The Rook: Origin Story

He was my cousin and at the time, my best friend. Almost a year older than me, and infinitely more confident, I looked up to and admired him. We differed greatly in many ways.  He was militant, where I was more of a pacifist. We were both interested in the martial arts, however.  He was much more skilled than I was, having achieved a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do by the time we were thirteen. We were both conversant with comics, but not as interested in them as many of our friends.  He was more interested in science fiction movies and I was a fan of mystery novels.
Nonetheless, like many adolescents, we decided to adopt superhero personas.  An avid–though not very skilled–chess player, I always had a chessboard set up in my room to take on anyone willing to play a game.  There weren’t many chess aficionados in my social circle with the exception of my father, which may account for my mediocre abilities.  Nonetheless, the board maintained a prominent position in my room—if only as mostly décor.
It was the chessboard that provided the initial structure for our superselves.  He took a seat behind the white side of the board and picked up a horse-shaped piece.
“I’ll be The Knight.”
“Man,” I grumbled.  “You got the cool-sounding one.”
“No problem,” he grinned.  “you can always be the Queen.”
I made a face, a rude comment unfit for this blog and muttered “Not likely.”  Though fairly liberal in my attitudes of that day and place, there was no way I–as a barely teenaged heterosexual boy–was going to allow myself to be saddled with that moniker.
It did get me thinking, however.  Although the Knight was probably the most “super” sounding chess piece, it wasn’t my favorite.  I picked up the rook from my side of the board and considered it.
More advanced players than I had critiqued my over reliance on this piece, though I found it terribly useful.  Also, the general shape made it easy to use in various super-devices.  The hilt of a sword and the handlebars of the motorcycle could easily be fashioned into the shape of the rook.  It was also an easy figure to draw.
I placed the black rook next to the white knight on the board.  “This one’s me.”
Over the next several months, we drew pictures and designed fantasy weapons and vehicles incorporating our symbols.  All the while the Knight told stories of the adventures he had with his faithful sidekick, the Rook.  Though cast as a sort of assistant, these stories didn’t keep Rook in the shadows dependent on the Knight.  Rook was quick, strong, and powerful, often taking adventures on his own.  Although I was none of these, I found the stories liberating and empowering.
Eventually, my family moved and the Knight and I fell out of touch.  I understand that he joined the military as I went off to college.  The Rook paced nervously, penned up on the back burner of my psyche, while I found myself busily earning a Ph.D., raising a family, and eventually securing a job as a research scientist.
The Rook ground his teeth in frustration as my career waxed, waned, and turned while I became a professor and then left the lab to work in a small clinical practice. The Rook experienced some reprieve as I managed a bit of free time to resume my pursuit in the study of martial arts, the occult, private investigation, and other fields of study that struck my fancy.  My family was growing, my career was developing nicely, and I was developing personally.  Things seemed to be going rather well and the Rook stood alone and almost forgotten, occasionally practicing katas.
That’s when I was diagnosed.
It started out innocently enough…a large lymph node in a non-smoking, non-drinking, relatively youthful and otherwise healthy individual.  None of my doctors could believe that it was anything other than a node that was reacting to some otherwise minor infection.
No one expected me to have stage 4 cancer.  Least of all, myself.
Radiation and chemotherapy have a relatively similar objective.  Try to kill the patient, hope they survive and that the cancer cells die instead.  As such, a cancer patient undergoing such treatment has three adversaries attempting to kill him:  Chemicals, Radiation, and Disease.
I often told my students “We’re all terminal.  We all have an expiration date, we just don’t think much about it. The big difference is that those who have an identified terminal illness know ‘how’ and have a better idea than most of us as to ‘when’.  Having the illusions of immortality stripped from us in this fashion leaves a person with a distinct existential crisis:  ‘What does my life–and death–mean?”
What I failed to tell them is that your disease need not necessarily be terminal to have this effect.  While I attempted to recover and heal from the onslaught of cancer treatment, on the hope that I will survive the disease, the fact that I may easily die became increasingly evident.
What, really, had I done with my life?
I managed to carve out a pretty decent career and my family seemed happy and well cared for.  These were pretty much the end of my goals.  However, was the world really that much better off for my having been here or was my existence as consequential as a wisp of smoke?
Someone pointed out my wife, children, students and clientele in an answer to that question and, although I value each of them very highly, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was enough.
“Perhaps,” a familiar voice echoed in the back of my mind.  “But you could do more.”
The Rook was waiting, ever-vigilant, in the dark recesses for his opening.  He is now the symbol of my attempts to improve the world, bit by bit, beyond the confines of my immediate sphere of influence (family, career, etc) with the time that I have left.
However long that may be.


