October 2014


She-Hulk

Wow, sucks, doesn’t it? Something we love is going away. The She-Hulk series, published by Marvel Comics, written by me, largely drawn by Javier Pulido (Ron Wimberly killed it on issues 5-6), with colors largely from Muntsa Vicente (Rico Renzi for 5-6) incredible covers from Kevin Wada and lettered by Clayton Cowles, with wonderful editorial work from Jeanine Schaefer and Tom Brennan, will end at issue 12, which will hit in January, 2015.

I’ve known about this for a little while – it wasn’t a surprise to me. To you guys, however, it seems like it was a bit of a shock, at least based on the massive response I’ve seen on Twitter, FB and in the press. Some wonderful things are being said about She-Hulk, and the team and I appreciate it immensely.

Can't take credit for this, I saw it on Twitter, but I thought it was pretty great - memed-up form of some panels from She-Hulk #1.

Can’t take credit for this, I saw it on Twitter, but I thought it was pretty great – memed-up form of some panels from She-Hulk #1.

One thing that’s important to realize, which might seem counterintuitive: Marvel loves She-Hulk too. They really do – all up and down the line. I’ve had conversations about this book over the last week with… well, pretty high up folks. They know it’s a series that’s important not just because of what it sells, but because of what it is. For example:

For me, that’s incredibly gratifying, because those responses suggest that I succeeded in what I was hoping to do with this book. Sure, I’m a lawyer, and I wanted to write what I know, but I also wanted to create a project about a woman who didn’t have to read as a “woman” or a “man” or a “superhero” – but instead, just as a person dealing with life, using her expertise and confidence as weapons even more potent than her fists (although she can use those too – like any actual person, Jen Walters has more than one side to her.)

That was my theme for the book from the very start:

Panel from She-Hulk #1.

Panel from She-Hulk #1.

I also really wanted to write something that could be read with (or by) kids, but wouldn’t read as a kids’ book, and wouldn’t talk down to anyone. I try to make the legal stuff in the book accessible for non-lawyers, but at the same time, I don’t want to pander. That’s not how the world is, and I want She-Hulk to feel connected to real experiences and real lives.

Based on the way you’ve been reacting over the last few days, it seems like maybe I got there, a little bit.

Why is She-Hulk going away? It’s somewhat about the issues noted here and here, in wonderful articles written by phenomenally kind journalists Oliver Sava over at the AV Club and Brett White at Comic Book Resources. (Many other folks have written amazing things too, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time.)  In this day and age, every book has to justify its existence on a financial level, even one as beloved as She-Hulk. Comics is still a business, and there are considerations beyond the creative. However, that’s not really all of it.

Another significant factor – I pitched a twelve-issue arc: She-Hulk Volume 1. The story we’re getting through issues 1-12 is exactly the story I wanted to tell. And let’s take a look at what we actually got here:

  1. Jen quits her law firm and opens up her own shop.
  2. Jen brings Angie, Hei Hei and Hellcat on as her staff, goes out on the town and hulks out a little.
Page from She-Hulk #2

Panels from She-Hulk #2.

3. Jen takes on Kristoff Vernard, the Son of Doom as a client, in an effort to help him avoid deportation from the US.

4. Jen goes to Latveria to help her client, and confronts Dr. Doom (or a giant Doombot, anyway.)

She-Hulk #4.

She-Hulk #4.

5-6. Jen delves into the mystery of the Blue File, and things get really real.

  1. Jen, along with Hank Pym, beats up some cats.
she-hulk-ant-man-talk-to-ants

She-Hulk #7.

8-10. Jen goes up against Daredevil in court, with Captain America on trial.

She-Hulk #8.

She-Hulk #8.

11-12. The mystery of the Blue File is resolved.

That’s eight stories over twelve issues – it’s not nothing, and I think it will feel very self-contained when it’s all said and done. It’s what Marvel hired me to write, and I’m extremely satisfied with and proud of these twelve issues. Do I have more She-Hulk stories? Why, yes I do. I could write her for a while yet to come, and I have many ideas for where her story would go in the future. I’d like to bring in some of the other professionally-minded people from the Marvel Universe, for one thing (Tony Stark’s shark of an attorney, the ominously named Legal, needs to reappear), and there are many interesting things to be said about the way Jen would continue to try to make her life, superheroing and new business work on her own terms.

I mean, isn’t that what this version of She-Hulk is, in a sense? It’s our own little venture, our own little startup, which we’re trying to do our own way.

Here’s what I can say at this point about additional Jen Walters adventures – the door isn’t closed. Like I said, I think everyone wants to see more She-Hulk, done more or less the way it’s been done thus far. Still, it’s very important to let Marvel know in a concrete fashion – you’ve all been doing amazing work on social media and so on, but there’s another way, too… pick up the issues, whether digitally or in print versions at your local retailer. Buy the trades. Volume 1, collecting issues 1-6 is out now both in print and digital, and Volume 2 will be out soon. You can give the book reviews on Amazon (at that link I just provided) and Goodreads.  If you haven’t added the book to your pull list at your local retailer, do it. Issue 12, the final issue for the moment, is in the Previews catalog right now, with order code NOV140813. If you go to your shop and ask them about adding She-Hulk to your pull list, they’ll do it, and then they’ll order another copy. If enough shops do that, well, it certainly sends a nice message that these are the sorts of books you want, will read, and will support.

