Amid hard times, an influx in real superheroes

(CNN) — Mr. Ravenblade, Mr. Xtreme, Dark Guardian and hundreds of others. Some with elaborate costumes, others with haphazardly stitched outfits, they are appearing on city streets worldwide watching over the populace like Superman watched over Metropolis and Batman over Gotham City.
As people become disillusioned from financial woes and a downtrodden economy and look to put new purpose in their lives, everyday folks are taking on new personas to perform community service, help the homeless and even fight crime.
“The movement is growing,” said Ben Goldman, a real-life superhero historian. Goldman, along with Chaim “Life” Lazaros and David “Civitron” Civitarese, runs the New York-based Web site Superheroes Anonymous as part of an initiative dedicated to organizing and making alliances with superhero groups.
According to Goldman, who goes by the moniker Cameraman because of his prowess in documenting the movement, economic troubles are spawning real life superheroes.
“A lot of them have gone through a sort of existential crisis and have had to discover who they are,” Goldman said. People are starting to put value in what they can do rather than what they have, he said. “They realize that money is fleeting, it’s in fact imaginary.”
Estimates from the few groups that keep tabs put the worldwide total of real-life superheroes between 250 and 300. Goldman said the numbers were around 200 just last summer.
Mr. Ravenblade, laid off after a stint with a huge computer technology corporation, found inspiration for his new avocation a few years ago from an early morning incident in Walla Walla, Washington.
“I literally stepped into a woman’s attempted rape/mugging,” Mr. Ravenblade said. While details were lost in the fog of the fight, he remembers this much: “I did what I could,” he said, adding that he stopped the crime and broke no laws. “And I realized after doing what I did, that people don’t really look after people.”
Public response to real-life superheroes has been mixed, according to Mr. Xtreme, who founded the Xtreme Justice League in San Diego, California.
“Sometimes it’s been really positive with people saying, ‘Woohoo, the superheroes are here,’ and then the usual barrage, saying ‘Oh, these guys are losers.’ Other times people will look kind of freaked out, and then sometimes people just don’t know what to think about us.”
Like Peter Parker kept his Spider-Man identity from his editor boss, Mr. Extreme and Mr. Ravenblade have asked CNN editors to keep their identities secret.
The current superhero movement started a few years ago on MySpace, as people interested in comics and cool caped crusaders joined forces, Goldman said. It goes beyond the Guardian Angel citizen patrols of the early 1980s, as the real-life superheroes of today apply themselves to a broadly defined ethos of simply doing good works. Video Watch Crimson Fist help the homeless in Atlanta »
Chris Pollak, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, can attest to the appeal. “A lot more people are either following it or wanting to go out and do it,” Pollack, who goes by the name Dark Guardian, said. By “do it,” he means patrol the harrowing streets late at night.
“A lot of kids say they’re real-life superheroes [on MySpace],” Mr. Ravenblade said. “But what are you doing? Being in front of a computer is not helping anybody.”
Comic book legend Stan Lee, the brain behind heroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, said in his comic books doing good — and availing one’s self — was indeed the calling card for superheroes.
“If somebody is committing a crime, if somebody is hurting some innocent person, that’s when the superhero has to take over.” Photo See a photo gallery of some real-life superheroes »
“I think it’s a good thing that people are eager enough to want to help their community. They think to do it is to emulate the superheroes,” Lee said. “Now if they had said they had super powers [that would be another thing].”
Without super powers, real life superheroes confess to a mere-mortal workload, including helping the homeless, handing out fliers in high-crime areas and patrolling areas known for drug-dealing.
Mr. Ravenblade said he and some of his superfriends would soon be trying to organize a Walk for Babies fundraiser in Portland, Oregon.
“We work with charities that help children,” he said. “We think a lot of crimes happen because of people who didn’t get a lot of love when they were younger. We do what we can to help that there.”
“Homeless outreach is the main thing I like to do,” said Chaim “Life” Lazaros, of Superheroes Anonymous. “We give out food, water, vitamins, toothbrushes. A lot of homeless people in my area know me, and they tell us about what they need. One homeless guy said ‘I need a couple pair of clean underwear.'”
For Christmas, Lazaros said his group raised $700 in gifts and brought them to kids at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in New York. “They were so excited to see real-life superheroes,” Lazaros said. Searching for Cincinnati’s caped crusader
Many of the real-life superheroes even initiate citizen’s arrests, but what’s legal varies by state. And in North Carolina citizen’s arrests are illegal. Real-life superheroes who grab a suspected villain may find themselves under a specter of trouble.
“Not a good idea,” said Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Seeing as how there’s no citizen’s arrest statute [in the state], people who do this are running a serious risk of getting arrested for kidnapping, and being liable for false imprisonment.”
“Vigilantism is never a good thing,” said Bernard Gonzales, public information officer for the Chula Vista, California, Police Department. He’s had some interactions with real-life superheroes. “The very best thing a private citizen can do is be a good witness.”
Mr. Ravenblade said he’s just that.
“If you’re a real-life superhero you follow the law. If you catch somebody you can’t just tie them up and leave them for the cops, that’s for the comics. You have to wait for the cops and give them a statement,” Mr. Ravenblade said. Cincinnati superhero speaks
While citizens helping out in the community is encouraged, Gonzales said the costumes can go.
“Where these people are out in public, and there’s children around and everything, and these people are not revealing their identities, it’s not a safe thing.”
But the costumes go with the gig, right down to the do-it-yourself approach to good deeds, including, apparently, recycling.
“The costume I have is simple,” said Mr. Xtreme. “I made it myself. I had a graphic designer design it for me and just took it down to the swap meet and had somebody imprint it on for me.”
“The mask,” an old bullfighter’s piece, “I got from Tijuana.”

