Tagged: Jessica Jones

Marc Alan Fishman: The Times, They Are A Changin’

Can you feel it in the air, kiddos? Whether it’s our President’s RussiaGate investigation picking off staff members and placing others under house arrest, or the massive movement of that other three-named comic book creator being snagged by their rival comic company. The times? They are a’changin.’

And while I’m apt to discuss my continuing thoughts on our super-villain-in-chief slowly devolving our country into the antithesis of what it was founded upon, I think it’s more apropos I dive in instead to the recent(ish) announcement that Brian Michael Bendis is headed towards DC Comics.

In 2000, which I’ll be double-damned was seventeen friggin’ years ago, BMB was brought in on a little experimental book Ultimate Spider-Man. The proto-millennial Peter Parker of Bendis’s pen was what a generation needed from their comics. He was young, unencumbered by decades of backstory, and full of delicious teen angst. Paired with the artwork of stalwart journeyman Mark Bagley, the book skyrocketed Bendis’s name-value into the upper echelons of the modern comic book fandom. And over the course of his career at the house funded by the Mouse, Bendis had amazing runs on Daredevil, The Avengers, Alias, and the X-Men. But you have access to Wikipedia too, so, let’s just call it a day with the basics, shall we?

While some would be quick to point out that BMB’s clout may not be at the same levels it once was, anyone with a Facebook feed like mine when the announcement dropped surely could argue otherwise. Every comic book fan and creator I know had something to say on the matter. Most all of it was purely positive – save literally for that one friend who literally can’t say they like anything, ever. But, pardon my French, fuck that guy.

With Bendis headed to DC, the potential energy here outmatches the kinetic force of his Marvel departure. With decades (plus) full of ideas for DC’s pantheon of super-powered beings, there’s a change in the air of mainstream comics – if only for the time being until his name is actually attached to specific projects with specific deadlines.

Simply take a look at the modern comic landscape, and you’ll see how BMB moved the needle of mainstream comics like a nuclear-powered sharknado. He made a generation believe that Spider-Man could become a legacy character through Miles Morales. He took the idea of a Wonder Woman, removed all heroic chakras, and gave us Jessica Jones. He whispered through Scarlet Witch “no more mutants.” He disassembled and reassembled the Avengers. And even recently, he created RiRi Williams – giving us the female Rhodey we never knew we wanted. Like I said: needle-moving creation.

Now, take that mind, and give it the keys to a new kingdom. This move allows us to build on the potent world-building of Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, etc., and grant carte blanche to introduce the humanity that Bendis has built a career off of… ultimately (natch) allowing DC to have its cake and eat it too.

 

If we think big picture, it’s easy to see how the street-level vision of BMB could breathe new life into staple DC champions like Batman, or Green Lantern. Or, Bendis could lend his pro-woman-writing wares to Wonder Woman or Supergirl. Hell, they could just let ole’ BMB nab someone like Jamie Reyes or Kyle Rayner (please oh please) and let him steer their ships towards brighter shores. Again: the possibilities are endless, and exciting. Oh wait! Could Bendis be allowed to work with the Endless?! I digress, I digress.

Yes kiddos, the times they are a’changin’. Amidst all the hellfire and panic that exists in the real world? I’m happy to know that the fake ones that exist on paper now have a new voice and energy to distract me from the impending doom. And that is a change worth subscribing to.

The Law Is A Ass #418: HELLCAT IS NOT HEDY’S PATSY

The Law Is A Ass #418: HELLCAT IS NOT HEDY’S PATSY

Childhood friends turned bitter enemies. Sounds like the stuff of soap operas, not to mention more than a few recent comic books. And so we have former childhood frenimies and comic book characters Patsy Walker and Hedy – not Hedley – Wolfe. Nowadays, when they think about their shared past it’s angst for the memories.

All because of Patsy’s mother. When Patsy was a teen, her mother, Dorothy Walker, exploited Patsy by writing a series of teen humor comic books starring Patsy and Hedy. Patsy was embarrassed by them, but her mother wouldn’t stop writing them. That caused a rift between Patsy and her mother. Of course, the fact that when Patsy’s mother was dying she tried to sell Patsy to the Devil so that Patsy would die instead of her probably didn’t help their mother-daughter relationship. It makes Joan Crawford’s hanger management issues look like Mother-of-the-Year stuff.

Dorothy and Patsy didn’t get along. Hedy, on the other hand visited Dorothy frequently and paid Dorothy’s hospital bills. So Dorothy asked Hedy to write up a contract granting Hedy all the rights to the Patsy and Hedy comic books, which Hedy did. Now Hedy is reprinting all those comics, much to the rekindled embarrassment of Patsy. And her re-Nooked embarrassment, too.

Patsy, who is also the super heroine Hellcat, hired Jennifer Walters, attorney-at-law when she’s not being the super heroine She-Hulk, to represent her against Hedy and recover the rights to the comic books. Jennifer, in turn, hired former super heroine and now owner/operator of the Alias Detective Agency, Jessica Jones to investigate the case. (Hellcat? She-Hulk? Jessica Jones? I think this book has a heroine addiction.)

