Better Call Galactus

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  1. Lizard says:

    I need to note that a friend of mine, Steve Long, now publisher/owner of Hero Games, wrote up a long series of essays on this topic in the RPG supplement "Dark Champions" in the 1990s. It will be interesting to compare his take (he is, or was at the time, also a lawyer) with this one, especially given some of the shifts that have taken place on issues like warrentless searches (does X-ray vision count?) in the post 9/11 era.

  2. wgering says:

    I've always wondered about legal ramifications of, oh, anything involving Captain America.

    Also, the whole Civil War storyline.

    I think this will nicely compliment my copy of "The Physics of Superheroes."

  3. Chris R. says:

    I personally think the law would ruin superheros, especially civil cases. Could you imagine Peter Parker having to cover property damage on a freelance journalist pay?

  4. KronWeld says:

    @Ken – Have you ever read Groklaw? PJ has done a pretty good job explaining legal issues to geeks. After reading it for 9 years, I've learned quite a bit.

  5. Dan Weber says:

    If I time travel 30 years to the past, am I allowed to keep on using the open source software I brought with me?

  6. Chris Berez says:

    Wow. Definitely going to have to read this book and start reading that blog as well. That's awesome!

  7. Mercury says:

    Legal fantasy speculation is fun. The more totally unrealistic the better.

    What if the fate of the economy were at the mercy of central planning?
    What if the environment had more rights than people?
    What if practically everything were illegal and selective enforcement made a constitutional republic indistinguishable from a plutocratic dictatorship?
    What if winning official wars became politically unfashionable and private interests built new, profitable business models around losing unofficial wars?
    What if math actually mattered and liabilities that were orders of magnitude bigger than assets meant someone was going to take it in the neck?
    What if the government decided to go into business for itself and treat its actual, official responsibilities as overhead?
    What if voting didn’t matter?

    Or, yeah…and what color tights would Super-Biden wear?
    I wonder about that too.

  8. Bear says:

    Didn't the movie "The Incredibles" pretty well cover the legal aspects of superherodom?

  9. Noah Callaway says:

    Nice! The blog was a great read, and I'll definitely be picking up the book.

    Quick question for Ken: If I click your "buy from Amazon" link, then navigate from that page to purchase the Kindle edition do you still get those sweet affiliate dollars? If not, could you post an affiliate link to the Kindle edition? I loves me some Kindle, and I love to give you some affiliate monies!

  10. Grandy says:

    Chris Gwinn can maybe back me up on this, but there was a guy who used to do a column, I think in the 90s, titled "The Law Is A Ass" (from the Dickens, yes) that used to discuss legal issues in comics. Mostly he made fun of the awful and unwieldy attempts to use/portray the law but occasionally he commended what the writers did. His favorite target was a comic called Vigilante. This made me think of that.

  11. Stingray says:

    As a non-lawyer geek, I thought the way She Hulk (Slott & Bobillo incarnation) was a pretty neat way of handling it all. Too bad when they decided to move her back to more Hulk-Smash and less Walters Subpoena.

  12. Jeremy says:

    Would Wonder Woman's lasso be a violation of free speech?

  13. Jack B. says:

    For people interested in this theme, I'd highly recommend the Law Blog Abnormal Use, where every Friday they feature a law-related comic book cover (today's is a Robocop comic).

    They also did a great April Fool's Day prank this year.

  14. Jeremy says:

    Or… I correct myself here… the 5th amendment?

  15. Thad says:

    Ah — so it wasn't the Marvel book after all. Better yet; that one's already on my radar and I hadn't heard of this one at all. (I did read a great piece recently about Firefly as a study in contractual agreements, but that's a tangent.)

    There's a great issue of Astro City where a lawyer gets his client off by saying there's no proof that it was him and not a clone, shape-shifting alien, etc. — in a world where stuff like that happens all the time, I expect reasonable doubt is a lot easier to achieve.

  16. Maggie says:

    @Noah: Yes, if you buy the Kindle version after clicking, Popehat still gets a cut. They'll get credit for anything you buy for (I think) 24 hours after you click, unless you click someone else's affiliate link after theirs. Keep that in mind if you don't want Ken to see everything you buy.

  17. James Pollock says:

    Jeremy, the answer to your question would depend on whether or not Wonder Woman acts as part of the government. If you go to Law and the multiverse, they've analyzed to death whether or not Batman is a state actor, and some of that analysis might apply to Wonder Woman.

    However, to short cut, I don't think the lasso of truth is a 5th amendment violation because it prevents people from lying, but it doesn't compel people to speak. Thus, a lassoee would still have the option of remaining silent under questioning. (The interesting question is whether or not the sixth amendment is implicated.)

  18. James Daily says:

    Wonder Woman's lasso both forces the victim to speak the truth and (in some versions at least) also allows Wonder Woman to compel them to speak. However, such compelled speech would only be a Fifth Amendment violation if Wonder Woman were a state actor, and she usually acts independently of the US government.

    I'm curious as to your theory regarding the Sixth Amendment. If WW isn't a state actor, then why would her use of the lasso give rise to a right to an attorney (I assume that's the part of the Sixth Amendment that you mean)? Interrogation by WW is not an adversarial proceeding.

  19. James Pollock says:

    Mr. Daily, I apologize if you've previously extended the state actor analysis beyond Batman to WW on your site; I don't know enough of WW's various iterations to do so myself. I do know that in at least one incarnation she was an employee of the federal government, but I don't recall what the exact scope of her duties was. (I was more interested in how Ms. Carter was able to run in that costume.)

    If WW *IS* a state actor, then how is interrogation by WW different from interrogation by any other law-enforcement agency? (Obviously, if she is not, then the sixth amendment is just as irrelevant as the fifth, or the fourth… I can't recall her ever Mirandizing anyone she's interrogating, but I'm more familiar with Wonder Girl's exploits.)

    Also obviously, if she is NOT a state actor, then she has no immunity to civil claims for battery, assault, or unlawful imprisonment by people she has lassoed and restrained, and will have to defend each case as best she can by arguing an affirmative defense, if any apply.

  20. Josh C says:

    Astro City has a collection titled "Local Heroes", where one of the stories is about a lawyer defending someone mundane in a world full of superheroes, and briefly flirts with the ethics of the situation too. I thought it was really quite good, though I am not a lawyer.

  21. Thad says:

    @Josh: Right, that's the one. Astro City: Local Heroes #4 was the original individual issue, if I'm not mistaken. Thanks for helping place it.

  22. Johan S says:

    I think way too much about what happens after a movie ends.

    John McClane blows up an airliner full of people. Arrested on terrorism charges.

  1. October 4, 2012

    […] Better Call Galactus […]

  2. October 23, 2012

    […] Popehat: “The Law of Superheroes is both entertaining and informative. People who aren’t lawyers or law-geeks will learn something about the law, and lawyers and law-geeks will be thoroughly entertained at the application of familiar principles to comic extravaganzas.” […]