Superhero fights can be a bit messy. Buildings topple, vehicles are destroyed, and sometimes people get caught in the crossfire. How do Marvel superheroes navigate all of this? It turns out, there is a list of 6 rules that apply to all superhero battles. The rules were listed in the brand-new Sensational She-Hulk #1, as Jennifer Walters broke in a new trainee.
Sensational She-Hulk #1 is a relaunch of Rainbow Rowell and Andres Genolet’s critically acclaimed comic. The debut issue contains a fun backup story illustrated by Gavin Guidry, and written by Jessica Gao, showrunner for Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk. Gao’s story is every bit as fun and witty as the Disney+ show was. Jen tries to teach a rookie the fundamentals of superhero battles, but there’s a twist that we won’t spoil here. (You’ll have to read the issue!)
What are the six rules of battling in the Marvel Universe? Read on…
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sensational She-Hulk #1!
Rule 1: Bring a change of clothes.
This one seems obvious. Battling villains can get messy, so you will want a change of clothes. Plus, superhero costumes are a big part of branding. For She-Hulk the change of clothes is really important because she has to be presentable for court.
Rule 2: Identify the lawbreakers and confirm the lawbreaking.
I’m glad Jen made this a rule, because Marvel heroes use to have this problem all the time. If you ever go back and read Marvel Comics published in the Silver Age, you would be surprised how many times heroes would fight other heroes because of a misunderstanding. So much of it would have been avoided if they had just observed this rule.
Rule 3: Always expect to be attacked.
As Jen talks about this rule, a criminal throws a pumpkin bomb at her. It doesn’t seem to phase her, so it sounds like she was using it as a teaching moment. Either way, if you live in the Marvel Universe, this seems like a good rule to follow, regardless of if you’re a hero or a civilian. Things get dangerous.
Rule 4: Make a note of all property damage to sort out later.
This one is important. Supervillain battles often have lots of expensive collateral damage.
Rule 5: Keep track of what property damage you’re responsible for.
This is kind of a spin-off of the previous rule, but an important one. How many times have you seen a superhero throw a car at a villain? In fact, She-Hulk rips the door off a shipping container as she goes over this rule. At least she’s conscious of it, and presumably intends to reimburse the owners for the damage.
Rule 6 Hurt ‘em, but don’t kill ‘em.
In other words, murder is bad. I’m pretty sure Wolverine, Deadpool, and Ghost Rider ignore this one. Speaking of which…
Do the Marvel heroes actually follow these rules?
Although She-Hulk states these are the rules for being a superhero, I can’t help but wonder how many of Marvel’s characters actually follow them. I would go through all 84 years of Marvel’s publishing history to check every battle, but then I would never get this article done. Instead, let’s look at 3 other books Marvel published this week.
- Daredevil #2 (2023) – Daredevil battles a gang of armed criminals, and it appears he closely observes most of She-Hulk’s rules. Matt carefully analyzes the situation before attacking, he doesn’t use lethal force, and he avoids damaging any property. Matt takes off once police reinforcements arrive, leaving the crime scene nice and tidy. Maybe it’s because they’re both lawyers, but it’s nice to see Matt following every one of She-Hulk’s rules.
- The Invincible Iron Man #11 (2023) – The issue features Iron Man fighting an Orchis gorilla, which has been genetically altered to be as intelligent as a human. Tony followed rule 1, bringing his armor along for the ride. Rules 2 and 3 weren’t observed, as the gorilla snuck up on Tony, despite the fact he was directly facing a mirror. The battle took place in Emma Frost’s old bedroom on Krakoa, and most of her furniture was destroyed. However, Tony asked Emma what she wanted to save, so I will count that as following rules 4 and 5. Unfortunately, Tony kills the gorilla by crushing him under rubble, a direct violation of rule 6.
- Spine-Tingling Spider-Man #1 (2023) – The issue begins with Spider-Man battling Spidercide (a forgotten Clone Saga leftover). Peter definitely followed rule 1, hence the Spidey outfit. Spidey follows rule 2 with his opening narration. Thanks to Peter’s spider-sense, rule 3 seems like a cheat, but I’ll give it to him. He knocks Spidercide out, but doesn’t kill him, following rule 6. However, Peter seems to forgo rules 4 and 5. During the battle, Spider-Man kicks Spidercide into a water tower, destroying it. He doesn’t stick around to “sort it out” as She-Hulk suggests. Bad Spider-Man.
Based on this small sample size, it appears that 1/3 of Marvel’s heroes follow Jen's rules. Of course, making rules is one thing, enforcing them is another. That’s probably why there have been numerous storylines about regulating superheroes, but that’s another can of worms. Think about She-Hulk’s list of rules the next time you read a comic and see how closely your favorite hero follows them.
Sensational She-Hulk #1 (2023) is one sale from Marvel Comics today.