Tagged: Daredevil

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #368


First of all, when a lawyer gets a case dismissed with prejudice, that doesn’t mean it’s because the lawyer was the new, reconfigured Atticus Finch.

So what does “dismissed with prejudice” mean then? That’s the question I promised to answer last week, while discussing Daredevil v.4 #15.1, because a judge dismissed a criminal case against Matt Murdock’s client with prejudice. And here I am this week doing what I promised to do last week by answering the question.

Not all lawsuits end in a jury verdict. In fact, to tell the truth, most of them don’t. (Jeez, doing what I promised to do and telling the truth; that’s enough to get me kicked out of my lawyer in good standing status. If I were still a lawyer or ever had a good standing.) Most cases end long before a trial or a jury verdict. Many end with some sort of compromise deal being reached between the two parties. Either a settlement in a civil case or a plea bargain in a criminal case. Others end with one of the sides filing a motion to dismiss the case and the judge granting that motion. Still others end in other ways, but as we’re talking about motions to dismiss today, we won’t bother with those still other ways.

Either side can file a motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs or defendants in civil cases or the prosecutors or defendants in criminal cases. (Please note, in a lawsuit – both civil and criminal lawsuits – the party bringing the suit is the plaintiff. Plaintiffs in criminal cases are usually called prosecutors or the state, but they’re still the plaintiffs. For the sake of convenience, I’m going to use the term “plaintiff” to refer to both civil plaintiffs and prosecutors.) Usually one side files the motion to dismiss because there is a weakness in the plaintiff’s case. Plaintiffs, for example, might file a motion to buy some more time to develop their case. Defendants can file to dismiss, if they feel that the charging papers – either a civil complaint or a criminal indictment – fail to set forth an adequate case to present to a jury.

When a judge is presented with a motion to dismiss, the judge can either grant the motion or deny it. Most judges grant the motion to dismiss, if for no other reason than that it gets the case of the judge’s docket. Do judges like to get cases off their dockets? Does Sonny the Cuckoo Bird like Coco Puffs? If a judge grants the motion to dismiss, the judge can grant it in one of two ways. The judge can grant the motion with pride – judges do almost everything with pride – but either with or without prejudice.

Ah five paragraphs into the column and finally we’re reaching the Clara Peller part. You know, where the beef is.

If a judge grants a motion to dismiss without prejudice , that means that the plaintiff can file the case again in the future. If, however, the judge grants the motion to dismiss with prejudice, that means the plaintiff cannot file the case again. The plaintiff can appeal the judge’s dismissal with prejudice. But absent an appeals court overturning the dismissal with prejudice, the plaintiff is barred from ever filing that case in the future.

Common reasons for dismissing a case with prejudice include fraud on the part of the plaintiffs or the case being barred by the statute of limitations or the case being barred by res judicata because the plaintiffs brought the same matter to trial in an earlier case and lost. There are, of course more reasons. Lots more. (Seriously, you think there’s actually a legal principle that’s so simple it could be answered completely with only three examples? The law is large, it contains multitudes. And that’s just the tax code.)

In the Daredevil story, a murder charge against one Luiz Sifuentes was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the state of New York could not refile the same charges against Mr. Sifuentes in the future. Usually in criminal cases a case is dismissed with prejudice for one of a few reasons. If the defendant was already tried for the same charges and found not guilty, the defendant can’t be tried on those charges a second time because of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment. So if the state were to bring the same charges a second time and the trial court dismissed the case because of double jeopardy, that would be a dismissal with prejudice.

Another dismissal with prejudice would be if the state brought charges after the statute of limitations expired. In that case, the state would be barred from ever filing charges again, because of the statute of limitations.

Of if the defendant’s case were dismissed because the state didn’t bring the defendant to trial in compliance with the Speedy Trial clause of the Sixth Amendment that would also be a dismissal with prejudice, because the speedy trial violation would prevent the state from pursuing the charges in the future.

Those are some of the major reasons that a criminal case can be dismissed with prejudice. There are, naturally others. Multitudes, remember?

In the Sifuentes case, Sifuentes was charged with shooting a man to death in Central Park. Daredevil investigated the case and caught the two other people who were actually guilty of the crime. These two confessed to the murder after their fingerprints were found on the bullets in the cylinder of the murder weapon. They also admitted they didn’t know Luiz Sifuentes. So the judge dismissed the case against Sifuentes with prejudice, meaning that the state could never bring these charges against Mr. Sifuentes again.

That’s unlikely. The trial court wouldn’t want to do something which precluded the state from ever filing the charges again. What, for example, would happen if the other two defendants recanted their stories and said Sifuentes was also in on the murder? Or what if the state learned that the other two defendants were friends with Sifuentes and lied about not knowing him to get their friend out of trouble? In either scenario, the state would want to bring murder charges against Sifuentes again, but wouldn’t be able to do so, because the case had been dismissed with prejudice. So it’s not likely that the trial court would have granted Sifuentes’s motion to dismiss with prejudice, as it wouldn’t want to preclude the state from pursuing a case against Sifuentes, should new facts establishing Sifuentes’s actual guilt ever come to light.

What would probably have happened in the Sifuentes case is that the judge would have granted the motion to dismiss, based on the fact that Mr. Sifuentes appeared to be innocent of the charges. But it would have dismissed the case without prejudice. The state of New York would then have to decide whether it wanted to pursue a case against Sifuentes. If it believed that he was actually innocent of the crime, then it wouldn’t file the charges again and the matter would be over. But if, after further investigation, the State felt that Sifuentes was actually involved in the killing, it would file the charges against him a second time.

The trial court wouldn’t want to prejudge the state’s future ability to prosecute Mr. Sifuentes, so it wouldn’t grant a dismissal with prejudice. Oh and one more thing, don’t confuse prejudging with deciding which hybrid car to buy. Prius judging is entirely different.

The Law Is A Ass #367: Daredevil’s Work Ethic Actually Works For A Change

Daredevil Vol 4. #15.1Will the real Matt Murdock please stand up?

I have, in the past, detailed incidents where Matt Murdock, New York lawyer and secret identity of the super hero Daredevil, put the ick in legal ethics. I have, in fact, done more detailing than a guy prepping cars for the show room.

