The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

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shevek
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The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by shevek »

Hi. Rather than contribute to the Strong Female Character thread and get mired in lots of long paragraphical nonsense,
I decided to start a different issue thread. This is something I just started thinking about on the way home tonight, but it seems
to me it would be problematic from both a left-wing and right-wing perspective.

There is basically little or no application of the 5th or the 14th Amendment in the versions of the United States which exist in the major
superhero universes.

Marvel has two superheroes who are also currently lawyers - Daredevil and She-Hulk. Matt Murdock defends the downtrodden, while Jennifer Walters tends to work for firms which defend supervillains. That's it. You see very few legal cases regularly outside of those, unless it's a sensational epic story like Gabrielle Haller defending Magneto which is few and far between.

Image has Shadowhawk. You don't hear much about him now.

DC has two superhero district attorneys who also moonlight as vigilantes: Manhunter and Vigilante. That's not exactly upholding the law - they work around it instead. You hardly hear about them, anyway. Also Two-Face is a villain who used to be a district attorney so that doesn't count.

Otherwise that that, it's a totalitarian state when it comes to the incarceration of supervillains. You rarely if ever see them going through the system and getting sentenced by judges or by a jury of their peers.

No, it's immediately right off to Iron Heights, The Raft, Arkham Asylum, Belle Reve (where you can get a reduced sentence if you let Waller put a bomb in your head), The Cube, The Vault, The Slab, Negative Zone, The Phantom Zone, or even Takron-Galtos (where the Guardians of Oa hold their incorrigibles) and The Kyln (where the Omega Force, Nova Force and Spaceknights deposited their cosmic criminals).

It's not just in the comics, but also in the comic book media: is there even a single lawyer character in any of the prominent DC or Marvel TV shows, other than the aforementioned Daredevil and She-Hulk? I can't think of a single one in DC except for the brief appearance of Adrian Chase in Arrow.

From the left, you could say that such quick justice violates the rights of the accused, and probably gets applied unequally to the marginalized criminals. From the right, you could say that such vigilantism abrogates the rule of law and the authority of the Constitution.

What you do think, folks? Should there be more legal process in comics?

(I mean, TV shows like LA Law, Boston Public, Boston Legal, The Good Wife, Perry Mason, Night Court, and many more made it exciting and sexy in live action. So why not in superhero comics? Wouldn't you love to see more hot female lawyers ripping their suits open to reveal their superheroine costume underneath? Maybe getting in steamy relationships with the attractive bad boys and bad girls they represent in court?)

Or, let me know if this premise is somehow flawed. I don't think it is, though.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Visitor »

Jean Loring is the is the only other lawyer I can think of in the DC comics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Loring

But at least in the DC universe almost every villain is dumped into prison or an asylum with very rare court cases. There have been a few where Joker gets out of Arkham temporarily by appearing sane and the Frank Miller Batman story where Two-Face is released following plastic surgery to heal his scarred face.

The Batman TV show in the 1960s at least had a few episodes with trials like when Penguin wanted to go to prison to gain access to a forger or when Joker and Catwoman were on trial with Lucky Pierre as their lawyer. They also repeated made the point that Batman was a duly appointed representative of the police and not a lawless vigilante.

You missed from the Golden Age, Wonder Woman dragging female prisoners off to Transformation Island. They did have a few court cases, but most were a few panels if it would lead to a prisoner escaping or Wonder Woman going to prison.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Femina »

The reason for this is simple.

Everyone's been to Jury Duty and they know Court is BORING. Nobody wants to read a superhero book, or watch a superhero movie where everyone's in legal trouble all the time. I'd just about rather watch a steak cook on a rock before I had to wade through issue after issue of Captain America fighting a legal battle about whether or not he's responsible for not being able to stop Red Skull from blowing up a monument.

It's fine here and there in Daredevil or similar where the character is a lawyer or a cop or something thus that feeds into their drama... but if it was in EVERYTHING it would horridly bog down your superhero comic books.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

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Visitor wrote: 7 months ago Jean Loring is the is the only other lawyer I can think of in the DC comics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Loring

The Batman TV show in the 1960s... They also repeated made the point that Batman was a duly appointed representative of the police and not a lawless vigilante.

You missed from the Golden Age, Wonder Woman dragging female prisoners off to Transformation Island.
Yes, Transformation Island is a good addition to the prison list, and Jean Loring is an important lawyer character - unfortunately, the Flash TV show chose to ignore that backstory and depicted her as a scheming criminal with a conscience (although her action suit was very tight and beautiful, so that more than made up for it).

As for Batman being a police rep, they probably had to do that for moral purposes so that the kids could watch the show. See below for why this matters.
Femina wrote: 7 months ago The reason for this is simple.

