Marvel’s ‘She-Hulk’ is the ultimate public defender

(CBR) Jennifer Walters, better known as the super-strong, emerald hued heroine She-Hulk, enjoys living in the Marvel Universe, and wants to make the most of all it has to offer. So when she’s not using her superhuman abilities to defend people on the streets, she’s utilizing her law degree to help them find justice in the court room. And in the free time she has left, she likes to squeeze in a few moments of fun, socializing with friends.

This week, writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido begin chronicling Jen’s attempt to live life to the fullest in a new ongoing “She-Hulk” series. We spoke with Soule about his initial plans for the title and its lead character, which include getting Jen’s new law practice up and running and encounters with both Daredevil and Doctor Doom.

CBR News: In our initial “She-Hulk” interview, you talked about how the series would be about how Jennifer Walter’s careers as a super hero and a lawyer impact her life. What’s it like telling stories where court rooms and laws collide with the fantastic elements of the Marvel Universe?

Charles Soule: What I love about “She-Hulk” is that the series lets me explore some interesting, under-explored corners of the Marvel U. Legal scenarios mirror super hero conflicts in many ways — there are two sides. However, unlike a typical slugfest, legal stuff tends to have many shades of grey. It’s about points of view, and who’s “good” and “bad” really depends on where you’re standing. For me, that’s fascinating, and it lets me tell stories that aren’t going to feel exactly like your usual thing. You’ll recognize the characters, of course, but how they bounce off one another is going to feel pretty fresh.

A legal thriller often involves a fair amount of detective work, sometimes done by a lawyer, but more often than not by an investigator in their employ. Will Jen serve as her own investigator, or will she have an investigator that works for her?

Well, this is one of those funny situations where the depiction of lawyers in pop culture comes up against my own experience as an attorney. The “detective” side of things sort of happens, but generally it’s executed by logging into a legal research system and slogging through tons of old case law. But, I am not only an attorney, I am also a writer, which means I know that reality sometimes has to take a step back to allow for some drama. So yes, absolutely we’ll have some cool mysteries to solve.

I’m structuring the first 12 issues of “She-Hulk” as something like a TV season, with each issue working as an “episode,” and then the whole season having a larger overarching story. That bigger story revolves around a particular case file that Jen can’t quite figure out. It names her and some other members of the Marvel U as defendants, but she can’t remember anything about it, and it seems to have been erased from all records. It’s pretty weird.

As far as Jen’s investigative methods, more on that further down!

Legal work and superheroics are big parts of Jen’s life, but she tries to have more than just a career. Is that correct? How important will Jen’s social life be in your stories? Are you interested in giving her a regular group of friends to interact with, or maybe a significant other?

Yes, very, yes and yes, but some of that will take some time to build up. By Issue #2, we’ll have some of the biggest pieces of her supporting cast in place, with more to come in subsequent issues. I like that Jen is a cool, friendly person. She likes people, and she likes to have a good time. Jen’s someone who people are psyched to hang out with — I figure if I can make that true in the book, it’ll be true for readers as well. Plus, it’s just more fun for me. I always enjoy digging into a She-Hulk script. All of the books I’m writing are fun in different ways, but She-Hulk in particular pushes a lot of good buttons for me, and I think that’s due in part to Jen’s personality.

The solicits for issue #1 indicate that it will be the readers introduction to Jen’s life and how she juggles various aspects of it, while also suggesting that a new paralegal will help Jen do some of that juggling. What can you tell us about this character? Are they new or is it an established one?

Well, the new para doesn’t actually make an appearance until Issue #2, although she does play a big role. She’s a new character who seems to have some strange things going on — but mostly, she’s just excellent at her job, which is exactly what Jen needs at this point. Jen has a lot on her plate, and getting someone to help her out will be a big deal. That said, this is the Marvel U, so everyone has another story, and this new para, whose name is Angie Huang, is certainly no exception.

She-Hulk” #2 guest stars Patsy Walker, better known as Hellcat. How would you describe her dynamic with Jen? What made you want bring Hellcat into the book?

In my initial pitch for the series, I wanted to bring in a character who would be able to bounce off Jen and maybe be both a reflection for her and sort of a project — someone she could maybe work out some of her own issues by helping. I was going to make up someone new, but then the wonderful editor of the series, Jeanine Schaefer, suggested that Patsy Walker might be a good fit. Credit where credit’s due — the moment I heard that idea, I knew it was a perfect fit for what I was trying to do.

