In his 13 years as a comic book artist, Kieron Dwyer has limned the adventures of Captain America, Daredevil and even Superman. But none of these superheros had to face the evil villain Dwyer himself is battling--Corporate America.

In 1997, Dwyer began self-publishing a satirical comic called Lowest Comic
Keiron Dwyer
Denominator ( The premier issue's cover featured a parody of the logo for Starbucks, the near-ubiquitous coffee shop chain. Dwyer's parody changed the words "Starbucks Coffee" to "Consumer Whore," replaced a couple of stars with dollar signs, and added nipples, a navel ring, a cell phone and a dazed look to the "siren" figure that graces the center of the logo. Pleased with his work, Dwyer also printed it on T-shirts and stickers.

"I was criticizing Starbucks, specifically," says Dwyer, a 33-year-old resident of San Francisco, about his motivation for creating the logo parody. "But I was also targeting ordinary people--myself included--who kind of become enslaved to their product--or any product, for that matter. You know, 'Consumer Whore' denotes to me the idea that many, maybe most, people in America will blindly do anything to satisfy their desires. And
corporations such as Starbucks feed on this weakness in people, this desperate middle-class consumerism, because it keeps them in business."

Unfortunately for Dwyer, the coffee giant got wind of his parody logo and responded with a lawsuit charging copyright infringement, trademark infringement and trademark dilution. Starbucks immediately filed for a restraining order, which would have required Dwyer to turn over all items bearing the parody logo.