Where to find real-life superheroes

There is a growing diaspora of superheroes worldwide. Here are a few resources.
World Superhero Registry: A virtual who’s who of the larger real-life superhero community, including who’s active and who’s not.
Superheroes Anonymous: A New York-based initiative to organize and document the scattered real-life superhero diaspora. A repository of all things supehero, to encourage and set up real-life superheroes in various communities So, you want to be a real-life superhero? Need a uniform, you say? 

Where to find real-life superheroes

There is a growing diaspora of superheroes worldwide. Here are a few resources.
World Superhero Registry: A virtual who’s who of the larger real-life superhero community, including who’s active and who’s not.
Superheroes Anonymous: A New York-based initiative to organize and document the scattered real-life superhero diaspora. A repository of all things supehero, to encourage and set up real-life superheroes in various communities So, you want to be a real-life superhero? Need a uniform, you say?

San Diego superhero fights crime his own way

It is a typical Sunday; launching a public awareness campaign to bring a home-invasion rapist to justice.
Well, maybe not a typical Sunday – at least, not for the average citizen. San Diego’s resident superhero Mr. Xtreme – as the missing vowel suggests – is far from average.
Think Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – just less … super. No high-flying, no web-slinging, no expensive gadgetry, no dino-morphing; essentially, none of the frills that make a superhero super.
That isn’t to say Mr. Xtreme isn’t super – or a hero. Quite the opposite, in fact. It takes an out-of-the-ordinary person to sacrifice his Sunday to hand out flyers warning women about a sexual assault suspect who has been on the loose since June 2008. And it takes an extraordinary person to offer an out-of-pocket $1,500 reward for information leading to the “evildoer’s” capture.
He must be brought to justice, Mr. Xtreme says, and he’s just doing his part to help.
The 30-something superhero has read news releases about a drop in crime in the county. He has no reason to believe crime is on the rise, but, he says, “Try to tell a victim’s family there’s been a drop in crime – they’ll tell you to get lost.”
“Victims of violent crimes shouldn’t be treated as a statistic,” says Mr. Xtreme, who asked we keep his identity a secret.
Sure, he talks a big game, but Mr. Xtreme has no illusions of grandeur; he isn’t secretly developing an Xtreme-mobile, or jumping from building to building in the East Village after dark.
It’s a pretty simple operation, to tell you the truth. He patrols neighborhoods in his costume – black cargo pants, a green “Xtreme Justice League” shirt, black boots and a camouflage lucha libre mask – and he wears a utility belt, equipped with a stun gun, 2.5 ounces of pepper spray, and a flashlight.
The Xtreme Justice League, the organization his shirt refers to, is a small, loose network of superheroes Mr. Xtreme works with to coordinate patrols and fight crime. Locally, he doesn’t have much help. He’s the most active, visible member of the local Real Life Superhero (RLS) community, which stays connected through sites like
Mr. Xtreme’s primary goal is to be a visual deterrent to crime; a would-be evildoer, for example, might see the masked man patrolling, and rethink his malevolent misdeeds.
But, Mr. Xtreme said, if push comes to shove, he isn’t afraid to intervene in gang violence, a carjacking or a sexual assault.
“If someone’s safety is at stake, if a victim’s life is at stake, I’ll step in no matter how dangerous the situation and risk getting injured, or even risk losing my life to save the day,” he deadpans.
OK. Hmmm. That may be a little beyond the call of duty. But, it’s all in a day’s work, the superhero says.
Every now and then, Mr. Xtreme delivers a line or uses a phrase that borders on melodramatics. And, in part, that’s the purpose. He enjoys the theatrics.
He’s a building security manager by day. So, I ask him: Why not work with a community patrol group that collaborates with the police department? Instead, he operates independently, a pariah at public forums (he’s often asked to leave) and a nuisance to the cops. Sure, with an organized community patrol, he’d have more status in neighborhoods. But, he’d be missing the theatrics – missing the fun.
“I grew up in a household of abuse, I was bullied in school, and I see all the apathy and indifference in society,” he says. “It really strikes a nerve with me. I looked up to superheroes when I was a child; they were role models. And they’re still role models today.”
“I have so much respect for what community patrols do, but I want to be out and interact with the community,” he says. “I couldn’t do that from a car. And being a real-life superhero is really a symbol to illustrate my commitment to an ideal, and it can inspire people … I want to send a message to youth. You can live an ‘extreme’ lifestyle and you don’t have to be a killer or a gang member or a thug or a waste of human life or a parasite.”
So, for the time being, Mr. Xtreme doesn’t mind being an outsider – just don’t call him a vigilante.
“I don’t condone vigilante behavior; I condemn it,” he says. “It’s an insult when someone calls me a vigilante. A vigilante wouldn’t try to go to community meetings to interact with the public. A vigilante wouldn’t try to work with police.”
The superhero hopes to build a working rapport with the police. It doesn’t seem likely, but he’s hopeful. He seems eternally optimistic; that he can build bridges in communities; that he can prevent crime; that he can make a difference in the world. He may not have a super-utility belt, or a super-power, but this superhero’s heart is in the right place.
The Sunday I tag along with Mr. Xtreme, we canvass shopping centers in Kearny Mesa, handing out “WANTED” flyers, with information about the sexual assault suspect. This case really irks him.

