And Justice For All: Fictional Worlds With Distinct Legal Systems

Writers have always used their work as a medium for expressing their hopes, dreams, and fears. The way a writer portrays the legal system of their fictional world can show a lot about how they feel about our justice system, whether it’s what they wish it was more like, or what they fear it may become. Some fictional worlds are practically defined by their legal systems. Let’s look at a few:

The Judges – Judge Dredd

In this dystopian future, the Judges handles practically all aspects of the law. Don’t let the name fool you though; they’re law enforcement, judge, jury, AND executioner all rolled into one. Additionally, lawyers are very rare in this world, usually only representing the richest clients. Everyone else is advised to not provoke the Judges, lest you end up with a heavier sentence.

The Inquisition – Warhammer 40k

This universe sees humanity besieged on all sides .The Empire revolves around the worship of the God-Emperor, and given that all crimes are crimes against the Emperor, law enforcement is handled by The Inquisitors. Armed with all manner of weapons and clad in heavy armor, they zealously prosecute any individual suspected of heresy. A zeal shared by the military wing that exemplifies the Empire as well.

The Ministry of Love –1984

Probably the most terrifying legal system on this list, the Ministry of Love, as portrayed in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, defines the law as whatever it says the law is. This is exemplified when one of the characters is told that 2+2 is “whatever the Ministry says it is”, revealing the Ministry to be more of an enforcement agency than one that upholds the law.

The Boros Legion – Magic: the Gathering

In one of the many worlds introduced during Magic: the Gathering’s long run, the law is upheld and enforced by the Boros Legion. A well-organized military organization, their ranks feature humans, goblins, minotaurs, and even angels. One of the strangest aspects of this group is that service doesn’t end with death. Ghosts of departed officers usually continue to serve on the force for centuries!

Do you think the creators of these worlds wanted to warn us about how far the justice system can fall? Were they pointing out the existing flaws by magnifying them through a lens of fiction?

Setting The Bar: Comic Book Super-Lawyers

The recent years have seen a massive resurgence of the superhero genre, both in movies and on TV. Gone are the days when superhero-related media revolved around the same few characters over and over again; in addition to Batman and Spider-Man, the general public is now also more aware of characters like Ant-Man, Black Panther, Cyborg, Black Lighting, and Killer Frost.

That being said, it’s easy to forget that there are superheroes that don’t only fight for justice out on the streets, but in the courtrooms as well. These characters provide an interesting look at how the “champions of justice” view the legal systems of their world. Let’s take a look at a few:

Kate Spencer: Manhunter

While not as popular as her green-skinned Martian counterpart, Kate Spencer saw moderate popularity during her run in the early 2000’s. A court prosecutor who was angry at how rich villains were able to cheat the system, she donned a suit that made her stronger and faster, allowing her to take justice into her own hands.

Matt Murdoch: Daredevil

Perhaps the most famous comic book lawyer, Matt Murdoch, better known as Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, battled street-level crime both in the courts and on the streets. A great mix of brains and brawn, Daredevil has recently seen resurgence in popularity thanks to not one, but two shows on Netflix: A Daredevil solo title, and the Defenders, a series that brings the Netflix Marvel characters together

Jennifer Walters: She-Hulk

Despite being a member of both The Avengers and The Fantastic Four, poor Jen was often overlooked because of her big, angry cousin’s popularity. Fortunately, the past few years saw She-Hulk’s popularity rise thanks to titles like A-Force, an all-female team she was a prominent part of, as well as her own solo title. In fact, Ms. Walters made it to #18 on IGN’s list of their Top 50 Avengers.

Do you have a favorite comicbook lawyer, whether hero or villain? Be sure to let us know!