Tagged: Batman

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll The Law Is A Ass #389


Now I know the answer to the question.

For years people have been asking me, what kind of laws would the Marvel or DC legislatures – federal, state, or local – have passed in light of the super-powered activities in their respective universes?

Now you know the question.

So, what’s the answer? Well, after what happened in the Robin War story that ran through several of the Batman family of books earlier this year, I deduced what the answer to that question must be. A two-thirds supermajority of Congress must have passed an amendment to the Constitution. Then a three-fourths supermajority of the fifty states ratified said amendment and the amendment became part of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.

What did said amendment say? Again, based on what happened in “Robin War,” it must have said, “Hey, you know that whole Bill of Rights thing? Offer void where prohibited.”

Seriously, there can be no other explanation for what happened in “Robin War.”

Now, if you’re good, you should also know the next question: What happened in “Robin War?” And I’ll get to that. But before I can answer that question, I have to tell a little of what happened in We Are Robin, the comic book off of which “Robin War” spin-off spun.

We Are Robin was a comic book about an African-American teenager named Duke Thomas, who was so inspired by Batman and his succession of Robin sidekicks that he created his own startup comprised of teenage crime fighting vigilantes. Everyone in the group adopted the non du guerre Robin and wore something with an identifiable element of the Robin costume on it. Maybe a red shirt or hoodie or baseball cap. But something that was red and had the Robin insignia on it. The Robins fought crime in Gotham City, and spouted the team’s catchphrase, “I am Robin,” more often than a pod of whales with a dozen extra blowholes.

Which leads us to “Robin War.” In Robin War #1, one of the Robins stopped an armed robbery. The Robin subdued the robber and had taken his gun. That’s when an armed police officer entered the store and, upon seeing two masked people in the store one of whom was holding a gun, made the not unwarranted assumption that both the actual perp and the Robin were robbin’ the store. While the police officer tried to make an unwarranted arrest – well, it was a warranted arrest, the officer just didn’t have a warrant – the Robin didn’t put down the gun as ordered and tried to explain that he was one of the good guys and had apprehended a robber. The robber used the confusion to try to escape. Which created a “shots fired” situation. Unfortunately, shots were fired by the Robin into the officer, accidentally killing him.

That’s when the Gotham City Council, led by Councilwoman Noctua, passed the most sweeping and unconstitutionally overreaching laws I’ve ever seen. Which is why I hypothesize that there must have been a “void where prohibited” amendment added to the Constitution. Otherwise the “Robin Laws,” unlike a real robin, could never have gotten off the ground.

The laws placed City Council “in charge of all police matters related to Robin matters.” They also made possessing or wearing “Robin paraphernalia” illegal. “Anyone seen in a Robin mask, or a Robin ‘R’ or whatever they wear [would be] immediately identifiable as a delinquent and subject to arrest.”

How broad and overreaching were these laws? Well, when Duke Thomas was walking down the street, he was arrested simply for wearing red sneakers. “Red means Robin. And in Gotham, Robin means you’re under arrest.” The shoes in question had no Robin indicia on them. No Robin logo. Not even an R. Duke was arrested simply for wearing red shoes.

In a world where the Constitution hasn’t been declared void, this law would be struck down as unconstitutionally overbroad. You can’t make it illegal for all people to wear red clothing, simply because some kids wore red clothing to play at being Robin. Under the law, people who were wearing red for perfectly legal reasons would be subject to arrest. Ringmasters could be arrested. Revolutionary War reenactors. Hell, firemen could be arrested for wearing their red suspenders.

In the height of the Crips and Bloods wars, did Los Angeles make it illegal to wear black or red? No. If they had Wayne Gretzky would have won the 1993 Stanley Cup playing for the San Quentin team, not the Los Angeles Kings.

Know what else would be unconstitutional? City Council ordering the police department to search every locker in a school “for evidence of any delinquent activity.” So guess what happened in Gotham City schools after the Robin Laws were enacted?

I know in New Jersey v. T.L.O., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a school environment does permit some easing of the search and seizure requirements of the Fourth Amendment. But even T.L.O. didn’t authorize the wholesale abandonment of the Fourth Amendment shown in this story. Or the sort of blanket searches committed in this story. Hell, they weren’t even searching for blankets.