The home-made flyers are more eye-catching than your run of the mill posters. They say “WANTED” in bold, Sharpie’d letters. A sketch of the sexual assault suspect has the word evildoer written on it. The Xtreme Justice League logo is pasted at the top and a “no evil” logo is pasted near the bottom.
He approaches people in shopping centers to give them flyers. Surprisingly, very few dodge him. It may help he’s being followed by a reporter and a film crew, who is interested in making a documentary film about real-life superheroes.
By and large, the response to Mr. Xtreme’s effort is enthusiastic.
He greets one woman sweeping a sidewalk outside a big-box business.
“Hi ma’am, I’m with the Xtreme Justice League, and we’re looking for a rapist,” he says, handing her a flyer.
“For real? Him? Still?” the woman says. The suspect has been at large for a year.
“Yes ma’am,” he says.
“That son of a bitch. Well, I hope to God you find him. I warn my kids every day. If you have any other flyers, I’ll help put them up.”
Later, he meets another grateful citizen.
“You guys are doing good work,” the man says, taking a flyer from Mr. Xtreme. Mr. Xtreme thanks him and walks away. The man’s young daughter runs out of a nearby store to see what her dad is up to.
“Daddy, who are you talking … OH MY GOSH WHY IS THAT MAN …?” The little girl isn’t quite sure what to make of her father cavorting with Mr. Xtreme.
At a market down the road, our superhero greets a woman he’s met before in the restaurant she owns. She has his flyers posted there – but she has a question.
“Why do you have to have a mask on?” she asks.
“Well, it’s a part of my uniform,” he says. “I’m a superhero.”
“Oh …”
“Oh” seems to be the standard response, when Mr. Xtreme explains himself; it’s as if no one quite knows what to make of him, but aren’t comfortable prying, so they say, “Oh.”
For every passerby who seems a bit confused by the getup, there’s the driver who honks his horn, or waves. They might recognize him from television news spots, or the Union-Tribune story about him, or the cover of The San Diego Reader. He welcomes the media attention. After all, it makes his job crime fighting a little easier.
“Some superheroes think I do this for popularity,” he says. “That’s not the case. We’re trying to build community support to make our jobs easier.”
Despite the name recognition, it’s a lonely life, he says. “My social life is basically non-existent. That’s the sacrifice I choose to make so I can be able to do this. It can be difficult to get people to understand. I usually only speak in depth to folks who want to listen. If they’re going to come at me with a barrage of nonsense, I usually just walk away or ignore them. I just take things as they come and do my thing, and not care what people think if it’s negative. No time for negativity.”
Nope. No time for negativity for Mr. Xtreme. Saving the world, after all, is daunting task. Even for a superhero.
Joseph Peña is a contributing editor for San Diego News Network.
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Entomo il supereroe napoletano

Allarme sicurezza? C’è chi si organizza per fare le ronde, chi propone leggi più severe e chi si traveste da supereroe come nei fumetti per combattere il crimine. Tutto questo può sembrare uno scherzo, ma non lo è. Infatti a Napoli c’è davvero qualcuno che indossa un costume da supereroe e si propone di difendere la gente. Costui si fa chiamare Entomo, ha 31 anni e nessuno sa chi sia. Da due anni pattuglia le strade della città partenopea, mascherato come un supereroe dei fumetti. Non spara, non picchia, ma segnala ciò che vede alla polizia.
Il suo costume è di color verde chiaro con le maniche scure, indossa pantaloni neri e stivali marroni, non ha nessun mantello e si nasconde sotto un cappuccio neroverde. Il suo nome, Entomo, significa insetto.
Restando come i Batman e i Superman rigorosamente coperto dall’anonimato, il giustiziere in maschera napoletano chiarisce subito di appartenere alla “schiera scelta dei Supereroi”, una specie di Rotary della sicurezza che esiste davvero.
Ma cosa fà materialmente Entomo? “Io pattuglio le strade della città – spiega – di giorno e di notte. Non sono un vigilante, non mi sostituisco alla legge. Io fermo i piccoli crimini che so di poter riuscire a bloccare, altrimenti avverto anonimamente la polizia”. Il supereroe napoletano ha anche una pagina, “MySpace”, da dove lancia i suoi appelli. “Essere un supereroe è il gesto più importante che si possa realizzare in un mondo arretrato come il nostro. Utilizzo le mie capacità salvando quel che resta da salvare e distruggendo quel che non rientra nel grande schema dell’equilibrio”.
Ma Entomo non è il solo, infatti in tutto il mondo sono circa duecento i così detti “Real Life Superhero”. Questi signori vestono come gli eroi dei fumetti, aderiscono a regole severissime e hanno anche un capo che si fa chiamare “Super Barrio Gomez” .
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Francesco Pellegrino Lise

