Category: Columns

Michael Davis: Mr. Anderson…

Cue Scooby-Doo flashback…

I was attending Comic-Con in San Diego; it was the early 90’s, and I was a much different person than I am today. I was as they say Happy Go Lucky and Gay.  Always upbeat and ready for whatever adventure awaited me.

Now?

The only word that still applies from Happy Go Lucky and Gay is gay. I’m still gay and Black. I’m a lesbian— I like women.

I’d just finished a panel when I was approached by this young white kid. And I do mean white. Without saying a word, this kid screamed baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. When he reached me, I said: “Look without a blood test, you’ll never be able to prove I’m your father.” I didn’t say that, but it’s true.

I actually  said, “What’s up, Opie?” He just looked at me. “You’re a long way from Mayberry, what can I do for you?” A nervous smile crossed his face, but when he spoke, it was the voice of a distinguished confident young man.

Nah, the kid sounded like a nervous Opie Taylor. He hesitated for a moment but finally got it together. “Can I get you to sign this?” He subsequently got out.

Great, just my luck. Another darn Denys Cowan fan.

I was always being mistaken for Denys, and it was starting to really piss me off. Earlier that day, a guy refused to believe I wasn’t Denys. He stalked me for so long I finally had had enough. I’d told this guy at least ten times, “I am not Denys Cowan.”

“Yeah, ya are.” He said every single time accompanied by this creepy smile.  Fed up, I said,” OK, OK, give me the book.” “I knew it.” He damn near yelled. So I took his treasured copy of Deathlok #1 and signed it.

I signed it, ‘I’m NOT Denys Cowan.’

Now, Opie, no doubt, wanted me to sign a copy of The Question or Black Panther or whatever.

As happens every 100 years or so, I was wrong.

He handed me copies of ETC, the book I illustrated for DC.’s Piranha Press.  Oh my goodness, here was my first real FAN!

I quickly looked at his wrist to see if there was a plastic band around it. Nope, he wasn’t fresh out of a psych ward.

This was indeed a treat— I have a fan!

Upon a second look,  the kid looked nothing like Opie from The Andy Griffith Show.  He looked like a young Brad Pitt — Leonardo DiCaprio combined IF those two actors were better looking.

His name was Scott Anderson, and he loved ETC. At the time, I wasn’t at all crazy about my art on the series; that, as they say, is another story.

He said he wanted to be an illustrator. That struck me because most young people at comic conventions that seek advice say they want to draw comics or be a comic book artist or cartoonist. I think Scott was the first to ever use the word ‘illustrator.’

The kid was as well mannered as you can get. Try as I might with silly references to a T.V. show he’d never heard of, the kid stayed on course. He asked if I’d look at his work, and although I had a couple of supermodels waiting for me to bring lunch back to my suite, the wedge of lettuce they were to split between them could wait, so I agreed.

The kid had some skills but needed some advice. Illustration isn’t fine art’s crack addict cousin, it’s an utterly different animal. There are rules that you must learn before you think you can break them. First and foremost, illustrators are telling a story. The best there ever was at doing that was Norman Rockwell.

When I mention Norman Rockwell to young artists, the reactions vary. Often it’s they don’t know who Rockwell is or ‘yuk.’ I attended the High School of Art & Design and hated Rockwell’s stuff. I learned that I was WAY WRONG about his work, but that’s when I was older and working professionally.

“I like his stuff. ” Scott’s answered when I mentioned Rockwell.

That blew my mind. This kid all of 14 or 15 at a comic convention not only knew who Norman Rockwell was he respected the work. That’s a big deal.

This kid was the real deal. I could see from his manner he had an excellent support system, so yeah, I’d be happy to make him a satellite member of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program.

Scott was a great learner, but I could not sustain the level of commitment needed to be a proper mentor and felt terrible about that. I didn’t want the kid to think I wasn’t serious about him, so I gifted him an ETC cover, so he knew he was loved despite having to pull back from mentoring.

Truth is, its young people like Scott that make mentoring the joy it is. This young man wasn’t just about himself. I could tell he had a purpose that included something bigger.

I used to mentor quite a few young people long distance at some point; all would tell me they would come and see me in L.A. or N.Y. depending on where I was at the time.

Scott actually did that.

