CAPITAL PUNISHMENT THROUGH COMICS

The art here is my own, but the characters are not. All of the characters depicted below are attributed to their creators and rights owners. This post if purely for educational and aesthetic purposes. None of this work was done for economic gain; none of it is for sale. I just wanted to advocate against capital punishment, try out scratch-board, and do some credit to some of DC comics’ heroes and villains. The US is the ONLY county in the Western Hemisphere still using capital punishment. There is a nice grouping of statistics on the death penalty at: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf

Joker — Electric Chair

Furman v. Georgia, US Supreme Court, 408 U.S. 238, June 29, 1972.

William Henry Furman was dicovered burglarizing a home. When attempting to escape, his weapon went off and killed a resident in the house. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Two other death penalty cases were decided along with Furman: Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas. These cases deal with the constitutionality of the death penalty for rape and murder convictions. The US Supreme Court held that the imposition of the death penalty in these three cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated Constitutional rights.

The case led to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment throughout the United States, which came to an end in 1976 with Gregg v. Georgia,428 U.S. 153 July 2, 1976.

The Joker is a supervillain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson who first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book Batman (April 25, 1940) published by DC Comics. Credit for the Joker’s creation is disputed; Kane and Robinson claimed responsibility for the Joker’s design, while acknowledging Finger’s writing contribution. Although the Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the Batman.

In his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a criminal mastermind. Introduced as a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor, the character became a goofy prankster in the late 1950s in response to regulation by the Comics Code Authority, before returning to his darker roots during the early 1970s.

The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead he uses his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.

One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the Joker has been listed among the greatest comic book villains and fictional characters ever created.

Electrocution as a method of execution came onto the scene in an unlikely manner. Edison Company with its DC (direct current) electrical systems began attacking Westinghouse Company and its AC (alternating current) electrical systems as they were pressing for nationwide electrification with alternating current. To show how dangerous AC could be, Edison Company began public demonstrations by electrocuting animals. People reasoned that if electricity could kill animals, it could kill people. In 1888, New York approved the dismantling of its gallows and the building of the nation’s first electric chair. It held its first victim, William Kemmler, in 1890, and even though the first electrocution was clumsy at best, other states soon followed the lead.

Harley Quinn-Firing Squad

Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130 (1878) — The Court upheld execution by firing squad, but said that other types of torture such as “drawing and quartering, embowelling alive, beheading, public dissection, and burring alive and all other in the same line of…cruelty, are forbidden.”

Harley Quinn (Harleen Frances Quinzel) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series in September 1992. She later appeared in DC Comics’ Batman comic books, with the character’s first comic book appearance in The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993).

Harley Quinn is the frequent accomplice and lover of the Joker, whom she met while working as a psychologist at Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum, where the Joker was a patient. Her name is a play on the name “Harlequin”, a character which originated in the commedia dell’arte.

Penguin-Beheading

Gregg v. Georgia, US Supreme Court, 428 U.S. 153 July 2, 1976.

Troy Leon Gregg was found guilty of armed robbery and murder and then sentenced to death by a Georgia grand jury. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence, excluding its imposition for the robbery conviction. Gregg challenged his remaining death sentence for murder at the US Supreme Court, claiming that his capital sentence was a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments because the jury “wantonly and freakishly” imposed the death sentence. The Court rejected the claim and affirmed the sentence.

The Penguin (Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the Batman. Artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger introduced the character in Detective Comics #58 (December 1941). The Penguin is one of Batman’s most enduring enemies and belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up Batman’s Rogues Gallery.

Depicted as a Gotham City mobster, the Penguin fancies himself a “gentleman of crime” and often wears a tuxedo and top hat. He is a short, portly man with a long nose who uses high-tech umbrellas as weapons. The Penguin runs a nightclub in called Iceberg Lounge, which provides a cover for criminal activity, and the Batman sometimes uses the nightclub as a source of criminal underworld information. Unlike most of the Batman’s Rogues Gallery, the Penguin is sane and in control of his actions, which gives him a unique relationship with the Batman. According to Kane, the character was inspired from the then advertising mascot of Kool cigarettes — a penguin with a top hat and cane. Finger thought the image of high-society gentlemen in tuxedos was reminiscent of emperor penguins.

The Penguin has repeatedly been named one of the best Batman villains, and one of the greatest villains in comics. Penguin was ranked #51 in IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time.

Solomon Grundy-Gas Chamber

Atkins v. Virginia, US Supreme Court, 536 U.S. 304 June 20, 2002.

