A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Friday, April 29, 2005

Intermittent Answers

Dave at The Intermittent has a response to my Manhunter challenge, where I asked for reasons why basic courtroom procedure could be different in the DCU.

The short version of Dave's answer is the DCU more or less amended the Constitution into oblivion. Personally, I don't think I can subscribe to the theory, not just because of the unlikelihood of that happening, but more importantly, I remain skeptical that such changes would affect the aspects of courtroom procedure I had asked about.

But Dave still makes some very good points about how the real world would respond to superhumans, and alludes to the fact that, while we may not admit it often, modern supervillains are frequently just costumed terrorists. Mere bank heists are old hat; villains who threaten whole populations have a lot more in common with Eric Robert Rudolph than a lowly bank robber.

One particular point I want to address is the notion of 'superhuman crimes,' and the suggestion that they would actually have a different set of rules. I've seen this suggested before, and I have my doubts about it. But even if it were the case, I have further doubts that the Sands case would fall into that category of crime.

The Shadow Thief stabbed Firestorm. He stole the stabbling implement through the use of his powers, but the murderous violent act itself was pretty ordinary. Was it a 'superhuman crime' because the victim happened to be superpowered? Because Sands possessed a super-scientific belt? Shoving a sword through a person's gut is aggravated assault, and even though most people don't blow up as a result, death would be a pretty common reaction to such a wound. Take away the costumes, and you're left with something awfully similar to a suspect stealing a cop's gun and shooting the cop's partner. There's nothing terribly superhuman about it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Manhunter #9: The Trial of the Shadow Thief, Part 3

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Javier Pina

*Spoilers* follow. You've been warned.

In his third issue about the Shadow Thief's trial, Andreyko finally manages to avoid any big legal blunders. But that may be because virtually nothing trial-related actually happened in this issue. If I missed a line that could be addressed, please tell me, but this issue seemed to be a law-free zone for the most part. (It also means that Kate Spencer has managed to go three days of trial without producing any actual evidence regarding a murder.)

One thing worth mentioning is something of a rehash of previous issues. Sands is once again shown in his orange prison jumpsuit. That was wrong in the last two issues, and it's wrong in this one too. But that's hardly a surprise.

What is a surprise is the book's end, when Sands is freed from his tube and demonstrates shadow powers on his own. So apparently, Sands has retained the powers given to him by Neron, and doesn't require a belt any longer.

This makes Sands' solitary confinement tube, which I've ragged on in previous reviews, a little more palatable. Realistically, he still shouldn't be restrained unless he has proven himself to be a disturbance to the courtroom, but as was the case with Bruce Banner, I think it's fair to assume that a world of metahumans would find itself compelled to take extraordinary precautions. Particularly after the first couple of supervillains lash out at trial. One could argue that allowing a superpowered defendant to be unencumbered in the courtroom is akin to allowing the defendant to be armed.

There may be the question of whether a solitary confinement tube is too prejudicial to the defendant. Something less conspicuous, like the mutant inhibitor collars that the X-Men used to have, would probably be preferable to a mobile, glass-walled cell. But whether such is possible involves too much speculation about DCU tech to be answered here. So the tube is tolerable (though the jury would probably need to be told exactly why Sands is confined).

Finally, the revelation about Sands' powers creates an additional problem in an earlier issue which I predicted might come to pass. When Kate called Hawkman to the stand in #7, she asked him two questions. The first was about how Sands had used a Thanagarian belt to commit crimes in the past, and the second was about potential dangers of using the belt.

If Sands still has the superhuman powers granted to him by Neron, then how is the belt at all relevant to the trial? It didn't play a role in the murder, and it wasn't responsible for giving him his internalized powers. It's not even relevant to why he's in the tube. The questions were objectionable before, and now they're not even remotely relevant to the case.

