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When Did Jennifer Walters First Practice Law as She-Hulk?

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In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Today, we look at the first time that Jennifer Walters practiced law as She-Hulk.


In the hit Disney+ series, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, one of the central conceits of the series, as you can tell from the name of the show, is that She-Hiulk is actually practicing law on the series. This is because Jennifer Walters turned into She-Hulk while working as a district attorney in the first episode, and in the process, she got fired from the district attorney’s office, and no one else wanted to hire a lawyer who could turn into a Hulk at any moment. Ultimately, though, she is hired by Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway to specifically be their main lawyer for their new superhuman law division, and thus, the fact that she is a superhero herself is the whole draw for the law firm, and thus, she practices law AS She-Hulk, rather than as Jennifer Walters.

My friend, Tom, wanted to know when that setup first occurred in the comics – when did Jennifer Walters first practice law AS She-Hulk?

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HOW DID JENNIFER WALTERS ORIGINALLY PRACTICE LAW WHEN SHE BECAME SHE-HULK?

When we first met Jennifer Walters all the way back in Savage She-Hulk #1 (by Stan Lee, John Buscema and Chic Stone), her cousin Bruce is visiting when she explains that she is defending a thug accused of murder. She knew her client wasn’t a great guy, but he wasn’t guilty of this particular murder. So she put out on the grapevine that she had evidence of who the real killer was, and she was shot by the bad guys to try to silence her…

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Of course, her beloved cousin, Bruce, saved her life through a blood transfusion that also turned her into the She-Hulk because, well, you know, Bruce Banner was the Hulk and all of that good stuff.

However, once Jennifer became the She-Hulk, she initially did the whole “back and forth” transformation deal that Bruce did as the Hulk, and in her Jennifer Walters identity, she continued working as a lawyer, defending her client in Savage She-Hulk #2 (by the new creative team, which then did most of the series from that point forward, of David A. Kraft and Mike Vosburg, joining Stone)…

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Jennifer continues as a defense lawyer and civil litigator throughout the series. She helps out a friend’s dad in Savage She-Hulk #15 (Frank Springer doing finishes over Vosburg’s layouts)…

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Again, though, it is clear that JENNIFER WALTERS is the lawyer, and not She-Hulk. In fact, since She-Hulk is wanted for a murder (that she didn’t commit), Jennifer can’t very well even let people know about her dual identity (although obviously, over time, more and more people learn about it). Eventually, though, after some betrayals in her life, Jennifer decides to give up her Jennifer Walters life entirely and just live life as She-Hulk from now on. In Savage She-Hulk #25, the final issue of the series, when she is forced to return to her “human” form, Jennifer reflects on how she got to this point…

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As the series ends, though, Jennifer decides to once again become She-Hulk full-time, and continue to fight crime as She-Hulk. This means that she was essentially abandoning her legal career…

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That came out in late 1981. In mid-1982, however, David Michelinie, Jim Shooter, Bob Hall and Brett Breeding had the now full-time She-Hulk join the Avengers as a new member in Avengers #221…

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After making a name for herself on the Avengers, incoming writer Roger Stern worked it out with his friend and colleague, John Bynre, for Byrne to take She-Hulk from the Avengers and have her join the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #265 (which Byrne wrote and drew) as a replacement for the Thing following the events of Secret Wars (one of the key hooks in Secret Wars was that the superheroes would disappear for a month, then return with a couple of major changes, and so readers would have to check out the 12-issue Secret Wars miniseries to find out how these changes happened, like She-Hulk joining the Fantastic Four and the Thing not coming back with the other heroes)…

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During her time in the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, She-Hulk essentially had no connection to her past life as Jennifer Walters. Heck, her very personality sort of began to change as she leaned into her new body.

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WHEN DID JENNIFER FIRST PRACTICE LAW AS SHE-HULK?

Things changed, though, when Byrne returned to Marvel to launch a new She-Hulk solo series, Sensational She-Hulk, in early 1989, where, in the fourth issue, Jennifer (now stuck in her She-Hulk body, which is a story I’ll talk about in the future), gets a job working for the district attorney in New York City, Blake Tower…

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So you would think that Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk would have been the first time that She-Hulk practiced law, but amusingly enough, Byrne was beaten to the punch by his former X-Men collaborator, Chris Claremont, who had She-Hulk argue a case in front of the Supreme Court in a short story in 1988’s Solo Avengers #14, arguing against the Mutant Registration Act from the pages of Uncanny X-Men.

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The art team for the story was the fantastic Alan David and Joe Rubinstein, so it’s nice to see this major moment for She-Hulk being done by a top-notch creative team. Sadly, She-Hulk keeps getting interrupted by the need for her superhero skills…

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This was the first rematch for She-Hulk with Titania from Secret Wars. Other writers would really play up Titania as She-Hulk’s main rival…

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Sadly, the Supreme Court couldn’t wait for She-Hulk and adjourned until the next term.

Thanks to my pal, Tom A., for this question! If anyone wants to know about an interesting comic book first, just drop me a line at [email protected]!

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