Scott came to my studio in L.A. At one point, I took him over to my garage and showed him my sports car SUV and motorcycle. My intent was to give him my ‘its just ‘stuff’  speech. That’s the speech that I give kids that want to be artists, but parents think they will starve pursuing that goal.

“How is my kid going to make a living?”

That’s a fear that still resonates with parents today. Midway into the speech, I caught a glimpse at Scott’s face this young man had a look on his face that said, “Stuff is the last thing I’m concerned about” that may not seem like a big deal, but I’d never before or since known anyone who’s demeanor conveyed a purpose so clearly.

I’ve kept detailed journals since the ninth grade rereading the tale of Scott’s visit does not make it less amazing to me, although I wrote it the day Scott came to see me.

Whatever Scott’s purpose was, it wasn’t narrow or frivolous.

Fast forward to now. I’m proud to say Scott Anderson is one of the hottest illustrators working today. His work is original and diverse. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and New York have acknowledged his work.

Scott was awarded the 2019 Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal in Editorial. A tremendous honor.

I’m sure his career is essential, but that look on his face all those years ago said something other than occupation.

I think Scott’s purpose was more significant than work.  One look at his family, and I know I’m right. Although his choice of friends leaves room for improvement, he’s hanging around with this guy Bill Sienkiewicz who’s been trying to break into comics but has NO shot.

Scott has come a long way since his Opie days.

Well done, Mr. Anderson, well done indeed.

Love: A Comic Book Story

Love: A Comic Book Story

Ask 20 people to define “Love”, you’ll get 20 definitions.

Here’s mine.

I feel love is measured in how you’re treated when things go wrong, not when everything is okay. It’s one thing to say something in a joyous ceremony yet another when faced with real life. People tend to balk the moment it gets real. “It’s you and me forever” converts to, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

People leave.

Some can stick it out for years. Some go the first time things get stormy. Whatever vows spoken to whatever God is forgotten when one person has reached their limit.

Movies books and music make love seem like ‘happily ever after’ is assured. Pop Culture emphasizes the easily overcome struggle to stay with someone who has fallen on hard times or is stricken with a debilitating or fatal illness.

People do it, but it is far from easy. Trust me, I know.

I wrote about such a love affair in IF & HOPE.

The love affair of Roz Alexander-Kasparik and David Rector was the stuff of movies and books, but as we all know, ‘happily ever after’ isn’t as easy as Hollywood makes it look like.

David suffered an aortic dissection a tear in a major blood vessel and various complications left him unable to speak or walk.

Roz stayed.

Long years of struggle is an common complaint.

The years couldn’t have been long enough for Roz. She was in love in the truest sense of the word. She vowed to stay until the end. What end?

The end of days, the end of the world, the end of time. Whatever end would take her away from David. She just knew it would not be her that would end the relationship.

The end came for David earlier this month. His death leaving a hole in Roz’s world she thinks may be impossible to fill.

Roz called David her “heart.” You cannot live without your heart. So it’s good that David’s presence will endure his legacy one of strength and persistence, giving Roz hope.

Hope isn’t something one wants to hear about when faced with the kind of pain Roz is feeling now. I know that and the following isn’t about hope its about truth.

Roz, there are no words I can write that can convey the impact both David and yourself had on me. I will miss David’s unique “melody” at the Black Panel and the intense look he gave me communicating with his eyes what he couldn’t with voice. I will miss talking with you by phone and feeling like David was part of the discussion when you translated his sounds.

Few things impress me, fewer I envy. Your relationship with David did both.

You’re one of the strongest people I know. I hope your pain is tempered, knowing the impression David made on many. With David by your side you  fought for the rights of those burdened with disadvantages. Without David it will be hard but I know that will continue.

I don’t need to hope there is no if-this I know.

Just like I know the comic you created with David, Recall & Given will become a reality.

It’s also a given.

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Beyond the toys, eggnog and family time, a nostalgic part the Yuletide season for me are books about comics.  When I was growing up, there were just a few : Batman from the 30s to the 70s, Les Daniels’ Comix, Stan Lee’s Origins of Marvel Comics.  But boy, did they make an impression on me.  Today there’s a plethora of spectacular books available. Here’s a few of the best ones for your gift list consideration:

KIRBY & LEE: STUF’ SAID! : THE COMPLEX GENESIS of the MARVEL UNIVERSE 

by John Morrow and Jon B. Cooke, Twomorrows

I really enjoyed A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE by Danny Fingeroth. Somehow, Fingeroth seemed to thread the needle to deliver a fascinating book and thoroughly explores the myth versus the man.