The T.L.O. court said a high school search is reasonable if 1) there are reasonable grounds for believing the search will reveal evidence that the student or students whose property is being searched violated the law and 2) the search is related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive. The searches conducted in this story didn’t meet either of the T.L.O. criteria.

Search of every locker in a school to find out whether any of the students might possibly have Robin paraphernalia? Not based on reasonable suspicion. Search every locker even those of students you have no reason to believe might be Robins? Excessively intrusive. Let silly things like the Constitution stop you from doing whatever you want? Naw, constitutions are for wussies.

Then there was the question of what the Robin Laws allowed Gotham City to do with the Robins after most of the Robins were arrested. In Detective Comics v2 #47, we learned the Robins were being kept in supermax jail cells suspended from the ceiling like bird cages. Because, well when you’re dealing with a bunch of kids wearing bird-motif costumes, why be subtle?

Some of these Robins were under the age of 18, so juvenile offenders. Juveniles are treated differently than adults. When a juvenile is arrested in New Jersey, the courts must hold an initial detention hearing by no later than the following day and both the juvenile and the juvenile’s parents or legal guardians must be present. They can’t be held in supermax conditions indefinitely. Moreover, the parents or legal guardians of a juvenile must be notified of the juvenile’s arrest and must be present anytime the juveniles are questioned. The juveniles can’t be held incommunicado.

You know, the Robin Laws in this story were so extreme and sweeping and illegal and unconstitutional, you’d think that Councilwoman Noctua, who spearheaded the laws, had her own secret agenda and was benefitting financially from the chaos the laws created. Turns out –


Noctua was lining her pocketbooks from the chaos created by the Robin Laws and using the laws to earn a place in the Court of Owls.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why the rest of the Gotham City Council agreed to these patently unconstitutional laws. But I only explain why legislatures in comic books can’t do the things they’re shown doing. I don’t try to explain why they do them. That way lies madness.

Dennis O’Neil: Names Have Power


Chic Young. Al Capp. Jimmy Hatlo. Carl Anderson. Ernie Bushmiller. Alex Raymond. Roy Crane. Those are some names I remember, some 70 years later, with no help from Google, from the “funny side” of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the newspaper that landed, rolled and bound with wire, on the front lawn of the four family flat where we lived until I was 10 or 11. By then I was aware that there was another newspaper, The Star-Times, the one that the O’Neils didn’t read, with its own funnyside and its own names and I may have even known some, but with the exception of Chester Gould, I seem to have forgotten these, maybe because I didn’t see them every day.

Somewhere in early grade school – ah, Sister Helen, what became of you? – I must have realized, probably gradually, that these names had something to do with the comic strips they were attached to and from there it would have been an easy step to realizing that the people these names belonged to somehow made the comic strips. And was I gobsmacked? (Saul on the road to Tarsus! Archimedes in the bath! Newton bonked by the apple!)

Not likely. My awareness that the comics were the product of human effort probably materialized slowly, over time. Somewhere in those developmental years, I must have come to similar awareness about the radio shows that occupied my late weekday afternoons and the cowboy pictures I saw on Friday nights at the Pauline Theater. (And boy! It sure took at lot more people to make a cowboy picture than a comic strip!)

Then there were the comic books. On Sunday morning, after Mass, Dad bought a quart of milk for the family and a comic book for little Denny. Later on in life, that scamp Denny learned to trade those comics with other kids’ comics and so some summer afternoons were absorbed by superhero adventures and funny animal hijinks.

Is something missing here?

The names. There must have been bylines and art credits in the comics, now and then, here and there, but I either didn’t register them or did notice them but quickly lost them to memory. Then comics vanished from my world and when they reappeared, more than a decade later, I did become aware of creators’ names, among them Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who got credit for Superman, and in the Batman comics, Bob Kane. Just “Bob Kane.”

Something still missing?

In the comics business, it’s been a fairly open secret for decades that Mr. Kane, an artist, worked with a writer named Bill Finger. But only Mr. Kane’s name appeared on Batman comics and movies and novels and television shows and lunch boxes…The reasons are legal and a tiny bit complicated and we won’t go into them here. But we have good news! From now on, Bill Finger’s name will appear on Batman stuff. This is not accident. For years, Bill’s granddaughter, Athena Finger, and her sister, Alephia Mariotto, have been struggling to get some kind of justice for Bill and now I suggest you take note of the latest film incarnation of Batman, titled, catchily, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. You’ll see in the early credits this information: Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

Dawn of justice indeed.