Jessica’s investigations led her to believe that a dresser Hedy had in her living room deserved to be checked out. So in Patsy Walker, A.K.A. HELLCAT! # 7, Jessica and Hellcat broke into Hedy’s apartment and found Dorothy’s medical records in the dresser.

Jessica took a picture of the records and texted it to Jennifer. From those records Jennifer learned that when Dorothy signed the contract with Hedy, Dorothy was on a heavy morphine drip and mentally incapacitated. How incapacitated? Well, let’s just say she tried to sell her own daughter to a demon so she was like a mint tablet that couldn’t be turned into fertilizer; non-compost Mentos.

Because Dorothy’s morphine drip prevented her from having the mental capacity to form a contract, her contract with Hedy was null and void. A contract is a meeting of the minds and you can’t have a meeting of the minds when one of the minds isn’t there because it isn’t all there.

That was Jennifer’s legal argument, anyway. Hedy’s counter argument was that the evidence was obtained illegally so wasn’t admissible. As this is Patsy’s comic book, guess which argument won. If you guessed Patsy, then you won.

Evidence that’s obtained illegally is perfectly admissible in court. Iago famously said, “He who steals my purse steals trash,” but if they were prosecuting Othello for stealing said purse, do you think they’d introduce trash as evidence or the purse? Evidence that was illegally obtained by theft is admissible in theft prosecutions. So, yes, evidence that is obtained illegally is admissible.

Okay, our case isn’t a theft case, it’s a civil suit over contract and copyright issues. And my stolen property argument is a more of a straw man than Ray Bolger. The question is, if someone in a civil trial obtains evidence illegally and gives it to one of the lawyers, can that lawyer use the evidence in the case?

The general rule is that if the lawyer wasn’t involved in obtaining the evidence and didn’t know how it was obtained, the lawyer can introduce it. The story clearly established that Jennifer had no idea what Patsy and Jessica were doing. So in most cases, Jennifer would have been able to introduce the evidence against Hedy even though it was obtained illegally.

There is, however, a wrinkle to the general rule that would have some bearing on admissibility in this case. Jennifer hired the Alias Detective Agency to obtain evidence in the case, so there are agency problems.

No, not problems with the Alias Detective Agency, problems with the fact that Jessica was Jennifer’s agent. When Jessica and Patsy broke into Hedy’s home, they were acting on the behalf of Jennifer. The fact that Jennifer didn’t order them to do this doesn’t matter, they were still acting as Jennifer’s agents because she had hired Jessica to obtain evidence in the case.

Under agency law Jessica’s illegal act can be imputed back to Jennifer and make it as if Jennifer, herself, broken into Hedy’s apartment. If Jessica’s illegal act were to be imputed back to Jennifer, then Jennifer wouldn’t be able to admit the evidence.

Don’t think that settles the matter, though. We need to break out the starch, because there is a wrinkle to this wrinkle. Jessica and Patsy didn’t actually take the hospital bills, they just photographed them. So they didn’t obtain any evidence illegally, they only found evidence illegally. The evidence was obtainable through perfectly legal avenues. All Jennifer had to do was have Patsy, Dorothy’s next-of-kin, request Dorothy’s records from the hospital. After the hospital supplied the records, Jennifer would have obtained the evidence legally and it would probably have been admissible. When Jessica pointed this out, Hedy made like the Carlsbad Caverns and caved.

The fact that Jennifer needed Jessica to find this evidence in the first place makes me wonder how good of a lawyer Jennifer is. If I had a client who wanted to void a contract signed by a mother who was in the hospital and dying, the second thing I would have done was have the client request the mother’s medical records to see whether the mother was on any mentally-incapacitating drugs. The first thing I would have done is make sure the client’s check cleared.

Still, all’s well that ends well. One page and three days (according to a caption) later, Hedy settled out of court and surrendered all the rights to the comics back to Patsy and the Patsy-Hedy childhood rivalry story finally ended. And it was about time, if you want my fr-angst opinion.

Dennis O’Neil: Team-Ups!

So it’s a ball boiler inside the Manhattan office building because although I’m pretty sure air conditioning existed it did not become ubiquitous until after the war that the good ol’ US of A was sliding into. What we’re looking at is an open window on an upper floor and somehow (are we pigeons?) we get inside and behold! Three middle-aged men, suit jackets draped over chairs, ties loosened, discussing the comic books they edit. They have had solid successes with characters a couple of young guys named Bill Everett and Carl Burgos brought in. The topic under discussion: more! More of Burgos’s Human Torch, of Everett’s Sub-Mariner: and yes, of course, more profits, and maybe this year’s Christmas bonus will be worth more than a subway token. Then one of the three (wise men?) has The Idea: Combine ‘em! Put them in the same issue…no, put ‘em in the same story.

And so they did, and a few months later your grandpa (great grandpa?) was sitting on a porch swing with his best gal reading about the meeting of Subby and The Torch, and being scolded by Best Gal for wasting time and money on those stupid funny books! (Okay, skeptics, can you prove that this stuff didn’t happen? Go ahead, Mr. Philosophy Dude, let’s see you prove a negative.)