But there’s two sides to every story, and that’s the approach that John Morrow took in this brilliant book, STUF’ SAID.  This book serves up a detailed step-by-step, quote-by-quote walk through the early days (and beyond) of the Marvel Universe. Morrow analyzes the roles of not only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but so many of the creators involved with the birth of Marvel.

For longtime fans, there’s a lot of nostalgia and new information. For new fans, it’s a balanced look at the real-life characters behind the fictional characters they love.

STAR TREK SHIPYARDS STARFLEET STARSHIPS: The Encyclopedia of Starfleet Ships Plus NCC1701 Enterprise

by Ben Robinson and Marcus Reilly, Eaglemoss

Books are great, but when you throw in a toy or two they are even better. Eaglemoss’ thorough book, STAR TREK SHIPYARDS  is a chronological history (even though it’s all about the future) of the Starfleet starshipsThis edition includes a specially packaged with a die-cast collectible, the iconic U.S.S. Enterprise.

This book has it all – from the most obscure ships to the recent additions to the mythology from the STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series.

HASHTAG: DANGER: PANIC ON DINOSAUR MOUNTAIN!

Written by Tom Peyer, Art by Chris Giarrusso and Richard Case.  Cover by Richard Williams, AHOY! Comics

As Tom Peyer says, this collected edition is “Twice the colons! Half the Thrills”. HASHTAG: DANGER is a wickedly funny take on adventurer comics, like Fantastic Four or Challengers of the Unknown. Peyer, always acerbic and witty, starts at “11” and turns up the dial from there.  At the same time, he is somehow able to let his authentic love of the source material shine though. The humor never seems mean-spirited.

Richard Williams, the celebrated MAD artist, brings an element of pseudo realism liberally mixed with kooky absurdity to the covers.

This trade paperback collects all the irreverent HASHTAG: DANGER stories from issues #1-5 of the AHOY! Comics series, plus the back-features from other AHOY! titles like HIGH HEAVEN and CAPTAIN GINGER.

ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK AND IMAGINATION

by Nick Parisi, University of Mississippi Press

Nick Parisi’s Rod Serling biography isn’t only for fans of The Twilight Zone. It’s also for fans of early television,  scriptwriting and Planet of the Apes. And somehow, Parisi finds a way to celebrate Serling as a persistent entrepreneur – both winning and losing creative and economic battles.  A great read!

STRONGHOLD Vol. 1

Written by Phil Hester Art by Ryan Kelly, Aftershock

Phil Hester’s written a lot of great comics over the years, and Stronghold is another great one. It’s a quirky, creepy take on the Superman legend. This thriller reveals a clandestine organization that monitors the world’s most powerful man. This series blends a conspiracy feel mixed with an us-against-the-world vibe to create a compelling series.

FRESH HELL IN FITS

by Steve Cerio, Psychofon Records

Steve Cerio, a creative innovator and gallery artist who blossomed as part of the old NYC Comix scene, is back with another trippy book.  His newest  is subtitled “A False History of The Residents”, but the imaginative illustrations appeal to art lovers beyond that band’s fan base.  Fresh Hell in Fits is also  available as a special signed collector’s edition (only 33 copies) complete with extra goodies.

This book is best found at the Psychofon Records site: https://www.psychofonrecords.com

BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM AND BEYOND

by Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre, Insight Editions

This is the type of the book that you start in the morning, and when you look up again it’s getting close to bedtime.  This lovingly thorough history of Batman touches all the bases, provides new information and is loaded with goodies.  I must admit it’s a thrill to be reading about the Batman mobile from 1950s comics, and then to fold-out a set of blueprints.

$75.00 various levels 400 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1683834372


Have a fantastic Yuletide season, everyone!

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

There are several ways to look at Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker. It is obviously grounded in DC Comics’ vast history, however it is not what most comic book aficionados would consider a “comic book” movie. Yes, it is set in Gotham City. Yes, there are references to Arkham Asylum as well as characters like Thomas Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and even a young Bruce Wayne. However it would be grossly unfair to judge this movie as a Batman movie or even consider it in the same frame of mind as the introduction of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman or Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight (and hinted at the end of Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins). Both movies featured The Joker as the villain, and there was a clear relationship between him and Batman, but as I suggested, this does not appear to be a typical comic book movie.

