The Real Kick Ass

geist-16Meet Geist, bond fide costumed crime-fighter
Originally published in March 2010 edition of Empire Magazine

By Own Williams
“Being a Superhero is a crazy, unorthodox idea, but it’s a fun way to something good,” says Geist, one of several hundred costumed vigilantes currently active in the USA. On his nightly patrols he’s defused domestic violence, broken up bar brawlers and reclaimed gang territory, not to mention uncovering a fake cop given to pulling over teenage girls an asking them to do “creepy things” and helping out during the 2007 Minnesota floods.
Reactions to his arrival are mixed. The first state trooper he encountered at the floods “put his hand on his Taser and locked me up and down” before sending him in the right direction. But he says his local cops are content that he’s fighting for good- “Although they’d prefer I stick to charity work.”
He describes his look as that of an “urban detective cowboy”, while the name translates simply as “ghost” or “spirit”. Geist is “someone who appears out of nowhere, does what’s necessary” than vanishes.
“I try not to hang around,” he says. “I become a lot less interesting when I do.”

Real-Life Superheroes or Masked Activists?

Originally posted:
By Tal Pinchevsky on March 15, 2010, 7:15 PM
It sounds like a ridiculous premise for a bad Hollywood script. A very, very bad Hollywood script. But a confluence of forces over the past two years could be contributing to a bizarre rise in real-life, mask-and-spandex super heroes. With a heightened sense of online activism and large-scale cuts in a number of police forces, these pseudo-superheroes appear to be part vigilante, part activist. That’s right, superhero activists.
The cuts in police forces across the Western world, from England to Michigan, have inspired fears of impending crime waves. And while not every region has seen a sudden rise in crime, the past few years have seen the emergence of a fascinating networks of street-fighting superheroes inspired by a century of iconic comic culture. A culture, mind you, that has seen recent record prices for old superhero comics.
In a bizarro parallel of online activist networks, a number of traditional mask-and-spandex pseudo-heroes have taken to the web to mobilize. One of the first calls from action came from a New Jersey resident calling himself Phantom Zero, a masked man who seemed to fashion himself more a humanitarian than a crimefighter. The idea of the superhero-as-activist has indirectly contributed to a number of sites, like Superheroes Anonymous, which looks to inspire “the superhero in all people through outreach, education, and creative community service.”
But community activists (of sorts) are doing more than borrowing the basic superhero ethos. There has even sprouted a national network of costumed individuals patrolling streets across the country. You can follow a number of them on an official World Superhero Registry. And in a bizarre case of life imitating art, mainstream media, both print and online has embraced the work of these individuals in a not-completely-ironic way. Even Hollywood has jumped on the concept of the DIY superhero with upcoming films like Kickass and Defendor.
So is all this emerging superhero activity a vigilante uprising or a call to activism? Perhaps a bit of both. Either way, there is no denying the dozens of people suddenly fashioning themselves in the Superman mold.  Some, like Captain Australia, even have their own web site. With 2010 already declared the year of the real-life superhero, it’s hard to tell how many of these street fighters are embracing a true activist imperative. There are some we already know of, including Mexico’s Superbarrio, who acts primarily as a political organizer. Nobody’s saying masked vigilantes are the future of activism, but it certainly appears to be a new take on an old standard.

Zetaman: Portland's real life superhero

Reported by: Tim Gordon
Last Update: 3/11 10:52 pm
PORTLAND- The real life superhero movement is sweeping the country. And Portland has one of its leaders, helping others in his costumed crusade.
Zetaman leaves the hard core crime fighting to the professionals, but is trained in first aid and CPR. He dresses up to help the homeless, and support good causes like the March of Dimes. He also might change your flat tire if he finds you stuck on the side of the road.
Just don’t be alarmed by the bright blue costume. It’s all about being a community activist in costume – a creative outlet that helps others.
Zetaman is part of a group of Americans that refer to themselves as Real Life Superheroes. Comic book superheroes have traditionally exemplified the values of trustworthiness, bravery, selflessness, and passion. These hallmarks of fictional iconic characters are the same that the Real Life Superheroes strive to embody.
The Real Life Superheroes is a grassroots movement that works to make the world a better place. They are using the iconicism of comic book superheroes to try to make a difference, inspire others, spread a positive message, and call attention to issues in our communities.
They believe ther is a hero in everyone and they want to bring it out to help make this world a little more super.
The Real Life Superheroes movement is (sort of) the basis for a new full-length featured movie coming out in April. A preview is below.

Captain Jackson, Michigan’s Real-Life Superhero

Captain Jackson, Michigan’s Real-Life Superhero

by Josh Ellingson on March 8, 2010
Real-life superheroes may be this year’s Hollywood darling, but Michigan has had their very own masked vigilante, Captain Jackson for years. The Captain has been patrolling the streets of Downtown Jackson since 1999, spreading his message of civic duty while keeping an eye out for crooks and super-villains. He keeps a website with a schedule of community appearances, safety tips, and even a roster of his allied costume heroes, The Crimefighter Corps. Always ahead of the curve, Captain Jackson has been maintaining a blog since May 2000 called The Captain’s Corner with brilliant entries such as, CALLING ALL GOOD DEED DOERS!, BEING AWARE, and HOW TO BE A CRIMEFIGHTER. In addition, the blog features ground chuck-centric recipes in a section called “Cooking with the Captain”.
Captain Jackson’s career ran into a snag in 2004 when he was charged with “impaired driving”. The local newspaper subsequently ran an article about the incident and published the Captains real life identity. The toll that the  media coverage took on our hero is best outlined in the blog entry, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.  After a two-year hiatus, it seemed that he was back in active-duty at community events and online. In the past year though, there seems to be little to report on this masked man, but we may not have seen the last of Michigan’s own, Captain Jackson.

