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.