Whatever the particulars, regardless of what did or did not actually occur, the Torch-Sub-Mariner stories went on sale and the few readable copies left are very early examples of what would later be a comic book staple, the team-up.

And then, the passing of years and The Justice Society of America, the Marvel Family, and a plethora of other costumed teams, until the arrival of the X-Men just abut the time when comics as a whole were getting a mighty, second wind and emerging from a decade-long obscurity, victims of the Eisenhower era witch hunts.

Comics were back!

And movies were following the trail they blazed. After a few single-hero flicks, the movies found the X-Men and a billion dollar franchise was born. Hold it! – not exactly born: rather, evolved from earlier existence as comic book characters. Fortunes were, and are, being made. More of them to come.

And the fossil who goes by my name can kick back and realize that the Netflix video enterprise, a first cousin to the movies mentioned above, is a super-group comprised entirely of character I’ve worked on. Yep, The Defenders, starring Iron Fist and Power Man, who were partners in their comic book home, and Daredevil and Patsy Walker.

Who?

Patsy made the giant leap from comics about post-teens to grim superheroic private eye Jessica Jones. Patsy’s light and bright escapades were closely related to other Marvel stuff like Millie the Model and if you didn’t know that, well, now you do.

As of this writing, I’ve only seen two of the Defenders programs and so have not earned the right to have an opinion about the whole series.

Catch me next week. Maybe by then I’ll have earned the aforementioned figured out the subject of the preceding 517 words.

Martha Thomases: Defending…?

Last Friday, my pal Larry Hama invited me to a “friends and family” screening of the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders. I mean the new series debuting on Netflix today, not the classic television show, The Defenders, the source of many many jokes made during the screening.

Also in attendance: Tony Isabella, Michael Gaydos and his adorable son, Arvell Jones, and the families of Archie Goodwin and George Tuska. Plus a bunch of current Marvel folks who had probably already seen the whole series, but who were gracious hosts.

Before the screening began, I was feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about seeing so many of my old friends and meeting people whose work I admired. Hence, I was psyched to enjoy two hours in a comfy chair in a screening room.

Mostly, I had a great time. I have a huge crush on Charlie Cox, the beautiful man who plays Matt Murdock. And I love Rosario Dawson, Mike Colter, and Kristin Ritter. The production design for the series suggests the color schemes associated with each of the four main characters so that Daredevil’s scenes are dark and red, Jessica Jones’ scenes are blue, and Luke Cage’s seem to have been shot in the 1970s.

If only there were no Iron Fist.

I don’t blame Finn Jones. He’s working as hard as he can. Unfortunately, the way Danny Rand has been written for these series, he’s a narcissist. A benevolent narcissist, but still a man who only sees the world as it relates to him. Daredevil is trying to keep crime out of his neighborhood. Luke Cage is the Hero of Harlem. Even Jessica Jones goes out of her way to help a stranger.

Danny Rand only thinks about Danny Rand. Even in his guilt, he can’t see past himself.

I guess this makes a certain amount of sense, given that he was raised by Buddhist monks and taught to look within himself for strength. Buddhists can be rather solipsistic. They aren’t the only ones, certainly, and that’s not all there is to Buddhism, but that’s what I infer from the Netflix series. In any case, his self-absorption has the effect of making the character and his struggles seem less important.

(For another perspective on Buddhism and action heroes, you might want to check out this series, co-written by my high school friend, Tinker Lindsay.)

A few supporting characters from each series are here, so our heroes have someone to provide exposition. I like to see Colleen Wing and Misty Knight and Foggy Nelson and Trish Walker. Sigourney Weaver and Waitlist Ching Ho make excellent villains. And there are many many, many other characters, enough so that it feels like it’s actually shot in New York City, where many millions of people live.

I can’t give a real critical overview of a series from just the first two episodes. It felt like they were taking their time getting to the real story because when the screening ended, the four main characters had not yet all met each other. That seems to me to be a bit too slow.

Still, it’s the tail end of August. What else do you have to do this weekend? I certainly have nothing better.

•     •     •     •     •

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The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #413

MATT MURDOCK HAS SOME INTERESTING CONFLICTS

Has this ever happened to you? You’re sitting there, minding your own business, reading your comic books, when something in the story makes you go, “Now, that’s not right!” Of course you have. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times you’ve read recent comic books and haven’t found something that made you say that. And probably still have enough fingers left over for an obscene gesture.

I have a confession to make, I’ve done it, too. The difference being, when you do it you can complain on a message board or something. When I do it, then I get to do this…

So there I was minding my own business reading Jessica Jones #9. I had just gotten to the part where Sharon Carter, acting head of S.H.I.E.L.D., arrested Jessica Jones, the super heroine turned private investigator, and threw her into jail for being uncooperative. Oh, yeah, and for insulting Sharon’s hairdo. No, seriously, that’s why Sharon tossed Jessica in jail.

