(Obligatory intro text paragraph - feel free to skip down to the next one if you've already been reading these posts.) Here we are with the third of twelve essays I'm writing, one per day as we lead up to the release of She-Hulk #12, the final issue in the current run of the title, on February 18. The idea is to look at each issue a bit more in-depth before we get to that last one. I'm doing these in conjunction with a live-tweet using the tag #12daysofshehulk on Twitter, also one per day leading up to the release of 12 - so you can play along at home! Feel free to @ me (I'm @charlessoule) - I'd love to hear what you think of this issue and all the others, whether it's a re-read or you're checking them out for the first time. If you haven't read She-Hulk, but you'd like to, you can get the trade for issues 1-6 here, buy all the issues digitally here or hit up your local comic shop.
Issue #3: "The Man Who Wouldn't Be King"
With Issue 3, all of the pieces were in place to start Jen's solo law practice in earnest. She had an office, a paralegal/assistant and an investigator. What she did not have, however, was a client. We addressed that here with her first case - an asylum filing on behalf of Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor Von Doom, PhD. (Doom must have a doctorate, right? Probably lots of doctorates. I know he went to school with Reed, but did we ever see him graduate? Could you imagine if "Dr." is just a title he gave himself, like those esteemed practitioners J and Dre? Fabulous.)
The reason I chose this particular type of legal case is because immigration law has been a significant part of my own practice for many years. I knew from the start that I wanted to get the law side of things in She-Hulk as correct as possible - being a lawyer, I suspected I would be raked across the coals a bit by other attorneys if I got things wrong. I was correct about that, but we'll get to that more with Issues 8-10. I thought I was pretty safe with immigration, though, since I've been doing it so long. While I certainly took some liberties, most of the points you see here are the way asylum actually works in the US.
Not to turn this into a law school class, but in a nutshell, to successfully claim asylum in the States, you have to be able to prove that you've been persecuted in your home country because of your membership in a particular race or class (religious group, etc.), that the persecution was connected to the government, and that it would be likely to recur if you were shipped back home. That posed some tricky questions for me, because Kristoff has mostly been shown to be Doom's hand-picked heir to the throne of Latveria. They've had their differences over the years, but it was pretty consistent that he stood to inherit an entire country if and when Doom died. Hardly "persecution."
Unless... Kristoff wasn't sure that's what he actually wanted. Once I came up with that central idea - that Kristoff was a kid who had been groomed for something all his life, but he was realizing he might want to at least see what else was out there... I had a story.
Ultimately, this little tale (which concludes in Issue 4) is about fathers and sons. You'll see that the legal stories I told in this run of She-Hulk tend to another, more potent emotional throughline than just a simple contract dispute or something like that. There's always another angle - which hopefully makes them easier to connect with as a reader.
Why did I make Kristoff read as spoiled Eurotrash? Easy - I thought it would be funny, especially the way it would contribute Jen's increasing exasperation as she deals with him. As an attorney, you don't like every client, but you have to do your best for them whether you like them or not. That's part of the obligation of being a lawyer (and a physician, and any other profession with a "duty of care.") Hopefully, though, by the end you guys connected with him a bit (as does Jen.) Kristoff has had a bizarre, fairly awful upbringing, and it's hard to hold that against him. Too much.
Favorite panel - this one is very tough. I loved a lot of what Javier did in this issue. So, I will pick several!
(I just love that everyone is on their phones. That's pretty typical of the fun stuff Javier would add. He also sometimes vehemently disagreed with scripted ideas - I originally had this whole idea of putting in maps of Brooklyn and Queens to help convey the layout of where they were traveling in the issue, just to lock in the geography, but he thought he could get it done without them. Every issue is a discussion.)
(look at the swirls from the engines!)
Favorite character - it has to be the ill-fated Ernst. I bet being a Doombot is probably a pretty tough gig. I'd wager that of all the many types of mechanical automatons in the Marvel universe, we've seen more Doombots destroyed than any of the others. Oh well.
No one ever said 'bottin was easy.
Tomorrow: Latveria! And Daredevil! If you have questions about this issue, or anything at all, you can reach me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/charlessoule) or via the email form at www.charlessoule.com.