When I was in high school, my official activity of choice was Mock Trial. It was something I didn’t come to naturally. I was obsessed with wanting to be an actor in middle and early high school and I never really had interest in the law field. However, my parents’ closest friends were a lawyer and a paralegal and their daughter who was a year older than me were involved with my high school’s mock trial team. They encouraged me to try out for the team as a witness due to my love of acting.
For all four years of high school, I was an active part of Woodland High School’s Mock Trial team. In my first year, I won three best witness awards, two of those at the State level. Even in the year where my mental state was wrecked, I still managed to be the best timekeeper in our district. I never became an attorney for the team because I wasn’t interested in that, but there was a certain joy and excitement to it. You were always on your toes in court, both as an attorney and a witness. I rarely saw that excitement ever accurately captured on TV or in other media. Yeah, I gained a brief obsession with Law and Order for about a year and it kind of bolstered why I think Legally Blonde is one of the greatest films ever, but nothing ever really captured that feeling of being in court for me.
That is until Charles Soule’s She-Hulk comic started.
She-Hulk has starred in many a solo title over the years, but this comic was my first real introduction to the character. I had really started reading Marvel Comics with regularity around the time the series started and it was one of the first examples of the Hawkeye model of comics making for an engaging story along with Black Widow. Entertainment Weekly did a better job of explaining this today (though we still got one more issue to go, bro), but Matt Fraction’s work on that comic popularized solo titles telling stories about what exactly they’re doing in their off-time. For Clint Barton, it was about being a street level hero. For Natasha Romanoff, it was making up for her past sins. For Jennifer Walters though, it was still about kicking ass, but in the court of law.
If you don’t know about Charles Soule, I have to say you’re missing out on one of the most interesting writers in comics right now. Not only is he writing a billion titles for Marvel right now (not to mention his own series at Oni Press and several other titles at DC), but he’s also still actively practicing law and performing in a band. I could barely keep up with writing when working in a call center was completely slammed. How does he do it?
Still, Soule’s experience in the legal field is really what made She-Hulk shine. I often tell people “You can tell this comic was written by a lawyer” with a smile on my face that throws people off. Jen is strong and confident as a woman and a superhero, but she’s also amazing at her day job. Which is something that a lot of the internet misses about Jen, but Soule understood completely. Jen’s legal career may not be the typical one, but I was just as excited for her to defend Steve Rogers in a wrongful death case where Matt Murdock was representing the plaintiff as I was for her to beat up some doombots and get into a state hopping fight with Titania. The writing was always fresh, smart, and always kept you on your toes both in and out of court.
I know this series also divided a lot of people on the art. I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan of Ron Wimberly’s art for the two issue arc about the Blue File. It was too erratic and inconsistent for me. However, I’ve liked Javier Pulido’s art since the work he did on Hawkeye with “The Tape” and the annual that started Kate Bishop’s arc in L.A. His soft edges and use of silhouette were always visually interesting, especially with the way Munsta Vicente’s vibrant colors played along with it. I loved how his Jen was always sharply dressed for court, except when she got mad and hulked out and would end up doing work in her torn clothes for the rest of the day. I loved how expressive her face was whenever she was mad. I STILL love that he drew her naked in issue 8 and it was the least sexy thing ever because it was 3 a.m. the night before a big case and she couldn’t sleep. Plus, with the way the comic would move sometimes across big action sequences, you could tell that he was having just as much fun making the comic as we were reading it.
Not to mention those Kevin Wada covers. Oh man, I have a bunch of them in front of me right now and I just keep getting distracted by their deliciousness. I may have jokingly screamed “Thanks for one less Wada cover in the world” when I heard the series was ending, but let’s be real, Wada probably draws my favorite Jen along with Mike and Laura Allred.
The series wasn’t just about Jen though. It also had two other amazing women at its heart. The first being Patsy “Hellcat” Walker, a superhero I literally knew nothing about before this comic but fell in love within her first two pages. She’s resourceful, spunky, and probably takes even less crap than Jen does. When it was announced that Patsy is going to be in AKA Jessica Jones, I jumped for joy solely based on her characterization here as Jen’s investigator.
The second is the amazing and mysterious Angie Huang and her monkey Hei Hei. Angie was a creation of Soule and Pulido, but I immediately want her in more. To have a plus-sized character of Chinese descent be so confident in her abilities and for no one to bat an eye at anything about her except her mysterious powers was such a breath of fresh air.
I re-read the comic today to prep for this blog and it definitely bolstered my opinion that it’s probably one of the best legal dramas I’ve ever encountered as well as just a damn fine superhero comic, especially with how it all managed to tie together at the end. It may have been a short run, but did oh man, did Soule, Pulido and Wimberly give us a fantastic one.
I’m going to miss She-Hulk, but I know it’s not the end for Jen and her team. Jen will be one of the leaders of G. Willow Wilson’s A-Force, Soule has promised that he’ll be getting them in wherever he can and Joe Quinones has already hinted at an appearance of Jen and Angie in an upcoming issue of Howard the Duck. (Which means that Chip Zdarsky wrote lines for Jen Walters and Angie Huang oh god.) This run of She-Hulk may be ending, but I feel like it’s going to set a standard for how people write Jen Walters for years to come. Me included, since it inspired me to write a story about Jen last year… where she’s a Mock Trial coach.