I also like these hearts:  . They’re green. Just like She-Hulk.

Anyway, thank you for reading, for writing, for reviewing, for Tweeting, for telling your friends and customers and colleagues about the book. I know how special this book has been to me, and knowing that it means as much as it seems to for all of you is truly wonderful. If you want to talk more about She-Hulk, books like it, or anything else, my Twitter handle is @charlessoule, and Marvel Comics is @Marvel.

Case… closed?

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Warning – spoilers in here, so if you haven’t read the end of my Death of Wolverine series (or any of it, for that matter), I would avoid this post, unless you don’t mind being spoiled.

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And there we go.  It’s out – Logan’s gone, kaput, see ya. Reaction so far has been generally very positive to the whole story, which I think is due in large part to Steve, Justin, Jay and Chris, who made the thing look as good as it did. The story’s only about 90 pages long, and each chapter is really its own little mini-story, so a lot of ground had to be covered very quickly. The goal was to make each issue evocative of a particular part of Logan’s life, and pay homage to some of the great stories from his past that I’ve loved.  For those curious, here are the specific influences for each issue, as well as a few thoughts about the decisions I made in them:

1. ORIGIN – although there were a bunch of other Logan-in-Canada stories that played a role too. The other theme was Logan the eternal warrior – he’s fought in just about every war he could reach since he was young.  That’s part of why I included Nuke, the lost super-patriot, as a villain.  I thought he was such a great dark reflection of what Logan could become – or could have become. In fact, I originally included a scene set at the famous Battle of the Choisin Reservoir in the Korean War, which would have been a callback to Logan’s long history as a soldier in numerous wars, but ended up cutting it for space.  It’s a nice scene, though, which develops some of the overall themes of the book (Logan is not and never was just a killer) – maybe it will show up somewhere in a super-director’s-cut version.

2. CLAREMONT’s MADRIPOOR STORIES – Chris Claremont did some amazing things with reinventing Logan during his storied run on the character. The Japan stuff is the best-known, but he also set up the “Patch” persona, who was a tuxedo-wearing, bar-owning one-eyed (not really) fellow who was half James Bond half Humphrey Bogart. The version of Logan we see in this issue isn’t really that close to Patch, but it’s in the vein.  Sabretooth claws out Logan’s eye in this story – another intended homage to good old Patch. Mostly, I just like Madripoor as a location. Super evocative – like an evil Singapore.  I love it.  I wrote the script to this and #3 over the course of a single week early in the summer. I sequestered myself in a hotel and just banged them out in about four days.

3. KITTY PRYDE & WOLVERINE – More Claremont! This story introduced Kitty Pryde’s “Shadowcat,” identity, on sort of a weird adventure to Japan, and introduced one of my all-time favorite villains, the body-hopping demon ninja Ogun. It turned out he hadn’t been used in a while, which meant I got to pick him up and re-establish him, which was a real treat. Ogun will be a big part of my post-DoW plans, especially in DoW: Weapon X Project and the upcoming weekly Wolverines series.  He was actually Logan’s original martial arts instructor – he taught him his ninja skills. And that look! I thought Steve did amazing work here. The suit with the red demon mask on top… just awesome.  Get me an Ogun action figure!

4. WEAPON X – Barry Windsor-Smith wrote and drew an incredible miniseries in 1991 that told the story of how Logan got his adamantium skeleton and claws.  It’s an extremely dark, very psychological adventure, almost more of a horror story than a typical superhero comic. I loved it when I read it for the first time, and loved it just as much when I reread it as part of my research for this project. There’s just nothing else like it.  The script for this issue originally included a scene with Logan making his rebar claws we see him using in the early fights, but again, maybe that’s for the director’s cut.  I could easily have done a 150-page version of this story fleshing out some of the stuff we see, but I had four issues, so the idea was to make sure the emotional beats were there. I think that when you have four twenty-page (or so) issues, you have to use a bunch of shorthand to make stories that work both in and of themselves as well as a larger whole. It’s complicated – you almost never have as much space as you’d like, which forces you to be creative in some of the storytelling. I dig it, though.

And the ending! I think it’s all there on the page, so I won’t get into specifics about the story, but I considered a LOT of different beats for this story, and particularly the end.  A completely different version of the story was set all in one location, sort of like one of the Clint Eastwood Man With No Name films. Logan would have rolled in, met some people under the thumb of local bad guys… that kind of thing. Closer in tone in some ways to the great Brian K. Vaughan Logan mini. Ultimately, I stepped away from that because it didn’t seem grand enough. It would maybe have been the sort of Wolverine story we’d seen before, with the main difference being that this time he wouldn’t make it out.

What I will say about the way this story ends is that I didn’t necessarily want it to be on a “stage,” if you know what I mean. Logan doesn’t die saving the world (in one sense he sort of does, as Cornelius was intending to screw over the planet, given enough time, but it’s not the typical doomsday device thing…) He dies saving three people. No one knows he did that – probably not even the people he saved. That doesn’t matter.  We know what Logan did in his life (we’ve read the stories), and so does he (because he “lived” them). He has absolutely nothing to prove – to himself, or to us as readers. He’s realizing this at the same time we are.  This time, as his writer, I didn’t want to save the world in the traditional, seen it before way. Instead (and this will sound grandiose, I know), I wanted to save Logan’s “soul” – preserve it, almost. We saw him at his very best at the very end – that’s the story I wanted to write.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.