In other words, the real-world equivalent of Hawkman's testimony is this: during a murder trial, the prosecutor calls as his first witness a cop who had previously tangled with the defendant. He doesn't know anything about the murder being tried. Instead, his testimony is all about a weapon that the defendant used to employ in his earlier crimes, but which wasn't involved in the murder being tried. Even if such testimony were admissible (and it wouldn't be), what is a jury supposed to make of it?

One more issue to go, I think. Kate's really gonna have her work cut out for her if she wants to pull out a win.

UPDATE: Another thought on the issue. It's stated that it's the third day of trial, but no expected witnesses are ever named. We don't see Captain Marvel or Vixen or Shining Knight, the three actual witnesses to the murder, even after the courthouse is attacked. So either they are slow to respond to an attack, or they weren't the witnesses for the start of that day. And if the latter, then who did Kate possibly plan on calling? Was she going to go a third day of trial without calling the only people who could testify "Sands killed Firestorm"?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Black Panther

In the latest issue of Black Panther, the title character's origin underwent some pretty serious retcons (at least, according to one character's account). Originally, an obsessed scientist named Klaw came to the nation of Wakanda, and killed the king, the Black Panther's father. In the new version, Klaw assassinated the king while he was away from Wakanda, visiting the Bilderburg Conference.

The Bilderberg Group is a real organization, and has met annually since 1954. Most information about it, from attendees to topics of discussion, has been confidential, which has led to a great many conspiratorial theories about the group and its goals.

The issue states that the conference is only for certain countries, and that the king of Wakanda, an African nation, was extended a special invitation to attend. This is essentially true. The group was originally intended as a meeting of Western European and North American representatives, but reports indicate that it has extended slightly beyond that. Russia and Turkey, as well as other Eastern European nations, have become regular attendees, and China and Kuwait have supposedly had representatives in recent years. (Though there's no suggestion that Japan has ever been invited.) So despite the secrecy and a limited guest list, it's quite plausible for Wakanda to be invited in.

For more on Bilderberg, there is a good article from BBC News about the group and its air of mystery. Or you can google around for the conspiracy sites, but I don't think they merit a link here.

And while I'm on the subject of BP, let me say a word about Everett K. Ross. In the new series, 'Ross' appears to be an agent of some US intelligence agency, reporting to the NSA. But when Priest was writing him, Ross worked for (and commonly referred to) the US State Department's Office of Protocol, which is also a real agency. According to its webpage:

The Office of Protocol...directly advises, assists, and supports the President of the United States, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State on official matters of national and international protocol, and in the planning, hosting, and officiating of related ceremonial events and activities for visiting heads of state. The Office also is the administrator of Blair House, the President's official guesthouse.

Which ain't far off from how Ross described his job.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Suits and Shackles

During some recent Googling, I came across a criticism of one of my early legal posts. The writer claimed that I was wrong in saying that the Shadow Thief should not be wearing an orange jail jumpsuit at his trial. "For people who are a serious threat to others and society, they may appear in court in prison uniforms (although for these people, they are usually white jumpsuits, not orange). Sometimes, they aren't even allowed to walk, they get rolled into court on what looks like an upside-down bucket with wheels."

This is quite true if the court appearance in question is a preliminary hearing, a bond hearing, an arraignment, or any other type of pretrial procedure. I sat in on a plea calendar recently, and about 75% of the defendants were wearing orange jumpsuits. They were also all cuffed at the hands and ankles, too. If we had been shown Sands' arraignment, then it would have been entirely proper to show him shackled and in an orange jumpsuit (since he wasn't out on bail).

But everything is different at trial, in front of a jury. Pretrial, the defendant is only facing a judge, so prejudice doesn't really matter. Orange jumpsuits and shackles and 'Silence of the Lambs' masks are all fair game. But at trial, the court takes great lengths to avoid unfair prejudice on the part of the jury. Estelle v. Williams had the Supreme Court say that a defendant cannot be required to wear jail clothes if he objects. And the Supreme Court said in Illinois v. Allen that shackles and gags are only to be used on trial defendants as a last resort: "Not only is it possible that the sight of shackles and gags might have a significant effect on the jury's feelings about the defendant, but the use of this technique is itself something of an affront to the very dignity and decorum of judicial proceedings that the judge is seeking to uphold."

