As She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters is inarguably one of the Marvel Universe’s strongest heroes, capable of tackling Herculean tasks, like facing down her cousin Bruce Banner’s rampaging emerald alter ego the Hulk, or confronting the schemes of would-be world conquerors alongside her teammates on the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. Her toughest task, however, is something she does every day: Balance her careers as a lawyer and a super hero.
That balancing act, combined with her desire to excel at both careers, is the focus of an all-new “She-Hulk” ongoing series from writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido. We spoke with Soule about his plans for Shulkie’s new title, which kicks off in February, and how his other career as a full-time lawyer will come into play when scripting Jen’s adventures.
CBR News: In the past few months, you’ve become one of the industry’s most prolific writers, yet you still have your day job as a practicing lawyer — I believe “She-Hulk” is the sixth comic series you’re writing. What was it about the chance to write Jen Walters monthly adventures that made you want to add “She-Hulk” to your already busy schedule?
Charles Soule: Well, I did have to think about it for a minute, considering the workload I’m dealing with. I had already made sort of a resolution that I wouldn’t take on any new work unless it was something really special. Then, Marvel called with the chance to start a new title, featuring a lawyer superhero — in particular, a lawyer superhero whose adventures I’ve enjoyed for years — that would feature Javier Pulido on the art. That pretty much checked all my boxes for “really special,” so I couldn’t really say no.
Let’s talk about Jen Walters as a character. What do you find most interesting about her? Which aspects of her personality are you especially interested in exploring?
One of my favorite things about Jen is that she sees the fun side to being a superhero. She doesn’t look at her bright green skin and consider herself a freak — she thinks it’s something that makes her special, unique. It’s always fun to write characters with a good attitude. I also like that she doesn’t always make the best decisions about her personal life — she’s impulsive, and it can be fun to play that thread out. She might make a snap decision that has consequences she’ll have to deal with for quite a while. I note that I’ve used the word “fun” three times in this paragraph — that probably tells you a lot about how I see Jennifer Walters.
Like you, Jen is a lawyer. What type of law will she practice in “She-Hulk?” Will she specialize, and will she be part of a larger firm like she was in Dan Slott’s “She-Hulk” series?
Jen will be the classic superhero lawyer generalist — she knows how to do a little bit of everything. That’s pretty rare in actual legal practice, but in this title, it means that she’ll be able to take all sorts of different cases. There’s a reason legal dramas show up in film and TV all the time: Law stories have the potential to touch all aspects of modern society. Sure, [comics have] criminals, super-villains, etc., but also government, money, personal things like divorce or immigration, privacy — there’s no kind of story you can’t put into a framework like this, and Jen will run up against a lot of cool things.
How will you balance the legal drama and super hero action? Will the super heroics she gets involved in flow out of her current legal cases, or will it be more akin to what Mark Waid is doing with “Daredevil,” where some stories are court room-oriented, some stories are more hero-oriented and some have an equal balance?
I think it will be a mix. Mark is doing wonderful things in “Daredevil” — it’s one of the titles I look forward to the most every month. I don’t think we’ll see Jen in court all that much — lawyers aren’t actually in court very often. A lot of Jen’s time (with her cases, anyway — that’s not all she’ll be doing) will be focused on sort of an investigative role. Her cases (and clients) are going to be pretty weird, but this isn’t only about Jen’s job. It’s about Jen. I mean, no one is just their job, and that’s truer for Jennifer Walters than most. People will be gunning for her, and she’ll get wrapped up in superhero craziness just like every other Marvel character. Most of the cases will be really short, wrapped up in an issue or two. The longer story will be Jen’s life, as she tries to be good at everything she’s committed to do — which ain’t easy.
While I don’t want to get into too many specifics, the first several issues deal with Jen establishing a new status quo for herself. We get some really cool big guest stars from the Marvel U, but ultimately it’s about showing something of Jen’s new world, and letting people know what my take is going to be like. I want to use “She-Hulk” to illuminate some of the more interesting corners of the MU — maybe make readers think about characters (heroes and villains) in new ways.
Jen is pretty well connected in the super hero community thanks to her ties to the Avengers and Fantastic Four. Plus, her career as a lawyer means she’ll interact with a variety of people on a regular basis, but who are some of the characters she’ll regularly interact with in under your watch?
Very early on in the series, she ends up in a position to interact with a pretty diverse cast. I can bring in some lesser-known Marvel characters (something I always find fun — your Leap-Frogs and what have you), make up some of my own folks and have cameos from some of the bigger heroes and villains as well. I can tell you that a meeting between Jen and Matt Murdock is very high on my agenda — but do they meet as friends–or foes???
Speaking of foes, what type of villain makes a good foil for Jen? Does she have any rivalries that you’re looking to create or revive like, say, with Titania?
I think that if you’re going to write She-Hulk, you need to do a Titania story eventually — it’s like Batman writers and the Joker. So, I’ll bring her in at some point.
As far as other villains, there’s one really large story I’ll be telling that will weave through the issues, and I have a pretty neat endgame planned for that. The “villains” will be a little non-traditional, though, something you’ll see in the very first issue, as a matter of fact. The world is a complicated place, and the Marvel Universe ramps that up to an extraordinary degree. Jen’s going to have her hands full.
We’ve talked in depth about story and characters, so let’s shift to the work of Javier Pulido. What is he bringing to your scripts?
Unique design — he has a “page sense” that just blows me away. My scripts include many moments that are almost “Marvel style,” in that I tell him what’s going on and then leave it to him to design. I think I would be foolish to do it any other way. I’m never going to come up with layouts or storytelling the way he will. I think it’s going to look different from everything else on the stands, and I can’t wait to see how he approaches some of these sequences.â€¨â€¨
Previous “She-Hulk” series have had different focuses, but have generally been comedic in tone. How does the tone of your series compare to those other books?
There’s comedy, for sure, but I would characterize it as more grounded than Dan Slott’s wonderful series (which is, I think, one of the high points for She-Hulk as a solo character). I think Jen works best when she’s in a situation where her natural optimism is tested, sometimes severely. She very much wants the world to be a good place, and it hurts her personally when it doesn’t live up to what she thinks it should be. She sees both her legal and superhero careers as an attempt to keep the world on the right course, with more good in it than bad. This is absolutely a series that can do anything — but honestly, that should be every comic series, right? That’s what the medium gives us.
I’m very proud to be working on the title, and I think it will be the perfect book for readers who are looking for something just a little different — it’s along the lines of your Hawkeyes and your Daredevils, although it is certainly its own beast. “She-Hulk” will be a very human look at the life of a superhuman, and it will be fun.