Then along came Daredevil v 4 #15.1 and its story “Worlds Collide.” It’s a story set so early in the career of Matt Murdock and Daredevil, that he and Foggy Nelson hadn’t even formed the law firm Nelson and Murdock yet. Matt was a first-year associate at the prestigious Manhattan law firm Hutchins & Wheeler. Was still wearing his original red and yellow costume. And, apparently, was so new to the practice of law that Matt hadn’t yet learned how easy it was to game the system.

On one of his first patrols as Daredevil found a gunshot victim lying dead in Central Park. He heard the elevated heartbeat of three men running away from the crime scene. He chased the closest of the three men, Luiz Sifeuntes, who threw the murder weapon away as he ran. Then Daredevil caught Sifuentes, tied him to a tree, and made an anonymous call to the police.

Sometime later, Hutchins & Wheeler took on Mr. Sifuentes’s case as part of its obligation to provide five thousand hours of pro bono work. Mr. Wheeler assigned the case to Matt.

When Matt talked with Sifuentes, his client said he was walking in the park and went to the crime scene after he heard gunshots. He saw the victim lying on the ground, saw the gun, and picked it up for no known reason other than the one we all know; that’s what innocent people in stories always do when they find dead bodies with recently-fired guns lying next to them. They pick up the furshlugginer gun and give the state what looks like an air-trite case against them. Seriously, this plot device has been used so often that I think complaining that it’s a cliché has become a cliché.

Matt realized he shouldn’t represent Sifuentes, as he was the person who captured Sifuentes in the first place, so he tried to get off the case. Which was the ethical thing to do, as Matt had reason to doubt his ability to be objective and represent his client zealously. But Wheeler wouldn’t let Matt quit. So Matt, who couldn’t reveal the true reason he wanted off the case – i.e. his secret identity – continued to represent his client as best he could. He filed a motion to dismiss the case during the pre-trial probable cause hearing. The grounds for the motion were that Sifuentes was captured by a vigilante who might not even testify so the state wouldn’t be able to make its case.

This was a very sound argument. As I’ve written in the past, when the heroes capture criminals but don’t stick around to supply evidence, the state has no witnesses who can testify as to the defendant’s guilt. Without Daredevil’s testimony, the state would, literally, have no witness who could put Sifuentes at the scene of the crime or in possession of the murder weapon. Judge Mandelbaum said she would take Matt’s argument under advisement and didn’t rule on it.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor, who realized there was a major weakness in her case, offered Matt the chance to plead his client to manslaughter in the second degree. Matt took the offer to his client, because, as he correctly stated, he had a legal obligation to present any plea offer to his client.

A lawyer does have the ethical obligation to present all plea offers to a client. Even ones the lawyer might think are a bad deal. The lawyer can tell the client that he feels the plea offer is a bad deal and advise the client to reject it. But the lawyer still has the legal obligation to present the offer to the client and let the client decide whether he wants to accept it.

Matt advised his client that the offer was a good deal, but only if he were guilty. Again a very ethical and proper way to act. The client decided to accept the offer, because he felt a guaranteed fifteen year sentence – with parole after ten years with good behavior – was better than risking a possible twenty-five year to life sentence should he risk a trial and be convicted of murder in the second degree.

That’s how Matt spent his days, representing Luiz Sifuentes. That’s also how he spent his nights, because at night Daredevil went looking for, and ultimately found the two men actually involved in the shooting.

The next morning, Judge Mandelbaum denied Matt’s motion. She ruled that when an arrest was made by a vigilante such as Daredevil the decision of whether to proceed with that case should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Each case must be examined on its own merits, rather than allow a blanket ruling that all defendants apprehended by masked super heroes should be dismissed. As Luis Sifuentes was found at the scene and his fingerprints were on the murder weapon, that was enough evidence to bind him over for trial. The trial could decide whether there was enough evidence to convict him, should the vigilante Daredevil not testify.

This was absolutely the correct decision. No court would ever make a blanket ruling that any defendant apprehended by masked a vigilante should be set free. Such blanket rulings would prevent courts from reaching the ultimate question: the defendants’ quilt or innocence. But there was another reason why Judge Mandelbaum was correct in her ruling.

Matt made his motion to dismiss during a probable cause hearing. All that is decided in such hearings is whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. The state only has to prove that there’s sufficient evidence to establish that it is more probable than not that the defendant committed the crime. The state does not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So in a probable cause hearing, a police officer could testify that the department received an anonymous phone call of a shooting in Central Park and that when they arrived they found the defendant tied to a tree next to the victim and that the murder weapon, with the defendant’s fingerprints on it, was also found next to the victim. That degree of evidence might not be enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in trial, should Daredevil not testify. But it would have been enough for a probable cause hearing. So Judge Mandelbaum was correct in denying the motion in the probable cause hearing.

Matt then informed the court that Mr. Sifuentes was not going to proceed with his plea bargain, because the previous night two other men were apprehended in connection with the murder. Matt further said that he believed any fingerprints on the bullets in the murder weapon would match one of these two men, not Mr. Sifuentes’s and that both men said they did not know Luiz Sifuentes. So Matt made a new motion to dismiss, one based on the argument that Mr. Sifuentes was actually innocent of the charges leveled against him.

Yes, I know this case was early in Matt’s career. Maybe because he was younger and just starting out, Matt wasn’t as daring as he would become. Or as willing to stretch his legal ethics worse than Spanx on Rebel Wilson. But it was so refreshing to read a story where Matt acted ethically and properly. Any chance we could get more of them?

A week later, Matt was rewarded for his ethical actions. I don’t know what actually happened. The two murderers probably confessed and exonerated Luis Sifuentes. All I know is that Judge Mandelbaum dismissed all the charges against Sifuentes “with prejudice.”

What’s that mean, that the case against Luis Sifuentes was dismissed “with prejudice?” Why, it means I have something to write about next week.

Marc Alan Fishman: Three Thoughts Laying Around

Justice League Gods and Monsters

Sorry, kiddos. I ain’t got no snark to hone into laser focus this week. With a day job literally sapping my inner strength as we prepare a massive brand overhaul alongside our massive summer conference, all I have the energy to do when I make my way home is the bare minimum. Which of course amounts to drawing pages for the upcoming new Samurnauts book, planning a major crowdfunding campaign around said book, organizing video shoots and marketing lists for said campaign, completing sundry freelance gigs for way less money than I ought to be collecting, and of course… writing for you, my adoring public. So, as is the custom when my well seems to be tapped of a singular topic, I present to you a smattering of my simmering speculations from my cerebellum.