Now a defendant may choose to go to trial in jail clothes, if he so wishes. Some defendants actually choose this, even though the judge may warn them not to. Frankly, Carl Sands doesn't strike me as being that stupid or obsessive. And it would be quite the lousy defense attorney who couldn't convince a rational client to dress up for court. And if a defendant insists on being disruptive during his trial, he may be restrained with shackles. But Sands appears to be quite composed and cooperative.

So, long story short, all signs point to the conclusion that Carl Sands should not be shackled and in jail clothes during his trial. (As for the tube, metahuman powers might justify that. But since I don't think Sands is a meta anymore, it shouldn't be there either.)

A response to the above criticism said of this blog, "The 'corrections' on this site are wrong as often as not."

If that's what you believe, then please, call our bluff. I doubt we're that shoddy. But we're not infallible, and we're sure to make mistakes from time to time. If you think we've made a mistake, let us know, either in comment or e-mail. If you're right, then you've taught everyone a lesson and prevented us from making the same mistake in the future. And if you're wrong, then a clarification might help clear up misconceptions that others have (and to do that faster than it took me to find the above complaint). Either way, somebody learns something new, and that's a good thing.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Medical Mayhem

Scott has a look at a particularly egregious Operating Room scene in the latest issue of Richard Dragon. I don't think I've ever seen so many errors pointed out in a single panel. I don't recognize Brad Walker's name as penciller, but it seems that most of these flubs fall on his shoulders.

Plus, you can play along and guess the mistakes before Scott lists them. Hopefully you'll score better than I did.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Guest Post: 'Ocean' Philology

Please extend a warm welcome to our first guest contributor, Gareth Wilson. My thanks to Gareth for his following contribution:

Ocean #4 (of 6)
Warren Ellis, Writer
Chris Sprouse, Pencils

Warren Ellis' Ocean is part of a genre that's surprisingly rare in comics: science fiction. Sure, the X-Men and JLA play around with time machines, alien empires and what-not, but few of their stories would pass muster in the pages of Analog or the schedule of Baen Books. As a fan of both comics and science fiction, I'm happy to see a serious effort to combine the two, to make a comic that aspires to be as good as a prose SF story. Ocean for the most part pulls it off, and I've bought and enjoyed all five of the issues so far. But, just like a lot of prose SF, Ocean contains some serious mistakes.

The mistakes I'll talk about, from issue #4, all involve language. This is one of the hardest topics to deal with convincingly in science fiction: whenever any SF story talks about languages it always seems to contain some kind of error. A partial exception is Ted Chiang's "The Story of Your Life", but even its realistic description of learning an alien language eventually dissolves into mysticism.
The first mistake I'll talk about is the simplest. A scientist is analysing the language of a dead race of humanoids, found floating in the ocean of Europa. He's discovered something troubling about their language, and searches for an analogy:
"You can tell a lot about a culture from its language.... I mean, if we were aliens looking at Inuit text here, we'd see that they've got fifty- some different words for snow."

This is not only a mistake, but a very old and well known mistake. Inuit or Eskimo languages don't have any more words for snow than English. Think of the different words for snow or things related to snow in English: snow, sleet, slush, flurry, blizzard and so on. The Inuit languages are radically different from English in many ways, but not in snow vocabulary. This might be put down to simple ignorance on the part of the character, but almost every serious linguist knows about the old Eskimo-snow myth. It's even in the sci.lang FAQ at http://www.zompist.com/lang16.html.

The second mistake is a little more interesting. The scientist goes on to describe the language of the humanoids:

"So far I've logged a hundred and sixty-three different words for murder."

