An intriguing and entertaining look at how America’s legal system would work using the world of comic books.
Two brave heroes take on the comic multiverse, wielding the greatest superpower of all: the law.
James Daily and Ryan Davidson—attorneys by day, comic enthusiasts all of the time, and founders of the popular website lawandthemultiverse.com—have clearly found their vocation, exploring the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book tropes, characters, and powers down to the most deliciously trivial detail.
The Law of Superheroes asks and answers crucial speculative questions about everything from constitutional law and criminal procedure to taxation, intellectual property, and torts, including:
Could Superman sue if someone exposed his true identity as Clark Kent?
Are members of the Legion of Doom vulnerable to prosecution under RICO?
Do the heirs of a superhero who comes back from the dead get to keep their inherited property after their loved one is resurrected?
Does it constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence an immortal like Apocalypse to life in prison without the possibility of parole?
Engaging, accessible, and delightfully educational, The Law of Superheroes is a must-have for legal experts, comic nerds, and anyone who will ever be called upon to practice law in the comic multiverse.
In this insightful and entertaining look at how comic book heroes would be affected by real-life laws, Daily and Davidson—attorneys by day and authors of the popular blog “lawandthemultiverse.com”—aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions about superhero behavior. If asked to testify in court, “Could Spider-Man wear his mask? And could he somehow dodge questions about his identity?” The Joker may be mentally ill, “but is he legally insane?” And if Nitro burns Wolverine “knowing that he’ll survive, is it still attempted murder?” Fortunately, Daily and Davidson are neither smart alecks nor ironic, and they take their work as seriously as Batman taking on his arch-villain Bane (although they can be as witty and sly as Catwoman at her best). Their intelligent exploration of ideas in constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, criminal procedure, business law, and even intellectual property always makes for fascinating reading. And a discussion about whether or not the evil Mephisto had a valid claim on Ghost Rider’s soul offers hope for current law school students: “if you like the idea of twisting altruism into a legal defense for the Devil, then you may have a bright future as a defense lawyer.” (Oct.)
The creators of the popular website lawandthemultiverse.com expand the concept into a book-length exploration of tricky legal issues faced by comic-book heroes and villains. Lawyers by trade, Daily and Davidson here analyze the types of issues only hard-core comic-book geeks can appreciate, ranging from the question of mutant civil rights to Superman's citizenship status. The authors wholeheartedly acknowledge and embrace the ridiculousness of their endeavor, a factor that helps mitigate the frequently dry discussions. They know their audience: comic obsessives who view funny books not as a means of entertainment, but as a way of life, readers who spend hours debating whether Batman could beat Captain America in a fight or speculating on the sex lives--and sexual preferences--of their costume-clad heroes. Chapters on criminal law (can the Joker use insanity as a valid defense?), constitutional law (can the death penalty be applied to someone who's invulnerable?), criminal procedure (can Spider-Man, as a private citizen unaffiliated with the police, legally arrest and detain someone?) and other creatively conceived issues illuminate the answers to questions few have dared to ask, providing cogent analysis in a way that should be largely understandable to general readers. Unfortunately, the concept is far more engaging than the actual analysis; the book reads like a standard, law-class primer, only all of the examples involve superheroes. It's funny to think about the IRS hounding Superman every time he squeezes a piece of coal into a diamond, but it's not all that exciting to delve into a thorough examination of the statutes under which he could actually be prosecuted. Witty on the Web, ponderous on the page.