Artwork by Ty Templeton from Bill The Boy Wonder.

Tweeks: LootCrate’s March 2016 PetCrate Unboxing

Maddy & Barkely team up to unbox the March Pet Crate from Loot Crate. This month’s theme is Versus, so Maddy tried to figure out if her best friend is Team Cap or Team Iron Man…and if his favorite item is the plushy Bat Man or the box he came in.

For those who don’t know, Loot Pets is a monthly crate of geeky gear and goods for your dog. You get apparel, accessories, toys, treats and more of over $50 value in every crate….plus they donate $1 to a local, national, or international animal welfare charity on each crate purchased. You get more info at lootcrate.com. #LootPets

Dennis O’Neil: Superheroes in Three Dimensions

Kara Danvers

Back when days were yore and the sun was yet in the sky and I had a shining splendor of a job – could any job be better than editing Batman? – I didn’t always go film versions of comic books. Not sure why. Fear? Of disappointment? Of being shown that others were better than I was? Of just needing to get away from my day job and watching actors portray the characters who lay on my desk was not exactly getting away from them. All of he above? None of the above?

Not that I missed all the superhero flicks, but I still haven’t seen the last Christopher Reeve Superman and I caught only a few minutes, on television, of the Ben Affleck Daredevil. There may be others I’m forgetting.

Now, though, I catch ‘em all, even the ones that reflect my comic book labors, and I tend to like them, even those that are darker/grimmer than they might need to be. The most recent Daredevil – the unAffleckian version – and the quite similar Jessica Jones are not exactly jolly entertainments. In a few minutes, when I leave this computer and get in the car, I’ll be off to see the much discussed and maligned Batman vs Superman and tonight I’ll probably tune into FOX’s Gotham while recording what is, I think, the lightest and brightest of the teevee superdoers, and of course we’re talking about the lovely Kara Danvers – Supergirl.

I accused Ms. Danvers of lightness and brightness and that’s true only if you can ignore the Maid of Might’s backstory which, like her cousin Superman’s bio, involves the destruction of an entire planet, including friends and relatives. Many of the other costumed heroes have grim pasts too. Batman, of course, seeing his parents killed in front of him and Spider-Man, responsible for his beloved uncle’s death, and Daredevil whose father was killed and who owes his powers to a nasty accident and the Thing, changed into a monster by radioactivity and Iron Man and Nightwing and and and…

Are we dealing, here, with modern fairy tales? Well, there’s Bruno Bettelheim, of the renowned psychologist Bettelheims, who said said that scary fairy tales, with all those dark woods and evil witches, are developmentally healthy because they allow youngsters to face and acknowledge fears, and then reassure the kids that they will survive. And I’ve read very few, if any, comics that did not end with the good guys triumphant.

Batman vs Superman, currently playing at a theater near me, has a happyish ending. I know this because somewhere/when in the last bunch of words I went to a theater near me and saw the movie. Then I came home and checked the email and

had dinner. Oh, and did I like the movie? Well, that might be a topic for another time. Or not.

Mindy Newell: It’s Really Cool!

Batman beanieThe other day at work I met a young man who is a surgical technician. Since I’m an operating room nurse, that’s an everyday occurrence. But what caught my eye was his scrub hat, which was a pattern of Batman’s insignia. So of course I immediately said, (duh) “So I’m guessing you’re into Batman.” And everything else was forgotten for a little while as he and I shared tales of our membership in Club Geek.

I bring this up because this Batman – that’s his actual nickname at work – absolutely loved Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. He has seen it three times, he told me, and wouldn’t mind going back for a fourth viewing. Being that this was the first time I was meeting him, I was polite and didn’t scoff or tell him that he’s an idiot. I did say that I hadn’t seen it yet, that I hate what Zack Snyder had done to the Man of Steel (pun intended) and that speaking I’m not a Snyder fan, that people I know with whom I work with and respect here at ComicMix have seen it pretty much hated it (see Mike Gold and Marc Alan Fishman’s columns, as well as Arthur Tebbel’s (review), and that I had decided to wait until the movie hits the streaming and cable markets.