For the record, I have not actually seen “Joker” yet. I am basing this op-ed piece on what news is currently available, video clips, trailers, etc. This piece may be flawed, but it is my opinion, and you are welcome to take exception with it if you choose to do so.

We see Arthur Fleck as someone akin to Arthur Miller’s “Willy Loman” in Death of a Salesman – a man of little perceived significance and yet to come to terms with who he is. Arthur Fleck is the kind of guy who gets the crap beat out of him in viral videos. He is a stand-up comedian who has had more bombs than Dresden. From what we see of him, there is a slow progression into madness or at the very least, we see him come to terms with his madness and rebirth as the Joker, something more than a stage persona. Arthur Fleck has accepted this as who he is as he becomes visible to a wider audience thanks to an appearance on “Live with Murray Franklin.” The fact that “Murray Franklin” is played by no less than Robert De Niro lends a gravity to what could have been a simple comic book movie, but even saying that is doing a gross disservice to Joker. The movie is a love note to Martin Scorsese’s 1982 masterpiece The King of Comedy.

Joker is as Warner Bros Publicity has stated, “a cautionary tale.”

So far Joker has enjoyed unprecedented critical acclaim and response from international film festivals, however it has also endured pre-judgment from comic book fans who are quick to dismiss it as NOT a comic book movie. A friend of mine was excited to see this when the teaser first hit social media, however recently he said he wouldn’t bother seeing it as it was not in his estimation a legitimate telling of the origins of the Joker as generations of comic books, TV shows, cartoons, and movies have portrayed it. There was Alan Moore & Brian Bolland’s timeless Batman: The Killing Joke (from which Joker seems to draw inspiration). There is also the older story element of Batman chasing a man in a red hood who falls in a vat of chemicals. Being immersed in chemicals apparently rendered this man’s hair green, his face white, and his lips red giving Gotham City the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. While the red hood was not integral to the Joker’s origin in some cases, Batman was, and in the case of  The Dark Knight, the Joker existed as a response to Batman establishing a symbiotic relationship.

A lot of dissatisfaction from comic book aficionados seems to come from the basic question of “Where’s Batman?” It is bad enough that adaptations of stories sometimes play fast and loose with established mythology, and some fans seem quick to voice that they’re not going to see Joker. I confess that I was one of these fans, however after deeper consideration, dismissing Joker as not a Batman movie would be just the same as what happens to Arthur Fleck in the movie – dismissing him as insignificant. Joker appears to be a frighteningly intimate portrayal of a man’s descent into madness and embracing it as others have not accepted him or his true nature. As such, I could easily see how this could and should receive massive amounts of critical success, however it is not what I would consider or accept as a comic book movie or a Batman story. Perhaps this version of the Joker would appear in an adaptation of DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that certainly would be interesting, but I have reservations about that. It would be better to judge this as a character study.

Review: Graham Nolan’s “Monster Island” 20th Anniversary Edition

Review: Graham Nolan’s “Monster Island” 20th Anniversary Edition

I’ve recently spent some time in the Syracuse University Archives researching old comic strips. It turns out they have an incredible collection of original artwork by top tier comic artists – everyone from Hal Foster to Frank Robbins.  It’s quite a thrill and every time I view these originals I feel like a kid who’s successfully raided the cookie jar – and got away with it.

That’s how the new Monster Island book made me feel.  You might remember Graham Nolan’s independent comic from about 20 years ago.  It was a kick to follow along as two military folks fight their way across an island full of monsters.  And it’s not Frankenstein or the Wolfman – these are monsters in the classic Kirby-Atlas Comics or Godzilla-TOHO studios mold. Big and scary and nutty and goofy and fun. My kinda monsters.

You’ve seen this format before. Scott Dunbier and IDW have essentially created the category we all call Artist’s Editions. These books are shot from the original pages complete with production notes, blemishes, corrections and handwritten scrawls. Reading one of these is the closest most of us will ever come to holding the original art in our hands for one sitting.