The implication (made explicit in the following issue) is that having 163 words for murder means the humanoids must have a violent culture in which murder is common. This is also wrong, for the same reason that people in snowy places don't necessarily have more words for snow. The links between culture and language are real, but they're seldom simple. Turks don't distinguish between "he" and "she", but that doesn't make them liberal feminists. You could easily imagine a peaceful, orderly culture in which murder was rare - but when it did occur they could distinguish between (murder of a child) and (murder as part of a criminal conspiracy) and (murder due to extreme provocation) and hundreds of other variations, all expressed with a single word.

The third mistake I'll talk about is rather mysterious. The scientist has found translating the alien language easier than expected and starts to talk about human language:

"Human language comes from twelve root sounds."

As Wolfgang Pauli might say, this isn't even wrong. It's not that there are actually 13 root sounds and someone's made a typo. The problem is that linguists don't talk about "root sounds" at all. There are two types of sounds in human languages - consonants and vowels. Vowels are produced by using the mouth to modify a sound produced in the vocal cords. Different positions of the tongue and jaw make different vowels. Linguists often draw a diagram of tongue position versus jaw position and mark the vowels of a language on it. There are eight "primary cardinal vowels", which are used as reference points on the diagram: the vowels in some English words like "bead" are close to a cardinal vowel, depending the accent. But even simple English words like "kit", "book", "bird", and "sofa" contain vowels that are nowhere near the cardinal vowels. Consonants are produced by lips or the tongue interrupting a flow of air through the mouth. They're classified by place of articulation, where they happen, and manner of articulation, what they do to the airstream. "Stops", as their name suggests, completely stop the flow of air. English has stops which occur at the lips, as with "p", at the alveolar ridge, as with "t", and at the back of the roof of the mouth as with "k". Other languages stop the airstream further back in the throat, as with Arabic "q", or use intermediate positions. Other sounds are produced by letting air hiss past an obstruction, as in "s", or diverting it through the nose as in "m". The airstream can even go backwards, as in clicks and implosive consonants. None of these sounds has any claim to being a "root sound" or being the basis of all human language. And there's certainly not twelve of them, either.

Gareth Wilson
New Zealand

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


It was suggested in the comments to an earlier thread that this blog could use some more regular contributors, and I agree. We've got a pretty broad spectrum of specialities represented already, but multiple participants is something that I think is invaluable in a group blog like this.

In a political group blog, there's no problem with finding material; politics happens every day. The same goes for entertainment, or science, or gossip. But new comics happen just one day a week, and most of us only read a handful. I'm sure there are other new comics that raise legal issues, for instance, but if none of us are reading them, then they go unaddressed. (And with the price of gas being what it is, I often go two or three weeks between trips to the comic shop as it is.)

We can always dive into back issues for fodder, and I plan to continue doing that on occasion, but who wants to read a blog devoted to picking apart comics from 1995?

So if there's anybody out there who'd be interested in joining our little fact-checking crusade, then send me an e-mail at lorenc @ uga.edu, and let me know what you know and want to share.

On the other hand, if you don't want to be a regular member, but a comic you read last week set off some alarms in your head, then I'm also willing to accept guest posts. Irked by the errors in the last Austen issue? Just type it up and e-mail it to me, and if it's a good and valid (and well-written) criticism, then I'll post it and give you proper attribution. And a cookie*.

So is anyone else out there interested in joining our little tribe of Accuracy Avengers? In putting on the mantle of Factman?

*Cookie offer valid only on Earth-2.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Gunning for Accuracy

Chuck Dixon has had an article on his website for some time about stupid gun mistakes that are often found in comics and movies. Some of these (like the sniper scope) get a pass because of dramatic effect; but I find myself increasingly annoyed at sideways shooters and CSI-esque immediately assessments of bullet holes.

And as it happens, Tom the Dog points us to a Punisher comic from last week that actually addressed one of those latter myths. "They put the sights on the top for a reason." Just like Ollie Queen ought to know his way around a bow, it's always good to see Frank showing some real gun expertise.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Answering Andreyko

Due to a "fifth week" schedule in March's comics, it's five weeks between issues of Manhunter instead of the usual four. So to help fill my legal comic discussion quota for the month, I'm going to talk about...Manhunter.