“And I especially don’t like the idea of Batman using a gun. He’s not the Punisher,” I said. “The whole thing with Batman is that he operates, he lives, on that line between justice and vigilantism. It’s a tightrope between good and evil.”

Well, scrub tech Batman explained to me that Robin’s death (“by the Joker,” I interceded, to which he said, “Yeah, but the movie doesn’t show that,” to which I said, “Well, we know about it because of Dark Knight, but from what I understand his killing rampage comes out of nowhere, and don’t you think it should have at least mentioned the Joker for those not in the know?”) has driven Batman over the edge and that it makes perfect sense. “And it’s cool,” he said. “It’s really cool.”

Which got me to thinking later on – I didn’t ask scrub tech Batman how old he is, but he’s definitely a Millennial, and that’s the generation that’s come to adulthood in a world in which “death by bullet” is an everyday occurrence; in a world in which “guilt” and “innocence” doesn’t mean a thing; in a world in which fucked up wing-nuts use AK-47’s to settle arguments; in a world where police kill kids and beat up drivers for not signaling a lane switch; in a world where campaign rallies become Nazi Beer Hall Putsches; and in a world where Islamic fundamentalists fly passenger jets into buildings, kidnap and behead reporters, and burn enemies alive – all brought to them in living color courtesy of the news and the Internet.

So it’s not really all that surprising, if you think about it, that scrub tech Batman accepts the new paradigm of brutality, ugliness, rage, and “gangsta-ism” in their fictional heroes.

Anyway, it’s a theory.


Box Office Democracy: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It’s easy to kick a studio while they’re down, and a little of that seems to be happening with the reactions to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros. has struggled mightily in bringing their heroes to the screen in recent years (recent decades if we don’t count Christopher Nolan’s work) and there’s an attempt to pile on. If Batman v Superman were a Marvel Studios film I suspect it would be getting more positive coverage as people dug to find the good things and used them to redeem the things that don’t work; instead people are endlessly picking at the numerous mistakes. Don’t get confused, Batman v Superman is an awful movie and Zack Snyder should be stopped at all costs but in the hands of literally any other director I could believe there was a salvageable property here and there’s time to right this ship.

Superman as depicted in Batman v Superman isn’t fun to watch, nor does he feel faithful to the character. I’ll be honest: I stopped reading comics on a weekly basis in the winter of 2012 and I haven’t been keeping up since then, so maybe Superman has become an extremely violent, petulant baby in that time— but I sort of doubt it. The Superman in this film is terrifying to consider. He’s quick to anger and never particularly nice to anyone that isn’t Lois Lane; more like Miracleman than Superman. The only never ending battle on display in this film is the one Warner Bros. fights for Superman to appear cool, but they’ve succeeded in creating a character that would only seem cool to an edgy teenager or the 90s comics industry. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be rooting for Batman or Superman when they come to blows, but I’m almost certainly not supposed to be thinking Lex Luthor is right about everything— and yet that’s just where I was for 80% of this movie.

The non-Superman characters were mostly pretty good. Ben Affleck should release a video where he makes it very clear he’s addressing all the people who doubted he could be a credible Batman, drop the mic, and then walk away. He’s a great Batman; I’m ready to put him in the upper echelon with Bale and Keaton (and Kilmer but let’s not get sidetracked) after seeing this movie. He’s believable physically, and he captures that kind of arrogant paranoia that I think Batman should embody. The scenes with Wonder Woman in costume are a giddy rush, and they represent her so well in the fight scenes without any clunky exposition or holding anybody’s hand. We all know who Wonder Woman is, we’ve been alive in the world. The scenes before she puts on the costume are less good; they kind of play her like an off-brand Selina Kyle, but they might have been going for an air of mystery and were betrayed by the PR team. Jesse Eisenberg has the most off-beat take of any established character, and while there isn’t a strong comic book foundation to what he’s doing, it does feel like what a billionaire megalomaniacal industrialist would look like in the modern start-up culture and he’s so unsettlingly creepy that I’m going to give him a pass.

