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The Law of Superheroes [Kindle Edition]

James Daily , Ryan Davidson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

An intriguing and entertaining look at how America’s legal system would work using the world of comic books.

Two brave heroes take on the comic multiverse, wielding the greatest superpower of all: the law.

James Daily and Ryan Davidson—attorneys by day, comic enthusiasts all of the time, and founders of the popular website—have clearly found their vocation, exploring the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book tropes, characters, and powers down to the most deliciously trivial detail.

The Law of Superheroes asks and answers crucial speculative questions about everything from constitutional law and criminal procedure to taxation, intellectual property, and torts, including:
Could Superman sue if someone exposed his true identity as Clark Kent? Are members of the Legion of Doom vulnerable to prosecution under RICO? Do the heirs of a superhero who comes back from the dead get to keep their inherited property after their loved one is resurrected? Does it constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence an immortal like Apocalypse to life in prison without the possibility of parole? Engaging, accessible, and delightfully educational, The Law of Superheroes is a must-have for legal experts, comic nerds, and anyone who will ever be called upon to practice law in the comic multiverse.

Editorial Reviews


“Absolutely charming…intricate, hilarious analysis of the legalities of superheroes and supervillains”
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“Insightful and entertaining look at how comic book heroes would be affected by real-life laws…Fortunately, Daily and Davidson are neither smart alecks nor ironic, and they take their work as seriously as Batman taking on his arch-villain Bane (although they can be as witty and sly as Catwoman at her best)”
Publishers Weekly

“…attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson have pulled it off so flawlessly in the educational and fun The Law of Superheroes…they did it just right. The Law of Superheroes is both entertaining and informative. People who aren't lawyers or law-geeks will learn something about the law, and lawyers and law-geeks will be thoroughly entertained at the application of familiar principles to comic extravaganzas.”
"The Law of Superheroes fits two bills nicely; it's both a highly readable survey of basic legal theory and an entertaining exploration of the comic book canon.”
The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most subversive and nefarious books of the year. I came away from it feeling like I’d actually learned something about the history of American jurisprudence and how our laws actually work… The Law of Superheroes asks and answers crucial speculative questions about everything”
—Daily Motion(video)
 “creatively conceived issues illuminate the answers to questions few have dared to ask, providing cogent analysis in a way that should be largely understandable to general readers”
Kirkus Reviews
“A pair of lawyers from the Midwest have decided to ask these questions in this engaging book. Legal tomes are not known for being readable and accessible, but this one manages to be.”
—Book Guys
“Superpowered geekery of epically entertaining proportions…A must-read for a dose of good geeky fun”
Shelf Awareness
“The book that we've all been waiting for is finally out…Great work by Daily and Davidson! I am already looking for Volume II.”
—Patently O
“I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”
—Marion Harmon

About the Author

James Daily, J.D., is an attorney and cofounder of He is licensed to practice in Missouri and is also registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By day he works for the Stanford University Hoover Institution Project on Commercializing Innovation and also represents clients in a variety of intellectual property matters. He has been reading comics since he was ten, and some of his earliest and fondest childhood memories are of the Batman television series starring Adam West.

Ryan Davidson, J.D., is an attorney licensed to practice in Indiana and cofounder of Lawandthe He is an associate at Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros LLP, where he practices general insurance litigation. Mr. Davidson cut his teeth on speculative fiction in the first grade and has been reading graphic novels since college.

Product Details

  • File Size: 11871 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham Books; Reprint edition (October 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007T99LK0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,209 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death & Taxes October 14, 2012
(Full disclosure: I received a free advanced review copy of this book through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program.)

Could Superman really run for president of the United States? Might the makers of the genetically modified spider that bit Peter Parker sue him for patent violations? Is the Superhuman Registration Act constitutional?

In THE LAW OF SUPERHEROES, lawyers, co-bloggers (at Law and the Multiverse), and self-proclaimed comic book nerds James Daily and Ryan Davidson attempt to answer these questions - and many more. Wherever the law and comic book stories intersect (and the points are both numerous and varied!), Daily and Davidson are there, armed with a library's worth of case law, a comprehensive knowledge of comic book lore, and an easy, engaging sense of humor. The result is an accessible, enjoyable look at US law as explained using examples culled from comic books.

The book is split into thirteen chapters, each of which covers a different area of US law:

1 - Constitutional Law: e.g., Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment grant mutants civil rights? Could the state ever force a superhuman to relinquish his or her superpowers?

2 - Criminal Law: If you murder a superhero who's later resurrected, is it still murder? Is the Joker legally insane?

3 - Evidence: Could the court ever allow testimony given by a masked superhero? Can the services of psychics be used to verify a witness's testimony?

4 - Criminal Procedure: Would evidence gathered by Batman be admissible in criminal court? Could a superhero be held liable for false arrest?