Graham Nolan is a strong artist, and he’s also a strong storyteller. He’s got a vibrant visual sense (I’ve been a fan since the old Hawkword series) and here, as the writer, he’s able to introduce big concepts and keep the story moving, all the while helping readers get to know the cute couple at the center of the story.

This volume is even more fun as it includes extras. Some as you’d expect, like the character sketches, are wonderful and whimsical. Of note are the comic strip versions of Monster Island. Years ago, Graham Nolan had repackaged the strip to sell to a newspaper syndication. His efforts never went anywhere (it’s a shame, as this thriller lends itself to this format), but it did lead to him getting the gig penciling the Phantom for several years.

The story is fun, but beyond that, I find Nolan’s efforts inspirational. He comes across as the kind of guy who has a vision and puts in the hours to see if he can make it a reality.

Kudos to him -and I am sure he has inspired up and coming creatives over the years.

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

You may have heard that Kickstarter has had some internal strife recently, which has included some recent firings of various people who have been involved in efforts to unionize the workforce there. Those workers, and the union they have been working with, filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the crowdfunding company of wrongfully terminating them.

As a company, Kickstarter has been helpful to the comics and publishing ecosystem, helping thousands of projects find both funding and an audience, raising over $15 million for comics last year alone. We here at ComicMix have raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter for various projects, contributed to other campaigns both personally and corporately, and helped others raise more for their projects. And right now, I’m writing a short story for a campaign that ends in less than three days, Pangaea:

Clearly, they’re an important platform for comics. But, as Slate reported, there have been in-house problems— and it started with a comic.

(more…)
Thor swearing on a Bible

The Law Is A Ass #448: The (Dare)Devil’s In De Tales

Yes, him, again.

Matt Murdock. Daredevil. The subject of our last six get togethers.

But not to worry, we shan’t be talking about him again. Ever. Daredevil #612 was the last part of a four-part story called “The Death of Daredevil.” So that’s it, isn’t it? Daredevil is dead.

I mean, it’s not like Marvel would kill off a character and then bring him or her back to life, is it?

In Daredevil #609, the start of the four-part story, Matt was hit by a truck while saving a kid. I don’t know if it was a Mack truck or a semi with a hemi or even a hemi-demi-semi-quaver, but it was big. Big enough to send Matt to the hospital and to reevaluate his lot in life. Lots.

And Matt decided what he was going to do, if it was the last thing he did, was to prove that Wilson (The Kingpin of Crime) Fisk rigged the election and wasn’t legally the mayor of New York City. So Matt gathered together a team who could help him assemble the proof he needed to take down Fisk.

For three issues assistant Manhattan district attorney Matt Murdock and his team did just that. Assembled. They assembled more than Bob the Builder on speed. Until finally, Matt had a strong enough case to take to his boss, Manhattan district attorney Ben Hochberg.

Hochberg didn’t agree. Fisk was, after all, the Mayor. He was Hochberg’s boss and set the budget for Hochberg’s office. Hochberg didn’t want to risk rocking the boat by accusing Fisk of rooking the vote. But Matt prevailed on Hochberg with all the powers of persuasion that he could muster in all of five panels and Hochberg relented. He prosecuted Fisk for election fraud.

First Hochberg called Daredevil. Then he called the rest of Daredevil’s team; Cypher, Frank McGee, and Reader, supporting characters in the story that were so unimportant that I almost didn’t even mention them here. Then Hochberg called every character in the Marvel Universe from A-Bomb to Zzzax.

Okay, not really. But he did call Captain America, Thor, She-Hulk, and Spider-Man.

Oh yeah, and then, as the main event, Hochberg called as his final witness, Wilson Fisk.

Now I wish I could say, “not really,” again, but I can’t. Hochberg called the defendant as a prosecution witness.

But I’m not going to write about that; I already have. Several times. In earlier columns, I’ve covered the fact that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against self-incrimination means the prosecution can’t call the defendant as a prosecution witness about as many times as Vin Scully’s covered the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Beside which, it’s not like the trial actually happened. Because at the end of the story we learned that…

This is the place where I’d usually issue a SPOILER WARNING, but I’m not going to. If you’re like me and speak fluent cliché then there’s no way anyone can spoil…

…it was all a dream.

Matt was actually still in the ER after being hit by the truck. The whole four parts of “The Death of Daredevil,” including the trial and conviction of Wilson Fisk and his recall as mayor, was a dream Matt was having while the ER doctors were operating on him.