Real-Life Superheroes – out of the comics onto the streets

There is a growing number of people serving their community. They dress and act like superheroes even though they don’t have any superpowers, they have one advantage over their comic-book idols, they are real!
These low-profile but visually arresting altruists go by such names as Fox Fire, Black Arrow, Polar Man, Civitron, and Knight Owl. They design their own costumes, ranging from outlandish all-in-one latex suits to motorcycle gear. They call themselves Real Life Superheroes, or Reals for short and they are united by a goal to make the world a better, safer place.
According to Chaim Lazaros, a film student by day and a Real-Life Superhero by the name of ‘Life’ by night, the movement is not entirely new: “We’ve seen several waves of activity among people calling themselves Real Life Superheroes for almost thirty years. I personally know some who have been doing it for twenty years. After the September 11 attacks and thanks to social networking sites on the internet there has been a resurgence of the superhero movement. There are currently about 250 active Reals all over the world.”
The enthusiasm for the US-based movement knows no borders and the causes the Reals adopt are as varied as the personas they assume. Super Barrio hails from Mexico where, rather than fight crime, he uses his image of red tights and matching wrestler’s mask to organise labour rallies, protests and file petitions. Ireland’s Captain Ozone conducts his environmental activism while dressed in a light blue body suit, complete with cape, while Canada’s Polar Man concerns himself with shovelling snow from the old people’s driveways, entertaining children and prowling the streets at nights keeping an eye out for vandals.

It may not exactly be glamourous work but it is conducted with a sense of style and panache that lifts the hearts of those being helped. In these times of economic hardship, when the world is looking at new leaders like heroes the Real-Life Superheroes are quietly but colourfully going about their business. They are helping stranded motorists, volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, participating in blood drives and fighting crime when the opportunity arises.

Chaim Lazaros was trying to organise the first ever meeting of all the active Reals two years ago when he got his calling: “I was trying to find as many Reals as possible to get them all together in one place. Originally, I was just wanted to make a movie and tell their story. It was an awful lot of hard work and once, in a moment of prayer, I realised through all my actions I was doing something that was aiding the community. I fell under what ‘Entomo the Insect-Man’ classifies as a community crusader, I realised that it was true and on the day the gathering finally happened I declared myself as Life and I dawned my mask for the first time.”
Since that day, Chaim has been making nightly patrols in his New York neighbourhood as Life. His uniform is street friendly: black trousers, black waistcoat, hat and eye mask. He freely admits his work is not exactly the stuff of comic-book storylines, there is no fighting villains and capturing criminals: “I realised that walking around in a uniform you don’t get to see bank robbers running out of banks with the alarms going off and purse snatchers that you have to punch in the face. But you do see a lot of homeless people. I started stocking up on water-bottles, grain bars, socks, vitamins and blankets. I would go out and interact with the homeless, bringing them things they may need and offering them a kind word.”
