A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Spirit #5

The Spirit #5
Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Con-man Carrion is running a new scheme in Central City. Nothing illegal, mind you, but definitely odd. He's hawking sugar-sweetened pork & beans to the kiddie set, and using the Spirit as his marketing icon. The profitability of his operation draws the attention of the Cossack, leading to this confrontation:

The Cossack may need to get himself some better lawyers, because his current ones apparently neglected to advice against this course of action. He may have gotten Carrion to sign on the dotted line, but that signature's about as likely to stand up in court as a Salem witch's confession.

One of the basic rules of contracts is that they're not enforceable if signed under duress. Here, the Cossack has beaten, bloodied, and even shot Carrion, all in an effort to "persuade" Carrion to sign the contract. Carrion is certainly not signing of his own free will and volition. If the Cossack tried to enforce this signed contract, all Carrion would have to do is object on the grounds that he signed under duress, and explain that his signature was the result of the Cossack beating him and threatening his life if he refused to sign.

Long story short, when told "Transfer ownership, and you'll live," the safe thing to do is to agree to the transfer. Once the court learns that 'Sign or die' was a big part of the contract negotiations, it's pretty unlikely they'll require that the transfer go through.

Furthermore, one of the requirements of an enforceable contract is the existence of "consideration." If one party is choosing to give something up, he must be getting something in return. If the Cossack's paperwork simply transfers ownership of Carrion's operation, without compensating or benefiting Carrion in any way, then there doesn't appear to be any sort of consideration for Carrion that would allow the Cossack to enforce this contract the next day. On paper, it would have all the appearances of an uncompensated-for gift. Then again, maybe there is some kind of nominal consideration in the contract, and it's just not mentioned in the dialogue. After all, the Cossack seems more interested in getting the signature than in explaining the terms.

I'd chalk all this up to the Cossack simply being a violent and ignorant brute, if it weren't for the fact that he referenced his own legal counsel on the same page. As such, he really should've known better.

And from the same issue, but on a completely different subject:

I was raised believing that you make pork and beans with brown sugar. Never white. Is that a coloring goof, or is it representative of some kind of Yankee recipe?