No, that’s not the part that made me say, “Hey, that’s not right.” I mean arresting Jessica for bad hair day in the first and throwing her into a cell on Ryker’s Island is not right, but this sort of thing has happened so often in recent comic books that I’m rather inured to it. What is it about being head of S.H.I.E.L.D.? First it turned first Maria Hill  and then Sharon Carter into ill-tempered, officious, untrustworthy tenants in Apartment 23  who think a Bill of Rights is what you pay when you buy from the remainder table of the Leftorium.

No, the thing in the story that gave me pause was when Jessica’s attorney showed up and got her released with a writ of habeas corpus. At least, I assume it was a habeas corpus. The story didn’t say, but I kind of doubt Jessica’s attorney used a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Those things were only honored by Warden Crichton on the old Batman TV series; and, judging how many repeat offenders that show had, with alarming frequency.

It also didn’t bother me that Jessica’s lawyer got her sprung from her bogus arrest by using the great writ; springing people from bogus arrests is exactly what habeas was writ for. No what bothered me was that Jessica’s lawyer was Matt Murdock.

Remember, the Purple Children made the world forget that Matt Murdock was Daredevil, meaning the New York State Bar Association forgot why it had disbarred Matt  and reinstated his license to practice law in New York, Matt has been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. Matt doesn’t get people out of jail anymore, he puts them in jail. So for Matt to show up with a habeas corpus for Jessica would be a dubious course oops.

Could Matt have been representing Jessica through a private practice he maintained on the side to earn extra money? Probably not. Some jurisdictions do allow their assistant district attorneys to run a private practice on the side. I don’t know whether New York is one of those jurisdictions, but it really doesn’t matter. Even those jurisdictions that allow their prosecutors to have private practices on the side, don’t allow them to accept cases which would present a conflict of interests.

And that means district attorneys can’t usually handle criminal cases in their side practices. Courts tend to find conflicts when the same lawyer is actively trying to put criminals behind bars in the job while trying to keep them out of jail on the side. Even if there are no actual conflicts, lawyers are supposed to avoid the appearance of impropriety and earning money on both sides of the criminal justice system doesn’t do that.

Matt could write wills, do civil litigation, negotiate contracts, and that sort of thing. In The Unstoppable Wasp #6, Matt showed up as Nadia Pym’s immigration lawyer. Even that could be permissible. Criminal law and immigration law sometimes intersect, but not so often that being a prosecutor and an immigration attorney automatically cause conflicts of interest.

If Matt were representing an immigrant who was being deported because he or she was being prosecuted for a crime in New York, that would probably be a conflict of interests. But the conflict of interests decision would be made on a case-by-case basis and not require an automatic withdrawal. But Matt representing criminal defendants while also serving as a district attorney in New York? That’s as iffy as a Bread song.

Beside which, Matt is already in enough hot water with his boss at the District Attorney’s office. So, even if it weren’t a conflict of interests for Matt to represent criminal defendants in his side practice, I doubt he’d want to risk incurring his boss’s wrath even further by eating prosecute-to ham with a side of defense work.

And why did the story have to use Matt Murdock anyway? Jennifer Walters is a practicing attorney in New York City, she could have been Jessica’s attorney without the whole conflict of interest problems. Or maybe Jeryn Hogarth could have represented Jessica. Why, there’s even a Manhattan-based attorney in the Marvel Universe named Robert Ingersol. He could have represented Jessica. I happen to have personal knowledge that he could use the money.

The Law Is A Ass #410: Captain Marvel and I Indulge in Conspiracy Theories

I’ve never lied to you.

Last time I said I had no more Civil War II columns and here I am writing about Jessica Jones #6 and things that wouldn’t have happened without Civil War II happening. But writing about things that happened after Civil War II ended is not a Civil War II column. It’s a Civil War II aftermath column. So I didn’t lie. Technically.

And now that I’ve cleared my conscience, let’s get this over with.

Alison Green was one of the people that the Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted was going to commit crimes. Which made her one of the people Captain Marvel arrested before they committed the crimes and threw into a preventative justice prison so that they couldn’t commit their future crimes. Unfortunately, Alison wasn’t going to commit a crime. Ulysses was as wrong about Allison as that soothsayer was about the Powerball numbers she gave me last week. And Captain Marvel was even more wrong to arrest Alison than she had been in arresting all the other people she was wrong to arrest.

Alison created an anti-super hero organization. Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Alison into believing Jessica Jones was disgraced so Alison would recruit Jessica into the organization. Which Alison did and got stung worse than Doyle Lonnegan after stepping on a hornet’s nest. Jessica helped Alison capture Captain Marvel, Then, when Alison thought she had the upper hand, she showed she had what it takes to be a comic-book villain; she went into full-blown monologue mode and revealed her master plan. Which was to kill the Champions in a way that would foster a huge anti-hero backlash and end the age of the super hero forever. (End the age of the super hero? I don’t think Disney pictures would like that very much.)