Captain America: The First Avenger Poster
Nadra Enzi
Capt Black

Captain America has always had a special place in my heart as a comics fan.
The fact he wasn’t superhuman ( despite clearly Olympic-level enhancements ) always sparked my interest in human potential expressed in fiction, alongside fellow icons Doc Savage and Batman.
Cap made patriotism look cool instead of corny. My formative years included images of Watergate; protests and flag burning.
Captain America was a welcome alternative. Like my late grandfather who raised me he actively pursued good citizenship instead of merely discussing it.
The 2011 movie captures his Old School spirit which is much needed as economic fear tightens nationwide.
His transformation from scrawny kind to brawny commando demonstrates our ability to literally become whomever we consistently try to be.
The comic book legend was recently upgraded to acknowledge the role of Black men in defeating the Axis.
The first Captain America was Black in this retelling; a nod of the cowl to otherwise unknown soldiers like my late grand uncle Harold who was wounded in 1944’s Normandy Invasion, code named ” Operation Overlord ” by the Allies.
Captain America’s story is every American’s story: idealism despite crushing poverty; determination despite impossible odds. He cuts away every possible point of division by embodying ” E Pluribus Unum ( Out of Many One ) ” in a way that inspires skeptic and supporter alike.
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes finding your ” super ” through creative crime prevention; homeless outreach and political advocacy. (504) 214-3082


Nadra Enzi
  • Capt. Black

It’s small wonder I admire big, larger-than-life men like Paul Robeson and Teddy Roosevelt. After all, I was raised by one!
Earl Winthrop DeVeaux ( hereafter ” Grand Dad ” ) was my version of Clark Savage, Sr., the father and trainer of pulp icon Doc Savage. He raised me with a moral code reminiscent of the Knights of The Round Table and his beloved Prince Hall Masonic Lodge.
Grand Dad wasn’t a Bible thumper. He said his prayers every night before going to bed but didn’t demagogue about it. He was a strong moderate who preached intellectual curiosity and respect for diversity.
He had a great sense of humor and ability to walk in many worlds: farmer; inner city resident; first college graduate in his family; public school teacher; college educator; the list stretched on and on.
His love of heroic fiction obviously rubbed off on me. Stories about reading first editions of classics like the Shadow; Doc Savage; the Avenger; Superman; Batman and others just fueled my raging interest in these genres. Whether it was just entertainment for him, it was an activist blue print for me!
Grand Dad ( and notably Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee ) made me believe a dreamer from midtown Savannah, GA. could stand up for the little man and be a knight, even without the shining armor. All the negatives ( Jim Crow; the Depression; a world war/two police actions and crack’s attack on the Hood ) didn’t diminish his belief in a life fantastic.
Telling me it was okay to dream and chase those dreams is why Grand Dad is a real life superhero to me!
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes finding your “super” through creative crime prevention; homeless out reach and political activism. (504) 214-3082.


Superheroes Premieres on HBO August 8th!