More specifically, I'd like to address a comment made by creator Marc Andreyko on the Geoff Johns boards. It's not unlike some comments he made in response to criticisms elsewhere. (And I should note that Mr. Andreyko has shown himself to be very open and willing to talk with fans, including critics such as myself, which is always nice to see in a pro, and I applaud him for it.) But this particular quote seems to best encapsulate a common response to legal critiques of recent issues:

"take into account that because this is a super-hero world, that trial laws are different."

In general, I agree with that sentiment. There are certain conceits in the superhero genre that would all but force certain changes in a trial setting. The last Astro City mini-series showed what some of those effects could be, for example. Bob Ingersoll used to address the point regularly. Unfortunately, nothing about superheroes and supervillains would result in the discrepencies we've seen in Manhunter itself.

Perhaps the three biggest conceits of the superhero genre are: 1) Fantastic powers, 2) Secret Identities, and 3) Vigilantism. Each of these can have their own effect on courtroom law and procedure.

I've touched on the issue of powers before, particularly in my Ultimates analysis. If a party's powers might prove risky in a courtroom, certain precautions could be expected that a regular court wouldn't allow. If a teleporter is on trial, it's natural to assume that he'd be somehow restrained from disappearing. The dangers of a witness or party having mind-control powers, and influencing jurors or witnesses, might have to be addressed somehow.

An issue of She-Hulk made a point out of the secret identity problem: if Spider-Man is called as a witness, how can it be verified that it's the real Spider-Man? A superhero universe would have different means of determining witness identities for masked individuals, and they would have some sort of end-run around the Constitutional requirement of facing their accuser.

I think an issue of Tangled Web took a look at the vigilantism problem from a police perspective. Spider-Man may catch criminals and leave them for the cops, but what proof is there that they did what they did? Are superheroes considered gov't agents for the purposes of determing the legality of searches and confessions? The DCU might have different rules on the subject than we do.

The trouble with applying this "superhero world" rationale to Manhunter is that none of its errors can be explained away because of the existence of superheroes. The rules about character evidence aren't going to change. The rules about what is relevant and irrelevant testimony aren't going to change. Prosecutors are still going to have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they need to produce actual evidence to do that. (If anyone would like to argue that such changes would be natural consequences of superheroes, I'd love to hear the reasons.)

Andreyko did bring up one problem that a DCU court would have to address, in the form of the murder victim having a secret identity. Unfortunately, as I explained before, the way it played out was almost certainly not the way a DCU court would handle it.

Also as pointed out previously, if Sands is still a metahuman, then the court might permit the tube (something they'd never do in real life). Since I'm pretty sure he's not, then it's out of place.

Maybe the court would allow for the defendant to be called a "Thief" in court, and not deem that prejudicial. That might fly. For a real-world parallel to that, let's wait and see if the prosecution in the BTK killer case (where the defendant coined his own acronym) is allowed to call the defendant "BTK" during trial.

And while I'm on the subject of Manhunter and Mr. Andreyko, I feel obliged to share his plea that people support the title. The book may have its share of legal problems, but it's garnered quite a lot of praise for its other strengths. If it can attract a strong enough audience to convince DC to stick with it, then maybe Mr. Andreyko will be able to explore some of the real superhero legal quirks down the line.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Shameless Plug

Today I made some long-overdue updates to another page that I created a while back, the elaborately titled Collins Compendium of Free Online Comic Books.

Listed thereon are links to over 250 complete comic books (or strips) that can be read online at no cost whatsoever. These aren't merely 4-page previews, but whole stories. Marvel alone has over 60, and Dark Horse has over 90 (though most of theirs are short strips). Even Crossgen still offers 20 full issues for you to read for free.