Everyone's been to Jury Duty and they know Court is BORING. Nobody wants to read a superhero book, or watch a superhero movie where everyone's in legal trouble all the time. I'd just about rather watch a steak cook on a rock before I had to wade through issue after issue of Captain America fighting a legal battle about whether or not he's responsible for not being able to stop Red Skull from blowing up a monument.

It's fine here and there in Daredevil or similar where the character is a lawyer or a cop or something thus that feeds into their drama... but if it was in EVERYTHING it would horridly bog down your superhero comic books.
Oh, but I think it's much more than just the legal procedure being boring. After all, many TV shows have found ways to make courtroom drama exciting, suspenseful and sexy. And nobody has mentioned the one show which actually makes fun of all this by focusing specifically on a superhero as a lawyer: Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law!

I think it's more the fact that legality (except if Batman is deputized) is almost diametrically opposed to the very concept of superheroes, which is extra-legal vigilantism. I mean, there are a handful of cases where superheroes are considered to be lawful agents of the government and the law (such as Captain America, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Legion of Superheroes, etc.) but in most cases that doesn't happen.

Avengers aren't endorsed by the UN (I don't think so?). But at one point in the comics, there was the Civil War where the superheroes split over whether to enforce or oppose the legal Superhero Registration Act. However, I don't remember a single court case, or even any Congressional hearings, coming out of that scenario. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Titans do their own thing, as do the Justice League up in their satellite. And then there are even cases where the superheroes impose themselves on the law in an authoritarian manner, like...The Authority.

So overall, I think the answer is that to focus on the *legal* would conflict too much with the *extralegal*. It would be fun if writers could find a way to constrast the two, however, and make them two sides of the same coin. I mean, as an analogy, a private mercenary who goes out and kills in foreign countries in secret, extra-legal mission is still also a family man back home who pays his bills and his taxes....right? There's a tension, but the two aspects can co-exist.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by VegaTaxeca »

Regarding characters that work in the law field, wasn't the original Earth-1 Laurel Lance from the Arrow show also an attorney?
I mostly watched just Legends of Tomorrow, but seem to remmeber it being mentioned. Though I do not know, if it was really used in the show.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by GWalb »

You seem to be equating more lawyers with a more just society.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Femina »

It would be boring. That's the only reason. Batman had lots of talk here and there early on of cops deciding he was a criminal, Spiderman too.... but they never allowed them to be CAUGHT during those periods cause then we'd have to slog through law nonsense.

They wrote comic books so that powerful men ins spandex could have action scenes where they swatted evil men in spandex into the asphalt to the cheers of the normies... NOTHING about injecting the law of the land into that makes that fundamental origin of the superhero more fun. NEAT maybe for an examination once or twice a decade... but it can't ever become a primary 'theme' of comic books cause it's just plain boring. I was mostly bored by it in Civil War as well... like the government attempting to pin all the blown up shit in New York on the Avengers when there were literally f'kn aliens swooping around blowing up the buildings. Scarlet witch being accused of being dangerous cause she stopped a bomb from exploding at the BOTTOM of a building where it would do the most damage. It's no fun to slog through red tape in real life, and it's no more fun to do so in fiction.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by argento »

I like the existence of the superhero, because the system fails because of imperfection or corruption or other things. Just look at the villains who are arrested, of course, they are going to be brought to justice. Trials are very slow, they have back and forth. This would take away from the action. Also, seeing the superhero repel any unjust aggression of a villain against third parties, it is legitimate self-defense that exempts him from criminal liability. That is, it is not illegal.
As for the hot female lawyers, this page establishes asymmetrical power roles, such as superheroine-villain. It would be in that sense the prosecutor with the defendant.
P.S. Recently there was a real case in Argentina, they suspended a judge who made out with a prisoner in an Argentine jail. Here is the photo
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Dazzle1 »

Visitor wrote: 7 months ago Jean Loring is the is the only other lawyer I can think of in the DC comics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Loring

But at least in the DC universe almost every villain is dumped into prison or an asylum with very rare court cases. There have been a few where Joker gets out of Arkham temporarily by appearing sane and the Frank Miller Batman story where Two-Face is released following plastic surgery to heal his scarred face.

The Batman TV show in the 1960s at least had a few episodes with trials like when Penguin wanted to go to prison to gain access to a forger or when Joker and Catwoman were on trial with Lucky Pierre as their lawyer. They also repeated made the point that Batman was a duly appointed representative of the police and not a lawless vigilante.

You missed from the Golden Age, Wonder Woman dragging female prisoners off to Transformation Island. They did have a few court cases, but most were a few panels if it would lead to a prisoner escaping or Wonder Woman going to prison.
Yes the wonderful Golden Age where Wonder Woman could be put in bondage when she wasn't putting her foes in bondage
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Mr. X »

There is the argument that the Joker is the system's fault, not Batman. The system doesn't execute the guy. If he were real I think either the system would make an exception or he would get shot cause "oops" he had a gun in his hand.