Daryl Atkins and his accomplice, William Jones, were convicted for murder. The jury convicted Atkins of capital murder even though the defense presented Atkins’s school records and IQ score of 59 alleging that he was ‘mildly mentally retarded.’ The USSC ruled 6–3 that executing mentally retarded individuals violates the VIII Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

Solomon Grundy is a character, usually depicted as supervillain in the DC Comics universe and an antihero in the DC animated universe. He was originally depicted as a murder victim brought back to life as a corporeal revenant or zombie, though subsequent versions of the character have occasionally depicted a different origin. Named after the 19th century nursery rhyme, Grundy was introduced as an enemy of the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott), but has since become a prominent enemy for a number of superheroes such as Superman and the Batman. He also has ties to Swamp Thing. He was created by Alfred Bester, and first appeared in All-American Comics #61 (October 1944).

Scarecrow-Burning at the Stake

Tropp v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86 (1958) — The Court Ruled that punishment would be considered “cruel and unusual” if it was one of “tormenting severity,” cruel in its excessiveness or unusual in punishment “must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”

The Scarecrow (Dr. Jonathan Crane) is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the Batman. The character first appeared in World’s Finest Comics #3 (cover-dated Sept. 1941) and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Scarecrow is depicted as a professor of psychology in Gotham City who uses a variety of fear-enhancing chemical agents to exploit the fears and phobias of his adversaries. In 2009, the Scarecrow was ranked as IGN’s 58th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.

Poison Ivy-Lethal Injection

Roper v. Simmons, US Supreme Court, 543 U.S. 551 Mar. 1, 2005.

Donald P. Roper, Superintendent at Potosi Correctional Center, challenged the Missouri Supreme Court agreement to set aside Christopher Simmons’ death sentence in favor of life imprisonment without eligibility for release. At age 17, Simmons planned and committed a capital murder. After he had turned 18, he was sentenced to death. Simmons succeeded in a new petition for state post-conviction relief, arguing that Atkins v. Virginia’s (See Solomon Grundy, above) reasoning established that the US Constitution prohibits the execution of a juvenile who was under 18 when he committed his crime. The Supreme Court held in favor of Simmons that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. The 5–4 decision overruled the Court’s prior ruling upholding such sentences on offenders above or at the age of 16, in Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), overturning statutes in 25 states that had the penalty set lower.

Poison Ivy (Pamela Lillian Isley) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the Batman. She was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, the character made her first appearance in Batman #181 (June 1966). Poison Ivy is one of the Batman’s most enduring enemies and belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up Batman’s Rogues Gallery.

Poison Ivy is depicted as one of the world’s most notorious eco-terrorists. Her real name is Pamela Isley, a botanist in Gotham City, who is obsessed with plants, ecological extinction, and environmentalism. Poison Ivy uses toxins from plants and mind-controlling pheromones for her criminal activities, which are usually aimed at protecting endangered species and the natural environment.

In Poison Ivy’s earliest appearances, she wore a green one-piece outfit covered with plant leaves. Leaves also formed her bracelets, necklace, and head wreath. The character’s look has evolved over the years, and she is typically depicted with long, flowing hair, plant vines extending over her neck or limbs, and a green one-piece outfit adorned with leaves.

IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time ranked Poison Ivy as #64.

Heat Wave-Drowning

Britain influenced America’s use of the death penalty more than any other country. When European settlers came to the new world, they brought the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain. In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians.

Heat Wave (Mick Rory) is a character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an enemy of The Flash. Heat Wave was first introduced in The Flash #140 which was written by John Broome. He was first made to be a rival for Captain Cold.

Born on a farm outside Central City, Mick Rory became fascinated with fire, as a child. This fascination turned into an obsession and one night, he set his family’s home ablaze. His obsession was so great, that he simply watched the flames engulf his house, instead of running to get help. He took a job as a fire eater with a traveling circus. This did not last long either, as he ended up setting the circus on fire.

In Infinite Crisis, Heat Wave became a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains.

Two-Face-Hanging

In re Kemmler, 136 U.S. 436, 10 S.Ct. 930, 34 L.Ed. 519 (1890)

“If the punishment prescribed for an offense against the laws of the state were manifestly cruel and unusual such as burning at the stake, crucifixion, breaking on the wheel, or the like, it would be the duty of the courts to adjudge such penalties to be within the constitutional prohibition. And we think this equally true of the eight amendment, in its application to congress. In Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U. S. 130, 135 Mr. Justice CLIFFORD, in delivering the opinion of the court, referring to Blackstone, said: ‘Difficulty would attend the effort to define with exactness the extent of the constitutional provision which provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted; but it is safe to affirm that punishments of torture, such as those mentioned by the commentator referred to, and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty, are forbidden by that amendment to the constitution.’ Punishments are cruel when they involve torture or a lingering death; but the punishment of death is not cruel within the meaning of that word as used in the constitution. It implies there something inhuman and barbarous, something more than the mere extinguishment of life.”

Two-Face (Harvey Dent) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the Batman. The character was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane and first appeared in Detective Comics #66 (Aug. 1942). As one of the Batman’s most enduring enemies, Two-Face belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up his Rogues Gallery.