I generally find Zack Snyder’s work to be unappealing visually, and Batman v Superman is no exception. Things are too slick, slow motion is used too much, only a handful of scenes take place in daylight. Gotham City and Metropolis look the same because there’s no room for points of contrast. I suppose Gotham’s abandoned docks are supposed to feel seedy and give the city a dilapidated edge but Metropolis has a crashed alien ship taking up a huge part of their downtown so there’s no contrast there. The contrast between Superman and Batman should be reflected in every part of their environment and instead everything takes place on the same dreary streets and rooftops.

The common refrain after seeing a movie like this is that it “destroys their childhood” of the viewer, and that’s always nonsense. No one from Warner is going to break down my door and set any of my trade paperbacks on fire or draw a bunch of bloodstains in the margins or anything like that. However, superhero movies are trading on nostalgia. If they can’t get a dyed in the wool DC Comics person like me to feel a connection to this film (and if you go back and read paragraph three of this review I desperately want to feel this connection) then I can’t imagine who does. They’ve made a misanthropic film, an ugly film, and worst of all they made a Zack Snyder film.

Ed Catto: The Joy of Dreaming the Impossible Dream


Geek Culture has been buzzing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens to an overwhelming degree. It’s been a wonderful way to wrap up the year. Even with a focusing on the marketing, I’ve been talking about it on TV and in Entrepreneur Magazine. But the more I think I about it, the more I realize we may have gotten it wrong. I think we’ve been talking about the wrong movie. Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro is the movie that should be the poster child for Geek Culture. Let me tell you why.

JOY Jennifer LawrenceMy wife and I saw it last weekend, and I’ll admit I went into the theater thinking it was a (so-called) chick-flick. But now I realize the studio missed the bullseye with their marketing efforts. At the core, it’s an inspirational story of a persistent entrepreneur.

Joy is the tale of a single mom smacked around by the trials and tribulations of a difficult life. She embraces her entrepreneurial passion in order to save the day.

Joy Movie imageIt’s loosely based on the real life of Joy Magnano, the inventor of many household products, including the Miracle Mop.

It’s fair to say that you’ve seen these types of movies before: the hero–with-a-dream struggles to overcome adversity and eventually triumphs. In fact, the hit TV show Shark Tank shows a part of this process each week, as entrepreneurs share their business plans with potential investors and their dreams with the audience.

But the most interesting thing for me was how many times Joy, the heroine, was told, “No, you can’t do that”. Most of the supporting characters, many with well-meaning intentions, tell her what stupid ideas she has and counsel her to abandon her crazy efforts.

And you know what? There are a lot of dumb ideas out there. And it is good for each of us to assimilate the right kind of advice and course correct in our endeavors.

On the other hand, the world of Geek Culture is a world of dreamers who fight against seemingly impossible odds, passionately working to tell a story or create a product. It’s filled with modern day Men (and Women) of La Mancha.

This point was driven home to me last week. As a part of my daily commute through mid-town Manhattan, I saw four huge billboards for Geek Culture –themed TV shows.

In reality, Geek Culture creators who “make it big” are few and far between. Select successes, like that of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, inspire so many aspiring creators to keep plugging away.

I’m always impressed with these folks. I’m thinking about new creators who have stories to tell and are trying to get published. I’m thinking about an international lawyer I know who wants to spread the word about social injustice through comics. I’m thinking of collectors-turned-makers like my pal Tim Ellis, who’s started CKRT LABs, a brand new superhero toy/collectible company. I’m positive they’ve all heard “No” and “That’s a stupid idea” many times.

One of my favorite Batman moments is from an old Justice League of America comic. All the heroes are trapped on a distant planet in a traditional jail, but they can’t bend the bars open to slip free. The villain taunts Superman that even he couldn’t get out of this nefarious death-trap. So the mighty Superman (who’s done this a million times before) tries to bend the bars but can’t. Then J’Onn J’Onzz (currently co-starring in CBS’s Supergirl) takes a turn. He can’t either. Each of the other heroes subsequently takes his or her turn. Despite their impressive powers, they each fail to bend the prison bars.

Finally, Batman, who is not gifted with superhuman strength, steps up. He admonishes his fellow justice leaguers to remain silent. He grips the bars with both hands and grits his teeth. Astonishingly, he bends the bars apart!

The Justice League is amazed. The Caped Crusader explains it this way:

 “I noticed that before each of you tried to bend those bars, someone told you that you could not do it. I thought can it be possible on this strange world – that what someone is told – is believed to be true?”