So if you've wanted to sample a new comic, or just enjoy free stuff, check it out. And if you know of any comics I'm missing (or if any of the existing links are bad; I've personally had some trouble with DC's PDFs), let me know.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Superman/Batman: Kiss My Asteroid

To follow up on my look at the new Krypton, I'm going to take on some of the science that's brought to the table in Jeph Loeb's first Superman/Batman arc, "Public Enemies."

Brief summary: A Kryptonite asteroid the size of Australia is headed straight for Earth. President Luthor has gone crazy after becoming a Kryptonite drug junkie, so he tells the world that the asteroid is Superman's fault, and they believe him. Lots of fighting ensues, and eventually the day is saved by an one-time Loeb character from a few years earlier, who builds a giant robot spaceship that smashes the asteroid into little pieces.

At the end of issue one, Luthor is shown standing in front of a giant screen that shows the asteroid (then labelled "Asteroid 921 Wormwood," but later called "Asteroid X") somewhere beyond Saturn. It's said that the asteroid is a week away from reaching Saturn's orbit.

In the upper left corner of the screen, it shows "Pluto" and its moon "Phobos." Phobos is indeed a moon...of Mars. Pluto's moon is Charon, named for the ferryman of the River Styx from Roman mythology. It was also discovered on the day I was born.

(Continuity sidebar: The DCU Pluto probably shouldn't have a moon at all. Before Loeb's "Our Worlds at War" event, the planet Pluto was stolen by Brainiac 13 and made into the new Warworld. After this was discovered, Green Lantern then constructed a replacement Pluto out of spare asteroids (there was a reason given for this, but it was bad science too). When Pluto was missing, Charon should have drifted off with no planetary gravity to hold it in place. Maybe GL found it and brought it back.)

This provides some good comparison for the Kryptonite asteroid. Charon is 728 miles in diameter, a little more than half of Pluto's 1413 mile diameter. Both dwarf measly little Phobos, which is still only 17 miles across at its widest. It's incredibly tiny. Our moon (ten brownie points to the person who knows the name of our moon) is a bit larger: 2160 miles in diameter.

The Kryptonite asteroid (not meteor; an asteroid becomes a meteor when it enters the atmosphere) is said to be the size of Brazil at one point, and the size of Australia later on. Neither nation is round, but they have similar land areas (Autralia = 3.1 million mi2; Brazil = 3.3 million mi2). A circle with an area of 3.2 million mi2 would have a diameter of a little more than 2000 miles.

Thus, the Kryptonite asteroid was about 80% of the size of our moon. Or about three times the volume of Pluto. Maybe it's just me, but I think "The asteroid is almost as big as our moon" sounds a lot more threatening than the Aussie comparison.

This shows why the attempt to destroy the asteroid with nuclear bombs (in #2) failed. Imagine trying to blow up the moon with a handful of nukes. They wouldn't make a dent. On the other hand, it makes one wonder how the Superman/Batman robot-ship managed to successfully break it up. It may be hard and it may be fast, but compared to the asteroid, it's really tiny.

Let's say the ship was 500 feet tall, being shot at an asteroid 2000 miles across. In terms of size, that's like shooting a bullet at a sphere 1/3 of a mile in diameter (or about 6 football fields across). That's one seriously powerful projectile to not only affect that sphere, but to break it up into tiny pieces.

The largest asteroid yet discovered is 2001 KX76, which has a diameter of about 900 miles at the most. The Kryptonite asteroid is thus at least twelve times as large as the biggest real-world asteroid. Of course, the size of this asteroid could be due to its unnatural origin. It is a chunk of a destroyed planet, after all. And potentially a rather large planet, as discussed in my previous post.

Krypton is also a very distant planet, as detailed previously. 2.2 million light years away from Earth (or 13 quintillion miles). This means that one way or another, that Kryptonite asteroid had to travel 2.2 million light years to get here. But how?

In the second Superman/Batman arc, introducing the new Supergirl, we were told a little more about the asteroid (and for now, we'll assume the information given is accurate). Kara's father built a spaceship and locked its navigational system onto Kal's ship. However, her ship never actually launched. It got buried in a huge chunk of Kryptonite, and Kara was kept alive in a state of suspended animation while the rock made its way to Earth.

