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Attorney makes time to write 'funny books' about super heroes

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

These days, Charles Soule finds himself practicing law less and chronicling the adventures of super-heroes more.

“I still practice law, in part because it’s a business I built myself – I’m proud of it, and I like my clients very much,” said Soule.

The sole proprietor of the Law Offices of Charles D. Soule in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he also lives, Soule specializes in immigration law, although he’s been trained in business/transactional law.

“Immigration is an area of law where you can directly influence peoples’ lives – say through obtaining a marriage-based green card so a couple can be together – and I enjoy that. Writing is wonderful, too, of course, but law is certainly not drudgery for me,” he explained.

A Milwaukie native, Soule graduated from the University of Pennsylvania 1996 with his undergraduate degree in Asian/Middle-Eastern studies with a focus on Chinese history/language, as well as a minor in music composition. In 2000, Soule graduated from Columbia University Law School.

“I lived in Hong Kong for a while before coming to Penn, and while there I started studying Mandarin. I also took a few trips with my family up to the mainland, and a lifelong love of Chinese history and culture was born. I assumed back then I would live most of my life in Asia – I ended up in New York City instead, (which isn’t) a terrible trade-off,” explained Soule.

His first professional work in the comic book medium was the creator-owned “Strongman” for SLG Publishing five years ago. While it wasn’t that successful from a commercial standpoint, it had just enough impact to open a few eyes. This led to Image Comics’ “Twenty-Seven,” something Soule described as “Alien” meets “House of Cards” as the President of the United States learns of a hostile alien presence the previous administration covered up. It’s been optioned by the SyFy Channel for a TV series.

“It’ll appear when it appears,” said Soule, not sweating it.

Since then, Soule’s popularity has skyrocketed. He’s written some high profile characters, including DC’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, and Marvel’s Wolverine.

In fact, he’s dramatically changed these characters’ status quos. Not only is he one of the creators instrumental in making Superman and Wonder Woman a couple – the definitive power couple – in DC Comics’ “Superman and Wonder Woman,” he also killed off Wolverine – one of Marvel’s most popular characters – in 2014’s blockbuster mini-series “The Death of Wolverine.”

“I think it’s important to respect what’s come before, but they’re all just characters. Really great characters, but if you start treating them like icons, you can’t get good stories out of them. Find the ways they’re like people – not gods – and that’s when things start to work,” explained Soule.

Making Superman and Wonder Woman a couple was a controversial move by DC since long-time fans prefer Superman with Lois Lane (they’re no longer a couple since DC restarted its characters in 2011).

“The nice thing is once people started reading the book, all of that died away, which is exactly the reaction you want,” said Soule. “I was thrilled to delve into their relationship in a new way.”

Soule has been a guest at Comics & More in Madison Heights twice in the past two years. According to owner Chris Brown, he’d like to make Soule’s appearance an annual event.

“I first read Charles’ work on ‘Twenty-Seven’ … Then I saw his name popping up on some other titles, and I always gave those books a shot because I liked his writing. The next thing you know, the guy is writing the only DC titles worth reading; for me, that was ‘Swamp Thing’ and ‘Superman and Wonder Woman,’” said Brown. “Here’s a guy who’s a practicing lawyer and still has time to write 8-9 monthly titles.”

Soule jumped at the chance when Marvel asked him to kill Wolverine.

“Getting a chance to write a final chapter in the fictional life of a gigantic character like Wolverine doesn’t come around every day,” he said. “I was thrilled to do it.”
Last year, Soule signed an exclusive contract with Marvel. Recently, he ended a critically-lauded, memorable run on Marvel’s “She-Hulk.” His take focused more on She-Hulk – who’s really an attorney named Jennifer Walters, the Hulk’s younger cousin – fighting bad guys in the courtroom than on the battlefield.

“I’m the first lawyer to write the title, for better or for worse,” he said. “She-Hulk’s office happens to be located in the same building in Brooklyn where I have my office. I bring a lot of my legal-world experiences to the book, and I think – and hope – it’s stronger for it.”

His “She-Hulk” and “The Death Wolverine” titles sold well at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, according to co-owner Dan Merritt.

“While Mr. Soule wrote the best-selling ‘Death of Wolverine’ mini-series, he really won me over with his too-short-lived ‘She-Hulk’ series and his creator-owned sci-fi/political action/drama ‘Letter 44,’” said Merritt.

Currently, Soule’s writing Marvel’s “Inhuman” and “Wolverines” (a spin-off of “The Death of Wolverine”).

“(‘Inhuman’ is) another book with a rich tapestry that was always sort of second fiddle to the X-Men, and the minute Marvel decides to move them to the top, they tap Charles,” said Brown. “Then they need someone to kill Wolverine, they tap Charles.”

Being a lawyer has sharpened Soule’s skills as an author.

“I can work on a story for a long time – not stand up until it’s done – just as I might a legal brief. I like to make sure my books have an internal logic, too, and I think that comes from my legal practice as well,” said Soule. “Plus, I grew up loving to read comics, and it seemed like a pretty plausible extrapolation that I might love making them as well. When I got out of law school, I knew I wanted to keep on with creative work; writing – which eventually became my current comics work – seemed like a great way to do that.”

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