Hey, I may be running close to empty, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have spectacular alliterative powers. Natch.

  1. Jon Bernthal is Frank Castle.

As per my choked Facebook feed this afternoon, I learned that Shane from the Walking Dead is now the mafia murdering mook of the Marvel U. As with all of my brethren online, I was happy to see such inspired casting. Now I’m not a big Walking Dead fan by any means, but I’ve certainly caught enough of Bernthal’s work to know he’s got the chops. Combine this with his partially busted (but still Hollywood pretty) nose and you get a Punisher who will have no problem crossing the invisible line from page to screen. Sorry, Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson.

What I like the most from the announcement is that the part is hardly bit. From what most are saying, it seems like Marvel read everyone’s online yammering about how the Netflix ‘Devil series presented grit that was pitch perfect. And what better follow up to said grit then the House of Ideas most gritty character, save perhaps for Squirrel Girl, whose grit know no bounds. Suffice to say given the universe they built around Matt Murdoch, Frank Castle will fit right in. Even better: the obvious morality play that might present itself between the costumed compatriots. Whilst Daredevil has shown his willingness to kill, The Punisher is… The Punisher. The fact that it might lead to a showdown with earned angst versus the forthcoming Superman and Batman love-in? Yeah, eat two bullets, and call me in the morning, DC!

  1. Stone Cold Steve Austin Still Has ‘It’.

The other evening with nothing sitting in my DVR, I turned on the WWE Network (which I pay for mostly to allow my father to have something to do when he’s home in the mornings). They featured an hour-long sit-down podcast via Steve Austin and his guest Paul Heyman. While I could have easily spent my entire column lecturing you on how amazing Mr. Heyman is, I’ll leave it short, so the comics fans don’t click away too soon.

After 55 minutes of fluffy storytelling and jovial revelry between host and guest, Paul Heyman asked if he could ask a hard-hitting question – knowing that the last hour was essentially enjoyable nothingness. Mr. Austin obliged. “Why don’t you come back for just one night? Settle the unfinished business you have with my client?” Heyman asked. For the Internet Wrestling Community, this was more than a bon mot. This was poking a bear that has been long hibernating. I found myself on the edge of my chair as Steve Austin morphed into Stone Cold to respond to the potential challenge of Brock Lesnar.

His response was metered. His gaze became like steel. And the string of near-obscenities that dropped from his maw made me remember why he’s one of the three heads on the Mount Rushmore of Pro-Wrestling. In a two-minute response, which would best be described as a shoot promo, Steve Austin played me and a million or so others for the kayfabing fool I am. It was an amazing piece of work.

  1. Evil Batman is Evil.

The uncompromisingly talented Bruce Timm has a new animated direct-to-whatever-media-is-ubiquitous-these-days feature. It’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters and boy, did it get dark in here all of a sudden. Based on no previous work per se, this Elseworlds tale showcases a world where Batman is a vampire, Superman is an unhappy Latino Demi-God, and Wonder Woman is… combative, I guess? While most if not all of DC’s recent animated releases have done little to spur my attention, seeing Timm’s name on the project – along with his patented visual style – certainly caught my eye. With that being said, both the trailer and teaser clips released thus far have not engaged my engrossment to the point of desiring purchase.

Simply put, Timm is a master craftsman making something that looks good but hardly great. With beats (again, based solely on the released trailer and teasers) that come awfully close to similar ones tackled during his decade of animated supremacy prior, I’m left cold by the possibility that without the confines of network notes a darker and grittier Justice League is anything to be excited about. Justice Lords anyone? But, let’s not split hairs; Bruce Timm making a good feature is great for the industry. More ideas – especially original ones – will help spark continued creativity elsewhere. Let us just hope that Gods and Monsters delivers more than what meets the eye.

  1. Bonus recipe time!

Combine 1 thoroughly mashed banana with 2 large eggs and a dash of cinnamon. Fry up in pan. Enjoy your very own banana-fanna-faux-cake. You’re welcome.

Happy Saturday everyone!


Mike Gold: The Daredevil Issue

Lately there’s been some controversy about the creator credits on the Daredevil teevee series. To be specific, the hubbub revolves around the use of the name and comments of some comics industry notables with respect to the issue. In other words, we have a controversy about a controversy.

Both are important issues, and are quite different from one another. But for the purpose of this particular polemic, I’m going to focus on the root issue, which is, as I understand it, as the creator of the costume used in the program, whether or not Wallace Wood deserves a creator co-credit.

The issues revolving around creator credits, a subset of the entire creators’ rights movement, are of vital concern. But they’re not very cut-and-dried. For example, there’s a good reason that the creator credit on Superman reads: “Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.” That seems simple and straightforward. It is not.

I think we can all agree that Siegel and Shuster created Superman. If not; go away. I can’t deal with you. We may agree that they also created Lois Lane. Maybe. But, how about… Jimmy Olsen? Kryptonite? Perry White? Almost certainly not; all three were created for the Superman radio series and adopted by the newspaper strip, the comic books and the subsequent media manifestations. Okay, that’s just an example. I can cite dozens more. Maybe hundreds.

In the case of Daredevil, the first issue of the comic book was something of a train wreck. I read it off the stands and loved it, but I didn’t know that artist Bill Everett had enormous difficulty completing the issue and “various hands” were brought in to finish the job. Joe Orlando took over with the second issue, and Wally Wood followed Joe starting with issue #5, often with the credited assistance of Bob Powell. Bob penciled issue #11 and Woody inked it, and Jack Kirby and John Romita took over with #12. The briefness of Wally Wood’s tenure is not an issue here.

Woody changed the coloring of the costume from yellow-and-black to all-red in issue #7, which, coincidentally, costarred the Sub-Mariner – Bill Everett’s creation. The popularly held story, and there’s no reason to doubt it, is that Wood thought Everett’s costume was silly and that if the guy is called anything-devil, he should be in red.

So, some contend, because it is the Wally Wood costume that is being used in the television series, Wally Wood should get a creator’s credit.