This is pretty scant information to draw solid conclusions from, but it seems that one conclusion is unavoidable at this time, and that is the implication that the navigational system on Kara's ship guided the asteroid to Earth. How? We don't know.

And that raises certain questions. Did the nav system calculate the future position of Earth, and point the asteroid in that direction to start with? Or did the ship somehow continually adjust the course of its moon-sized chassis? For such a small ship, it has a lot of power to move and guide a small planet. Did the asteroid simply drift through space, carrying the ship with it, or did the ship somehow move both itself and the asteroid at some faster-than-light speed?

Birthright all but demands that the answer to the last question involves the use of some sort of faster-than-light travel. Kara spent some time in suspended animation, but her trip to Earth only took about 35 years more than Clark's. Light from Krypton would take at least two million years to reach Earth. There couldn't be too much difference between the ships' speeds, or else they would have arrived millions of years apart instead of just 35. And since I'm wary of the thought of both ships taking millions of years to reach Earth at less-than-light speed, they both must have travelled considerably faster-than-light.

Last time, I used the example of Kal's trip taking 10 years. If that were the case, then Kara's would have taken about 45 years. That would mean that the asteroid was travelling at 33 trillion mph (the speed of light is 670 million mph). And the shorter the time that Kal's journey was, the faster Kara's asteroid must have been moving. If Kal's trip took under a month (which would have his ship moving at a speed that would cross the whole Milky Way Galaxy in about two days), then Kara's ship was moving at about 43 trillion mph, or about 63,000 times the speed of light. This asteroid was really moving.

If Kara's ship was having to propel a small planet at realistically high speeds, it would have taken a phenomenal amount of energy (both to speed it up, and to slow it down at the end). But since we're playing with science fictional warp speeds, anything's possible. Maybe it's just as easy to warp speed a planet as it is to do it with a small ship, so we can ignore the power problem.

On the other hand, once the asteroid/ship 'drops out of warp,' it's pretty much stuck at a constant velocity. It can't slow down as it approaches Earth unless the ship has a means of decelerating a moon's worth of mass. And since the ship wasn't designed to do anything like that, I think it's a really big cheat to assume that it could.

Constant velocity means we can make some other calculations. When the asteroid is first shown, it is said that it is 7.21 days away from Saturn, but we're never told how long it will take to get from Saturn to Earth. And it did apparently get close enough that lots of chunks of it landed on Earth.

If the asteroid had just passed Pluto, then the time from Saturn to Earth would be 51 hours. I don't think the story moves that quickly, and without anyone mentioning the immediate doom. And besides, the 'time to Saturn' suggests to me that Saturn would be the next planet it would pass.

So let's say it had just passed Uranus. That would mean it was travelling at 5.3 million mph, and would reach Earth 6.3 days after passing Saturn. That's fairly reasonable within the context of the story, but a shorter time would quickly get questionable. If it was already halfway between Uranus and Saturn, then the time to Earth would be 12.6 days. That seems about right to me. The events of the story move too fast for me to think there was a waiting period of three or four weeks.

One wonders why DCU scientists didn't notice a radioactive moon hurtling at Earth at over two million miles per hour any earlier than they did. It would've passed Neptune's orbit over two weeks earlier. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the ship dropped out of warp shortly before it was discovered.

At one point in the story, we're shown a future Superman living on a barren Earth that had been hit by the asteroid. Aside from the question of how Superman survived on a Kryptonite-irradiated planet even though no one else did, what's wrong with this picture?

Imagine an asteroid 80% the size of the moon, hitting the Earth at a speed of 2.6 million mph. That's twice as fast as the fastest comet (you could travel from the Earth to the moon in under 6 minutes). What do you think is going to be left of the Earth? In a word, rubble. That kind of collision doesn't just destroy life, it destroys planets.

And that brings us to the end of another overly-long analysis. Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?