Captain Marvel said Alison’s Champions plan added conspiracy to commit murder to her other crimes. But I don’t know. See, the crime of conspiracy to commit a crime entails more than conspiring to commit a crime. As the details about Alison’s plan were sketchier than an Artist’s Alley commission, I’m not sure there’s enough there for a conspiracy charge.

Conspiracy has three basic elements. First, two or more people have to be involved. Second, they have plan together to commit a crime. Third, at least one of them has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Let’s take those one at a time. If only one person is involved, there’s no conspiracy. No one can conspire with him or herself. Even if all three faces of Eve agreed to commit the crime, that’s not a conspiracy because there’s only one Eve. And conspiracy is all about Eve and someone else planning a crime.

Second, the two or more people have to create a plan to commit a crime. They don’t all have to commit the crime. Even if only person commits the actual crime, as long as two or more of people planned the crime, they’d all be guilty of conspiracy. That’s two defendants for the price of one, what a bargain!

Third, at least one of the conspirators has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. If Bonnie and Clyde create a plan to rob the Commerce Bank in Beverly Hills then go to sleep so they can get a fresh start in the morning, they have not committed a conspiracy yet. However as soon as they do something else – drive to the bank, steal the getaway car, kidnap Sonny Drysdale  to use as leverage against the bank president – they’ve completed the crime of conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter that they haven’t actually robbed the bank yet. By making the plan and then doing an overt act in furtherance of the plan they committed conspiracy, even if they never accomplish their ultimate objective.

So did Alison conspire to commit murder? Well, first we’d have to know did Alison make her plan to kill the Champions with one or more people? And, if so, with which people? If the only person Alison made her plans with was Jennifer Jones, then there can be no conspiracy. Jennifer wasn’t really part of the conspiracy, she was an undercover government operative. Traditionally, when the only other party to a conspiracy is a government operative, then two or more people aren’t agreeing to commit a crime. One plans to commit the crime, the other is just pretending as part of the undercover sting and we’re back to the a person can’t conspire with him or herself rule. Recently, some states and the Model Penal Code have started to move away from this position and allow conspiracy convictions when the co-conspirators are government agents, because the criminal thinks he or she has entered a conspiracy.

So if New York allows conspiracies with undercover police of if Alison made her plans with anyone in her organization other than Jessica, then the first element of the conspiracy is met. She probably did, but we weren’t given enough information in the story to know this for sure.

Assuming that Alison and others did plan to kill the Champions, the second element is also met. I trust that I don’t have to convince you that murder is a crime. I think I have to convince some writers of that, based on the way they have their heroes kill. But you, I shouldn’t have to convince. As murder is a crime, making plans with other people to commit a murder would hit conspiracy’s second element.

Third element, did any of the conspirators commit any overt act in furtherance of the plan to kill the Champions? We don’t know. We do know they were supposed to carry out the plan later that same night, so it’s likely that somebody had done something, because time was a wastin’ but the law doesn’t allow us to assume the existence of an element. So I can’t say for sure that anyone did an overt act or that Alison is guilty of conspiracy.

Sure Captain Marvel said Alison committed conspiracy. But let’s face it, Captain Marvel’s grasp of the law is about as firm as if she were noodling for mercury. While wearing a catcher’s mitt on both hands.

Now while I may not be able to tell you whether Alison’s guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, I can tell you this; I just checked my pile of write-about-these-someday comics and there isn’t one of them that’s connected to Civil War II. So I should be done with it. Unless Marvel’s got some new story coming up that connects back to Civil War II. And I don’t think they do. Civil War II is so last year. This year Marvel’s too busy secreting Secret Empire stories.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #409

JESSICA JONES RECONSTRUCTS THE CRIME

Well, I can’t put it off any longer no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

The last time I started a column with those words we were engaged in a not-so-great Civil War. It’s how I began my multi-column series on Marvel’s Civil War II. Today we turn to the aftermath of Civil War II. Call it Marvel’s Reconstruction Era, only the historical one was probably less painful.

Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted future crimes. Captain Marvel arrested everyone the predictions said would commit some future crime and put them in jail. I wrote about why this was against the law. You know, it’s a pity that this Captain Marvel is forcing a perfectly respectable Captain Marvel  to call himself Shazam.

One of the future criminals Captain Marvel imprisoned was Allison Green. Problem was, the prediction about Allison was wrong. She was neither a terrorist nor a criminal mastermind. Or wasn’t until she got so upset by what happened to her that she dedicated herself to bringing down Captain Marvel and other super heroes. Then she became both.

Toward this end, Alison formed an anti-super hero network which Captain Marvel wanted to infiltrate. Toward that end, Captain Marvel enlisted former super heroine turned private investigator Jessica Jones. They faked a fall from grace that sent Jessica to jail and ruined her reputation. Then they dangled the Jessica bait in front of Allison Green.

This fake-somebody’s-fall-so-the-badguys-will-recruit-him ploy was already old when 77 Sunset Strip used it in its first season, and that was so long ago that even men of a certain age are too young to have seen it first-run. (Only men of an more uncertain age, like me, had that chance.) Still, the ploy worked as well as it did back when Hector’s grandfather was a pup. Allison Green scooped up Jessica and in Jessica Jones #6, Jessica lured Captain Marvel into Allison’s trap.