I am second to no one in my admiration of and lust for Wally Wood’s artwork. I believe he was the first artist who’s work I could recognize by name – because Woody signed his stuff and Jack Kirby did not. But the immense quality of his craft does not enter into this argument.

There are comics creators, almost always writers, who believe that because they were the ones who came up with the original idea they were the true, and sole, creators of the property. Generally I reject this because comics is, first and foremost, a visual medium and the person or persons who create the visuals are also critical to the creation of the property. When I work on a creator-owned property, as I do almost exclusively these days, I insist the creators have a signed agreement stating their ownership positions. This makes life easier for everybody. I really do not care what those positions may be – as long as it’s not totally egregious, it’s not my business. If it is totally egregious, I know that it will blow up before long and possibly take the project down with it. That’s the only horse I have in the race.

After that point, things get a little tricky. Can you imagine the creators’ credits on any contemporary Superman story? Damn, the credits on Superman The Movie ran longer than some life-forms. Imagine adding the names of the people who came up with all the other characters and unique elements of the saga.

Of course, Batman’s “creator” will get his contractually due credit in next year’s Batman/Superman movie. I won’t get into the issue of just who created Batman right now; it has little to do with the Daredevil situation and, besides, my head would explode. Just consider my quotation marks to be editorial comment.

In my view, Wally Wood did not recreate Daredevil’s costume. As dynamic as the change was – and, damn, it certainly was – it was a coloring change and a tiny bit of alteration akin to putting that yellow circle around Batman’s bat. I know I just pissed a lot of people off and I’m sorry about that.

But it’s a tough one. Marvel notes all (or most all) of the writers and artists whose work is adapted for each movie and television show, and I think it drives my daughter crazy when I freeze-frame that part of the end credits because we’re both enjoying the “coming next week” teaser. But I’ve never seen the end-credits on Daredevil because, at least on my Netflix delivery system, the screen shrinks down to an unreadable size so that Netflix can inform me of how much time I have to not read those credits before the next episode starts. My guess is that for those who believe Woody’s name should be prominently displayed wouldn’t be satisfied, and I get that.

Comic book characters that survive for any length of time are like snowballs going down a ski-slope: they get bigger and bigger as they roll on. To me, the phrase “created by” refers to the people who started that ball rolling.

And my love of and respect for the work of the late Wallace Wood remains undiminished.


John Ostrander: We Eat Our Own

A recent Internet brouhaha occurred when some feminists attacked Joss Whedon after the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron claiming he was a misogynist, etc, for his portrayal of Black Widow in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet – I may be one of a handful in the world who hasn’t – so I can’t comment on it although given Whedon’s track record, I am skeptical.

When Whedon closed his Twitter account, the Internet went crazy and charged he was chased off by “militant feminists.” Again, I was skeptical. Whedon himself later stated “I just thought, Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place, and this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life.” That’s true of the Internet in general, by the way. A great tool but also a great temptation for wasting time.

This practice of attacking our own is not new. Will Smith playing Deadshot in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, has been attacked by some as being too lightweight for such a stoic badass character. This ignores the work he did in such films as The Pursuit of Happyness or the minor role he had playing the devil in Winter’s Tale. Serious characters, well played.

Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice? According to sections of fandom, heresy! They said the same thing about Michael Keaton waaaay back before his first Batman film. When I was writing GrimJack at First Comics, we got a letter from someone who said I should leave the book and let other writers do the character because I wasn’t up to this letterhack’s standards. That may explain a certain lack of sympathy I have for these type of fans.

It’s not everyone in fandom. They can, however, be a vocal segment of fandom. Often an angry and strident voice in fandom. They seem to have (or think they have) a Fan Early Warning system (or F.E.W.s), a sort of Spidey-Sense that starts tingling when they sense something wrong (especially in casting) in an upcoming project, especially film. There is a certainty that they are right, a vitriol that accompanies the attack, and an unwillingness to hear any other point of view. It isn’t what they wanted, it isn’t how they would do it, it’s not how they see it and so it is wrong. No debate, end of story.

Does it matter? It is a small minority, after all. A small, strident minority that can be heard over the din of the crowd. That’s part of the problem with this country today – minority voices stridently decrying what they think is wrong and refusing to listen to any other opinion because, you know, that would be compromising their principles. You can’t just agree with them; you have to agree wholeheartedly and for the right reasons. You have to share the same religion; you have to drink the same flavor of Kool-Aid.

Everyone has a right to their own opinion but it is often formed without actually seeing the work. The dissident fans haven’t seen any footage of Will Smith as Deadshot, yet they already know he is wrong. Their proof that Ben Affleck will suck as Batman? His performance in Daredevil. (He has also performed in other films since then, including a fine turn as George Reeve in Hollywoodland .)

Negative comments can create a negative image of a given work, especially movies, before it’s seen. The “buzz” can affect how a film is perceived and received. It can affect the box office. That, in Hollywood, is serious.

It’s not hard to be heard these days. Is it too much to ask to consider what is being said? To think before you speak?

What am I saying? This is the Internet. Of course it is.



Dennis O’Neil: It’s All Done With Mirrors

So the new Avengers movie only brought in $191,000,000 and change, domestic. Well, we knew it was a loser, didn’t we? Its predecessor did way better – broke the $200,000,000 mark without working up a sweat. Then along comes this loser with its giant robot – a giant robot? Really? What a two-finger job!

Okay, I haven’t actually seen the movie but I’ve certainly been aware of it. All those tv ads, all that hype… I imagine that when I do, I won’t be disappointed. It will be what it is, a professional entertainment done by people who know how to make movies and know how to tell superhero stories.

That hasn’t always been the case: I’ll arbitrarily date the first serious superhero flick from 1978 when the kindly corporation that was, then, my main source of income delivered unto the nation’s screens Superman, a film that was slightly marred by an unevenness of tone but which, unlike most of its forerunners, asked that audiences take it seriously. It wasn’t the Citizen Kane of costumed melodrama, but it was a solid dose of escapist entertainment.

When the darkish Batman debuted decade later and repeated Superman’s success, the superheroic colonization of summer blockbusters began in earnest. Now, the guys in the costumes own the region.