That’s a great life lesson and a great entrepreneurial lesson. We can learn it from Batman, we can learn it from the movie Joy and or we can learn it from the many persistent creators working so hard to create comics, graphic novels, collectibles, toys and more in the Geek Culture space.

Just because they tell you that you that you can’t do it doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Dream the impossible dream.
Batman Bends the Bars 1





Molly Jackson: So Close!

So last night I got the chance to attend the world premiere of Batman: Bad Blood. It was overall a great film; DC is really winning at animated movies. Additionally, this was the first time that Batwoman and Batwing were featured in a DC animated film.

I praise the filmmakers for handling both race and sexual orientation with dignity and respect. At no time during the film did I ever feel that they abused the characters or use their diversity to define them. I really mean that; they handled sexual orientation and race great. Do you see the “but” coming up ahead yet?

The thing I’m going to be miffed at is the female issue. The cast had four named female characters. The first one was our heroine, Batwoman. The second and third were the villains, Onyx and Talia Al Ghul. The fourth was a Wayne Enterprises board member whose name I don’t recall but her basic purpose was to bitch and nag at Lucius Fox. So once we discount her as a non-player in this equation, we have three major female characters. No, you’re wrong; I’m not complaining about lack of female characters. (They actually address that issue at the spoiler event I won’t mention. Another win for the filmmakers to be honest.)

It’s the fight scenes. They had fantastic fight choreography and they don’t get stale in the action. Here’s that “but” you saw coming. Batwoman shows up and ends up fighting one of the two female villains. She rarely fights the main male villains and when she does, she is overpowered every time. The female villains are easier challenges for her. Sigh. She is a military trained fighting machine! She should not go down so quickly in every single fight.

Here is the worst part: I was willing to not dwell on it. It was her first animated appearance, plus it’s obvious they want to continue growing the Bat Family on screen. She will be back so hopefully her next appearance will show a well-rounded superhero.

Then the after-screening panel started. Director Jay Oliva said all the right things; made all the right points about race, gender, sexual orientation, and how fans can keep these things coming if only they support with their moolah. (I’m paraphrasing but I think I get bonus for the correct use of moolah.) I really believe that he wants to showcase strong women in his films and I know that he likes to focus on female superheroes. But then Oliva said how he made sure to include a girl fight in the film and I literally facepalmed right there. I wish someone had taken a picture because I hit my face so hard, I think I left a mark.

Forcing a girl fight isn’t natural. We all know that Batman has fought a woman. We all know that Batwoman has fought a man. However, when two woman are on opposite sides, they must fight because some mysterious movie rule. Can someone give me a list of those? Seriously, I need this list of movie rules for minorities.

You don’t need to include a girl fight for the sake of the girl fight. It doesn’t really add anything of substance to see the women fighting each other. There are occasions where a “girl fight” can add to the story. But to deem it a necessity just for the sake of no actual worthy reason is frankly insulting. Women can be on opposing teams and just fight the opposing males. It’s ok.

In an equal world, women can fight men just like they can fight women. I’m not saying that every time they will be victorious, or that women can only fight men. But I would rather not see how an action sequence is going to play out before it starts. Give the female superhero and villain a change. The results will surprise you and I’m betting in the best possible way.

Marc Alan Fishman: Iron Batman v. Super Captain America


In the not too distant future we’ll be privy to both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Overly Long Titles and Captain America: Civility and Zombies. Seemingly, both will deal with complimentary issues pertaining to the culpability of collateral damage surrounding the super-inhabited world. In lesser terms, it’s pretty clear when you level a city (or level half of one, and almost use another as a projectile) someone has to pay. And no, I don’t mean asking Tony or Bruce-Bruce for a spare billion to cover the insurance.

At the core of both movies – and yes, I’m speculating – we’re dealing with the balance of proactive protection versus reactive process improvement. Regulating and regularly checking the populace for gifts is certainly one way to do it. It’s no different, one might postulate, than registering a weapon they own. Iron Man’s stance, as is Mr. Wayne’s, is cemented in fear of the unknown. How are we to protect the ones we love when the man down the street could be a psychopath with a gun or just Mr. Psycho? Forcing the population to divulge their hidden talents by way of polite force might be one way to hedge your bets. Because you don’t know when someone might grow up to be Speedball.

