Bob Ingersoll: TheLaw Is A Ass #350: DAREDEVIL GRANTS FRAME AND FORTUNE
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?