Originally posted:
By Christopher Campbell
Add one more superhero blockbuster to your summer movie schedule.
I had heard a whisper of this a while ago, but now it’s confirmed: HBO Documentary Films bought the TV rights to Michael Barnett’s Slamdance hit “Superheroes,” a doc about those real-life costumed crusaders who are often likened to characters in the films “Kick-Ass” and “Super.” The funny thing is I didn’t realize it was official until I saw a magazine ad today for HBO’s summer doc series, which features a new premiere every Monday from June 6 through August 15. Other titles include such festival hits as “Bobby Fischer Against the World,” “Hot Coffee,” “Koran by Heart” and “A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt” (see the rest of the titles here). The news about “Superheroes” was also confirmed recently on the doc’s Facebook page, where I regrettably missed it earlier.
Of course I’m excited about all 11 films in the series (the only other I’ve seen so far is “A Matter of Taste”), but I’m especially happy for Barnett’s film, because it wasn’t seen by enough people in Park City and I know there’s a significant audience that will find it intriguing. Here’s a snippet of my review:

Often “Superheroes” comes off as also being more about the problems of the world than the costumed crusaders on screen. Through people like “Zetaman,” “Life,” “Mr. Extreme” and the simply named “Super Hero,” we are made to think about the issues of homelessness and violent crime, as well as police corruption and bureaucracy that lead to the necessity for these [Real-Life Superheroes] to pop up in cities across the nation…“Superheroes” will surely be a big hit with the RLSH crowd, of which there are hundreds more than the selected few in the film, as well as the Comic-Con/fanboy types. Plus it’s a well made, albeit fairly standard doc, without many flaws or bumps.

Fortunately, “Superheroes,” which is screening at Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival next week, is also apparently getting a small theatrical run in October and a DVD release in November.
Check out a trailer for HBO’s summer series, including footage of “Superheroes,” after the jump.

Milwaukee’s real-life superheroes get illustrated this Friday at MOCT

Originally posted:,55229/
By Matt Wild
Though harmless and kind of silly on the surface, the so-called “real-life superhero” movement has nonetheless split people into two warring camps. One side sees these mysterious do-gooders as nothing more than concerned, tights-wearing citizens keeping an eye on their neighborhoods. The opposing camp, however, views them as deluded goofballs in bad Halloween costumes, just asking to get their asses handed to them.
In Milwaukee, the real-life superhero movement has gained a fair amount of attention, thanks in part to the efforts of artist and writer Tea Krulos. After meeting with local RLS “The Watchman” in 2009 (a superhero we once demanded be “unmasked”), Krulos decided to write a book on the subject. He currently maintains a blog chronicling his progress.
“I think a lot of people have a knee jerk reaction and think they know what these guys are all about with very limited info,” Krulos tells The A.V. Club. “Most of them don’t want to be Kick-Ass or think they’re the Batman. They mostly just do what would be equitable to a costumed, concerned citizens patrol. A lot of them are doing charity and humanitarian efforts, too. I admire a lot of them for wanting to be good guys.”
This Friday at MOCT, Krulos will continue his RLS advocacy by serving as creative director for Motionary Comics 2.0. Now in its second year (hence the 2.0), the show will find nearly 30 illustrators, painters, choreographers, and photographers working to create a life-sized, fully-realized comic strip. Like other “live art” events, the night will feature artists of all disciplines creating a piece in real time. But unlike other events, it will be focused on the adventures of Milwaukee’s real-life superheroes, including “The Watchman” and “Blackbird.”
The marathon sketching/drawing/coloring session will begin around 6 p.m., and is expected to last six or seven hours. The event is free, though proceeds raised through sales of Chang Beer will be donated to United Way. And, like any party in town worth a damn, music will be provided by WMSE’s Dori Zori.
Oh, and don’t forget about Milwaukee’s real-life supervillains. “We’re expecting a series of transmissions broadcast live at MOCT from the sinister ‘Dr. Lupus,’ mad scientist and creator of ‘Team Werewolf,’” says Krulos. “He’s even threatening to show up in person.”