Once an upstanding Gotham City district attorney, Harvey Dent was hideously scarred on the left side of his face after a mob boss threw acidic chemicals at him during a court trial. He was subsequently driven insane and adopted the “Two-Face” persona, becoming a criminal obsessed with duality. In later years, writers have portrayed Two-Face’s obsession with chance and fate as the result of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. He obsessively makes all important decisions by flipping his former lucky charm, a two-headed coin which was damaged on one side by the acid as well. The modern version is established as having once been a personal friend and ally of James Gordon and the Batman.

Two-Face was ranked #12 on IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time.

Riddler-Walking the Plank, with Batman and Aquaman

Baze v. Rees, U.S. Supreme Court, 553 U.S. 35 Apr. 16, 2008

Ralph Baze and Thomas C. Bowling, convicted for murder and sentenced to death in Kentucky state court, filed suit asserting that the lethal injection protocol violates the Eighth Amendment’s constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishments.” The state trial court upheld it as constitutional. Later, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lethal injection protocol was substantially safe from “wanton” and “unnecessary infliction of pain,” torture, or “lingering death.” The Supreme Court affirmed the lethal injection protocol as constitutional.

The Riddler (Edward Nigma) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the Batman. Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Dick Sprang, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (Oct. 1948). The Riddler is depicted as a criminal mastermind in Gotham City who takes delight in incorporating riddles and puzzles into his plots, often leaving them as clues for the authorities and Batman to solve. The character is one of Batman’s most enduring enemies and belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up Batman’s Rogues Gallery. In 2014, the Riddler was ranked as IGN’s 59th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.

Aquaman (on the boat) is a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941). Initially a backup feature in DC’s anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo title. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. In the 1990s Modern Age, Aquaman’s character became more serious than in most previous interpretations, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis.

Batman is a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (1939). Originally named the “Bat-Man”, the character is also referred to by such epithets as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, a wealthy American playboy, philanthropist, and owner of Wayne Enterprises. After witnessing the murder of his parents Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne as a child, he swore vengeance against criminals, an oath tempered by a sense of justice. Wayne trains himself physically and intellectually and crafts a bat-inspired persona to fight crime. Batman operates in Gotham City, with assistance from various supporting characters, including his butler Alfred, police commissioner Gordon, and vigilante allies such as Robin. Unlike most superheroes, Batman does not possess any superpowers; rather, he relies on his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, science and technology, vast wealth, intimidation, and indomitable will.

Batman became popular soon after his introduction in 1939 and gained his own comic book title, Batman, the following year.

Superman-Crucifiction

‘Abraham drew near, and said, “Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? … What if ten are found there?” He [The Lord] said, “I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake.”’

-Genesis 18:23–32

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”,

-William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

Jesse Joseph Tafero was wrongly convicted of murder and executed via electric chair in the state of Florida for the murders of Florida Highway Patrol officer Phillip Black and Donald Irwin. The officers were killed during a traffic stop where Tafero, his wife Sunny Jacobs, and their children were passengers. After Tafero’s execution, the driver, Walter Rhodes, confessed to shooting the officers. The execution machine, dubbed “Old Sparky”, malfunctioned, causing six-inch flames to shoot out of Tafero’s head. A member of the execution team had used a synthetic sponge rather than a sea sponge, which is necessary to provide greater conductivity and a quick death. In all, three jolts of electricity were required to execute Tafero, a process that took seven minutes. Prison inmates later claimed that ‘Old Sparky’ was “fixed” and tampered with to make Tafero’s execution more like torture.

Superman is a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1933. They sold Superman to Detective Comics, the future DC Comics, in 1938. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 (cover-dated June 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, newspaper strips, television programs, films, and video games. With this success, Superman helped to create the superhero archetype and establish its primacy within the American comic book. The character is also referred to by such epithets as the Man of Steel, the Man of Tomorrow, and The Last Son of Krypton.

Superman was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El, moments before Krypton’s destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas farm couple, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Very early on he started to display various superhuman abilities, which, upon reaching maturity, he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity through a secret “Superman” identity.

Superman resides and operates in Metropolis. As Clark Kent, he is a journalist for the Daily Planet, a Metropolis newspaper. Superman’s love interest is generally Lois Lane, and his archenemy is supervillain Lex Luthor. He is typically a member of the Justice League and close ally of Batman and Wonder Woman. Like other characters in the DC Universe, several alternate versions of Superman have been depicted over the years.

Superman’s appearance is distinctive and iconic; he usually wears a blue costume with a red-and-yellow emblem on the chest, consisting of the letter “S” (signifying the House of El in Kryptonian) in a shield shape, and a red cape. This shield is used in many media to symbolize the character. Superman is widely considered a cultural icon. The character’s ownership has often been the subject of dispute, with Siegel and Shuster twice suing for the return of rights.

Attorney, Boise native, Comic artist, Dog person, Water loving, punner. Goal: put a comic up here once/month at least-more as I get started.