5 - Tort Law and Insurance: Does the nonconsensual use of telepathy constitute a violation of privacy?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As funny as I was expecting and way more interesting December 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is absolutely perfect for me and will not be quite as perfect for anyone else. Hence the four stars.

If part of you has been wondering your whole life what would REALLY happen if someone subpoenaed Spider-Man, or what the hell Tony Stark is doing with his flagrant disregard for international treaties, or what the legal standards of death might be in the Marvel Universe, this is the most enjoyable and thorough work imaginable. The book both analyzes the plausibility of the various legal solutions that comics writers have come up with over the years and extrapolates on those solutions to explain what the consequences would be for other superheroes if it were true. It's funnier than the blog--I think the authors are well-suited to a slightly longer form--and it doesn't spend too long on any one idea. The only potential problem is that the comics pages didn't transfer very readably to the Kindle edition, but as the captions explain all the necessary information, there's no real loss of content.

If you are staring at the previous paragraph and thinking, "I have now seen depths of nerdiness I did not previously believe were possible," you are going to be bored by this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For Any World Builder! October 29, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first ran into Daily and Davidson (they even sound like a law firm) when I was doing research for my own books. Their website, Law and the Multiverse, acquainted me with the facts about state actors and why superheroes who worked closely with law-enforcement could easily mess up a case when it came to trial. After reading their posts on state actors, secret identities, and superhero insurance, I decided the traditional freelance vigilante model just wasn't going to work in my stories (I was striving for realism, an interesting goal for a piece of superhero fiction). So naturally, when I saw that The Law of Superheroes was finally available, I snatched it up.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Two groups of readers will read it cover-to-cover, highlight it, dog-ear it, pass it around, and have to get a second copy when their first wears out: first, and obviously, writers chronicling the adventures of superheroes (in comic-books or prose--a growing fiction-genre), and second, and more widely, anyone who referees a gaming group playing one of the many excellent superhero role-playing-games (Champions, Mutants & Masterminds, etc), The Law of Superheroes is an invaluable resource.

If you belong to either of these two groups, get it. Get it now, before you write another chapter or host another episode. If you're anybody else and just like to think about this kind of stuff--and I believe this defines a significant portion of comic-book fandom--get it anyway just so you can mock the writers when they get it wrong. If they hear from enough of us, maybe they'll start to get it right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and educational January 30, 2013
We are all familiar with comic book superheroes to some degree, as many of the most popular of these characters have become pop culture icons. We enjoy the stories, but have we really thought about the legal implications of what these superheroes do or represent? I must admit that, for the most part, I hadn't really given such issues much thought, except where they became part of the storyline (such as in the movie "Hancock", where the superhero's irresponsible behavior leads to a prison sentence).

But when you find two attorneys who also happen to be fans of superhero comics, you end up with this book as a product of their combined interests. But you don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate their efforts. The beauty of this book is that is serves as a rather concise law primer for the layperson while exploring a wide variety of legal implications raised by the idea of superheroes. In the application of basic legal principles to the scenarios described in the comic books, the authors have managed to make legal analysis both entertaining and accessible!

Fan of superhero comics will almost certainly enjoy this, but even if you only have the most passing familiarity with the contents of the comic book genre, this book is still likely to be fun to read and educational. Anyone who would like a better grasp of how laws are applied and the implications of the legal system to different situations will find this to be a far more attractive source of that information than most traditional books, which either rely on abstract hypothetical examples or else on actual court decisions, neither of which is nearly as entertaining as the material presented here.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It's certainly more fun to think about tort law in terms of comics ...
You might think that this book only contains fringe examples of law, but actually provides a memorable method of framing legal analyses which have been used on occasion in real... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Mr. Hydroxystyryl
4.0 out of 5 stars This Is A Job For ... A Lawyer!
Solid treatment of a strange subject. Some of the essays I like from the blog are missing or condensed, but you can only pack so much in.
Published 1 month ago by Timothy Obrien
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very informative however, very fast paced!
Published 5 months ago by ida
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!! If you love superheroes and the law this is the book for you!!!
Published 5 months ago by Matthew Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Still fun seeing the characters I know used to talk about ...
Starts strong, but the finish gets a bit lean. Still fun seeing the characters I know used to talk about the legal system.
Published 5 months ago by Carl Chipman
4.0 out of 5 stars A little long-winded at parts, but then so is most legalese
I had never considered 90% of the questions or scenarios in this book, and that made it all the more engaging. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Neo Flynn
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Informative Read
This is a fun book that teaches legal principles through the stories and situations of comic book universes and answers such vital questions as the legality of testifying in masks... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Adam
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
Should be required reading for new law students. You Do not need to read or even like graphic novels. Well done!
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars not very interesting.
saw it at the library,not a very good book in my opinion.
other's might say otherwise,however I didn't like it myself.
Published 22 months ago by abraham harlen jules ray
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating.
This book makes reading about legal theory a lot more fun than you would ever think it would be.

I definitely recommend it if you find the subject even of passing... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Adrian L Allen
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