Patsy’s awesome. In some ways, she’s like Jen (fun-loving, sassy, all of that), but she also has a darker side. If you look into her backstory, there’s all kinds of weird stuff with Damien Hellstrom (aka the Son of Satan — I mean, that’s one hell (ha) of an ex). She seemed like someone who could be an interesting friend, foil and colleague for Jen, and it’s certainly been working out that way.

What can you tell us about the plot of issue #3? The solicits suggest this is a story that involves Doctor Doom’s ward Kristoff and extradition, but is Jen working for or against Doom and Kristoff?

It’s not actually extradition — it’s another legal scenario that works a different way. But you’re right; Kristoff Vernard plays a big role. He is indeed Jen’s client — although Doom is absolutely not her client, so extrapolate from that as you will. I love writing Doom — or I thought I would — and setting up this story was basically my effort to make sure I got a chance to put him in a story. I do that a lot — I have sort of a “bucket list” of characters I’d like to write, and I try to shoehorn them into books as early as I can, just in case I never get a chance again. That’s why Superman shows up in my very first issue of “Swamp Thing,” for example. For all I knew, I’d never get a chance to write another Big Two comic again, so I wanted to make damn sure I got to write Superman, even if it was only once.

“She-Hulk” #3 also involves Matt Murdock. Does this issue take place before or after Matt moves out to San Francisco?

Speaking of characters on that list — honestly, putting Daredevil into this book was something I wanted to do from the start. Matt Murdock and Jen Walters are both attorneys, of course, not to mention they’re both awesome super heroes. So, getting them together to talk shop was a no-brainer for me. Their scenes here happen post-SF, which I like, because that’s such a cool setting. I love NYC (and always will), but sometimes it’s nice to change locations.

Jen and Matt are professional colleagues with a great deal of respect for each other. It’s on that footing that they get together here — Jen basically asks Matt for advice on an ongoing case. I loved writing that sequence, and I would very much like to do a larger DD/Shulkie story one of these days. Mark Waid and I have discussed it in passing — we’ll see!

In our initial interview you talked about Javier Pulido’s sense of design and page layouts. How has that manifested in some of the pages you’ve seen so far? Are there some sequences from the first couple issues that you were especially impressed by?

Literally every sequence, and that isn’t puffery. Javier is brilliant — he’s a pure storyteller, and he takes every one of my ideas and makes them more interesting. He’s told me repeatedly that all he needs is a good story. Give him that, and he can work miracles, and it’s certainly been the case on “She-Hulk.” Honestly, my scripts are pretty tight — or at least I think so until Javier gets his hands on them. He tends to break them apart a little and reconfigure the paneling in large and small ways to make something new that’s a killer synthesis of both of our takes. Just a true collaboration.

There’s a sequence set in a bar in the first issue that I think’s just incredibly well-composed, and a flying scene in Issue #3 that’s fantastic. There’s a double-page spread in Issue #2 — you’ll know it when you see it — or when it sees you, maybe. It’s hard to single things out, really, because it’s always surprising and always fun. A+++ work from Mr. Pulido.

Finally Jen’s family, friends, and affiliations make her one of the most connected heroes in the Marvel Universe. How big of a role will those characters from other book play in “She-Hulk?” Will we see Jen interacting with clients like Luke Cage? Or reaching out to and trying to aid her cousin Bruce Banner? Have you been talking with “Mighty Avengers” writer Al Ewing or “Hulk” writer Mark Waid about their plans for those characters?

Jen is very much a part of the Marvel Universe, and as such, she’ll certainly see various other folks from the super hero community, good and bad. However, I’m not going to pin it down to one or another — part of the fun is the surprise of the cameos/clients. Read it and see!

I hope it’s coming across in the interview, but I think this is really something special. She-Hulk has always been a series where interesting, new things could happen, and we’re trying to stay very true to that idea in this book. It’s a fun, cool, interesting comic that’s going to reward multiple reads — I think it’s the sort of thing that people are going to be really proud to have on their shelves once it’s collected. Really looking forward to hearing what people think!

“She-Hulk” #1, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido, hits stores Feb. 12.