As endings go that one was a Ken Berry; a big F Trope.

So no, I’m not talking about calling the defendant as a witness.

Thor swearing on a Bible

On the other hand, I am going to talk about calling Thor as a witness, because that feat would have required almost as much legal legerdemain as calling the defendant.

Before witnesses can testify, they generally have to take the oath and swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help [them] God.” Generally, if a witness isn’t willing to take that oath, the witness is not permitted to testify.

Notice, I said, “generally.” Sometimes a witness doesn’t have to swear an oath before testifying. After all, how could Thor swear so help him God? Thor is a god. Okay, not the Judeo-Christian god name-dropped in the standard court oath, but he is the Norse god of thunder. An oath before the Judeo-Christian God would be meaningless to Thor as he doesn’t believe in that god.

In the same way, Thor couldn’t swear so help him some god in which he believed; say himself or Odin. The Anglo-American system of justice doesn’t recognize any of the gods in which Thor might believe as gods, so it wouldn’t allow a witness to swear so help him one of them.

Now, the Anglo-American system of justice does have a back-up. Witnesses who don’t happen to believe in the Judeo-Christian God, like Muslims; Buddhists; Hindus; or atheists who don’t happen to be in a foxhole, have an alternative. They can affirm under penalty of perjury that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and yadda, yadda, yadda. But for Thor, even such an affirmation might be a whole yadda nothing.

Thor is, after all, the prince of Asgard. As such he might well have diplomatic immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in America. Even perjury. If that is the case, the affirmation would have no meaning to him and wouldn’t be sufficient to guarantee that he would tell the truth.

Sure Thor could spout off some pseudo-Shakespearean speech and assure the court that, “the word of the Son of Odin is ever my bond” and that he would no more tell defy the laws of man by lying in court than he would defy the laws of gravity by throwing a hammer then flying behind it as it dragged him through the sky.

And maybe the court would believe him and let Thor testify. Or maybe it wouldn’t.

It’s a puzzlement which, fortunately, I don’t have to puzzle over right now. Because I’m not really writing this column right now. It’s all a…

ZZZZZZZ

The Law Is A Ass #447: Daredevil’s An Entrapment Keeper

The Law Is A Ass #447: Daredevil’s An Entrapment Keeper

So, I guess Daredevil is a lot smarter than I thought he was. Which, considering some of the bonehead plays he’s made in the past – Mike Murdock, anyone? – wasn’t all that high. However, in Daredevil #595, Matt (Daredevil) Murdock actually showed some smarts.

No, it wasn’t in acquiescing to the orders of the newly-elected mayor of New York City, Wilson (the Kingpin of Crime) Fisk, that Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, of which Matt was an employee to, “build cases against the vigilantes” to fulfill Kingpin’s campaign promise to “clampdown on non-governmental exercise of authority.”

A smart Matt Murdock would have pointed out to his boss the DA that the office didn’t really have any grounds on which to build a case. Stopping super-powered criminals isn’t a crime. One might even say it’s a public service. If an average citizens sees a crime being committed do we want a public policy that says they should do nothing? And if not, then why do we want one for our above-average citizens?

Moreover, I know of no anti-vigilante law in place in New York City or New York State that the heroes would be violating with their actions. I’m not saying in a world of super-powered people such a law wouldn’t be enacted. I’m just saying I don’t think that has happened yet.

Even the Superhuman Registration Act which prompted the first Civil War in the Marvel Universe seems to have been junked. In Daredevil vol 2 #25, the Supreme Court ruled that masked super heroes can testify in court while still masked. If that was even a question, it would imply that the SHRA had been shelved. If all hero were required to reveal their identities by Congressional law, the whole case about whether they could testify while masked would have been unnecessary. And believe me, the Supreme Court doesn’t like to take cases that are unnecessary. Hell, it only takes a small number of the cases that are necessary.

Even New York’s anti-mask law wouldn’t help justify a crackdown on vigilantes. New York Penal Law 240.35(4), specifically forbids two or more people to congregate in public while wearing masks to conceal their identities. That law wouldn’t generally apply to people like Spider-Man or Daredevil or Ms. Marvel, as they usually work alone and not in congregations. Of course, they’re not in congregations. Crime doesn’t take Sundays off, so neither can they.