August 18-21 Montrose Blueberry Festival Super Heroes

Message from The Ambassador:

I have arranged for a table/booth space at the 40th annual Montrose Blueberry Festival on August 18-19-20-21, 2011 in MI for the purpose of spreading awareness of the RLSH Movement. The Theme is “Super Hero” and they would love for any members to come join the festivities to promote and discuss the RLSH movement.
This will be a good moment to interact with a friendly and receptive crowd they will all out to have fun and be looking for a good time all around and so the day should be pretty pleasant. We will be making up a press packet to release before the show it would be nice if anyone who is experienced in this (in terms of them dealing with the RLSH community) could help me out or at least let me bounce ideas off of you. I am hoping any and all can attend though I know that is not possible please spread the word around about this event to those in the Michigan area. I may also set up more opportunities like this in the future. With fan photos and donations jars, we can have a great opportunity not only to interact with the public but also speak out about common causes as well as generate donations for respective charities and spread information about them and the RLSH movement itself.
Please contact me if interested. through my facebook page
or via e-mail [email protected]
for more information on the festival itself check out the link below.


Team Justice Descends on 'Burg's Film Fest

Originally posted:
teamjusticeBy Taylor Tepper, Managing Editor of New Roots News.
ST. PETERSBURG – Treacherous villains were nowhere to be seen Wednesday, as Team Justice Inc. descended upon downtown St Petersburg. Superheroes Master Legend, Symbiote, Superhero, Capes, Lady Hero and Artisteroi are the stars of Superhero Me, the premiere film of the Sunscreen Film Festival at Baywalk 20.
“I have unlimited metaphysically powers,” explained Master Legend, Winter Park native and founding member of Team Justice Inc., a non-profit tax-exempt organization.
“I’ve died twice, and it’s not fun to die. But, I am here to save the world.”
Other superheroes boast less awesome skills.
Symbiote, another founding member and active participant in the Real Life Super Hero Movement, does not claim to have any special powers. Rather, he recognizes that conscientious citizens need to stand up against anti-social behavior.
“We do a lot with charity, we give handouts, clothes. We make sock and water runs, as well as basic crime prevention. We want to make the society better for everyone,” he said.
Team Justice Inc’s mission, according to their Facebook page, is “[t]o help all peoples currently in need and to protect those who can not protect themselves”
Part of the responsibility, or fun, of being a Real Life Super Hero is donning oneself in a costume, or uniform, that represents one’s alter-ego. The aptly named Superhero embodies this stylish requirement.
The former power-lifter and pro wrestler dresses himself in tight-fitting red spandex with blue shorts. His picture on Team Justice Inc’s website shows him standing beside a flashy sports car.
“It’s an adventure,” explained the Clearwater native. “I’ve been in a fire and nearly been shot. But for the most part, people are appreciative.”
The League is not completely made up of men, however. Lady Hero, for instance, offers her services to the superhero collective.
“My superpower is the ability to listen and give empathy,” she explained. “Most people don’t listen, they just wait for their turn to talk.”
VIPs, board members and citizens of St. Petersburg delighted in the red carpet affair. Most took the opportunity to snag a photo with actual superheroes, and the caped crusaders themselves were friendly and eager to illuminate their mission.
“I’m sort of a mix between the professor from Gilligan’s Island and Sherlock Holmes,” explained Artisteroi. “I make a lot of gadgets to solve mysteries.”
After getting to rub shoulders with their saviors, the public could sleep easy knowing that these heroes are on our side against evil.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Sunscreen Film Festival. Visit their website for information on showings and events.

Not-so-super superhero movies

Originally posted:
By Ethan Gilsdorf
What makes a superhero super?
Comic books came first, then Hollywood, bearing stories about humans, mutants, and others — Hulks, X-Men, Fantastic Four — who got irradiated or experimented upon, or landed on Earth from far-flung planets. As a result, the freaks can leap tall buildings, deflect bullets, shape-shift, and get mad.

