Witty on the Web, ponderous on the page.

THE LAW OF SUPERHEROES

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.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-592-40726-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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