I want to welcome Animal Man (DC) and She-Hulk (Marvel) to my humble blog. What many comic book readers may not be aware of is that both characters share a very unique super power. Animal Man and the She-Hulk possess metafictional awareness. They are aware of the fact that they are comic book heroes and that they inhabit a comic book reality and from time to time have broken the fourth wall that separates reader from fiction.
Hugh Fox: Let me start with the She-Hulk. What’s it like knowing you are a comic book character?
She Hulk: First of all I didn’t always know I am a comic book character. I first possessed metafictional awareness during the run of the Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne. That was a blast. I got into arguments with John. I could tear up the page. I could walk through advertisements. I could even make appeals to John’s Editor, Renee Wittstaetter. She even bound and gagged John and locked him in a storage closet in the issue #50 which unfortunately was also the last issue. I did not have metafictional awareness prior to this series. When I acquired metafictional awareness I read my earliest title run the Savage She-Hulk and can’t help but think what a dope I was back then and for the record I am not drawn very well and the plots aren’t very good either. The creators of the Savage She-Hulk also neglected my potential sexiness. Come on I can be really hot. John was great and I thank him for making me a sexier character and a more aware character than I had been previously. There are some good points about the Savage She-Hulk. I am proud to point out that I was the last Marvel creation of Stan Lee perhaps the greatest comic book creator ever. Stan Lee was assisted in my creation by John Buscema.
Hugh Fox: You have had metafictional awareness in recent years as well as I recall.
She Hulk: This happened years after the cancellation of John’s run. In 2004 the series titled simply She-Hulk was launched and I kept my metafictional awareness in that series which I am sad to say came to an end in 2009. I would like to make a plug for the graphic novels that collect my adventures of that run. The first volume is titled Single Green Female, the second volume is Superhuman Law, and the third volume is titled Time Trials. I especially liked how I could go to the long boxes in that series and get answers to problems.
Hugh Fox: I am not sure I know what you are referring to.
She Hulk: The law firm I worked for had long boxes of every Marvel comic book ever published and the boxes basically acted as a database I could use.
Hugh Fox: Knowledge is power!
She Hulk: You better believe it. I could also use other long boxes due to my metafictional awareness. Let me give you one example. I visited NYC Comics and found the key to defeating Titania who had potentially infinite super strength at the time. Titania was wearing a really hot dominatrix type outfit at the time that really showed of her legs which I have to admit are pretty good. Great cat fight by the way. I even had my Jupiter suit torn to shreds by Titania in that fight. Fortunately, I was wearing a sexy white and purple Lycra gym suit underneath. I am amazed that series got cancelled since you would assume guys who buy comic books would love a good cat fight. I mean sex sells doesn’t it?
Hugh Fox: Are you saying you don’t mind being a comic book sex object?
She Hulk: I like being alive and if some sex is needed to keep me alive then so be it but I am so much more than just a sex object. My overt sexuality is just one side of my character. I see myself as kind of a Sex in the City character in the Marvel Comics New York. My career as a lawyer for super humans was a major plot line in my last series and I had very complex soap opera type relationships. I mean my poor cousin the Hulk just runs around smashing stuff and has dialogue like “Me Hulk, me smash puny humans”. Ninety percent of the time he is running around in the same torn purple pants. I mean who ever heard of purple pants for a man? I mean it’s a great color for a woman but a man? They gave a similar torn type wardrobe in the cover of issue one of the Savage Hulk series which did nothing for my figure but in the later series I got to wear all sorts of great corporate but sexy outfits as a lawyer. My superhero outfits were great as well.
I especially liked my form fitting lycra Fantastic Four uniform. I didn’t care for the Jupiter Suit that I mentioned which was more a space suit than anything else even though I did get to change the color from yellow and green to white and purple, my trademark colors but of course the Jupiter suit only existed to be torn away later in my fight with Titania.
Hugh Fox: You are pretty quiet Animal Man. What are your thoughts about having metafictional awareness?
Animal Man: I am glad someone enjoyed having metafictional awareness! My own experience has been very different that of the She-Hulk and quite terrible. Like the She-Hulk, I did not have metafictional awareness during my early years. I first appeared in Strange Adventures in 1965! That makes me a lot older than the She-Hulk and for the first twenty years of my existence I was a third tier super hero with no metafictional awareness whatsoever and wandered in and out of comic book limbo.
Hugh Fox: Comic book limbo?