But what about unconventional superheroes, the more powerless ones? Hollywood has also covered them. In the category of “superheroes with no real superpowers,’’ there’s the jet-pack powered “The Rocketeer’’ (1991), Shaquille O’Neal in the laughable “Steel’’ (1997), the recent “The Green Hornet’’ and “Iron Man’’ films, and any of the “Batman’’ incarnations. These less-than-super heroes use strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, charisma, and, naturally, super access to cash and gadgets to bring justice. In the case of “The Phantom,’’ he’s a ghost, which is close enough. In the animated “The Incredibles’’ (2004), we see retired superheroes forced to hide their powers.
Stretch the definition further to include any do-gooder who takes to the streets to deliver justice, and you’ll find action figures straddling that hero/antihero divide: Charles Bronson vigilante types, be they cops or just grim dudes in trench coats. Some are darker than others: “The Punisher’’ (1989, 2004) ticks off a roster of human rights violations — murder, extortion, torture — to punish his foes.
Forget about supervillains.
But what about the rest of us? Everyday Joes and Jills frustrated with crime and tired of lame Neighborhood Watch programs? Folks keen to try out the superhero lifestyle, without any true super powers at all? In the real world, a few nationwide organizations like Superheroes Anonymous ( and Real Life Superheroes ( embolden this fantasy. In cities across America, brave souls take on personas like Terrifica, a New York City-based hero who prevents inebriated women in New York City from being hit on by men, and Mexico City’s Superbarrio, who uses his costumed character to organize labor rallies and lead petition drives. Locally, there’s New Bedford’s Civitron, “a symbol of creative altruism,’’ and Runebringer, an “empowerment activist’’ from Waterbury, Conn.
As in James Gunn’s “Super,’’ these protagonists “aim to do good in the world and inspire others,’’ according to the Superheroes Anonymous website. They wield mundane weapons. They take small bites out of crime. And we salute them.
But before you join them, before you wear the mask and don the cape — and certainly before you engage in some diabolical experiment to alter your DNA — you might want to check how Hollywood advertises the job description. What follows is a roundup of mere mortal beings who nonetheless act big.

In the meantime, dream of the hero you really want to be. Dog Whisperer? Wonder Nurse? Really Good Bookkeeper? Me, I’d settle for Super Unstressed Guy

HERO AT LARGE (1980): This film might have kicked off the ordinary-guy-as-superhero genre. John Ritter plays a struggling actor hired to dress as Captain Avenger at comic book stores and conventions. When he stops a real robbery, life gets complicated. He becomes embroiled in city politics, then redeems himself when he rescues a kid from a fire.
THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO (1981-83): This ABC television series featured William Katt as a special-education teacher given a red suit and cape by aliens, which give him superhuman abilities. Remember the theme song? “Believe it or not,/ I’m walking on air./ I never thought I could feel so free-ee-eee. . .’’ Believe it or not, that ditty became a Billboard hit.