This ploy only works if the big bad cooperates by revealing his or her plan. Allison did not disappoint, other than that she fell for a trick as old as the fruit salad in the Garden of Eden. She monologued like she was performing every tragedy Shakespeare ever wrote. She admitted she was going to kill the Champions and make it look like it was their fault then use the ensuing chaos to turn people against the super heroes. “The world is going to burn you all at the stake. The heroes are going to try to fight back and that ensuing ugliness is the end of the age of heroes.”

At which point, Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones revealed their plan, arrested Allison, and told her that she was going to a deep, dark prison cell where the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad would “pull all the other names and details of your burgeoning organization right out of your head … whether you like it or not.”

This story raised a few questions. I have a few answers. Let’s hope as many answers as there were questions.

Was faking Jessica Jones’s fall from grace so Allison Green would recruit her into her evil empire entrapment? No.

Entrapment happens when law enforcement officials originate a criminal design and implant the disposition to commit a crime into an innocent person’s head. If an undercover cop offers to sell someone drugs, that would be entrapment, as the government planted the idea of buying drugs into the innocent person’s head.

Allison Green was about as innocent as a newborn babe thirty-six years later; after he had become a paid assassin. She had already committed some crimes. She formed an organization to commit more crimes. Jessica did not implant the idea of committing crimes in Allison.

Did Allison’s monologued confession violate the Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination? No.

Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Allison into confessing, so there was state action. But the state action has to force the criminal to confess in order to violate the Fifth Amendment. Allison gave her confession like she was entering Dracula’s castle, freely and of her own will.

If the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad extracts information from Allison’s brain “whether she likes it or not,” would that information be suppressed under the Fifth Amendment? Hell yes!

In Schmerber v. California, the Supreme Court ruled the police could forcibly take a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver. But taking evidence using a bodily intrusion could only be done after the police obtained a search warrant. Schmerber allowed this because blood samples are not testimonial in nature. That meant only Fourth Amendment search and seizure law applied, not Fifth Amendment self-incrimination law.

Non-testimonial evidence is evidence which doesn’t require the suspect to reveal anything. As the Supreme Court noted in Curcio v. United States, the Fifth Amendment prohibits forcing someone to “disclose the contents of his own mind.” Ordering a defendant to produce blood samples, fingerprints, or the like does not require a defendant to “disclose the contents of his mind.”

Extracting thoughts from a criminal’s brain by telepathy “whether she likes it or not,” on the other hand, does force the defendant to “disclose the contents of [her] mind.” Literally.

So Captain Marvel, if you want to teep Allison’s house – well, her mental house, as it were – I have some advice; don’t. Any evidence telepathically extracted from Allison’s mind would be inadmissible because it would violate her Fifth Amendment rights. In addition, under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine, that evidence wouldn’t be admissible against any member of her “burgeoning organization” either. Apparently Civil War II didn’t teach Captain Marvel anything about the law, because her costume is still a fascist statement.

Last, and most important question, do I have any more columns about Civil Wars II on tap? You’ll be glad to know, the answer is no.

Mike Gold: Iron Fist – Your Mileage May Vary!

I must admit, I agree with Roy Thomas and Larry Hama.

Unfortunately, this puts me in opposition to at least three of my ComicMix fellow travelers – Martha Thomases, Joe Corallo and Adriane Nash. And, probably, many others who occupy these premises. That should make our next staff meeting amusing.

Iron Fist – I’m talking about the Marvel/Netflix series – most certainly is not The Prisoner of 21st Century. It’s not even as good as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. But from reading the reactions of the aforementioned critics and many others, I do not find it to be the You’re In The Picture of the 21st Century, a show so obscure and godawfullousy that only Bob Ingersoll remembers it.

To be fair, I’ve only seen the first four episodes. Then again, Martha’s only seen the first four as well. But those critics who have been vocal in their distaste for the show seem to take umbrage at a number of the show’s elements:

  • It moves too slowly.

Yeah, well, there’s some truth to that but, damn, BFD. Epileptics deserve the opportunity to watch heroic fantasy without going into a seizure.

  • The lead, Finn Jones, sucks.

Maybe, maybe not. Stephen Amell was pretty lame when Arrow got its start, and he got a lot better. While Jones hasn’t quite reached the level of, say, Peter Capaldi, I’m willing to give him some time. How old is he, anyway? About 11, I think.

  • The plot is a rip-off of Arrow, isn’t it?

This particularly bothered my pal Joe. I respond: “Nope, it’s the other way around. In Arrow, Oliver Queen got himself lost in a purportedly fatal accident and came back five years later as a world-travelling, murderous superpowered member of the Russian mob who was cut off from the family fortune. Danny Rand got himself lost in a purportedly fatal accident and he came back some 13 years later a fully-powered superhero who was cut off from the family fortune. The difference is, the storyline in Arrow was mostly original to the teevee show – yes, Oliver did disappear for a while only to come back as a costumed non-superpowered, non-murdering hero­. But Danny Rand did it first: when Roy Thomas and Gil Kane created the character, at that time Oliver Queen was nothing more than an occasional back-up feature in Action Comics. So there.