Don’t they? If you wanted to play pessimist, you could interpret the latest Avenger flick’s lavish but slightly disappointing box office performance as a harbinger of an impending end. Have we superheroed out?

At least one commentator thought that might be so and I confess that when I look at Yahoo’s news column and see several superhero stories that really aren’t very important, even as importance is measured in the land of popular entertainment, I wonder if the journalists haven’t anything else to occupy their computers. (The middle east? Racial tensions? Global warming?) It’s the old going-backstage-at-the-magic-show quandary: do I really want to see how all the tricks are done? Won’t that interfere with my enjoyment of them? And if everyone knows the Secrets, won’t that hasten the end of magic shows? And what if magic shows are the only kind of amusement available?

Of course, I can go backstage and not look at how the tricks are done. But do you really think I have that much character? Really?

Ah, the questions we ask ourselves on a beautiful spring afternoon…

Maybe because asking questions about the middle east, et al.is discomfiting.

Let’s think about something else, shall we? I wonder if the forthcoming Superman vs Batman will be any good. And what on Earth can the guys at Marvel possibly hope to do with Ant Man? And will there be a sequel to Daredevil?

Boy oh boy, there sure is a lot too think about!


Emily S. Whitten: Daredevil in the MCU

Marvel’s Daredevil premiered on Netflix on Friday, April 10. All 13 episodes went up at once, which is great both for binge-watchers (a.k.a. people who just really like long-form storytelling, okay??) like me; and also for Marvel’s presumed need to establish key but new-to-MCU characters before Captain America: Civil War, which hits theaters May 6, 2016.

Of course, we don’t actually know if Daredevil will show up in Civil War, even if the show appears to have teased the Civil War plot. Oddly enough, as of two weeks ago, Daredevil star Charlie Cox said he hadn’t been “invited to that party.” On the other hand, it seems like Civil War would be the perfect movie in which to tie the Marvel movies and TV shows even more tightly together. Given we already have connections in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the next planned Marvel Netflix shows will star Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and The Defenders (to include, perhaps, appearances by MCU characters we’ll have seen by then like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and The Hulk?), it should be a no-brainer (and almost necessary) for Marvel to include relevant TV characters in the larger-scale Civil War movie, and perhaps cameos for any stars of the Netflix shows who haven’t made it to TV yet by May of 2016.

But I guess even if we don’t see all the TV characters in the movies by Civil War, it still gives watchers a foundation of MCU character knowledge for those superheroes if they are referenced in the plot. Of course, having all of these TV shows means to truly be caught up on the MCU you now have to watch both the Marvel movies and the TV shows; but fortunately, at least so far, that’s no hardship. (And it can make for fun Easter egg hunting in both movies and shows. Another cool one from Daredevil is the newspaper headline for the “Battle of NY” in Ben Urich’s office, as well as the script’s indication that Wilson Fisk’s rise to power is built on the destruction that took place during The Avengers movie.)

With Agent Carter having had a great eight episode run (that show is so much fun), and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuing to be a fan favorite, Daredevil has come in as the newest addition to TV, and it is really good. As teased previously, it is definitely darker and grittier than some of Marvel’s fare, with a hint of a noir feel; but then, I’ve always associated that aesthetic with Daredevil anyway. One of the things I enjoy about the Daredevil stories is the exploration of the microcosm of Hell’s Kitchen and its resident vigilante. The comic has always had a sort of small town/big city feel to it because of how deeply Daredevil is rooted in that one neighborhood, Matt Murdock’s history there, and his desire to make at least his little corner of the world a cleaner place. Even Daredevil’s nemesis, the Kingpin, while his business may spread through New York and beyond, is rooted in the darker, slummier parts of the city. That keeps the comic true to its gritty NYC roots even as the storylines change.

The show overall evokes a dark and sometimes meditative mood, although it’s not lacking in great action scenes, whether they be while Daredevil is fighting villains, or when the Kingpin’s violent urges overcome his generally calm demeanor. Speaking of the Kingpin, he is portrayed here in a wonderfully complex manner by one of my long-time favorite actors, Vincent D’Onofrio. One thing I really like about Daredevil is that it’s not a black-and-white show. It humanizes the villains to some extent; such as when it shows the to-the-death devotion between the Russian Ranskahov brothers, and a peek into the difficult past that led them to their position at the show’s start. Nowhere is this humanization more well done than with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. He is in equal parts a sympathetic villain and truly chilling, and D’Onofrio manages to continually evoke the feeling that with this man, “still waters run deep” and beneath the surface there is a well of complex emotions coupled with his terrifying rage. In the comics, the Kingpin, despite his low origins, publicly attempts to appear as an educated man, and is portrayed as an entrepreneurial villain.

This comes across in the TV script, in lines such as, “Problems are just opportunities that have not presented themselves,” and in his business dealings and his romancing of Vanessa in fancy restaurants, with wines recommended by his assistant. The series also shows the rise of the Kingpin’s obsession with Daredevil, which eventually leads to the seminal comics storyline in which Fisk exposes Murdock as Daredevil and ruins his life and reputation.

Despite dark villains like Fisk, the show retains that humorous edge that defines the modern MCU. One of the best sources of this in Daredevil is Murdock’s best bud Foggy Nelson, who is portrayed perfectly by Elden Henson. I’ve always had a soft spot for Foggy (also played well by Jon Favreau in the 2003 Daredevil movie), who is generally portrayed as being good natured, loyal, and with a good heart. The show does well in using him to inject some levity into the show, without turning him into too much of a goofy comic foil. He’s also a great contrast to the more serious Murdock, and a means for the story to show how Daredevil’s vigilante identity creates difficulties in his “normal” life and in being there for his friends.

One thing I really like about this show is the portrayal of how normal people deal with the superhero/vigilante elements in their world. Two other characters that add a great deal to Daredevil in this aspect are Claire Temple (serving in the role of the Night Nurse), and Ben Urich, the tenacious investigative reporter for The New York Bulletin (rather than The Daily Bugle, as in the comics). The script-writers have managed to make these two characters (played by Rosario Dawson and Vondie Curtis-Hall, respectively) both well-rounded supporting characters, and windows through which viewers can experience how someone might deal with being a “mundane” in a world of heroes and vigilantes. (Such as when Ben Urich says that, “[i]n my experience, there are no heroes; no villains; just people with different agendas.”) I love it when shows manage to successfully convey multiple viewpoints like that.

