Look! On The Web! The 'Comic Book Nerd Lawyers!' : The Two-Way The creators of the blog Law and the Multiverse explore the legal issues of the superhero set. They say their dip into the world of fantasy can offer some real-world lessons.

Look! On The Web! The 'Comic Book Nerd Lawyers!'

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Holy moley, Batman. As the Caped Crusader and his superhero colleagues take on the dark forces of crime, they can sometimes leave a big mess or fly into FAA-regulated airspace. In which case, it's good to have expert legal counsel backing you up.

Two self-described comic book nerd lawyers are on the case: James Daily of St. Louis, Missouri; and Ryan Davidson of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Together, they've created a blog called Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, Supervillains, and the Law. Hello to you both.

Mr. JAMES DAILY (Blogger): Hello.

Mr. RYAN DAVIDSON (Blogger): Good afternoon.

BLOCK: How did all this start?

Mr. DAILY: I was having dinner with some friends of mine and my wife, and we talked about some of the early topics from the blog and one topic that didn't quite make it to the blog, which was whether privacy rights would have to be different on Krypton if all the people had X-ray vision.

BLOCK: This is just dinner party conversation in St. Louis?

Mr. DAILY: Right. And a friend of mine suggested that I should start a blog about it and that he would read it, and that would be at least one person.

BLOCK: There you go.

Mr. DAILY: I definitely didn't expect it to be quite as popular as it has been. But it's proved to have a great deal of appeal to both attorneys, law professors, law students but also people who are just fans of comic books or interesting discussion of this kind of topic.

BLOCK: And, Ryan, how did you get involved?

Mr. DAVIDSON: Well, both James and I participate on the website Metafilter, and he posted a link to the project section of that site. And I try and keep track of the other lawyers on there and saw that he had put this up and thought: Wow, this is really, really fun. I have to see if I can get in touch with James. And so I did, and we started writing in early December.

BLOCK: You know, it's fun to look through the blog because you get questions from your readership. I guess there are a lot of, you know, comic book nerd lawyers out there who wonder the same things you do. And I liked this one. It was somebody who's interested in the interaction between time travel and suspended animation, connections with the statute of limitations.

And here's the case that he or she wanted answered: If a character commits a crime, is frozen for the duration of the statute of limitations and then thawed out, are they still culpable? What's the answer?

Mr. DAILY: It depends on where they disappear to. If they hide in a cave somewhere with their suspended animation device, I think that that's probably pretty similar to just hiding in the cave with a bunch of cans of food and hoping for the best.

The statute of limitations is tolled or paused when someone flees from justice, is the usual standard. And I think that if you are hiding yourself when you go into suspended animation, well, that's probably fleeing from justice.

If it's well-known that you happen to be in suspended animation, and the police are able to remove you from that state, well, then the statute of limitations probably does apply, and you would get away with it.

But that's usually not the case in the comic books. People seem to be in their secret lairs or what-have-you with their devices.

BLOCK: Apart from getting to exercise your passion for comic books and superheroes, is there a real practical goal here in mind that this is teachable in some way?

Mr. DAILY: Oh, absolutely. I think that we really enjoy the opportunity to educate interested people about the law and the way it works, the way attorneys approach problems, the way judges think about problems. I think that that's something that you don't necessarily see in a lot of other things like police procedural shows and the like.

Mr. DAVIDSON: One of the main problems with a lot of legal educational materials is that they're boring. And the reason they're boring is because you have to come up with some little story to provide the facts to which you can apply the law.

So you get, you know: A sells Blackacre to B. Well, who are these people? No one cares. But with comic books, we've got these rich, detailed stories where people already know the characters and what's going on.

So, instead of having to lay out in exacting detail what we're talking about, we can reference these stories, and everyone's suddenly on board and willing to listen to the law side of things.

BLOCK: Have you found just a superhero stumper, something that comes up that you can't find any precedent for, any case law that would possibly apply?

Mr. DAVIDSON: Anytime they go, like, beyond the solar system, I mean, all bets are pretty much off. And alternate dimensions, any time that's outside any earthly government's jurisdiction, there's just not a lot we can say about that.

BLOCK: Well, Ryan Davidson and James Daily, thanks very much.

Mr. DAVIDSON: Our pleasure.

BLOCK: Ryan Davidson and James Daily run the blog Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, Supervillains, and the Law.

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