  • Shouldn’t Iron Fist be Asian-American? After all, it’s 2017, damnit.

Yeah, well, here I agree with Roy. You want an Asian-American character, go create an Asian-American character. In fact, you should. Somebody should. And, get this, Joe – ComicMix’s diversity columnist – made this same point a year ago. Iron Fist was created in (arguably) less-enlightened times. You can’t change the past but – and here’s where I differ greatly from some of my revisionist brethren – you can learn from it. They call this a teaching opportunity.

There are many positive elements in the Iron Fist teevee series. First and foremost: there’s the character of Colleen Wing, as performed by Jessica Henwick. She is not a side-kick. She is her own person, a fully capable young woman struggling to make it in the Big City. Yes, I’d love to see her spin-off into her own series, but let’s face it: a Daughters of the Dragon series with Colleen Wing and Misty Knight (Simone Missick) would kick-ass. Quite literally. Besides, Tony Isabella could use the check.

The bad-guy, Harold Meachum, is wonderful. Sure, we figured out he’s a finger in The Hand roughly well before the first commercial, but his motivations and his truly bizarre technique in handling Rand are fascinating. Better still, actor David Wenham is wonderful in the part.

The Netflix crew, under the direction of Marvel’s own Jeff Loeb, understands the need for and the approach to Mighty Marvel Continuity. We’ve got Madame Gao as the big baddie. We last saw her in Daredevil. Jeri Hogarth appears in three episodes; she was the lawyer who didn’t get along with Jessica Jones in the series of the same name.

Rosario Dawson is in this show. Of course, Rosario has been in just about every superhero show or movie since Kirk Alyn hit puberty, and the world is a much better place for that. Her Claire Temple is the glue of Marvel’s Netflix miniverse and I enjoy seeing her move about the continuity.

I appreciate that Rotten Tomatoes has an 81% audience score but only an 18% critics score. This has nothing to do with your opinion. I mention this only to point out that the critics are sick and tired of being forced to watch all these superhero programs and movies, but they do not pay for the privilege. The audience does. It is their money that shows up on the balance sheets, and thus far, the audience seems to enjoy the genre greatly.

I have done little but give Iron Fist faint praise – Larry Hama, who knows something about martial arts heroes, liked it more than I did. Maybe my opinion will change when I finish watching the first series. Yes, there will be a second – it’s already been picked up.

But, as Dennis Miller used to say (and might still, but hardly anybody cares), “your mileage may vary,” and that’s totally cool.

Marc Alan Fishman: Paint It Black

harlems-paradise

Of the many shows I’ve consumed as of late, two spring to the front of my mind when I want to spice up dinner conversation: Marvel’s Luke Cage, and FX’s Atlanta. They are a yin and yang both birthed from the peanut-butter-chocolate combination that is nerd and black Americans. One show is about a noble black man granted the superhuman ability to rise above white hate. The other is about a loser just trying to get a win in a world built to see him fail. What unites both shows is the through-line of Black America.

Each show is intrepid in its fascination, celebration, exploitation, and segregation of the African-American experience in today’s Trumped-Up United States. Each show on its own is solid, thought-provoking at times, and flawed in their details. Taken as a pair,they become something astounding. At their core, neither could exist without black being right at the forefront.

I’ll spare you my snarky synopsis of each show. Suffice to say you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you choose to ignore either. Cage is on Netflix. Borrow your cousin’s login. Atlanta is on FX. So, in a month or two it’ll be on Hulu. Borrow your other cousin’s login for that one too, I suppose.

With Luke Cage, I freely admit my desire to enjoy it came solely on the knowledge that it was birthed from pulpy roots. I knew little to nothing of the character. Luke works with Iron Fist. He’s got impenetrable skin. He used to dress like a pirate princess. Now he’s a yellow shirted black Stone Cold Steve Austin. Jessica Jones had (has?) his baby. Yup. That’s literally everything I knew of the character. Based on the pedigree of Daredevil and Jessica Jones (vis a vis Netflix) though, I knew Cage would be a quality watch. What I didn’t count on was (as many on my feeds commented on as well) the show actually being about Harlem and the black experience… not just a strong black dude fighting super villains.

With Atlanta, I ensured my series record on the ole’ DVR based solely on my appreciation for all things Donald Glover. And for those following along? This is yet another time I’m eating my own words. Where I once lambasted Glover for being angtsy, it was shortly after writing that article I found myself accidently in love with Because the Internet. The former ensemble cast member of the cult-favorite Community became a near-daily listened-to recording artist on my Spotify playlists for his work as Childish Gambino. Glover on the mic is pensive and egotistical in the same breath. His beats – which some truer rap fans than I lambast him for cribbing from more popular nerdcore artists – are slick interplays of techno-screeches, dub-step-warble, and delightful shoegaze. To think that guy would choose to pen “Twin Peaks, with rappers” as an episodic dramedy sounded like a match made in heaven for my mind. Never mind that I considered whatever that output was going to be, was ever going to be… purposefully black.