Of course, a main viewpoint is obviously Daredevil’s, and Charlie Cox does a great job in his dual role as Murdock and his vigilante alter-ego. The show does well to start with a Murdock who wants to make the streets a safer place but is pretty clueless about what’s actually going on out there, and gradually sleuths out the corruption in the NYPD and the existence of a greater criminal network. It also gives an interesting perspective on his views of the law, and how they interplay with his role as a costumed vigilante. Flashbacks to his childhood in Hell’s Kitchen add to the story, and also provide us with a few more fun Easter eggs, such as the mention (and poster) of Carl “Crusher” Creel’s boxing match against Murdock’s father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock; Creel has previously been seen in the MCU as The Absorbing Man on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Overall, I think Daredevil makes a great addition to the MCU, and look forward to seeing how the future Netflix shows pan out and how they all tie in to each other and to the greater MCU as time goes on. It seems like I’m not alone in this. The show has garnered mostly good reviews thus far; and I’d agree with James Gunn (writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy), who opined on Facebook that “this character I loved so much for so long ha[s] been brought to television with such spirit, love, and care.”

Of course, it’s always nice to get the “person on the street” viewpoint as well; and since I started my Daredevil Netflix binge with a Daredevil Watch Party of me and three friends and assigned them the homework of telling me what they think of the show, I’ll provide their perspectives here as well:

Friend 1: “More than any superhero adaptation I’ve seen recently, Daredevil works independent of its mythos. I find myself wanting to watch it for more than just the really cool fight scenes (which are really cool) and the comic references. Instead, the well-written dialogue and excellent chemistry between the lead actors will keep me coming back for more. I am just as interested to learn about Matt Murdock the lawyer as Daredevil the superhero.

Daredevil is not perfect. I think the creators are sometimes, to the detriment of the plot, overly enthusiastic about no longer having to deal with television censors. However, I am really looking forward to finishing the season.”

Friend 2: “I think Daredevil did a really good job of introducing an outsider (me) and someone who doesn’t generally care for Big Two superheroes (also me) to what is undoubtedly an unholy tangled mess of continuity and backstory without info dumping or becoming utterly impenetrable.”

Friend 3: “The Netflix adaptation of Daredevil has the potential to be the comic world’s answer to The Wire drama on HBO. Daredevil is a crime drama that shows every tier of decay in the post-industrial American city – from the streets to the courtrooms and the newsrooms. Vincent D’Onofrio does a credit to his hometown of Brooklyn by portraying New York crime lord Kingpin as a calculating but very human villain. His performance shows why Kingpin is a more compelling villain than his equally bald DC Comics doppelganger Lex Luthor.”

So there you have it, folks; if you haven’t checked out Daredevil yet, I and my three friends and a bunch of other people on the internets liked it a lot; and I bet you will too. So lay in the popcorn, get comfy, and when you’re done with it, tell me what you think, and Servo Lectio!


The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #351: DAREDEVIL ASKS WAKANDA DO ABOUT MOM?

daredevil2014-006-0090lk05I don’t know what Sister Maggie was thinking.

She willingly wrote on a wall, when she had to have known that wouldn’t end well. She’s a nun. The Bible tells us the writing on the wall is an ill omen. As a nun, Maggie believes in the Bible devoutly and wouldn’t want to contradict its Word. When Sister Maggie wrote on the wall, she must have known bad things would happen. But she did it anyway?

Why? Because she thought she was making a political statement. And if she didn’t, Daredevil v4 #6 wouldn’t have had a story.

Margaret Grace was the mother of Matt (Daredevil) Murdock. Because of complications from postpartum depression, she abandoned her family while Matt was a baby, adopted a new name, and became a nun. (Yes, it’s a longer story, but as I don’t want a longer column, we’ll let it go at that.) Recently, she, Sister Barbara, and Sister Leora went to a military base in Riverdale, an affluent section of the Bronx. They had information the base was testing illegal and immoral chemical weapons. Something was up in the Bronx and they wanted to batter it down, so they did something to bring the matter to public attention by spray painting peace slogans on the base’s walls.

They were arrested, brought before a secret military tribunal, and told they were being extradited to Wakanda. In case you forgot, Wakanda is a small west African nation formerly ruled by T’Challa, the Black Panther. When Wakanda kicked T’Challa out, his sister Shuri became its queen. Shuri was a lot harsher than T’Challa.

Why did Wakanda care about a simple act of vandalism? Wakanda had purchased said base from America through some “highly clandestine, highly illegal” and untraceable transactions so it could engineer illegal weapons there “free of U.N. oversight.” The women “brought undue attention” to the base and nearly embarrassed Wakanda. Because the base was owned by Wakanda, it was “Wakandan soil within America’s own borders,” Wakanda claimed its law applied. Wakanda wanted to be sure the women were “suitably punished” so it had them quick-step extradited.

Did I say harsh? Compared to Shuri Mommie Dearest was an enabler.

Of course Shuri’s also stupid. When conducting illegal arms manufacturing on a military base which you own because of a “highly illegal” transaction, you probably want to avoid any attention. Sure the nuns spray painting peace slogans brought some unwanted attention. But snatching them up and extraditing them in an illegal hearing where the women didn’t even have attorneys, isn’t the wisest course of action. Once word of what had happened leaked out – and as we saw in Daredevil v4 #6, word did leak out – the women would become a cause célèbre and that would only attract more unwanted attention.

Wakanda’s wiser course of action would have been to shut down the base – which it did anyway – then not press charges. Sure the women could make public statements, but they had already made public statements and were ignored. With the base no longer in operation, they wouldn’t have been able to prove their accusations. The matter would have blown over. But once the media got word that the women who tried to alert it to the base’s operations and then vandalized the base have disappeared, it would investigate.

So Wakanda didn’t follow its wiser course of action. Ever since Shuri took over, Wakanda has been ruled by its more dickish fringe. Its government is Shuri with the fringe on top.

Pointing out that Wakanda has more dicks than lunch with messrs. Nixon, Cheney, Grayson, and Butkus isn’t my main purpose, here. It’s a fun sideline, but my main purpose was to explore Wakanda’s claim that the military base was Wakandan soil, not American.

