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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finds its footing with a new job in second episode

She-Hulk The Retreat Tim Roth Featured

“Superhuman Law” feels like the series true launching point.

There is a thing in comics called “zero issues” or sometimes “1/2 issues” that serve as an issue of a comic title, but not really. Zero issues, in particular, tend to be prologues to the ongoing series’ number one issue. 

After watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law “Superhuman Law,” officially the series’ second episode, it seems clear the best way to think of last week’s “A Normal Amount of Rage” is as a zero issue. Sure, it had a story. It wasn’t a bad bit of television. But ultimately, it was just a warm-up to the real thing.

The real thing kicks off shortly after Jen’s (Tatiana Maslany) green-skinned debut. Back to her usual self, she stands uncomfortably outside the wonderfully named attorney’s bar Legal Ease while the patrons chant, “She-Hulk.” I don’t know a lot of attorneys, so maybe this is a customary thing. They get as up for a case’s verdict as much as, say, you and I might for a new A24 release. Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) manages to convince Jen to go in and do so as her tall, verdant-hued alter ego. The patrons, predictably, lap it up.

She-Hulk The Retreat Ginger Gozanga Tatiana Maslany
Ginger Gonzanga discussing the importance of good posture to ongoing muscular-skeleton health, hopefully. (Chuck Zlotnick, Marvel Studios)

Unfortunately, the success is short-lived. The case’s verdict was vacated on account of the jurors probably being appreciative of not getting crushed by a desk. As a result, Jen’s boss (Keith Flippen) decides she’s not worth the liability. An interview montage reveals that several other firms in increasingly more drab offices feel the same. By the time she gets a text from the family inviting her for dinner, she’s also contemplating a future as some sort of amusement park mascot/greeter.

The family, led by Wethersfield, Connecticut’s own Mark Linn-Baker as the patriarch Morris, is predictably amusing. I appreciated that the episode got in, let viewers see who they were, and got out, though. Linn-Baker taking Jen aside to actually check-in is a much more effective character moment for both.

Convinced that her career is effectively over, Jen drags herself back to Legal Ease for some sad drinking. While sad drinking is usually ill-advised, this time it puts her in the right time and place to be hired by Holden Holliway (Steve Coulter), the lead opposing counsel from last week. Predictably, the job isn’t just about her mind. The firm wants her for the publicity, too. Holliway has a new Superhuman Law Division and thinks she’s perfect for it. As long as she’s willing to do the work fully Hulked out on an ongoing basis, of course.

While the position carries a very nice office and a kind new co-worker, Pug (Josh Segarra), who welcomes her with a gift basket and a map to the best bathroom, it also has other strings. Her first client must be Emil Blonsky, aka The Abomination (Tim Roth), who’s preparing for his parole hearing. Despite the mountain of reasons why that’s a bad call, Holliway is insistent. Represent Blonsky or get fitted for that mascot head.

This episode is miles better than the first installment.

Unexpectedly her visit goes better than expected. Blonsky manages to not only convince her of the validity of the case but of the truth of his remorse. Roth is wonderfully laconic in the scene, both authentic and goofy. He’s just enough to be convincing as both someone an intelligent person might believe and a con a little too in love with his grift. Sadly for Jen, contrite or con, someone has leaked footage of Blonsky’s Shang-Chi excursion to an illegal fighting ring.

This episode is miles better than the first installment. Its voice and aim are so much clearer. After “Rage,” I had no idea what She-Hulk, Attorney at Law intended to be. Now it feels not only clear but on solid ground. I’ll reiterate that getting her origin in from jump was not worth making your pilot so non-indicative of what’s to come. 

The addition of Roth is no small part of what ups the series’ game, but I want to mention Coulter as well. He is so benignly amoral. I appreciate how he’s costumed and made up to be neutral tones head to toe. I don’t think he will be a villain of any kind, but he’s clearly coded as a man with no bigger motivation beyond doing his job.

She-Hulk The Retreat Tatiana Maslany
Tatiana Maslany doesn’t love the sound of being called “She-Hulk.” (Marvel Studios)

Closing Arguments

– We get another Bruce as Smart Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) appearance which is honestly more than I expected. The fact that he’s in a spaceship bound for…somewhere sure is something too.

– I’m a bit on the fence about Jen getting “She-Hulk” from the media. This is a show about a nearly seven-foot-tall green woman who can bench press a tank without straining, don’t worry about being silly! Tony Stark just named himself Iron Man on a whim. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine anyone, least of all Maslany’s version of Jen, picking out She-Hulk for themselves these days. So I’ll call it a push.

– I hope Gonzaga gets something better to do soon. She’s not even really the supportive best friend at this point, the role’s so thin.

-Seems odd Disney passed on an opportunity to promote their own theme parks when Jen is considering a job in the field. Unless that Aspen Village thing is a new part of Disney? I haven’t been in years.

– I’m being a homer here, but more Linn-Baker and his ridiculous wig/facial hair prosthetics, please!

– Speaking of Linn-Baker, hard to believe any of the Walters are related to Bruce Banner’s maniacal, wildly abusive father. It does make sense Bruce loves his cousin so much, though. Every time he got to see her, it must have been an incredible oasis to him.

– The fourth wall breaking happened more this time out but also felt much more well-integrated. 

She-Hulk The Retreat The Walters
The Walters gather for a meal with Mark Linn-Baker at the head of the table. (Marvel Studios, 2022)

The Court Records

– “This chick, pretty decent…”- I know several people have objected to the sort of…blatantness(?) of the sexism, but I appreciate the heightened quality of it. It read to me like internet comments come to life and the level of it is sort of a “we laugh so we don’t cry” thing that fits this being, essentially, a superhero sitcom.

– “Nepotism. I knew it.”

– “We didn’t win the case.” “Oh YEAH we did!”- Drunk Maslany is quite fun.

– “I said don’t bring it up! Why would I tell you to bring it up?”

– “That Hawkeye guy? What happens to those arrows of his?”

– “I’m a completely different person now. Literally.”- Meta!

– “This man tried to kill my cousin Bruce.” “Yeah, that’s quite alright.”

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Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens is a freelance writer and therapist from the Nutmeg State, hailing from the home of the World’s Smallest Natural Waterfall. In addition to The Spool, you can read his stuff in CC Magazine, Marvel.com, ComicsVerse, and The New Paris Press. His work has been quoted in Psychology Today, The Atlantic, and MSN Ireland. And yes, he is listing all this to try and impress you.

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