?“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” Shakespeare once wrote. Little did he realize that lawyers would become so popular that courtroom dramas now festoon the airwaves. Or maybe he did know, and he was just trying to keep his modern entertainment competition down. He was a smart dude.
Whatever. Anyways, comic books have also seized upon the public’s current fascination with Juris Doctorates. Taking a cue from its media counterparts, comic book lawyers rarely deal with matters outside of criminal law (although the misadventures of Lex Luthor’s patent attorney would add some much needed variety), although not all of them practice law in a court room. Behold the 13 greatest comic book characters to ever use the Esq. suffix!
13) The Living Tribunal
?The Living Tribunal is the nigh-omnipotent judge of the entire Marvel multiverse (judges are just lawyers who’ve leveled up). His cosmic-ness is supposed to impress us because Marvel is secular despite being filled with Deities from panoply of pantheons. He looks exactly like an Oscar statuette except with a disembodied, multi-faced head draped by a tea cozy and no sword. He’s also got a redundant name since all tribunals are made of live judges. A tribunal of dead judges would be exceedingly awkward, to say the least.
12) Larry “Frenzy” Fischmann
?In Alan Moore’s Top Ten, Frenzy Fischmann is the Land-Shark lawyer for super-criminal Professor Gromolko, who complains that he is the victim of constant persecution. Just when think Alan Moore is going to use Fischmann to chastise readers for stereotyping criminal defense lawyers, Frenzy is shown to be callous, greedy, and overly litigious. His partners are an amoral brain in a jar and a Joseph Goebbels stand-in. If only Moore wasn’t so inscrutably subtle!
11) Foggy Nelson
?Foggy Nelson is the Jimmy Olsen to Daredevil’s Superman: Both think bowties are cool. Foggy is notable for being an upstanding competent lawyer who doesn’t need to put on a costume to close cases. He was also the least miscast character in the Daredevil movie.
?To hunt down criminals who escaped justice, New York District Attorney (and later judge) Adrian Chase dressed up like the shame-baby of the Punisher and a ski instructor. After a short violent career and a few failed successors, the depressed Vigilante disbarred himself from humanity by fellating a gun.
9) Ronan the Accuser
?Ronan became the Kree Empire’s Supreme Public Accuser by being overly judgmental. That’s like being an attorney general… in space! He wields a sci-fi gavel he calls the Ultimate Weapon to overcompensate for being unworthy of Mjolnir.
?Is it surprising that a mutant commando who knows the utility of pouches would also understand the value of a law degree? In X-Force #40, Cable revealed that he passed the New York Bar after graduating Harvard Law School in 1988 as an Elle Woods prototype. He had to forge some documents since, due to time travel shenanigans, official records would’ve indicated he was just a kid at the time. He probably telepathically cheated on the Bar Exam too. Both are grounds for revoking this mutie scum’s license.
7) Judge Dredd
?Most of the entrants on this list are lawyers that engage in extracurricular vigilantism. Not so with Judge Dredd, the finest lawman to wear fascist regalia and wield a Lawgiver in Mega-City One. In the distant future of 2000 A.D. (not a typo), the Judges put Dick Wolf to shame by combining law and order into one government sanctioned package capable of dispensing instant draconian sentencing. The downside is that the legal system is pretty lopsided since Dredd and his brethren are exclusively prosecutors.
?Kate Spencer is a single mom who is the sixth in incarnation in the Manhunter legacy. She stole some dead heroes’ gadgets to kill the cannibal contortionist Copperhead. She defended Wonder Woman that time she was charged with murder for breaking Maxwell Lord’s neck on live TV. She got her acquitted on self-defense, but diplomatic immunity would’ve worked too. The third Manhunter was also a lawyer, but his origin is retcon city.
5) Alanna Wolff & Jeff Byrd
?These counselors to the macabre are the comedic precursors to Wolfram & Hart. They even represented vampires against Myrtle the Vampire Hater. Their EC Comics-esque tile was abbreviated to Supernatural Law when Hollywood convinced creator Batton Lash that audiences had no attention span beyond two words before it abandoned the film adaptation in Development Hell.
?Jean Loring was the Atom’s ex-wife who was once driven mad by subatomic aliens. She would later relapse, probably from doing estate planning for the perpetually resurrecting Hawkman and Chronos. To win the Atom back, Jean gave Sue Dibny, Elongated Man’s wife, an aneurysm by stomping around in her brain and blowtorching her body. Her plan only worked briefly. Jean became Eclipso when she found the Heart of Darkness diamond in Arkham Asylum, which doesn’t believe in contraband. Mary Marvel disproved a joke about professional courtesy by feeding Eclipso to sharks.
?Even though he can read normal type with his enhanced sense of touch, Matt Murdock has to pretend he isn’t superhuman by depending on Braille. The fact that he still graduated Valedictorian from Columbia Law is the real reason Daredevil is a babe magnet, even though his death dick drastically increases the odds of his girlfriends being impaled by Bullseye.
2) Harvey Dent/Two-Face
?Harvey Dent was Gotham City’s District Attorney and ally to Batman until exactly half of his face was scarred by acid. Now armed with his double-headed coin, he’s the Patron Saint of the indecisive and the chaotic neutral. True to his name, he was played by both Billy Dee Williams and Tommy Lee Jones in a single franchise. His character arc was cut short when he was crammed into the last act of The Dark Knight and abruptly killed. Yeah, Nolan worshippers, I went there.
?It’s a travesty that Jennifer Walters will always be overshadowed by her more famous cousin, the Hulk. Unlike that personification of roid rage, Jen loses neither her wit nor legal savvy when she becomes She-Hulk. Not only is she a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif, her superhero exploits are rarely an attempt to compensate for poor courtroom performance. She-Hulk wisely convinced The Living Tribunal not to erase the main Marvel universe in favor of the Ultimate one. Her chiseled physique sets a more realistic body image for woman than superstrong superheroines built like waifs, and her mind is powerful enough to break The Fourth Wall. This legal libertine didn’t just pass the Bar; she set it for the rest of comic book-dom.