When the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe clash, it’s safe to say that good usually triumphs over evil. However, in the process, unintended consequences can and do occur; property is destroyed, people get seriously hurt or killed, and sometimes, heroes and villains can be sued. As one of the world’s most renowned attorneys and superheroes, Jennifer Walters, better known as She-Hulk, is well aware of this fact. In the debut issue of her new series, she set up her own law firm, and so far, all of her cases have dealt with the many ways super-powered people interact and collide with the legal system.
But as much as these cases have tested Jen’s legal acumen and physical might, there’s been one in particular that’s been especially confounding; a mysterious blue case file which she has no memory of, that names her and several supervillains and heroes as defendants. In “She-Hulk” #5, writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Wimberly send Jen and her allies on a quest to uncover the truth behind this enigmatic case.
CBR News: I reread “She-Hulk” #1-4 to refresh my memory for this interview, and one of the things that struck me about the book upon rereading it is how much dialogue appears in it, and the fact that it doesn’t obscure the action of the series. The stories still feel fun, exciting and in motion. What’s it like writing this book compared to some of the other titles you write? Is it tough to balance the dialogue and the action?
Charles Soule: Well, it is a legal drama, and if there’s one things lawyers like to do, it’s talk. I always saw this version of “She-Hulk” as a snappy book with a lot of life to it, like a comic version of a Howard Hawks movie (“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “His Girl Friday,” that sort of thing). It can certainly be a challenge sometimes to make sure the book remains exciting despite all the chatter, but fortunately, I’ve got a few not-so-secret weapons — Javier Pulido, Muntsa Vicente and, as you’ll all soon see, Ron Wimberly. All of the artists on the book are able to take scenes that could be “shot” in relatively static ways and liven them up to an extraordinary degree. It can be tricky to figure out “fights” for each issue, since it’s not always that kind of book, but I like a challenge.
The first few issues of “She-Hulk” have involved smaller cases, but with Issue #5, you finally delve deeper into the mystery of the Blue File. How would you describe this next story? Is it sort of what a big legal mystery/thriller movie would look like in the Marvel Universe? Or is it quieter and a little more light hearted than something like that?
Nope, it gets pretty heavy. I think the book retains its essential tone, but we realize that Jen’s cases don’t always have to be light and fluffy. The stakes start to get fairly high, and we move off on a roller coaster that will take us through the rest of the first year on the title.
The Blue File meta-story doesn’t actually have much as far as courtroom stuff — it’s more about a case that happened a while back, or almost happened. It’s almost more of a detective story, where we learn what happened in that case, why Jen and the other heroes and villains named in the case (people like Wyatt Wingfoot, Tigra, Shocker and many more) can’t remember anything about it.
It’s pretty cool — sort of meta, in a way, which is something I like to do as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story.
What can you tell us about what this case means to Jen? Where’s her head at, going into Issue #5?
She’s had a number of successes from a professional standpoint, but they haven’t turned into revenue — she’s not sure if she’ll actually be able to keep the lights on for much longer. That $150,000 she got to start up the business in Issue #1 is going fast. So, she decides she needs a distraction, and what better than a mysterious casefile she found a while back that she’s never been able to figure out? I think Jen has trouble sitting around — she doesn’t like to be inactive — and the Blue File will let her stretch her muscles, both physical and mental. We’ll learn much more about it in Issue #5, and even more in Issue #6. We won’t get answers to all the questions, but it will really queue things up for the second half of the story as it runs through what I like to call the Back 6 (Issues 7-12.)
How large a role will Jen’s investigator Patsy Walker and her paralegal Angie Huang play in this story? Will we get scenes with them on their own? Will we learn more about Angie and her monkey Hei Hei?
They’re integral. They’re Jen’s support team! Without them, the work doesn’t really get done. That’s true of actual law offices, by the way — without the endless effort of paralegals and other support staff, it would all grind to a halt. Here, of course we have Patsy Walker and Angie — both odd characters in their own right. Hellcat is great because I can send her out on special missions that Jen can’t really do, and Angie’s the rock that holds things down at the office.
She’s also super weird, obviously, with her little capuchin monkey Hei Hei running around and her odd Jedi mind trick stuff. Hei Hei’s name is actually a clue to what’s going on with Angie (and Hei Hei himself), but I’m in no rush to reveal exactly what’s up with those two. It’s fun to see the speculation on Twitter and so on.
We know that the Blue File names Jen and some other characters as defendants and the time these characters all could have converged together suggests to me that the events the Blue File case is a reaction to something that happened a couple years back. Will you be flashing back to a particular era in this story?
Sort of. Comic book time is always a little weird, because you can’t be too specific unless you’re referencing actual historical events like World War II. I know exactly when the Blue File events happened, and that will be reflected when we eventually see flashbacks to that period and so on when the mystery is revealed. I realize I’m being a little coy here, but part of the fun of a mystery is letting it unfold at its own pace.
Will we see some of the defendants named in the case in these next few issues? And perhaps some of their associates like, say, Shocker’s teammates from “Superior Foes of Spider-Man?”
We absolutely will. Shocker shows up in Issue #5, as do a number of other guest stars. I mean, why list those folks if we don’t get to see them eventually? It’s been neat to bring in some of the Z-listers, too — Nightwatch appears fairly soon, and I don’t think he’s been around for twenty years. The history of the Marvel Universe is a rich, bizarre, useful thing.
Artist Ronald Wimberly will be bringing these next few issues of “She-Hulk” to life. What do you feel he brings to this book and this story as an artist?
For the few issues where Javier Pulido had to step away, it was important that we get an artist with as unique an approach to comic book storytelling as Javier’s, but with his own style. I think “She-Hulk” can be a showcase for unique panels, layouts, figure design, all of that — and that’s Ron all over. Like Javier, he never saw a page he couldn’t make more vibrant. The pages have this twisty, liquid aesthetic that’s just gorgeous. It’s unique, but completely fitting to the stories we’re telling. Characters stretch and throb right off the page. I can’t wait for people to see it.
Finally, we’ve talk about a lot of characters appearing in this upcoming story, but we haven’t touched upon the antagonist. It feels like this story is somewhat of a mystery, so I understand if you have to be cryptic here, but what can you tell us about what Jen and her staff are up against?
Ahh, yes. There is a baddie here, but I don’t want to talk too much about such person, other than to say that the character is someone from the existing Marvel U, and they are very, very motivated to keep Jen from learning too much about the Blue File and what happened back in the day. They stand to lose everything if Jen succeeds, and they’ll stop at nothing to prevent that from happening. It’s a cool twist, and I think people are going to like it.
I am absolutely thrilled at the response to this series. I mean, holy hell. This one’s very personal to me, considering my legal background — Jen’s office in Dumbo, Brooklyn is in the same building as my office. It would have been rough if people hated it. We’re doing something sort of different here, which is always a risk, and I’m so glad Marvel, and the readers, got behind this take.
There was some kerfuffle not long ago about an incorrect interpretation of what She-Hulk is as a character and what she means to her many fans — support came out of the woodwork when that happened, and it was wonderful to see.
The only other thing I want to mention is that there’s another huge story coming up in Issues 8-10 of the title, which has been driving me nuts getting right. It stars two other giant guest stars from the Marvel Universe, it’s something people have been looking for from the book for a while, and it shows off Jen’s courtroom chops to a serious degree. I can’t wait for that one to get announced.
“She-Hulk” #5 by Charles Soule and Ron Wimberly goes on sale June 11.