The Law Is A Ass # 312: The Superior Spider-Manslaughterer
[[[Fifty shades of grey]]] isn’t just a runaway best-seller of debatable literary merit soon to be a major motion picture of, probably, even more debatable merit. It’s also the world we live in.
No, I don’t mean it’s a world of erotic fantasies, BDSM role-playing games, and dominance. Although if it were, can you imagine how that would change the popular Disney attraction “It’s a Small World?” (And I apologize for having put that now unwashable image into your minds.)
What I mean is that the world isn’t just “white hats” and “black hats,” good or evil. It’s a world of grey tones where everyone has some good and some evil, where everyone is grey. Some people are more good than evil, while others are more evil than good, which is why there are shades of grey; at least fifty of them if bad literature can be believed.
Otto Octavius, the former Doctor Octopus and now the controlling mentality in the body of Peter Parker, who is trying to prove he’s a “white hat” by being a superior Spider-Man is proving instead that, like Batman in [[[The Lego Movie]]], he “only work[s] in black. And sometimes, very, very dark grey.” And the world around him is trending darker too, like it’s got some sort of Goth hashtag.
You may remember that I wrote about The Superior Spider-Man #14 some weeks back and how the Superior Spider-Man – or SpOck as those of us who trend toward conflating names because we’re too lazy to type out the full name all the time call him – decided to destroy Shawdowland, the Kingpin’s Manhattan base of operations. SpOck did this by having a giant Spider-Mech robot demolish the building, while several members of the Hand, the Hobgoblin, and the Kingpin were still in the building. When someone pointed out to SpOck there could be people in the building and they might die when the building was destroyed, he showed a markedly uncompassionate attitude. Basically, “Who cares? They’re bad guys.” He also reverse engineered a justification for his actions by using extortion on New York City Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to force Jameson to sign an executive order that ordered SpOck to demolish Shadowland for the public good.
How Jameson got this order instantaneously is another question. Shadowland was a building. Somebody owned it; even if it was the bad guys. That owner had the constitutional right to have the city not demolish his property without due process of law and some sort constitutional right of condemnation or forfeiture proceedings; even if it was the bad guys. How Jameson signed his order without any legal proceedings of any kind was a question which was never answered.
Now in The Superior Spider-Man #15, the city of New York reacted to the aftermath of Shadowland’s fall. The people reacted the issue before, but the city voiced its reaction in this issue. The police don’t find Hobgoblin’s body in the rubble. (He escaped). The police didn’t find any bodies of the Hand Ninjas in the rubble. (They turned into mist or something like that.) So they couldn’t do much about those unconfirmed deaths, because there might not have been any. But they did find the Kingpin’s body.
Okay, we know that it isn’t really Kingpin, because in The Superior Spider-Man #14, he revealed that he had some large homeless man genetically modified so that he shared the Kingpin’s DNA. Then the Kingpin killed this duplicate and left his body in the rubble so that the world would think the Kingpin had died. But before you go thinking he’s in the clear over all this; he tried to. He’s guilty of some sort of some form of attempted homicide at the very least. (Go to the next paragraph, pick any of the crimes I list there, and put an “attempted” in front of it.) And as far as the world, which doesn’t know Kingpin is the real murderer, is concerned, SpOck would be guilty of something far worse.
Here’s what should have happened once the Kingpin’s body was found: SpOck should have been arrested a homicide. In New York state, we’re talking maybe second degree murder or criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter in the second degree. It’s luck for SpOck that he wasn’t drunk, too. Then depending on how New York classified that giant robot SpOck used to destroy Shadowland, some form of vehicular manslaughter might also lie. Because, even if the world accepts that SpOck was hired by the mayor to demolish Shadowland, he chose to do so in a negligent manner that caused a death.
Seriously, let’s imagine that Joe Gerard, who owns a wrecking company, was hired by the city to demolish a building. He intentionally chose to demolish it when he knew people were in it. In fact, when he was told that people were in it, he ignored that warning and demolished it anyway. With the people inside it. And when the building was demolished, someone in it was killed. Do you honestly think New York wouldn’t prosecute callous Joe for second degree murder or, at the very least, criminally negligent homicide? Do you think that the prosecution would hesitate simply because Joe had been hired to demolish the building, so he wasn’t breaking the law by razing it?
If you answered “yes,” to either question, well then ten points from Gryffindor. Cities hire people to demolish buildings all the time. But they don’t hire people to demolish buildings in a negligent manner that kills the people who were still inside the building when it came down. Because that’s illegal.
So, as far as the city and state of New York is concerned, SpOck is responsible for the death of the Kingpin but didn’t seem to care. Why New York didn’t care seems to be that they shared SpOck’s attitude, “to let evil flourish while I have the power to stop it … would be the most irresponsible act of all… New York is all the safer.” Hell, even the officer in charge, Captain Watanabe, said the city was “spared the cost of a trial.”
New York didn’t prosecute SpOck for Kingpin’s homicide. Instead it lauded him for his civic act, as if he had sent his Spider-lings out with pointed sticks to pick up the garbage in Central Park instead of taking the life of another human being.
So this is the world SpOck lives in, one where they don’t prosecute someone for killing another person, because that person was thought to be a bad guy and the world is a better place without him. A world in shades of grey, and probably more than fifty.
I wish I could point out that Earth 616 was a fictional place and that our real world isn’t anything like the one portrayed in Marvel comics. I wish I were confident enough to stand my ground by that assertion.