Animal Man: I don’t know how it works in the Marvel universe but in the DC universe when your series is cancelled, and you don’t make any guest appearances in other titles then you end up in comic book limbo. Kind of where the forgotten super heroes go. At least that is the way the place was explained to me by Merry Man of the Inferior Five who was an inhabitant of comic book limbo when I visited the place. Now this brings up a paradox. If he is in a comic book explaining comic book limbo then he is an active super hero and should not be in comic book limbo.
Hugh Fox: I get what you are saying. The Inferior Five were very much inactive superheroes that were totally wiped out during the crisis of infinite Earths but yeah their appearance in a current comic book means they are once more part of the DC continuity. But if you take this logic to its extreme you can’t portray comic book limbo at all and this would destroy what I felt was a very good comic book and plot necessity trumps a paradox in fiction.
Animal Man: Spoken like a creator. Well anyway, in the eighties, Grant Morrison, a Brit was brought on board to DC along other with other Brits like Alan Moore and the Brits where given the task of revamping old and out of date characters like myself. Alan Moore reinvented the Swamp Thing. Grant Morrison decided to reinvent me! If only Alan Moore had picked me instead. The Swamp Thing didn’t have an easy life by any means under the reign of Alan Moore but he got a better deal than me. Grant Morrison was a sadistic and horrible creator!
Hugh Fox: How was he sadistic?
Animal Man: I didn’t receive metafictional awareness all at once but little by little via a torturous plot line that ran around two years. My family got killed. My reality slowly melted around me. I spent time in comic book limbo as I mentioned before, and this was not pleasant let me tell you. The reader was more or less aware of what was going on at least a year before so basically I am not having fun with the readers like the She-Hulk but being manipulated for effect.
Hugh Fox: What do you mean?
Animal Man: I met a character in the Coyote Gospel called Crafty that was a thinly veiled Wile E. Coyote of the Road Runner cartoon series. Crafty made a deal with God, creator like you. God would end the endless cartoon violence of Crafty’s universe if he agreed to enter the DC universe. Grant tortured Crafty over and over again in this sick story. In the end Crafty dies in my arms horribly but is totally unable to communicate why he was in the DC Universe because he is a cartoon character. The reader knows what is going on but I am made a fool of. Was Grant Morrison punished for this evil comic book in the universe of the Creators? No, Grant Morrison got an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue of 1989! There are civil rights organizations, animal rights organizations, and women’s rights organizations. I think there is a real need for an organization to defend the right of comic book characters in order to prevent this sort of injustice!
Hugh Fox: You aren’t real. Crafty isn’t real. You aren’t really feeling pain.
Animal Man: Maybe you aren’t real! Maybe you are just some character in a comic book or movie or whatever. Have you ever thought of that?
Hugh Fox: I am not sure if I am in a virtual reality but I am sure a virtual reality would be more numerological than a non-virtual reality.
Animal Man: Anyway, at the end of this torturous metafictional story line I got to meet my creator, Grant Morrison and he dismissed all my pain and suffering very callously and told me some baloney about the death of his cat. I had my family brutally killed and he is comparing that with the death of his stupid cat! Creators have no perspective whatsoever.
Hugh Fox: I guess if you are going to be a metafictional character you are much better of being in the Marvel Universe than the DC Universe.
She Hulk: Based on what Animal Man has said, I don’t think it’s a universe thing but a creator thing. You get someone like John as a creator and you have a great ride. I have never met Animal Man before this post but if you get someone like Grant Morrison then your metafictional existence is extremely painful. Too bad you can’t pick your creator. I also think being female is a plus since most creators are guys and guys treat female characters better than male characters.
Hugh Fox: You think so? In the DC universe you have had the following terrible things happen to female characters. Stephanie Brown (Spoiler, Robin IV, Batgirl III) was brutally tortured by the Black Mask with a power drill and shot to “death”. In Green Lantern #54 showed Kyle Radner coming home to his apartment and finding his dead girlfriend stuck in the refrigerator.
She Hulk: That’s horrible I hope none of those creators ever get a hold of me.
Hugh Fox: Actually one of your creators, John Byrne was mentioned in a section on the list but this section has since been removed. Yeah there is a whole debate about how female characters are killed and/or tortured in horrific ways in order to generate more sales among the largely teenage male audience. The name for this controversy is called Women in Refrigerators Syndrome. There is an infamous list of examples of women who have been killed or tortured horrifically in comic books. This list was created online by comic book fans in 1999. The list is a work in progress as new comic books come out.
She Hulk: Despite my metafictional awareness, this awareness is strictly limited to the Marvel universe and I had no knowledge of the events you have mentioned. The DC universe sounds like a horrible place for women.
