KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (5)
January 17, 2022
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of a favorite sidekick — whether real-life or fictional.
JACQUELINE “JACKIE” McGEE
Do they also sidekick who mostly stand and watch? All the grandest heroes seem to be surrounded by observers — a bard, a Boswell, a president’s official biographer; Watson’s reports on Holmes, Jimmy Olsen’s photos of Superman. Jackie McGee, the investigative journalist in Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s The Immortal Hulk (2018-21), does not follow after the protagonist so much as get pulled along in his wake — though this is not to say that that’s against her choice, or that she’s in any way subordinate to him. A childhood survivor of one of the Hulk’s rampages, which wiped her town from the map and rendered her and her widowed father without a foreseeable future or any proof of a past, McGee grew up seeking the why’s of a world that refuses to make sense. Pursuing the scoop of Hulk sightings a few years after Bruce Banner was believed dead, she’s resolved to look her worst nightmare in the eye when it recurs. Something is being resurrected in her name itself; nerds will recognize it as a variant of the tabloid reporter who hounded Bill Bixby’s Hulk in the 1970s TV show. Jack McGee was an embodiment of how far journalism had fallen in the few years since news-writers were the popular heroes of movies like All the President’s Men; Jackie is the product of an era when those in her profession are branded enemies of the state while being among the ones most risking their lives to shine a light and save it.
Over the course of the series McGee embeds herself with the Hulk’s shifting misfit circle — various fellow gamma-ray mutates, secret government operatives sent to hunt him and turned to his side, and several other of Banner’s segmented personalities — and comes to see more nuances and complexities (that is to say, additional unresolvably conflicted feelings) about his motivations, misunderstood actions, and multiple psychological wounds. Along the way she confronts even deeper and vaster what’s and why’s, going from space-stations and Area 51-like sites (each designed to monitor the Hulk while often trying to mint worse monstrosities for official use), to literally traveling to Hell and back (we learn that Banner’s first Gamma Bomb opened a rift to an underverse that allows him and similarly irradiated beings to transit repeatedly between life and death, whether or not they prefer either). She feels tied to the Hulk’s story, and unable to feel her own is resolved without understanding, and in that figurative way containing him.
This of course makes her (and her employers) question her integrity, and the 50-issue series (concluded just last fall) does reveal itself to be, more than anyone’s, the story of her — but that’s way beyond, and completely different than, “making herself the story” as journalists are admonished to dread. The Hulk’s original, unequivocal sidekick, Rick Jones, was a journalist of sorts, operating pirate-radio in the 1960s to mobilize a “Teen Brigade” of crimefighters and world-savers, then reinvented as a hacker, “The Whisperer,” speaking behind power’s back in the 2010s. But Jones used information as a weapon, striking from the sidelines; McGee is aboveground and on the frontline in her profession, and has busted into the frame from the margins in her narrative presence, regardless of who was ready for her. She’s there to tell the Hulk’s tale and figure out her own, but she has stepped out from the shadows, and stands in no one else’s.
KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Annie Nocenti on RATSO | Barbara Bogaev on TRIXIE | Sara Ryan on SWIFT WIND | Carlo Rotella on BELT BEARERS | Adam McGovern on JACKIE McGEE | Josh Glenn on RAWHIDE | Gabriela Pedranti on KUILL | Douglas Wolk on VOLSTAGG | Serdar Paktin on CATO | Deirdre Day on TRAMPAS | Dean Haspiel on TIN MAN | Flourish Klink on THE APOSTLE PETER | Miranda Mellis on FAMILIAR | Peggy Nelson on COSMO | Beth Lisick on MARTHA BROOKS | Bishakh Som on CAPTAIN HADDOCK | Stephanie Burt on SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE | Greg Rowland on SPOCK | Adam Netburn on SENKETSU | Mimi Lipson on ROBIN QUIVERS | Jonathan Pinchera on GUTS | Tom Nealon on TWIKI | Mandy Keifetz on DR. EINSTEIN | Judith Zissman on IGNATZ MOUSE | Anthony Miller on DOCTOR GONZO.
CURVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2023): PIZZA PURISM | BOY BANDS | THE ’86 METS | LOVE ISLAND UK | LIVERWURST | & 20 other reconsidered enthusiasms. TEEN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2023): ANDY GIBB | VALERIE BERTINELLI | KIM WILDE | ARLO GUTHRIE | MIKE PATTON | & 20 other heartthrobs from our adolescences. DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2023): WE FOUND IT | TOGETHER AGAIN | SUNDAY MORNIN’ COMIN’ DOWN | BAD CASE OF THE BLUES | FANCY | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) Country records. KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2022): LT. TASHA YAR | JOYCE SUMMERS | COL. HENRY BLAKE | MRS. LANDINGHAM | ALEX KAMAL | & 20 other TV deaths. BLURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2022): LEFT-CORNER BRICK | JOY IS RESISTANCE | THE FUTURE IS PASSÉ | EVERY MINUTE AN OCEAN | SHUT UP, HE EXPLAINED | & 20 other apothegms to live by. KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2022): ARK II | WKRP IN CINCINNATI | BUCK ROGERS | THE WHITE SHADOW | POLICE WOMAN | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) TV shows. KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2022): KUILL | CATO | COSMO | TRIXIE | VOLSTAGG | & 20 other sidekicks. NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): TIME | THE POST OFFICE | ARDUIN | DOUBT | SUMMATIONS | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.