<![CDATA[Guardians of Legality - Blog]]>Thu, 12 Mar 2020 06:24:50 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Panther God Save the King]]>Sun, 11 Feb 2018 19:58:45 GMThttp://guardiansoflegality.com/blog/panther-god-save-the-king
Black panther has existed in Marvel Comics since 1966. The nation of Wakanda was introduced in that same issue of the Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four #52) but not really expanded upon Until Tales of suspense #97 in which Baron Zemo attempts to invade Wakanda. The legitimacy of the Black Panther’s right to rule over Wakanda is established later on and brings me to the subject of this essay.

First a little bit of background on the Black Panther.  The Black Panther is the chief of the Panther Clan. Descended from Bashenga, it is a ceremonial position that is entrusted with the protection of the great mound of vibranium at the heart of the nation. As head of the Panther Clan, the Black Panther is entitled to be anointed by the “Heart-shaped herb” Which grants powers similar to that of Captain America. That is if the individual is Worthy. If the Individual is not worthy they die. The one who makes this decision is the Panther God itself.

The position of king of Wakanda generally falls to the Black Panther. this is because the position of King is usually determined by a combat situation. Anyone can enter this contest but the individual who ends up winning generally is the one with the powers of a super soldier. In the modern readings, the position of Black Panther is tied directly to kingship and one cannot be the Black Panther and not the monarch of  Wakanda. (There is one exception that we will get to later on, don’t worry)

In analyzing the monarchy of Wakanda most people state is most like the Pharaoh of Egypt. This makes a little bit of sense. the panther God is generally seen,  and written, as being Bast the Egyptian god(dess) of protection. Generally seen as a Goddess of Protection and War in Lower Egypt (the Nile Delta), she was the protector of the Pharaoh when both the Kingdoms of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt were Unified. Marvel Comics is quite explicit that the Panther Cult of Wakanda, as well as the other Cults of Wakanda (Alligator, Lion, and White Gorilla), all originated in Egypt (Called the Heliopolitans, they feature a bit more in Thor and Hercules Comics). The Black Panther is the primary Priest of the panther God,  which in turn grants him several privileges such as being anointed by the heart-shaped herb.  this is where the similarities between the king of Wakanda and the pharaoh of Egypt end.

The primary difference between the Black Panther and the pharaoh of Egypt is that the Black Panther is not seen as a god upon Earth. Before the 12th century BCE, the Pharaoh of Egypt was not a term denoting the ruler.  Pharaoh is derived from the term of “great house”  specifically in referring to a dwelling.  the king of Upper and Lower Egypt generally was called “The Horus” denoting their status as a incarnated god.  Their power came from the fact that they were a sacred King, imbued with divine favor And Power. This was likely helped by the fact that the Pharaoh owned everything in both Upper and Lower Egypt, including the people.

The Black Panther is still part of this Sacred King tradition. I mentioned that if the person receiving the heart-shaped herb is not worthy then they die. We have seen in the comics a few people who have attempted to take the heart shaped herb. What ends up happening in each of these cases is that they go before the Panther God and have to prove their worthiness to it. This is similar to the anointing of a new monarch even in modern day. The coronation of any monarch has a religious authority anointing and granting the title. The Bishop of Canterbury for the British monarch, the Pope for Emperors in Europe (Something not done since the fall of the Holy Roman Empire), Shinto priests for the Japanese Emperor, and so forth. Here, we have the panther God literally giving its blessing to the Black Panther by taking this Earth. This sets the Black Panther apart from the rest of the people of wakanda. It anoints them as the protector of Wakanda. The only people who have taken this herb ceremonially have been from the Black Panthers Royal lineage. Imbuing even those who do not take the herb as being special in the society. It is behind this lineage that the nation unites and submits to the rule of the Monarch.

Recently, we have seen a change in how the Black Panther derives his right to rule, focusing more on the unity of the country and his people. The Black Panther has been betrothed to several women as “ceremonial wives”, from rival tribes to maintain peace and to make his personal guard (the Dora Milaje), founded “The Crew” to deal with dissent and oppression abroad, and bring Wakanda to the world stage again as the force behind the Ultimates. In Ta-Nehisi Coates, run on the Black Panther, we see that the people of Wakanda are fracturing based upon a number of disasters that have befallen them recently. T'challa is no longer the chosen of the panther God, but rather the chosen of the past of Wakanda. his sister has taken over the mantle of black panther but was grievously wounded in one of the recent disasters (The Black Order attacking Wakanda because Namor is a dick). His title is now “King of the Dead” rather than “Chosen of the Panther”  end the first volume ends with T'challa going out among his people. no longer separating himself from them. This act alone shows the modernization and liberalization of the Wakandan monarchy. Moving it away from the Western and European view on monarchy and to a more nationalistic and African form. Dependent upon the will of the people and the Traditions that have existed for centuries. This seems more fitting for the African Nation that is the most advanced in the world. 
<![CDATA[Registration Acts and you]]>Wed, 07 Feb 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://guardiansoflegality.com/blog/registration-acts-and-youAre Superhumans a suspect class that should make use of the heightened scrutiny? If they are, then should they receive the protections that strict scrutiny would grant during a judicial review? After exhaustive research (and not just in the comic books) I came to the conclusion of “Maybe”.

