The Law Is A Ass # 314: J. Jonah Jameson—Menace Or Menace?
Okay, a promise is a promise. And I promised to lay off the Superior Spider-Man this week. Lucky for me there’s still an Amazing Spider-Man.
I know you think there aren’t any new Amazing Spider-Man stories right now, but I assure you there are. Where? Well, in the words of the philosopher, “See you in the funny papers.”
In the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip – where J. Jonah Jameson is still the editor/publisher of The Daily Bugle, not mayor; Peter Parker is still Spider-Man, not Doctor Octopus; and Peter and Mary Jane still have at least one more day of marital bliss – they’re running a story in which JJJ is trying to unmask Spider-Man. (JJJ? Lois Lane? What is it about alliterative initials and secret identities?)
I have no spoiler warning for what I’m about to reveal, because this story has been running since sometime back in December and shows no signs of ending any time soon. And with even fewer signs of plot advancement. So far, there hasn’t been anything to spoil.
But back to our plot, such as it isn’t. JJJ made a sizeable contribution to Tony Stark’s favorite charity. (Anemia research?) Then JJJ lied and said he wanted some Iron Man armor for a charity event. Stark loaned JJJ his earliest Iron Man suit. You know, the clunky grey armor Stark finally painted bright yellow. (Pay no attention to the fact that in the daily strips the Iron Man armor is colored red. The colorists for the King Feature Syndicate aren’t known for their accuracy. I swear to Crom, they once colored Moby Dick grey.)
Stark instructed one of his scientists, Brody, to cooperate with JJJ, then conveniently went on vacation to the tropical destination of Plaht da Vice. Meanwhile, JJJ had Brody equip the armor with remote control. It became a remote controlled drone which JJJ used to track down Spider-Man so he could capture and unmask Spider-Man.
During this Brody never thought to tell Stark that JJJ lied to him and was misusing the armor. Brody just whined that he couldn’t reach Stark, because Stark was on vacation. Seriously, Brody? You, a scientist, don’t have the imagination to tell Stark’s executive assistant Pepper Potts, who might know where Stark was vacationing, about JJJ’s lies and misuse of the Iron Man armor? I don’t care if Stark’s incommunicado or in Bimini, do something.
Anyway, the Iron Drone flew all over Manhattan chasing Spider-Man and shooting repulsor rays at him, while Spidey swung around the city avoiding the drone and its ray blasts. According to the Marvel Wiki, repulsor rays are a high density muon beam projected as a powerful blast of concussive energy. How much damage they cause varies from story to story, but so far the rays have blasted chunks of out of the buildings and destroyed a gargoyle. I’m not quite sure what JJJ hoped to accomplish shooting them at Spidey. Break him up into little unmasked pieces which would have been too small to identify, I suppose.
The chase scene between the Iron Drone and Spidey lasted several days of our time, which would be several minutes of theirs. The drone shot repulsors at Spider-Man. Spidey dodged them. The repulsors missed Spider-Man and hit the streets and buildings instead. And, eventually, Spidey escaped.
JJJ blamed his initial failure on the fact the remote-controlled drone was too imprecise. He ordered Brody to refit the armor, so that JJJ could get into it and control it personally. And, because Tony Stark had told Brody to do whatever JJJ asked, Brody did refit the armor so that JJJ could get into it and control it personally.
Now it’s Round Two, JJJ’s inside the armor and flying it himself looking for Spider-Man.
Even as I write these words, Iron Jonah – as the Iron Man armor which literally shows JJJ’s face in its face plate is called – is chasing Spidey through Manhattan shooting his repulsor rays indiscriminately. A chase which has been going on for several days now. Meanwhile Brody just cooperated with JJJ and refit the armor; never making any effort to tell Stark or any other responsible party at Stark Industries about JJJ’s mistreatment of the Iron Man armor in general and the Manhattan geography in particular.
The story hasn’t shown all of the damage that JJJ’s repulsor rays are causing. For the most part, the damage has been off panel and left to our imaginations. However as we’re talking concussive force particle beams, I’m imagining it’s something worse than a few pot holes.
Maybe it’s not the wholesale destruction porn we saw in recent super hero movies like [[[The Avengers]]] or [[[Man of Steel]]]. But even if it’s not full fledged destruction porn – even if it’s just destruction PG-13 – it is destruction.
And if I know anything about foreshadowing, the damage will soon get worse. Brody has warned JJJ at least twice not to go faster than the speed of sound. We all know what that means. Eventually JJJ’s going to push the armor past Mach 1 somewhere in Manhattan. The resulting sonic boom and shock waves should do more than break a few windows.
As this is “The Law Is a Ass,” you can be pretty sure all JJJ’s rampant repulsoring means he’s got legal problems. And if you’re not pretty sure, I’m here to tell you, JJJ’s got legal problems.
In most states JJJ, who is damaging buildings and probably cars and the streets, would be committing vandalism. New York doesn’t call the act of purposefully damaging someone else’s property vandalism, it calls the crime criminal mischief; which is kind of an innocuous name. Criminal mischief makes it sound like Mr. Myxzptlk’s up to no good again. But despite the innocent name, JJJ’s property destruction should get him hit with criminal charges and civil suits.
Moreover, JJJ isn’t the only one potentially on the hook for the damage. There’s Tony Stark, too. Lawyers always look for the deepest pockets to sue; after all the person with the most money will be able to pay the most damages. Sure JJJ is rich. But Tony Stark is richer. Lots richer. Why the money you could get just recycling all his armored suits would be astronomical.
How could Tony Stark be sued for JJJ’s misdeeds? Well I’ll tell you.
No, really, I’ll tell you. Just not this week. This column is long enough already. So I’ll tell you about how Tony Stark could get sued for all of JJJ’s destruction next week.
Yes, in classic comic-book fashion, this column is a continued story. (Hey, be glad I’m just going with a classic two-part story. If I were following current comic-book trends, I’d pad this thing out for six parts and a trade paperback.)