That being said, does creating such a registry or law become a civil liberty issue? In the comics, it’s the basis for Cap’s catharsis. Cry freedom, Mr. Rogers. And to Superman’s point: holding him in check when there’s literally nothing on Earth that can do that is just a waste of resources. The best you can do is trust that Big Blue will keep us safe. Being proactive effectively allows for the proliferation of some unforeseeable doomsday device built to destroy a hero gone wild. And if you build it? Well, it’s inviting someone to fire it – whether Kal-El is cuckoo or not. Better, I suppose, if you make plans to build it after the first building accidentally collapses due to super-fighting? I guess I’m unsure.

The topic is very real when we live in a nation that needs an executive order to help suppress out-of-control gun violence. Could you imagine the field day Fox News would have if New York was actually attacked by invading aliens? I can here the subsequent call of candidate Donald Trump to first “build a wall between dimensions… and make the Chitauri pay for it.” and then “…ban all super powered people from being in our country until we figure it all out”. If not Trump, perhaps a war mongering Chris “The Blob” Christy, Ted “Bomb Them Till They Glow Like Dr. Light” Cruz, or Dr. Ben “Sleepwalker” Carson would chime in with a retort that the destruction of Metropolis occurred not because newly freed political prisoners from the Phantom Zone were exacting revenge for their lost world… but because President Obama didn’t allow the NSA access to General Zod’s Facebook. But I digress.

The truth of the matter is that there’s no right answer. Batman and Iron Man have every right to want to be as informed as possible about the dangers of the world. They are tinkerers and toy-makers of the highest degree. A problem is built to be dismantled, and put back together better; be it your shrapnel-filled heart, or the world at large. So too though is Captain America and Superman’s right to say that our country was built on the ideology of freedom. That a man is innocent until proven guilty. For as much damage that befell Sokovia or Metropolis, there is no blame to be had towards those who tried to protect it. Ultron and Zod pulled the triggers. The heroes merely jumped in the line of fire. They couldn’t help the falling debris. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Wait, that was Star Trek!

So, whose side will you be on? For me, I’ll be on the side of being entertained. Because my bleeding liberal heart in the real world still longs for the day Scarlet Witch whispers “No more guns.”

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #375


For a man billed as “the world’s greatest detective,” Batman really sucks at his job.

Understand, by detective I don’t mean the guy who sneaks through the bushes to snap photographs of the secret meetings of some modern day Tryst-an and Isolde. I mean a guy who investigates, seeks out clues, and uses deductive reasoning to arrest criminals. A police detective.

The New 52 Batman does precious little clue seeking and thinks deductions are best left to H & R Block. Mostly he beats information out of lowlifes or threatens to drop them off buildings unless they tell him what he wants to know. He’s not so much Dick Tracy as he is Dick Cheney.

In the pre-New 52 continuity Batman had two great mysteries, who killed his parents and Joker’s real name. However, in Batman: The Dark Knight v 2 #0, Bruce Wayne learned Joe Chill killed his parents before Bruce even became Batman. So the post-New 52, Batman only had one major mystery: what is Joker’s real name?

Batman now knows the answer to that question. But not from any detective work. See, in Justice League v2 #42, Batman took over the Mobius Chair, the technological marvel that allows the New God  Metron to travel through time and space and store all the knowledge accumulated in his travels. When Batman took possession of the chair, the first thing he did was to ask for the chair to tell him the Joker’s real name.

The world’s greatest detective should have learned the Joker’s real name by detecting. By investigating. Looking for clues. Ratiocination. Batman shouldn’t have solved his greatest mystery by asking an upholstered Magic 8 Ball.

But taking the easy way out was the least of Batman’s detective failings. In Justice League: Darkside War: Batman#1, we discovered what else Batman did with the Mobius Chair and that really proved Batman, like all poor detectives, didn’t have a clue.

Batman used the chair to sift through peoples’ thoughts. He could see what criminals were planning and arrested criminals before they committed their crime. Which gave the Gotham Prosecutors Office an even worse record than Hamilton Burger’s score against Perry Mason. The Prosecutor’s Office had to release most of the perps Batman brought in, because they couldn’t prosecute someone for something they hadn’t done yet.

