Mark S. Zaid, Esq has two key interests. By day, his passion is national security law where he represents his Washington DC based law firm, the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C. and outside of the courtroom he is a collector of investment-grade comic books. For the next 3 months, Zaid has combined his two passions by guest-curating an exhibit at Yale Law School, entitled Superheroes in Court! Lawyers, Law and Comic Books.

The exhibit celebrates the role that lawyers have played in fictional and real-life roles in the 80-year history of the comic book industry.

“There are about 28 items in the exhibit,” explains Zaid. Most of the pieces come from his personal collection.

The exhibit includes legal documentation detailing the tumultuous ongoing litigation of Jerry Siegel vs DC Comics over ownership of Superman and Superboy. First Amendment battles during comics’ infancy are available for viewing such as Comic Books and Juvenile Delinquency, a 1955 report submitted to the United States Senate.

Beyond items of an inherently historical context, there are also some famous comic books depicting superheroes in the courtroom such as the Neal Adams cover art to Action Comics issue 359, The Case of The People Vs. Superman.

Attendees will see comic art featuring Superboy receiving a court order for new foster parents, and a handcuffed Batman & Robin being tried by a Joker-faced jury with the Joker as the assigned Judge.
The law is no stranger to superhero comic book fiction. By definition most costumed heroes are considered vigilantes, unsanctioned entities engaging in crime fighting activities. Marvel’s Civil War event was predicated on the Superhero Registration Act, legally requiring super powered American citizens to register their names with the US government.

While a significant piece of his personal collection consists of comics paraphernalia containing a legal theme, his overall interests are more expansive. Zaid’s hobby has translated into an online business venture, Esquire Comics ( To date, the most expensive comic transaction for the site was the sale of an Action Comics #1 CGC 4.0 for $195,000.

“A record price at the time but now viewed as great investment,” says Zaid.

Always on the hunt for new additions to his collection, Zaid expands on his procurement strategy.  “My comics are acquired through many different mediums. I would probably state that most are now obtained through auctions, and then others through conventions and private transactions.”

His passion for comics permeates into other facets of the hobby, including being an advisor to the Overstreet Comic Book Price & Grading Guides a co-founder of the Comic Book Collecting Association and a founding member of the Network of Disclosure, the leading consumer protection entity in world of comics collecting.

What’s the response of colleagues when they discover that he’s a comics collector who’s been in the hobby for over 30 years?

“There are probably three main reactions from colleagues: One, they smirk and say something like ‘really?’ and I say ‘yes and my comics sometimes cost $50,000.’ The smirk vanishes.  “Two, they respond, ‘I used to collect comics and my mother threw them out.’

“Or third, they tell me they still collect or like comics. In fact, I once met two of my adversaries at the Justice Department at the San Diego Comic Con,” explains Zaid.

Has he ever had occasion to leverage something from the world of comic books into his day job?
“I can’t think of an instance where I used comic book references or experiences in court, but I did once speak of Kryptonite when I was interviewed by Keith Olberman on MSNBC!”

The exhibition is on display Sept. 6 to Dec. 16, 2010, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library in the Yale Law School (127 Wall St., New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the public. Additionally, Zaid will be giving an exhibition lecture on September 30th at 1 pm at the Yale Law School.

The Author

Mike McLarty

Mike McLarty

A San Diego native, Mike has comics in his blood and has attended the San Diego Comic Con every year since 1982. His comic interests are as varied as his crimes against humanity, but he tends to lean heavily towards things rooted in dystopian themes. His favorite comic series is Warren Ellis’ and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is the best character ever devised. Mike realizes those statements will alienate a good portion of his potential audience, but those are the facts. You are unlikely to find a single collector with a better Transmetropolitan art portfolio than the one he has in his possession. He is an Assistant Editor for the upcoming Transmetropolitan Charity Book.

He also occasionally freelances for various other comics websites, which he promotes through his homepage (, Twitter and other inherently intrusive forms of social media. Mike firmly believes that the best writers come from the UK. This could be because he’s of Irish descent; not so much based on physical geography as the fact that the Irish like to drink heavily.

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  1. September 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm — Reply

    Interesting article.

    I now want that Action Comics issue.

  2. xrayguy
    September 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    I have always thought about what would happen if super heros really had to make court cases in the real world? Is what Superman sees with xray vision a violation of privacy? Does he need a search warrant to use it? Is there a law against world domination? I think a good criminal defense lawyer could get most charges thrown out of court. And then wouldn’t it tie up the heros schedule having to make court date appearances to testify, taking them off “partrol”, sitting around the hall of justice in your costume waiting, just dead time. ????

    • Damascus
      October 6, 2010 at 1:42 am — Reply

      Another one that fits with Civil War, granted it came out a long time before, it was I believe Avengers Vol. 1 #190 from December of 1979. The Avengers are being brought before a Senate hearing at the instigation of Henry Peter Gyrich who is trying to get their security clearance revoked. Their lawyer in this endeavor is a guy you might know, Mr. Matt Murdock, who even they don’t know that he’s Daredevil. All the while there has been this meteor that has changed courses and lands smack dab in Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn. The giant meteor then hatches and a massive stone form starts lumbering through parts of New York destroying subway ticket booths, apparently he didn’t have correct change.

      While all this is going on, Gyrich is giving testimony about his experiences with Avengers security when Tony gets an all points bulletin requesting assistance. Gyrich thinks it’s a PR stunt until they turn the TV on and see a N.Y.P.D. SWAT team get trampled over. This is where the best part comes, before the Avengers can take off and go save the day, Beast who seems more aggressive and snarky back then than I’m used to in current incarnations, anyway Beast tells them on second thought maybe they don’t need the Avengers to take care of it. He rips the leg off a nearby table and hands it to Gyrich and tells him to go take care of it. The Senate sees that the Avengers are trying to do what’s right and to help and so they let them go take down this monster. Daredevil slips out unnoticed and changes into his costume and meets up with them. Iron Man and Vision eventually do a little combo that takes the creature down and at that time Daredevil informs them that within the rubble lies a heartbeat and BOOM! out comes the Grey Gargoyle!

      During a scene a tad earlier Daredevil is on his way to help confront the menace and he ponders what had transpired in the hearing and worries over whether something like this will happen again because it will cause a civil war of sorts, it really sounds like a 30 year foreshadowing of things to come.

      Excellently written and drawn, and I think that the court scenes were some of the best parts of this story, especially Beast. Definitely worth picking up, if it meets your criteria for what you collect.

  3. September 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    I actually do some work with an attorney, which is what initially led me to research this article. I always thought that if I was in a profession (like Law) where the $$$ was significant, I’d be a dangerous comic fan! I actually think I’d lean more towards art.

    As far as real court cases, it’s a subject that we’ve seen in comics before. Obviously Daredevil is where we’ve seen it displayed most often. I’m told Green Arrow recently appeared in court, as well. I’ll have to ask my attorney friend (Criminal Defense Attorney) how he thinks a super powered client would fare in the court of law.

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