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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Superheroes and the Law



Is Batman a state actor for constitutional law purposes? Can the IRS tax Superman for squeezing coal into diamonds and not paying taxes? Can Ben Grimm sue Reed Richards for turning him into The Thing?  Important legal questions like these are addressed in one of the library’s newest books The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson. 

The Law of Superheroes takes a large chunk of the law, including Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Tort, and Administrative Law and applies it to the “facts” of the world of comic book superheroes and supervillains with interesting results. Super-characters have all sorts of adventures and applying legal analysis to those adventures makes for not only interesting context but is also instructive in teaching how the law works. I ask you, isn’t analyzing Superman’s immigration status (he’s an alien!) more interesting than reading some dry old Supreme Court case on immigration? While this volume is not a marriage of case book and comic book it does make for stimulating, yet light, legal reading. 

To answer the questions posed above:  Batman: Yes, see Edmonson v. LeesvilleConcrete Co., Inc. 500 US 614 (1991), Superman:  In the comic a senior IRS agent argues that since Superman had saved the world he could declare everyone as a deduction (doubtful), The Thing: No, Ben Grimm assumed the risk knowing that space exploration was dangerous.

The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson. K487 .L38 D35 2012

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