Our criminal justice system is funny that way. Crimes require both a mens rea, or guilty mind, and an actus reus, or guilty act. Without both, no crime has been committed. Especially the actus reus. That’s really, really got to be there. If no criminal act has been committed, then no crime has been committed. Or, as Tony Baretta might put it, if you don’t do the crime, you don’t have to do the time.

A good detective, let alone, the world’s greatest would-be police detective, would have known this. Batman didn’t.

I’m not saying Batman should have let the crimes happen just so that the perps could be prosecuted. But when a good detective knows when and where a criminal is about to strike, the detective conducts a stake out. (Which shouldn’t be confused with letting one’s T-bone thaw.) The detective waits and watches until the perp takes some affirmative step in furtherance of committing that crime, then the detective arrests the perp. That way the perp can be prosecuted for attempted whatever crime it was that the perp was about to commit.

After Commissioner Gordon scolded Batman for bringing the GCPD perps they couldn’t prosecute, Batman changed his tactics. He confronted four people, all armed with unregistered automatic rifles, who had driven somewhere near the Club Alpha to rob it. They shot at him. Batman didn’t arrest them. Instead, he teleported them to McMurdo Bay in Antarctica, where a Navy icebreaker would be passing in a few hours, to give the criminals time to “contemplate their actions.”

Batman didn’t turn them over to the police, presumably because he didn’t think they could be prosecuted, as they hadn’t actually robbed the Club Alpha yet. But once again he showed a marked misunderstanding of the laws that every good police detective should know by heart.

The perps had automatic rifles. Unregistered automatic rifles. New Jersey NJ Rev Stat § 25:39-5 makes it unlawful to possess unregistered rifles. The same statute also makes it illegal to carry a machine gun, which New Jersey defines machine gun as a firearm that doesn’t require the trigger to be pressed for each shot and which has a means of storing and carrying ammunition which can be loaded into the firearm. A fully automatic rifle meets both these requirements. So the perps who were about to rob the Alpha Club had broken the law. A good detective would have known that he could turn these perps over to the law because they could be prosecuted.

In addition, the perps shot at Batman. He didn’t die because the Mobius Chair protected him. The perps didn’t know that the Mobius Chair would protect Batman, so when they shot at him they committed attempted murder. Again, a crime for which they could be prosecuted.

Finally, a good detective would also know that when four people plan to rob a club at gunpoint, secure the guns that they’re going to use to rob the club at gunpoint, then drive to the club; they have committed a crime. They have planned to commit a crime together then committed at least one overt act in furtherance of their agreement. Two actually, getting the guns and driving the car. That means the four perps were also guilty of conspiracy to rob. So, again, if Batman was a good detective – you know, the kind who knows the law he’s allegedly upholding– he would have turned these perps over to the police to be prosecuted for conspiracy.

Even if the prosecution couldn’t get the attempted murder or conspiracy charges to stick, because Batman was the only witness to them and Batman can’t testify in the New 52 continuity; the weapons charges, they would have stuck. Once the police found the men in possession of illegal weapons, it wouldn’t have mattered that Batman couldn’t testify. The cops could have testified.

After committing these felony faux pas, Batman visited Joe Chill in his prison cell. He asked Chill how many people Chill had killed. “And remember,” he told Chill, “you can’t be tried for hearsay.”

Finally Batman got something right. Chill couldn’t be tried for hearsay. Hearsay is a rule of evidence, not a crime. However, if Batman meant that nothing Chill told him would be admissible in a prosecution for murder, because it would be hearsay, then once again Batman was more wrong than Hello Kitty sex toys.

Chill told Batman he had killed forty people. If Chill were to be prosecuted for any of those forty murders, his statements would be admissible. In these prosecutions Chill’s admissions would be a statement made by a party-opponent in the case. Many jurisdictions, such as Ohio, say such statements are not hearsay, so would be admissible. The other jurisdictions, like New Jersey, consider such statements to be hearsay. But they’d still be admissible because their rules of evidence make statements of a party-opponent an exception to the hearsay rule.

Okay, the statements probably wouldn’t be admissible, because the only witness to them was be Batman and, as I said earlier, Batman can’t testify. So Batman was right for the wrong reason. Still, a good detective would know the right reason.

World’s greatest detective? Please. Detective? Batman’s not even fit to hold Inspector Clouseau’s magnifying glass.