But I do like the implication in Flash from both Batmen that their business dealings did a lot more to make Gotham better than their crime fighting.

On the Batman show Batman would make snide remarks about the prison Warden's "progressive" programs that keep letting criminals out.

But then life would get boring if things actually worked properly.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Mr. X »

I also find it funny the massive property damage the heroes cause fighting someone that if they just let the guy go and grabbed him later, would have prevented damage.

Like in the Flash movie where Batman is chasing crooks. He causes massive amounts of damage.

Its like Team America saving France
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by IMSancho »

I remember in one of the Batgirl Bat Trap homepage stories, someone wrote the villains were always acquitted on attempted murder charges in their efforts to kill Batgirl, Batman, Robin, Batwoman and Flamebird.
The writer gave a reason but I can’t remember it at the moment.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Mr. X »

IMSancho wrote: 7 months ago I remember in one of the Batgirl Bat Trap homepage stories, someone wrote the villains were always acquitted on attempted murder charges in their efforts to kill Batgirl, Batman, Robin, Batwoman and Flamebird.
The writer gave a reason but I can’t remember it at the moment.
I think its cause of due process, facing your accuser. They wear masks.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by sneakly »

In my stories, Nora Clavicle got off because the judge didn’t believe the Siamese Human Knot was actually a thing and the explosive laden mice had the explosive dissolve out when they fell in the river. Batman also pretty much destroys evidence every time he tosses something in Bat-computer.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Lurkndog »

The legal reality is that any room that contained evidence becomes inadmissible if Batman was in it. Because you can't prove he didn't add or alter anything.

One way around that might be for society to approve different standards for trying supervillains, maybe something more like a military tribunal. The rules of trials and evidence quickly become outdated when people can walk through walls, cast spells, and mind control witnesses.

It might be particularly urgent to do so when supervillains have powers that make them walking weapons of mass destruction.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

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Mr. X wrote: 7 months ago I also find it funny the massive property damage the heroes cause fighting someone that if they just let the guy go and grabbed him later, would have prevented damage.

Like in the Flash movie where Batman is chasing crooks. He causes massive amounts of damage.

Its like Team America saving France
Years ago, there was a series of comics called Damage Control about those who cleanup after those superhero confrontations.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by joejanus »

There's also Wolff & Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre, https://exhibitapress.com/wp/ by the late lamented Batton Lash who was an actual lawyer.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by shevek »

joejanus wrote: 7 months ago
Years ago, there was a series of comics called Damage Control about those who cleanup after those superhero confrontations.
Yes, there was supposed to be a TV series in 2015 on ABC called "Damage Control" written by Jeph Loeb but it never materialized,
trapped in development hell.

Damage Control made an appearance in the MCU on the Ms. Marvel series, where they were a subsidiary of Tony Stark's SHIELD.
I believe they were trying to figure out who Ms. Marvel was, and whether she was associated with that mosque, or a terrorist.
The imam faced them down.
joejanus wrote: 7 months ago There's also Wolff & Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre, https://exhibitapress.com/wp/ by the late lamented Batton Lash who was an actual lawyer.
Yes, that was a fun series. Graphic novels came out regularly on Batton's own imprint until a year before his death. He was also a prominent conservative.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by Lurkndog »

joejanus wrote: 7 months ago Years ago, there was a series of comics called Damage Control about those who cleanup after those superhero confrontations.
Yeah, Dwayne McDuffie wrote those. In his comic, Damage Control was more like a specialized building contractor, sometimes branching out into exotic technologies.

In the MCU, they were more like spooks than repairmen. One of the mid-period MCU mistakes, IMHO, when Marvel was starting to lose the ability to tell their own stories.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by shevek »

Lurkndog wrote: 7 months ago
joejanus wrote: 7 months ago Years ago, there was a series of comics called Damage Control about those who cleanup after those superhero confrontations.
Yeah, Dwayne McDuffie wrote those. In his comic, Damage Control was more like a specialized building contractor, sometimes branching out into exotic technologies.

In the MCU, they were more like spooks than repairmen. One of the mid-period MCU mistakes, IMHO, when Marvel was starting to lose the ability to tell their own stories.
Yup. Damage Control was originally just an ordinary (or extra-ordinary) commercial company, specializing in rebuilding superhero damage. Perhaps they also had some kind of insurance component as well as the exotic technologies. It was probably a lot cheaper for someone like the Fantastic Four to pay the advance insurance premiums than to fund repairs solely on the back end, I would imagine. But if they did, that's OK, Damage Control would just charge them top dollar on their repair bill.

It's hard to believe (well, maybe not so hard given that it was the 90s) that Dwayne McDuffie was more traditionally capitalist than the huge gigantic megacorporation of Disney. Ironic, considering that to this very day, his widow is still fighting for the money that he is due from these huge companies for everything that he created.

