First a show of hands, how many of you think the Puppet Master is dead?
No, I mean really dead. Sure Puppet Master’s always been a second-tier villain. After all, anyone who had access to his radioactive clay and a grade school art class could duplicate his powers. But how many think he’s really never-coming-back-from-the-dead dead?
Probably the same number of people who think that the Thing really killed him. However, as things sit in Fantastic Four v5 #13, Thing was sitting in Ryker’s Island waiting trial for murdering Puppet Master. Until Thing recruited his own version of the Impossible Mission Force and broke out of prison.
Step One: Thing met with his lawyer, She-Hulk. Step Two: Ant-Man shrank down to subatomic size so he could navigate along the wiring of Ryker’s Island and use a pulse bomb to shut down the cell cubes and power dampeners that Ryker’s used to keep its super-powered inmates under control. Step Three: Sandman used his sand powers to hamper the efforts of any of the other inmates who tried to escape during the power outage. Step Four: Thing and Sandman ran along one of the prison’s supply tunnels to the prison wall. Step Five: She-Hulk and Darla Deering – who was wearing her Miss Thing exoskeleton – knocked down the wall from the outside, because Thing’s strength hadn’t returned to full power yet. Step Six: They all went outside, where Medusa and the Inhumans waited with an airship which flew them to safety. Thing, why’d you stop there? Six more steps and you could have had an intervention.
The whole operation was a big success, although Sandman wasn’t always sure it would be. Still, he joined anyway. “What’s the worst they can do if it fails? Send me to prison?”
Well, yes, that’s exactly what they can do to you.
Escape is a crime in New York. According to New York Penal Law § 205.15 when a person charged with, or convicted of, a felony escapes from a detention facility that’s escape in the first degree. Thing was charged with murder. Sandman had been convicted of a felony – several, in fact. Both escaped from a detention center. Nuff said? Escape in the first degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
So yes, Sandman, they can they send you to prison. But it’s not the worst they can do.
Most judges’ view on escape is dimmer than a ten-watt bulb. Judges tend to sentence people convicted of escape consecutively to whatever sentence the criminal escaped from. So the worst isn’t that they’ll send you back to prison. The worst is that they’ll send you back to prison for even longer.
And it’s not like She-Hulk, Ant-Man, or Darla Deering would get off scot free. N.Y.P.L. § 115.08 calls helping a person to commit a crime criminal facilitation in the fourth degree. In addition, N.Y.P.L. § 105.05 says a person is guilty of conspiracy in the fifth degree when he or she agrees with one or more persons to engage in a felony.
Okay, both of these crimes are Class A misdemeanors so the possible sentence is anything up to one year. It may not be the seven years Sandman’s facing, but give them one year on each crime, run those sentences consecutively, and that’s two years. That’s more time than Animal Practice got and Animal Practice was a crime against humanity.
(BTW, I left out Medusa and the Inhumans, because they might have diplomatic immunity. I’m not sure what the Inhumans’ diplomatic status is. Just as I’m not sure what the status of their home city Attilan is other than blown up.)
Oh yeah, She-Hulk also joked about getting disbarred for her involvement in the escape. Not a joke, Shulky. Look at what New York did to Matt Murdock. If they catch you, they’ll disbar you, too. Then you can laugh all the way to the bank. The blood bank. Because you’ll be selling your blood to earn grocery money.
Then there’s Thing. Like Sandman, he’d be facing seven years for escape. Unlike Sandman, he wouldn’t have any underlying sentences that his seven years could be stacked on consecutively. But seven years is still a long time. Still, seven years in comic-book time is an eternity.
Which brings up an interesting question. In books, comic books, TV shows and movies, prisoners who are wrongly accused of a crime frequently escape in order to prove their innocence. Richard Kimble escaped more times than Harry Houdini on tour. And once they prove their innocence, everything is hunky dory. They’re never prosecuted for escape, even though the escape charges would still exist, even if they were actually innocent of the other crime for which they had been arrested.
Do fictional prosecutors feel the innocent people suffered enough by being charged with a crime they didn’t commit so don’t bother charging them with a crime they actually did commit? I say fictional, because I certainly never met find any real-life prosecutors who felt that way back when I was practicing. Those prosecutors tended to press charges.
See, escapees escape from a prison or detention center or police custody. The guards, correction officers and police tend to be embarrassed when escapes occur on their watch. So they try to discourage escape, by making sure prosecutors file escape charges on anyone who escapes. That other detainees won’t get the same idea.
But that’s not how it’s going to happen. The Thing will be exonerated. Then neither he nor any of the people who helped him escape will be prosecuted. And they’ll all live happily ever after.
Except Sandman. Him they’ll prosecute.