Superheroes get real

Superheroes get real
by fighting important issues
By Joshua Simmons
Published: Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Up in the sky! It’s a bird; it’s a plane. Nope, it’s a superhero.
Comic book superheroes complete with cape and cowl are running through the streets of almost every major metropolitan area in the United States.
They have colorful names like Dreamer, Terrifica and Super Barrio. Rather than fighting crime in a traditional sense, they combat issues that they feel to be just on a more personal level.
They have left the bat-shaped boomerangs and X-ray vision at home, instead opting for food and blankets for the homeless or assisting with organizing to combat corporate injustice.
Portland is no different from the rest of the nation. That’s right; we have a superhero of our own. His name is Zetaman.
Zetaman has taken on the responsibility of defending Portland’s homeless population from the frigid nights and hunger. Armed with blankets, socks and food, he travels around Portland by night and provides those men and women with the necessities to make it through another night.
“They are happy to receive them,” Zetaman stated in an e-mail.
The royal blue clad superhero has based his costume on Superman and Zorro, but his real heroes are his grandfather and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What could lead a man or woman to becoming a superhero?
“I guess some free time Internet searching, a want to do good things combined with a lousy work schedule. As far as recommending [becoming a superhero] to others, I would not. It is a very difficult thing to do because it opens a person up to a lot of ridicule,” Zetaman said.
“First if I saw the costume I’d think, ‘We must be in Portland.’ If I saw what they are doing I’d be really happy that they are out there doing something, and I would do anything I could to try and help. I do community service in my own way; I fed the homeless around town for Thanksgiving, which feels better for me than to sit around eating a big dinner and feeling guilty,” Kassi Havens, a Clackamas Community College student said.
According to the World Superhero Registry, yes there are so many superheroes out there that they are being registered; three things need to be accounted for in order to be considered for membership.
The first is what many would consider obvious, a costume. The World Superhero Registry states on its Web site, “The purpose of a costume is not simply to protect the identity of the Real-Life Superhero from criminals that might seek revenge but to make a statement both to the evil-doers that you fight against and to the world at large: you are not simply someone who happened upon crime or injustice and made an impulsive decision to intervene.”
The requisite costume has become something of a symbol for comic book fans and “Reals” alike. From the iconic Superman logo, to the basic jeans and T-shirt that accompany Wolverine’s metal claws, costumes are how superheroes are identified worldwide.
“I think it’s a good thing because you don’t get people who are just trying to get attention; they are actually trying to have fun while helping people,” said Havens.
Zetaman, however, has run across his share of the bad element in the Real Life Superhero community. Like with anything the Superhero community attracts people who actually want to make a change in the world, as well as the less than savory types who are just interested in getting five minutes in the spotlight.
The other two rules are a bit more complicated than cutting up your mother’s bed sheets and wearing tighty whities on the outside of your pants. The first is heroic deeds; a Real must be able to prove that they became a Real-Life Superhero for the benefit of mankind.
The final step is listed as personal motivation. The Web site indicates that in order to be registered “a Real-Life Superhero cannot be a paid representative of an organization”
In other words next time you see a spotlight in the sky at night, keep in mind that a Real is out doing their part to make the world a better place.

Real-Life Superheroes

By David Finniss
I’m a big comic dork. Anyone who’s read my articles can tell that is a pretty big hobby of mine. It seems that some people have decided to live out their fantasies, take LARPing to a whole new level and try to become bona fide superheroes.
I’m still not sure what my view on the topic is. I mean, I get it. I would love to be a superhero too, whether it be Batman, Green Lantern, or Superman there is something appealing about having that level of impact. I also want to commend the people for trying to, in their own unusual way, make the world a better place. I just don’t think that that is the way to do it.
What works in the comics and on screen doesn’t work in real life. For one thing, vigilantism is illegal, and the costumes these guys end up donning look silly.
“Oh, but Batman does it” you say?
The cops are somewhat tolerant. They encourage these real life superheroes to be proactive and are grateful for the assistance, but there is a clear line that they don’t want you to cross. As one would expect, they’re not quite as tolerant of the idea as say Commissioner Gordon.
A part of me wants to support this, it really does. I mean, I think it would be pretty cool to live in a world where there are superheroes and I’m all for people taking the initiative to make the world a better place and showcase humanity’s capacity for good. That’s all awesome stuff and for that I commend these people. One of the awesome things about Superman is that he represents what we can all aspire to be. The Nolan movies play up the idea that Batman too is a symbol that has more endurance and impact than a regular man. With most of the role models the media tries to create coming up woefully short, there is something to the idea of becoming an embodiment of goodness and charity.
At the same time… no. I mean, come on. You can become an icon and embody all of those ideals without the costume. Michael Jordan is an icon, Ronald Reagan was an icon, Martin Luther King Jr. was an icon. You can effect the same change via other means (joining the neighborhood watch, volunteering, donating money etc) and bypass the inevitable snickering that a good chunk of people are going to do as they discover this sort of stuff.
Batman isn’t a realistic character, yes I said it. He runs a multi billion dollar corporation, has a genius level intellect, and has the strength and agility of an olympic athlete. That’s like taking the athleticism of Lebron James, the wealth of Bill Gates, the brain of Stephen Hawking and rolling it into one and giving it access to state of the art military technology. Even the people with the drive and determination usually succeed at one or two, but not the trifecta. The real life people who are trying to do the same thing don’t have any of those attributes.