Before I get blasted for hedging on this case, allow me to explain my dreaded answer of ‘Maybe’, in typical lawyer fashion. While some superheroes in the Marvel universe are hated and feared due to their innate and immutable nature (these being Inhumans and Mutants), most are not feared at all. In fact, they tend to be celebrated. Spider-man had an endorsement deal with a car company and a host of knockoff goods that people buy. Not out of fear of Spider-man but rather a kind of curiosity. Captain America is a beloved persona that has been punching Hitler and Baron Zemo since before most of the country was a twinkle in the parent’s eyes (This may change after Secret Empire but that is besides the point). Even the Fantastic Four, who after some initial fear of the Thing, have become a tourist attraction and target of the paparazzi. Looking at these, it becomes clear that superheroes as a whole are not a suspect class. That does not mean the same for the Inhumans and Mutants.

In the real world, suspect classes tend to be limited to race, alienage and other immutable aspects. Mutants in Marvel have constantly been a stand in for race since their debut in the comics with a simplistic view of Magento and Charles Xavier as the civil rights leaders opposed to each other. The use of mutants as a stand in for race gets even more clear when we realize that the Morlocks are a subculture of mutants who lack the ‘Passing Privilege’ of the more common looking mutants, making the commentary on Race and culture all the more clear.

In determining if Mutants are a suspect class, there has to be a showing that there is a history of discrimination, prejudice, and stigma. Alternatively, they can possess an Immutable or Highly Visible Trait and be politically powerless. The Morlocks are shunned and different from other mutants in that they cannot pretend to be human, due to physical deformities and the like and usually are the poster children of hatred toward mutants. With the Morlocks we can see that there history of hatred toward Mutants based upon the physical trait of mutation. It is clear that they are a suspect class based upon these factors.

Inhumans are the other group of heroes that may potentially fall under the suspect class. A lot has been made that Marvel is attempting to replace Mutants with Inhumans due to the similarities between the two. Both are generally born as “Normal” humans with no powers and nothing to identify themselves, both get their powers at a later time in life (usually around a coming of age, either puberty in the case of mutants or during the terrigenesis in Inhumans), and when the powers come there are immutable change to the person. The main way Inhumans are different from Mutants is that they choose to undergo the change, where Mutants do not have a choice. There are a number of Inhumans who never undergo the Terrigenesis and are fine with it (Karrak being the most cited example) and a number who cannot wait to undergo the Terrigenesis. The choice is where Mutants and Inhumans are different and where the crux of the differences lie. This would likely not be enough to cause Inhumans to be not a suspect class.

This leads us to the often overlooked fact of the Superhuman Registration Act, and that is that Mutants are exempt and Inhumans are not. Mutants are exempt because they already are registered under the Mutant Registration Act. That’s right! The Mutant Registration Act is in force in the Marvel Universe and has been since 1984. In fact, it has been amended multiple times to include such things as creating a reservation for Mutants, moving all mutants there and to allow them to be protected by the US Government with giant robots. For more information as to how that could have happened, stay tuned for a future post.

No matter how we slice it, Superhumans are not a specific race. While a specific race falls into the Superhuman category, it is by no means the majority of them. Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Hawkeye and Black Widow are all humans. Based upon the fact that the act deals broadly, all the Government must show is that there is a rational basis for the registration of superheroes. If this law said “Only Register Inhumans” then we have a different story, but that is not what the Act stated.

<![CDATA[Comic Hell]]>Sat, 03 Feb 2018 14:30:00 GMThttp://guardiansoflegality.com/blog/comic-hellIn this first podcast, we are talking about Hell and the Vertigo Imprint of DC comics. Vertigo generally is considered to have a more popular version of Hell than Marvel or even the mainstream DC continuity. In my opinion this is because the Vertigo Imprint was created so it could avoid the comic code authority and focus on darker and more adult themes and concepts. The other reason is that it employed a lot of writers who have their bases in fantasy and horror.

Hell in Vertigo was crafted, over time, by three people. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Garth Ennis were the ones who built off each other’s creations over years. Alan Moore introduced John Constantine, Gaiman introduced Morpheus and the Endless (and Lucifer), and Garth Ennis introduced the First of Fallen. Each of these over the years crafted the history of Hell and showed a reflection of how humanity sees Laws and society.

