns back to Jen Walters. She just did about half a million dollars worth of property damage. And she punched one of her best friends into the next county. Felt good, huh? he asks. She can’t go with him she tells Amadeus who is somewhere in the wilderness. This isn’t a game. Look what happened to his dog. That’s just the beginning.
He’s a coyote, Amadeus corrects her. And all that happened was a little thing called “playing dead.” He doesn’t let his friends get hurt. Show a little backbone! he urges her.
That’s exactly what she’s trying to do, Jen replies. But she has to do it her way. And that means law and order, rainbows and unicorns. Just one thing: There’s something she didn’t tell him. About the time the Champions fought the Hulk. When the Champions found out what the Hulk was really trying to do, they were sorry. Does he understand what she’s saying?
In front of Amadeus stand Hercules and the X-Men’s Angel. Hey, he’s the smart kid, remember? Amadeus retorts.
Not quite smart enough, Reed Richards, joined by Doc Samson, remarks, as he watches the goings-on on his camera.