And yes, the Ms. Marvel series was written incredibly poorly, which is one of the reasons it was poorly received by audiences in comparison to any of the other series (no matter what a certain vehement Forum poster likes to say - the *comparison* is still there, as it was the *least viewed*).

Not only did Marvel make Damage Control into government spooks, but they also pitted Kamala against an group of extra-dimensional culturally relevant djinni (which never existed in her comics) as well as making the whole thing about defending her faith, her ethnic community and her mosque (which really was never a focus of her comics, either). All in an attempt to "curry" as much favor with the identity politics crowd as humanly possible. Given that Bisha K Ali was at the reins of the show, there was never a chance this would NOT happen.

There was a distinct lack of due process in that Ms Marvel show, as well. No lawyers, no district attorneys, no cops in Jersey City whatsoever. Just a phalanx of authoritarian government jackboots looking to oppress the put-upon Muslim community. Overall, I think this was a scenario that many viewers just didn't sympathize with because it was so didactic. They realized that the TV show wasn't "for them", and they noped out.
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Re: The distinct lack of due process in superhero universes

Post by spikeeagle2 »

shevek wrote: 7 months ago Hi. Rather than contribute to the Strong Female Character thread and get mired in lots of long paragraphical nonsense,
I decided to start a different issue thread. This is something I just started thinking about on the way home tonight, but it seems
to me it would be problematic from both a left-wing and right-wing perspective.

There is basically little or no application of the 5th or the 14th Amendment in the versions of the United States which exist in the major
superhero universes.

Marvel has two superheroes who are also currently lawyers - Daredevil and She-Hulk. Matt Murdock defends the downtrodden, while Jennifer Walters tends to work for firms which defend supervillains. That's it. You see very few legal cases regularly outside of those, unless it's a sensational epic story like Gabrielle Haller defending Magneto which is few and far between.

Image has Shadowhawk. You don't hear much about him now.

DC has two superhero district attorneys who also moonlight as vigilantes: Manhunter and Vigilante. That's not exactly upholding the law - they work around it instead. You hardly hear about them, anyway. Also Two-Face is a villain who used to be a district attorney so that doesn't count.

Otherwise that that, it's a totalitarian state when it comes to the incarceration of supervillains. You rarely if ever see them going through the system and getting sentenced by judges or by a jury of their peers.

No, it's immediately right off to Iron Heights, The Raft, Arkham Asylum, Belle Reve (where you can get a reduced sentence if you let Waller put a bomb in your head), The Cube, The Vault, The Slab, Negative Zone, The Phantom Zone, or even Takron-Galtos (where the Guardians of Oa hold their incorrigibles) and The Kyln (where the Omega Force, Nova Force and Spaceknights deposited their cosmic criminals).

It's not just in the comics, but also in the comic book media: is there even a single lawyer character in any of the prominent DC or Marvel TV shows, other than the aforementioned Daredevil and She-Hulk? I can't think of a single one in DC except for the brief appearance of Adrian Chase in Arrow.

From the left, you could say that such quick justice violates the rights of the accused, and probably gets applied unequally to the marginalized criminals. From the right, you could say that such vigilantism abrogates the rule of law and the authority of the Constitution.

What you do think, folks? Should there be more legal process in comics?

(I mean, TV shows like LA Law, Boston Public, Boston Legal, The Good Wife, Perry Mason, Night Court, and many more made it exciting and sexy in live action. So why not in superhero comics? Wouldn't you love to see more hot female lawyers ripping their suits open to reveal their superheroine costume underneath? Maybe getting in steamy relationships with the attractive bad boys and bad girls they represent in court?)

Or, let me know if this premise is somehow flawed. I don't think it is, though.
This hit me, as a lawyer and as a superhero fans...

The issue here is, if court does work, why do we need superhero for? It's because we don't get the justice we deserved, and you wish for someone to step up and make it right, and that process is not thru motion, discovery and presenting a case, this is done thru extrajudicial process

I had a fun discussion with a lawyer mate who happened to be a man of steel fans, and we jokingly talked about some issue, I mean, what if Lux Luther ran for mayor of Metropolis or ran for President and win, and he disbanded the justice league and use his power for evil? There are nothing Superman can do here, Superman and the Justice League are good at righting the wrong in their own way, but none of them have their skill in litigation...

Which in a way, mirror our society, I have had case that I won I shouldn't have, and I have had cases that I lost I shouldn't have, the issue here is justice and due process is relative, it really depends on how much money you can dump on a case, a rich guy dump 500G on a drunk driving case will get out easily while an innocent person can and did in reality, have the prospective on going to jail for something they didn't do because of the representation they can afford.

Jurisprudence, in comic and in reality, is not the best way if you are looking for justice, and it's sad for a lawyer to say this.

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