Hugh Fox: Ok you two this a DC vs. Marvel post which is in turn part of a series of such posts on my blog and it’s time for less talking and good old slug fest.
Animal Man: Are you kidding just look at her. She is a female version of the Hulk. Based on the events of War Hulk I would say the Hulk is the strongest being of the Marvel universe. Unlike the She-Hulk I have some knowledge of the Marvel universe. My terrible experiences have made me aware that ignorance is not bliss but a path to suffering and I have expanded my metafictional awareness as much as possible. Besides there are no animals in this post from I can mimic powers from and I do not sense any animal kingdom on this post. That’s my super power readers. For example, if I am around a bird I can fly. I don’t grow wings or anything, I just can fly. I once mimicked the strength of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and that’s about as strong as I have ever been and this is nowhere near She-Hulk levels. And I already know that my super power is totally implausible, even by comic book standards, which is saying a lot, and maybe that’s one of the reasons Grant Morrison decided to pick on me.
Hugh Fox: You want animals? I’ll give you animals. I hereby create the entire animal kingdom on this post. Hey, I have an idea why don’t I get a Kryptonian animal on board? That way you would have powers that equal or surpass that of Superman. Hulk vs. Superman fights are very popular online and this would be a variant of that sort of fight. You absorbed the ability to fire lightning from your face from an alien creature so your ability to mimic alien animal powers is already established.
She Hulk: I don’t know much about this Superman character but if he is strong enough to take on the Hulk then I am not interested. I am not my cousin the Hulk. My cousin took me out with a single blow in the War Hulk series, well he didn’t take me out totally, but I had enough sense to stay down. Look having metafictional awareness means you aren’t as dopey as the superheroes that do not possess such awareness. You get some perspective and with metafictional awareness and are a lot less likely to engage in simplistic heroics or at least that’s the case with me.
Hugh Fox: I am the creator and ruler of this post and I order you two to start fighting. I hereby cause Beppo, the Kryptonian super monkey, to appear so Animal Man can be almost as powerful as Superman just as the She-Hulk is almost as powerful as the Hulk. You won’t have the strength of Superman but you will have the greater agility a monkey has relative to a human. The contest should be interesting.
Animal Man: I evoke “plot plausibility” which even governs creators. Why would two super heroes that have no grudge whatsoever just start fighting?
Hugh Fox: Happens all the time in comic books!
Animal Man: Come on you are a better creator than that!
Hugh Fox: Yeah I suppose you are right but how do we decide which universe wins if there is no slug fest?
Animal Man: Before my family was killed brutally I was a pretty good parent and one way I settled conflicts between my son and daughter was through a paper, scissors, stone contest.
Hugh Fox: Ok I can live with that. It’s got a kind of metafictional dry humor to it that fits this post.
Animal Man and the She-Hulk go ahead and do paper, scissors and stone with their hands and She-Hulk counters Animal Man’s scissors with stone. So DC beats Marvel in this post.
She Hulk: Hey, why did you let me win?
Hugh Fox: First of all I just want to say I love both your titles. I am into metafiction. My novel Half Square is metafiction. I love comic books so of course I am going to love a metafictional comic book but I prefer your metafictional comic books to those of Animal Man partly partly because of the art if you know what I mean, heh, heh.
She Hulk: So you let me win because I’m hot? Well I can live with that.
Hugh Fox: No, not totally, you are a super smart lawyer and let’s face it Animal Man isn’t too bright and a blue collar guy if I recall correctly. Smarter people do better in games of strategy than dumber people or one would assume. Last but not least you would have some of that female intuition which I think is largely a greater awareness of body language at a subconscious level and that’s important in a game like paper, scissors, stone. I think all things being equal women are more likely to win paper, scissors, stone than men although I have no empirical basis for this belief but think it might be an interesting and funny study.
She Hulk: Well whatever your reasons, thanks. No hard feelings Animal Man. If DC and Marvel ever decide to do another crossover then make sure to look me up. I would love to have a long talk with someone else with metafictional awareness and have to admit I am kind of curious about the DC Universe.
Animal Man: I will definitely look you up. The Avengers/Justice League crossover made a ton of money for both DC and Marvel so I think another crossover is inevitable. I don’t mind losing at all and just glad we ran into a creator that was smart enough to avoid yet another senseless comic book slug fest.
Hugh Fox: Well readers, that’s the end of this post. I think a comic book featuring Animal Man and the She-Hulk having some metafictional adventures as a team could be interesting.
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