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The Law of Superheroes Hardcover – October 11, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (October 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592407269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592407262
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Daily is an attorney with the Stanford University Hoover Institution Project on Commercializing Innovation. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ryan Davidson is an attorney living in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He obtained his law degree from Notre Dame Law School in 2009.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Garbato on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
(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?
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sixquarters on 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 By M.G. Harmon on 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 By Andrew W. Johns VINE VOICE on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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