While the shows contrast in their nature – one acting as a literal homage and elevation to Blaxsploitation, the other acting an arthouse flick spiraling out somewhere between a serial and anthology – they both share a love of microscopic explorations of black culture as means to build their narratives around.

In Cage, we got a well-read, black-culture-versed hero who is enthralled about authors like Walter Mosley and Ralph Ellison. And while he could jaw a bit with Method Man about his favorite Wu Tang Clan album, the series was sure to celebrate the breadth of black music – from Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans, straight to legends like The Delfonics and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. With Pop’s Barbershop as the “neighborhood Switzerland,” we got a central part of modern black culture woven straight into the fabric of the series. And while not every character on the show was given depth… even background players like Bobby Fish and Turk were allowed to show how they worked to provide for their own through the seedy underbelly of Harlem Luke Cage would be coerced to protect by season’s end.

Atlanta’s black America is far less united in history and shared gravitas. The Big Peach of Glover’s pen is dissected across multiple social strata. Glover’s character, Earn, is a burnout trying to burn less; lending managerial services to his mix-tape slinging cousin. Through the lens of the local rap-scene, we see how Earn and Paper Boi are celebrated by some, loathed by others, obsessed on by posers, and ignored by the players. Throughout the season Earn and those in his orbit wind up in a litany of stereotypical black locales – a BET inspired Charlie Rose interview show, a high-society Southern Gothic ball, the city lock-up, and the backwoods of Georgia for some illicit drug deals. In Atlanta, there are no super heroes to save the day, just the stub of a blunt or a bong made from an apple.

A visit to a dance club in the show is antithetical to Luke Cage’s Harlem’s Paradise. Where Paradise is all class, the club in Atlanta is hot ass. A barely-seen more-famous-rapper keeps a bevvy of hangers’ on in his private VIP section while Paper Boi remains in his self-proclaimed Oktoberfest (a joke so deft, I paused to relish it). When gun shots eventually erupt at both clubs, Cage is at the center of the action to protect and defend. Earn and his cousin duck, run, and get late-night-breakfast. That Paper Boi would then be announced as a potential suspect (when he was far away from the action) serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the modern victimization of innocent black men and women. Earn and Paper Boi see the story, snicker, and go back to their waffles.

In both cases I found a window to a world I’m often purposefully excluded from. That both shows do so well to feel lived in without feeling like purged-pandering is a testament to the niche media worlds we’re enjoying on modern TV. I’ve never been more excited for the future.

Dennis O’Neil: Priorities

Talia

Hey, ja hear? Two Supergirl episodes tonight! ‘Course, I’ve seen ‘em all, but it’ll be a pleasure to see ‘em again. You too?

And hey. Looks like the Cardinals won’t make the playoffs this year. Darn shame, if you ask me. But there’s always next year. One’a these years, the birds’ll go the distance.

Huh? You said something about water?

Netflix has a new sitcom streaming. Maybe that’s why you mentioned “water,” ‘cause water streams just like sitcoms. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. Anyway, we’ll give the new sitcom a watch right after dinner. Well, maybe not right after dinner ‘cause Supergirl’ll be on from eight to ten and we won’t be missing a single second of that. It’s important to know what Netflix is up to, though not as important as Supergirl. That Melissa Benoit – is she an actress or what! But I don’t have to tell you that it’s important to know what Netflix is up to. Ja hear that they’re releasing a Luke Cage movie, to go with Daredevil and Jessica Jones? We’ll be turning off the phone that day! It’s important to know what Netflix is up to. Did I already say that?

Rain? Is that what you said? Like what kings do? That kind of rain?

And ja hear about Brad and Angie? Apparently they’re talking divorce. Wow, I’d sure hate to see that. A darn national tragedy, that’s what that would be. Seems like Brad got caught kissing Marion Cotillard – she was Talia in the last Batman flick, you remember. No, no, not the tall woman, the shorter one. The tall one was Anne Hathaway – how could you forget that? She was Catwoman. No, not Halle Berry Catwoman or Michelle Feiffer Catwoman, or those other ones…We’re talking the lovely Anne Hathaway, darn it.

“Run for office,” did you say? Like, an office is on wheels and it’s going downhill and you have to catch it?

Oh, politics. Yeah, politics can sure be fun. I can’t wait to see what those wacky ducks’ll do next. One said the other was a “poopy head,” or something like that. I heard it from my uncle and he I think he was eating something while we were talking, and, you know, he was hard to understand. It was a doughnut, maybe. Anyway, those politics’ll come up with something funny every time – you can take that straight to the bank, my friend.

There you go again, yakking about floods. So there were some floods in some of those states we don’t know about and in Louisiana they’re saying it’s the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy? Houses lost. Dead people. Stuff like that’s too bad. But they’ll get over it.

Ja hear that Ben Affleck is the next Batman?