CONDORMAN (1981): Maybe it was Ronald Reagan’s can-do, American spirit, but the early ’80s brought another DIY superhero story. A comic book artist (Michael Crawford) becomes his creation, Condorman, in what the movie’s tagline calls “an action adventure romantic comedy spy story.’’ Siskel and Ebert pronounced “Condorman’’ one of the worst movies of the year.
DARKMAN (1990): Reportedly stymied in his efforts to film “The Shadow’’ or “Batman,’’ Sam “Evil Dead’’ Raimi came up with his own superhero. The premise: after a disfiguring fire and experimental medical treatment, scientist Liam Neeson develops synthetic skin that lets him look like anyone. He also senses no pain, has super-strength, and flies into rages. Hence, he takes revenge on the mobsters who blew up his lab and turned him into the monster he became, the masked vigilante Darkman.
MYSTERY MEN (1999): In this hilarious spoof on the genre, lesser superheroes with unimpressive super powers must save the day. Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) throws forks, the Shoveler (William H. Macy) shovels, Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) wields bowling balls, Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) has anger management issues, and Spleen (Paul Reubens) is superflatulent. Super-silly all around.
UNBREAKABLE (2000): Security guard Bruce Willis reluctantly realizes he’s got super powers. In a twist on the genre, Samuel L. Jackson plays his archnemesis — a superweak polar opposite nicknamed “Mr. Glass,’’ because of his brittle bones. Jackson’s character also happens to run a comic book art gallery. Clunky, but effective. From M. Night “Mr. Surprise Ending’’ Shyamalan.
DEFENDOR (2009): In a stretch for Woody Harrelson, he plays a mentally ill construction worker who at night gets into his alter ego, Defendor, thanks to a homemade costume decorated with duct tape. With unconventional weapons like marbles and paper clips, he hunts for his enemy, Captain Industry, whom he blames for the death of his mother. Like “Super,’’ a comedy. Except when it’s not.
KICK-ASS (2010): In this film adaptation of a comic, a wimpy comic book-reading teenager (Aaron Johnson) decides to remake himself as a masked superhero named Kick-Ass. Cops, drug lords, and an 11-year-old vigilante named Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) all enter the plot. Apparently a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters read comic books as kids. Like a snake eating its tail, “Kick-Ass’’ represents the self-reflexive endgame of the do-it-yourself crime fighter.


Jared Lougher, de facto ” Arizona Assassin ” is my latest pick for the super psycho list I compile.
He stands above regular criminals by dint of ruthlessness; victim status; casualties and possible motive.
This wasn’t a botched robbery nor a runaway domestic situation. It definitely wasn’t an upgrade of old school duels where each side at least had the equal chance fore knowledge and weapons accord participants.
He joins America’s bizarre battalion of super psychos. I won’t bore you my selections but feel free to mentally review your own while reading.
Fortunately super psychos aren’t numerous. Tragically their misdeeds severity overrides scarcity.
Police and psychologists unite to profile such personalities. Motives and actions tend to stretch the definition of reality but must be examined to avoid future episodes.
While comic book super villains don’t exist, real life super psychos are menaces whose death toll sadly isn’t fictional.
Concerned citizens must shoulder the burden of learning how to identify legitimate super psychos before they strike. Fingering people whose politics or other factors you dislike doesn’t automatically equal potential super psycho.
I can hear would-be inquisitors on the Imperial Left and Imperial Right saying, ” Darn! ” in frustration. That said, waiting for government or others to do so may literally be too late in some cases.
Paranoia won’t work nor draconian speech codes fueled by narrow partisan agendas.
Super psycho rampages are often stopped like this one: on scene by folks who ended the madness first hand! That’s how up close and personal this can become.
We outnumber super psychos and this should always be stressed in the reams of print; mega bytes of keyboard typing and oceans of sound bites this attack produces. No matter how horrible the headline, there are still millions more of us whose self-expression doesn’t sink to mass murder and intimidation.
Remember: we.outnumber.them.
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes crime prevention and self-development.

Phoenix Jones, 'Real Life Superhero,' Foils Would-Be Carjacking

Originally posted:
By Steven Hoffer
Evil villains on the streets of Lynwood, Wash., beware: Phoenix Jones has your number.
Jones, a heroic “real life superhero,” spends most nights patrolling the streets of the city just north of Seattle, and, in all seriousness, helps take a bite out of crime. In a recent tale straight out of a comic book, Jones arrived just in the nick of time to foil a would-be carjacking.
“From the right, this guy comes dashing in, wearing this skin-tight rubber, black and gold suit, and starts chasing him away,” said the car owner, who identified himself only as Dan.
All in a day’s work, Jones, armed with a Taser-nightstick and mace, chased away the villain and restored Dan to safety.
“So when I walk into a neighborhood, criminals leave because they see the suit,” Phoenix said. “I symbolize that the average person doesn’t have to walk around and see bad things and do nothing.”