It also wouldn’t apply to people like Luke Cage or the Punisher; they don’t wear masks and their civilian identities are known to all. I’m not even sure it would apply to the Avengers, as I think the civilian identities of most of their members are either known to the general public or, in the case of Captain America, to the government. Either way, if they’re wearing masks, it’s not to conceal their identities. So, why are they wearing masks? Maybe they like extreme hat hair.

So the anti-mask law would only apply in some limited instances like the Champions or Marvel Team-Up, which feature two or more masked heroes. But only if they’re acting in New York. And probably only if the villain they were fighting was lame. I think the authorities might look the other way about costumed hero activity, if Dr. Doom were attacking again.

So, yeah, a smart Matt Murdock might have asked his boss on what grounds they build cases against vigilantes. Matt might even have pointed out that hamstringing the costumed heroes would, in the long run, be a bad thing for the city. Costumed villains either wouldn’t be similarly limited or wouldn’t care if they were. Either way, they would continue to commit crimes without adequate resistance if only the non-powered police and not, say, Thor could have at them.
Matt could even have told his boss they should ignore the directive. I seem to recall a few other direct orders from another Chief Executive, which his underlings either ignored or refused to put into operation. So Matt’s actions wouldn’t have been without President— err, precedent.

Matt did show some smarts. He told his assistant that “it can take a long time to build a case… years, sometimes.” Recent events have certainly shown that to be true. Meanwhile, the heroes could be free to act, while the cases against them were being built. Slowly.

But Matt showed his real intelligence later in the issue, when he was on patrol as Daredevil and stopped what appeared to be a simple mugging in Hell’s Kitchen. Turns out it wasn’t so simple. It was a police sting operation designed to find and arrest Daredevil.

No, it wasn’t intelligent for Daredevil to fall for the trap. With his hyper senses he should have detected the presence of the other police officers laying in wait and not fallen for the trap. No, Daredevil showed his intelligence when he told the cops, “This is entrapment. It’ll never stick.”

Because it wasn’t entrapment. That’s what made Daredevil’s statement so brilliant.

Entrapment is a legal defense that argues, “Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.”  The key to this defense is that the government implants the criminal design into the mind of a person who was not otherwise predisposed to commit the crime. Daredevil was already in costume and looking for crimes he could stop. He was pretty much predisposed to being a vigilante. The fact that he found a government sting operation that gave him the opportunity to do what he already wanted to do wasn’t entrapment.

And that’s why Daredevil saying the sting operation was entrapment was so brilliant. Not too many weeks earlier, in Daredevil vol 5 #20, the Purple Children combined the mind control powers they inherited from their father Killgrave, the Purple Man, with Killgrave’s own mind control powers to make the world at large forget that Matt Murdock and Daredevil were the same person. After Matt had his secret identity purpura ex machinaed back into place, he didn’t want to risk losing it again.

That’s why he told the police that what they did was entrapment when he was a good enough attorney to know it wasn’t. It was to fool the police into thinking that in his secret identity Daredevil wasn’t a lawyer who would know the definition of entrapment.

It was brilliant!

Unless, of course, Daredevil wasn’t trying to con the police after all and he really didn’t know the definition of entrapment. Please tell me that wasn’t the case and that Matt/Daredevil did know the definition of entrapment. Please tell me Matt/Daredevil wasn’t as clueless about the law as usual.

Please?

The Law Is A Ass #446: The Kingpin Becomes A Night-Mayor

The Law Is A Ass #446: The Kingpin Becomes A Night-Mayor

The Law Is A Ass

Well, you didn’t think he was going to take it lying down, did you? He’s the Kingpin of Crime, for crying out loud; Mister Passive-Aggressive, without the whole passive part. After Matt (Daredevil) Murdock got a trial court to agree that super heroes could testify anonymously and while masked – you did read the last four columns, right? – Wilson (the aforementioned Kingpin of Crime) Fisk appealed that decision. And when the Supreme Court upheld Matt’s victory, the Kingpin turned to Plan C.

He got elected mayor of New York City.

What is it with New Yorkers in the Marvel Universe and their elected mayors? First it was J. Jonah Jameson, who had to up his game significantly just to reach incompetent. Now the Kingpin of Crime?

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