Tagged: Joe Chill

Molly Jackson: Listen and Learn

listen and learn

So Batman vs. Superman happened. It was a thing. I saw it. But instead of talking about the movie, I’m going to talk about how Batman inadvertently introduced me to my latest obsession.

So last week, I felt bored and restless. Despite the TV episodes backing up on my Hulu account and the ever-growing stack of books and comics, I just wasn’t interested. Finally, after several minutes of staring at my wall, I remembered that I had activated a new skill for my Echo. The Amazon Echo (because I am assuming you don’t know) is a voice-activated speaker that comes with skills rather than apps and mostly wants to assist you with buying more things from Amazon. Still, some of the features are really great and it’s the closest I’ll get to the computer on the Enterprise. My only real wish was that the activation word changed from “Alexa” to “Computer” so I can really go full-on Trekkie.

Ok, the skill I decided to finally try was the voice-powered choose-your-own-adventure game called The Wayne Investigation. Yup, it is exactly like it sounds. You get to catch the killer of Thomas and Martha Wayne! That is, if you are one of the few people who owns an Amazon Echo. This was released as a promotion for BvS, but it was honestly more fun than the film itself. I relaxed on my bed and tried a number of the options. Even after catching the bad guy Joe Chill himself, I kept trying other scenarios. The writing was so well-done and intriguing.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing this story. It was a relaxing time but held my interest, despite being one of the most played out stories in comics. (It ties with Uncle Ben dying as totally overdone.) This is more amazing when I consider I have never liked audio books or listening to podcasts and news reports. I think that the difference is that this was created with the medium in mind.

Admittedly, the game stayed with me over the next few days. So when I caught a 24-hour bug that came with a killer headache, I thought about how nice it was to listen to a story created for the auditory senses. That’s when I finally listened to a friend of mine and gave the podcast Welcome to Nightvale a shot.

It’s a radio show that provides community news and updates for the fictional town of Nightvale. Stylized like a serialized radio show on acid; the mix of sci-fi, horror, and sarcasm script a haunting and engrossing tale. And it is the only thing I’ve listened to in the past week. I kept putting off writing this column because I needed to hear what happened next.

It is an engrossing tale in the simplest of ways, with twists coming out of every turn almost because they can. It is almost all told from the perspective of the radio host Cecil, who provides his own commentary on the unusual and bizarre rules of this crazy town. I’ve almost come to care more about the political dealings of this fictional town than reality, but that could be that the fiction makes more sense at this point. Nightvale has been running since 2012, so I still have plenty of episodes to binge.

Ok, so writing about audio stories on a comics site is a little weird. Comics is most definitely a visual medium. I recognize that I’m preaching the exact opposite of what we usually write about. However, sometimes a change is a good thing. The comic-born (and killed) Waynes went audio, and joined the weird and bizarre stories of Nightvale, which might one day grace the pages of a comic floppy.

So if you ever feel the need for a change in medium, listen to that need. Literally.


The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #375


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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