A frequent request when I do my mock-AMA posts is “why I should write She-Hulk, superhero lawyer” or commentary on legal issues in superhero comics. I will admit I am not terribly interested in the topic, for two reasons:
1.) The law is my job and this is fun and do you really want your job getting mixed into your fun?
2.) It’s a lot less applicable than people think.
Let me explain #2 for a bit because I think it might serve to illuminate. My daily duties as a lawyer are, of course, law-related, but more important in many ways is how I conduct myself as a lawyer – my provincial law society mandates that as counsel I be courteous, honest, and strive to uphold the law. (Matt Murdock, in particular, often violates the second of those mandates.) In American jurisdictions these tenets still exist but generally they are, I am given to understand, much more lax; here they are not. (Some lawyers will threaten you with a complaint to the law society when you make any comment that could be even construed as an insult. These people are pains to work against, to say the least.)
This is to say that although the legal system in Canada and America is adversarial, my experience with it does not lead itself naturally to superhero comics, where by definition the stories have to be very adversarial. She-Hulk’s Enemy Lawyer, by comics convention, has to be ruthless and efficient and probably not very nice, whereas in my practice I routinely give and receive compliments to the other side on their conduct. Law, done well, is the opposite of dramatic. You seek to make your preferred conclusion mundane.
But there is another aspect yet to why I would not want to write a She-Hulk series, which is that the law is fundamentally kind of boring in many ways. Dan Slott’s She-Hulk wasn’t about lawyering, when you get down to it: it was an adventure series using a relentlessly wacky law firm as a setting. Which is fine, it was a good comic, and the reason it was a good comic is because She-Hulk wasn’t doing hours upon hours of reading discovery notes and making a list of evidentiary points for and against her client, or spending hours telling a client how to conduct themselves upon the stand, or writing letters to opposing counsel promising to employ tactics which are thinly veiled legal threats but only if you understand why they’re threats. Super-dramatic courtroom moments are the exception, not the rule – even in court they’re still the exception. Court is frequently very boring to non-involved parties.
Practicing law, if you are doing it properly, is about paying attention to tiny details and assembling your client’s narrative in the best possible light for a judge (or other decision-maker) to assess: in short, it is leaving the actual climax of the story (the decision) to a third party. Which is how the system works, but that’s directly not what you want out of a good comic book adventure story: you want a story where She-Hulk makes her case so staggeringly obviously that holy crap, how could ANYBODY disagree with that? Which isn’t really about law, you see, and more to the point it should usually offer She-Hulk more opportunity to punch things, which is what we all want to read anyway.
So that’s why it’s not gonna happen. When I want to write comics, I want to write holy shit comics. Law is not about holy shit most of the time. Quite the reverse.