There is a common misconception that embassies are foreign soil. They aren’t. The embassies still the soil of, and under the jurisdiction of, the host country. Embassies are afforded special privileges by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which is why the host country can’t enter a foreign embassy without permission of the country represented by the embassy. But the embassy itself is not foreign soil.

If you commit a crime in an embassy, it will be the law of the host country that applies and the host country which prosecutes you, not the country whose embassy you were in. (Please note, I’m using the hypothetical you. I’m not advocating that you actually go out and commit a crime.)

In the same way, American military bases in foreign countries are not generally American soil. America doesn’t own the land on which the bases sit. It still belongs to the host country. America may lease that land, but when the base shuts down, the land reverts to the host country.

Look at Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. Gitmo is on Cuban soil, not American soil. America leases the land on which Gitmo sits through a perpetual lease which dates back to 1903 and is the result of the Spanish-American War. But Gitmo is Cuban soil. That’s the primary reason America put the “military combatants” in the global war on terror in Gitmo’s detention center, because it’s not American soil so American laws, such as the writ of habeas corpus, don’t apply there.

The only difference here is that Wakanda didn’t lease the military base, it owned the base after illegally purchasing it from America. That does make a difference. When America purchased Louisiana and a whole bunch of other land from France in 1803, that land, which was formerly French soil, became American soil; lock, stock and beignets. After the sale, it was subject to American laws. So it is possible that, because Wakanda owned the base, the base was considered Wakandan soil.

I’m not an expert on this sort of law, but I did some quick research. And while I couldn’t find a definitive answer, what I did find indicated the rules of what is foreign soil differ when a military base sits on land that is owned by the country establishing the base as opposed to land that the base leases from the host country. So maybe the base was Wakandan soil.

Or maybe not. Lieutenant N’banta, the Wakandan military attaché, said Wakanda purchased the base through an illegal sale. An illegal sale could not properly convey legal title, so I’m not sure Wakanda actually owned the base. If I buy a stolen watch from a vendor on the corner, the watch is not legally mine. (Note, I’m also using the hypothetical I. I’m not confessing to a crime, either.)

However, even if the base was Wakandan soil and the nuns were subject to Wakandan law, Wakanda didn’t have the legal right to extradite them the way it did. While they were waiting to be extradited, they were jailed in Ryker’s Island. That is US soil. As long as they were on US soil, the nuns were was subject to US laws, including the laws governing extradition.  Under US law, persons being extradited must be afforded due process of law. That includes the right to a public hearing and effective assistance of counsel. It doesn’t include a secret military tribunal before judges whose faces are hidden at which the detainee has no counsel.

The story explains the reason the three women were extradited without any of their constitutional rights was because Wakanda bribed a US General Eaglemore. (Really, General Eaglemore? Was General Patriotact taken?). Eaglemore helped Wakanda implement the illegal proceedings. So, while the extradition was wrong, the story wasn’t wrong. People, including generals, are bribed into doing highly illegal things all the time. A story isn’t wrong, when it shows something that actually happens happening.

Doesn’t really matter, either. In Daredevil v4 #7, Daredevil snuck into Wakanda and through his own bit of diplomacy – which was every bit as questionable as that shown by Wakanda earlier – secured the release of the three women. Then Daredevil and the three sisters all went home, nun the worse for wear.

The Law Is A Ass


2650907-nelson_2Some people just never learn.

Only we’re not talking about some people today, we’re talking about just one person. Namely Matt Murdock, blind attorney-at-law and secret identity of the super hero Daredevil. Matt’s had some run-ins with the legal process of late, run-ins that didn’t end well for him. “Didn’t end well,” here being a euphemism for New York had disbarred him after years of Matt playing fast and loose with the code of legal ethics. So Matt moved to San Francisco, because he was still a member of the California bar.

Well, he didn’t have to move, he did so out of practicality and a desire to eat. He couldn’t practice law in New York and super heroing didn’t earn Matt enough to keep him in subway tokens. So he moved to San Francisco, and not because the exchange rate on BART tokens was better.

Now you’d think after these professional setbacks, that Matt would want to comport himself strictly legit. That his path would be narrower than Twiggy and straighter than a porn star on Viagra. But if you thought that then, like the Cat in the Hat, you’d have Thing One and Thing Two.

See, while Matt was about to move his heart to San Francisco, there were still a few things he had to take care of back in New York. Chief among them was protecting his law partner, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. Foggy had Ewing’s sarcoma, a tangerine-sized cancer tumor on his hip. He was undergoing chemo, as well as specialized treatments in which Hank Pym, bio-chemist and the former Ant-Man, shrank down then went wandering around Foggy’s blood stream shooting stray tumor cells to help keep the cancer from spreading. The treatments took their toll on Foggy. Indeed, they were more taxing than April 15th and they left Foggy as weak as Johnny Manziel’s grasp of a play book.

At the same time, Matt had been forced to out himself. He’d had to reveal he was secretly Daredevil. He figured his old foes would try to strike back at Daredevil by attacking Foggy. Because of his reduced resistance, Foggy was vulnerable. And Matt wanted Foggy to concentrate on beating the cancer without his treatment being interrupted by the monthly obligatory fight scenes with vengeance-seeking costumed baddies. So Matt had to figure out a way to protect Foggy. In a flashback that took up most of Daredevil v4 #5, we learned what that way was.

Matt decided that Foggy Nelson should die.

Okay, not die, die. But comic-book die, as in die and come back later. Matt wanted the world at large to believe Foggy had succumbed to his cancer then move out to San Francisco with Matt under a new identity. Later, after Foggy had licked the cancer, they’d see what they could do about bringing him back from the “dead.”

Foggy wasn’t sold on the plan. It would bring unnecessary heartache to his family and friends. And reviving him would be a bit of a hassle. (Really, a hassle? With the way people die and come back to life in Marvel comic books, the Clerk of Courts probably has a standard “Back From the Dead” form on file. But mostly, Foggy wasn’t sold on the plan, because to the world it would just look like he had succumbed to an illness, while he was secretly living in retirement somewhere. Super heroes get to “go out with a bang.” Foggy would just be shuffleboarding off this mortal coil.