Let’s start with Neil Gaiman’s contribution, because it affects every other contribution to Hell in Vertigo. Gaiman created several characters that were instrumental to Hell but the two that we will focus on here will be Morpheus (or Dream) and Lucifer. Lucifer was created in
Sandman in the the fourth issue where Dream visits Lucifer in Hell as put forth by Alan Moore in Swamp Thing (Told you there would be cross pollination here). I am not going to summarize the entire story with Dream, because the important part here is that Lucifer decides “No… I don’t want to rule in Hell anymore” and gives Dream the key to Hell. Before he does so, he kicks all the demons out of Hell and locks the door. As Hell is important real estate, Dream then gets entreated by several other beings for control of Hell. The end result is that Angels take over Hell and reveal the truth of it to the souls within it. Specifically, that is not the devil, or the rulers of hell, that punish the inhabitants. It is the inhabitants themselves that do so and without Lucifer around to transfer the blame upon, they are forced to look inward and realize that truth. It is implied that this is the truth for all those within Hell, including the other lords of Hell.

We will move onto Alan Moore’s contribution. I enjoy a lot of Alan Moore’s work, but I sometimes feel as though I am missing one thing or another while I am reading his work. Alan Moore started to work at DC in 1983 and in a story very common to comic book lore was given a book on the verge of cancellation to ‘show his ability’. He took over
Swamp Thing and completely changed the character and story structure. It took an occult spin, bringing in Deadman, Spectre, and the Jason Blood. He also introduced John Constantine everyone’s favorite miscreant magician in the pages of that comic book. Constantine was soon popular enough to have his own series known as Hellraiser, where the scenario that this week’s podcast was first published.

Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits
is Garth Ennis’ contribution to the history of Hell. I am not always a fan of Garth Ennis’ work as I am not a fan of profanity for profanity sake and graphic violence but his style seems to lend itself well to this story in particular. The story is described in the Podcast (so you should listen to it) but the short part is that it involves a deal with the Devil. There is a small problem though, in the Vertigo universe, the Devil is chilling out in Los Angeles running a piano bar and not in Hell at all. In addition, the people in charge of letting people into Hell are more interested in redeeming people than punishment. The solution to this problem is to create a new character and the “The First of the Fallen” is created.

Over the course of
Hellblazer, we learn more and more about The First of the Fallen (Who we will call FirstFall from here on out). We learn that FirstFall was first thing brought into creation by God and the first thing banished to Hell. FirstFall was God’s conscious and is totally completely and unapologetically Evil. Within the first second of creation, FirstFall rebels against God because it believes God is Insane and is sent to Hell as a result. One second later, It is soon joined by Second of the Fallen and Third of the Fallen. Three seconds later, Lucifer Morningstar arrives in Hell and it starts to gain form. After Lucifer, FirstFall is the most powerful of the Hell and does not move against the other two “of the Fallen” because he believes them to be like him, unique creations of God. When he realizes that they are simply very powerful demons, he murders them and takes over Hell, while the Stewards look on from outside.

I find the fact that the Devil in the Vertigo Universe is God’s Conscience very interesting. One thing that we find in popular portrayals of Hell is that it is very legalistic and highly draconian. It is a place of punishment and a place where laws and agreements are followed to the letter, not the spirit. The strange thing is that God’s Conscience is completely evil. Generally we think of the conscience as the little voice on the shoulder that tells you to do the right thing. Generally, the right thing is impressed upon us by religious and social structures. So what is the basis of God’s Conscience? Given that there is no religion or social structures at the time of creation there has to be another reason behind it.

The idea of the natural conscience is brought up in a few places in classical thought and FirstFall is an example of the Hobbesian view.  Thomas Hobbes was a political philosopher from England who came up with the foundation of Social Contract theory. Social Contract theory is the belief that Laws are needed to prevent people from killing each other. People give up freedom (in the form of laws) to prevent the neighbors from killing one another. The logical conclusion of this is that people are horrible and the normal state of being is one where we rip each other’s throats, steal from each other (although the concept of Property Rights are substantially different in a world without laws), and create a life that is “nasty, brutish, and short”. Hobbes postulated that the only thing that prevents that would be the conscience of the people, which would be the the result of another structure of laws, in this case the Church. Without those structures, one can logically presume that means without these structures, the conscience itself would be the most evil part of a being.

In Closing, Hell in the Vertigo Universe is a horrible place. More horrible than in the mainstream DC universe for the main reason that it is a place where the damned souls make their own punishment. It gets even more horrifying when you realize that in Vertigo, humanity follows the model of Thomas Hobbes. Deep down everyone is a horrible person, capable of deep depravity upon others and even themselves.

<![CDATA[Where have we been?!]]>Wed, 31 Jan 2018 15:17:49 GMThttp://guardiansoflegality.com/blog/where-have-we-beenHello everyone!
It has been a while since the last episode of Guardians of Legality Podcast has been released. The reason for that is mostly real world. I moved across the State of Florida to take a new job. With the new job (requiring quite a bit of new learning on my part) and my place in Fort Lauderdale was not being suitable for recording, the podcast was put on hold.

Good news is here though! New Episodes of the podcast will be released (Sporadically but still released in time) and this website will be host to a new blog. The point of the blog will be to discuss various topics that come up in comics and legal issues that strike the imagination. In short, look for more content from us in upcoming weeks!