That’s when fate stepped in. Or perhaps I should say leapt in as the villain in Daredevil v 4 # 5, was that Daredevil mainstay Leap-Frog. Only it wasn’t the mainstay. This wasn’t your fathers Leap-Frog, or if you happen to be a Daredevil reader as old as me, your Leap-Frog. This was the new and improved Leap-Frog (Armour). Hey, can I help it if that – complete with the Olde English spelling – is what Marvel calls him?

The old Leap-Frog, you may remember, looked like Kermit after some bad acid. A man in a goofy frog costume that was equipped with powerful electronic springs in the scuba diver fins he wore as boots that allowed him to leap up to six stories in a single bound. The springs may have helped Leap-Frog be coily to bed and coily to rise, but they brought him less respect as a super villain than Rodney Dangerfield with bad biorhythms.

I don’t want to leap to conclusions, but Leap-Frog classic was one of the worst super villains ever. And this from a man who can actually see the merits of the Living Eraser. But, as I said, fortunately for us, this was new and improved Leap-Frog (Armour). Gone was the goofy-looking frog costume and the powerful springs. Leap-Frog (Armour) was armed with a robotic battlesuit that looked like a Transformer that had just changed from a Fiat 500 into a robotic version of Kermit after some bad acid.

Leap-Frog (Armour) wanted to establish his rep by defeating Daredevil. So he grabbed Foggy to force Daredevil to fight him. He and Daredevil fought East Side, West Side and all around the sidewalks of New York until, long story short, Daredevil defeated Leap-Frog (Armour). In only five pages. (So much for “new and improved. I think the new Leap-Frog’s fight with Daredevil lasted fewer rounds than Leap-Frog classic’s did.)

The fight, however, ended with a bang. Literally. Leap-Frog (Armour)’s armour was a time bomb which was about to explode on 5th Avenue. Daredevil couldn’t have a time bomb exploding on 5th Avenue and not because it would shower the city with crunchy peanut-butter and chocolate. Because Daredevil couldn’t see the controls to the battlesuit, he couldn’t do anything to stop the explosion. Foggy was the only person who was close enough to prevent untold deaths. So Daredevil told Foggy to get into the armour and leap into the air as high and as far away from people as he could go.

Foggy did. He sent the battlesuit into a powerful leap that took it well above the nearest sky scrapers. Then it exploded harmlessly in the air. Killing Foggy. So Foggy got to die big, after all.



he didn’t really die. See, Hank Pym in his Ant-Man suit was inside Foggy treating his cancer at the time Leap-Frog (Armour) grabbed Foggy. So Daredevil had Ant-Man shrink Foggy down in size just before the explosion, and the two of them rode away from the explosion on wind currents.

Now Foggy appeared to be dead, in a big, heroic, self-sacrificing death and Matt could go forward with his plan of relocating Foggy to San Francisco in secret, where Foggy could continue his cancer treatments without interruption of super villains.

Happy ending for all. Except, of course, for Leap-Frog (Armour). Because think about how things look for him. He kidnaped Foggy, then activated a time bomb on Fifth Avenue, Then Foggy “sacrificed his life” to keep the bomb from killing anyone else. According to New York Penal Code § 135.25, when you kidnap someone and the victim dies before being returned to safety, that is kidnapping in the first degree. And according to NYPL § 125.27, causing someone’s death while committing kidnapping in the first degree is murder in the first degree.

Because of Matt’s little scheme to protect Foggy by faking his death in a glorious, going-out-big manner, Leap Frog (Armour) will be prosecuted for, and should be convicted of, murder in the first degree. There’s just one little problem with this; Leap Frog (Armour) isn’t guilty of the crime. He didn’t kill anybody, least of all Foggy. Sure Leap-Frog (Armour) is guilty of kidnapping and attempted murder and attempted arson, so he would be going to prison for a good long time. But he wouldn’t be guilty of murder.

Matt, I know you’ve been a little, shall we say, expansive in your interpretation of laws and ethics of late; but the next time you decide to fake your friend’s death, can’t you do it without framing a guy for murder?

Dennis O’Neil: Are We Crowded Yet?

We’ll be at the big convention in Indiana this weekend. First con of 2015, which means that, for us, the comic book year has begun. ( or guys like me, the comic book year is like the school year is for a kid, the time when the action really begins.) The highlight of the convention may be interacting with another guest, Carrie Fisher, who once worked briefly with my chief DNA sharer. I mean, at least we’ll have an excuse to speak to her and Marifran might well do that, extravert that she is. I mean, don’t put it past her.

You might get to interact with her, too. She’s usually sitting beside me asking fans, in her nicest-teacher-you-ever-had way, to donate something to the Hero Initiative, which is a good idea and which you should do.

For those of you for whom comics are merely an interest, as opposed to a passion or, heaven help you, a lifestyle, the summer looks to provide the usual ration of superheroic pleasures, mostly in the form of huge movies. You know what they are, probably, and if you don’t, you should have ample opportunity to find out before you need a bathing suit.

If you attend either of the Rockland County NY multiplexes, you might see an old couple near the front. That’d be us. I’ll be the bald one.

Elsewhere, there’s television. Last week, we mentioned Daredevil, a show that Netflix will stream next month. And CBS has a Supergirl series ready to go. And I’m sure other costumed wrong-righters will pop up here and there. You superhero fans – you’ll be okay.

Are we nearing a saturation point? Are we already there? I shrug. A network executive recently said that no, we aren’t overstuffed with superheroes because every show and movie is different. Well… every cop show is different, too, in that they use different casts, characters, sets, locales. But they all feature dedicated public servants, some of them maybe a tad quirky, who, dammit, make the system work. Who bring what they call “justice” and what a nitpicker might call “vengeance.” Most superhero stories have a similar dynamic, with a quasi-mythic super person replacing quirky policemen.

It’s how ancient themes are expressed in our post-industrial Earth and I’m not complaining. Catch me on a sunny day and I might even cheer. But this particular way of expressing them, with the costumes and flying and the double identities and all the rest of it? Too much, yet? The obvious parallel genre is the westerns, once an absolute staple of screens large and small, now rare. But the world has changed since the cowboy heyday and the parallel might not be valid. We’ll see, eventually, maybe.

Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the spectacle of Iron Man kicking Ultron butt and, convention goers can breathe the same air as the talented folk who enact our favorite fantasies.