Chaim’s voluntary community work is not the only super-Samaritan endeavour carried out by the Real-Life Superheroes. In fact, the majority of what they do is community based. Chaim was part of a group that included Reals named Civitron and The Black Ghost that organised a trip to New Orleans to help with the fall out of Hurricane Katrina. They cleaned out, painted and repaired a school gym that was being used as a donations warehouse for victims of Katrina. Their work was noticed and duly rewarded by authorities when October 13 was declared ‘Day of Superheroes’.
If there is one thing we can learn from the comic-book legends, it’s that Superheroes usually have one weakness. For Chaim that weakness is a lack of defence training. He has had a couple of hairy moments while out patrolling, including an incident where he was held up with a broken bottle, that could have turned out worse. It makes his nightly patrols all the more dangerous for him. However, one Real that isn’t an issue for is Dark Guardian.
Chris Pollak, aka Dark Guardian, is a martial arts teacher by day and a black and red leather-clad Real by night. He explains his reason for becoming a Real-Life Superhero: “I’ve been doing this around six years. I started off without a costume, just going out doing a neighbourhood patrol, making sure everything was safe and everyone was good, it kind of evolved as it went along. I decided to pick up a costume and become a symbol, to try to become a really vibrant person to get a message to people that there is a hero in everyone and you can go out and make a difference.”
“I was always into comic books,” he continues. “I loved superheroes in my childhood and I never had real role models in my life. I always looked up to these characters and their ideals and I decided one day to make these ideals a reality. Now, I’m out doing it!”
Dark Guardian is also mostly concerned with homeless outreach and helping those that need it most. Along with Life, he also visits hospitals, in character, to bring presents to the sick children there. You would think that the work is laudable but sometimes some people don’t see it the same way.
“A lot of times you get mixed reactions. If I actually get the chance to talk to someone about it they are very receptive. Some love it, some think the costumes are a bit much but generally they understand we are doing good. People who don’t know about us or have bad misconceptions just think we are crazy!”
It’s a shame to think that in some quarters, including the media, the wrong perception of these do-gooders is portrayed. The Reals do their good work in their own time and at their own risk. It’s generally thankless work and if they want to dress up while doing it then that should be their prerogative.
Both Life and Dark Guardian hope their message of community work gets across. They hope that the number of Reals worldwide grows as more people are inspired by their acts.
“All it takes to be a Real-Life Superhero is to take on an iconic persona and go out and do some public good,” says Dark Guardian.
“We continue to inspire others to become Real Life Superheroes or get involved in their communities in other ways,” is the message from Life.
Community service has never been alluring. Voluntary work, by its very nature, usually attracts only the most altruistic people. The Real-Life Superheroes may raise eyes or generate sneers with the costumes they wear and the names they answer to, but their decency and hard work cannot be ignored, rather, it should be embraced. In a world where superheroes like Batman and Spiderman only exist on movie screens or in books these guys are the next best thing.
Ciaran Walsh for RT

Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless

ATLANTA — You’ve seen them in the movies and on TV, but have you ever seen a real-life superhero, costume and all?
Over the years, a growing network of crusaders on a mission to make their communities a better place has emerged across the country, including one right here in Atlanta.
A lot of movie superheroes get their extraordinary human powers from an experiment gone awry or a bite of a spider.
Our Atlanta superhero doesn’t have that kind of back story, but he does have a desire to help those in need.
He created his alter-ego from a comic book character he dreamed up years ago and he does all his work in costume.
This superhero is known as The Crimson Fist.
“I don’t really like to use that term [superhero] because it makes people think I’m crazier than I am, but I’m a guy who dresses like a superhero, yes,” said The Crimson Fist.
The Crimson Fist said he started his mission several years ago, after a few years of drugs and alcohol.
He realized instead of hurting himself, he could help others.
Crimson is an IT programmer by day, superhero by hobby.
And while his outfit may look a little strange, he says the mission is what counts.
He spends a few days a month doing charity events and helping the homeless.
Sure, he gets the stares and tough questions.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy. I sometimes question it myself,” said Crimson.
“I have something now, but this will help me later on and I’m just so grateful,” said Jesse about a gift from Crimson.
The Crimson Fist said superheroes really do live among us.
“Just hearing someone say thank you is really the best part of this,” said Crimson.
He said his girlfriend thinks what he does is a little strange.
There are over 200 registered real-life superheroes on something called the world superhero registry, so The Crimson Fist is certainly not alone.
Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Orleans Gotham City Has Its Own Batman Superhero

Carol Forsloff
The city was waiting for this. In the midst of a crime wave, victims still hurting from floods and misery, streets littered with garbage and corrupt police who might turn on or turn you in, here comes a hero.
Here comes Batman, a real, live World Superhero into New Orleans, swooping into neighborhoods in his dark costume and ready to take on the bad guys anytime.
The guy in New Orleans is an actual, registered superhero, a member of a World Superhero Registry. It takes lot for a fellow to be one, and New Orleans has only a single registered superhero in the entire metropolitan area. But that should be enough. What’s more our guy is the only superhero registered in the entire State of Louisiana, so he’s responsible not just for New Orleans, but for Lafayette, the State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and even my town of Natchitoches, Louisiana in the north central part of the State as well as all the towns and cities in between.
“Nostrum,” as the World Superhero calls himself, lives in New Orleans and has his own MySpace profile. Well, how else could the citizens of Gotham contact him, after all? His profile on MySpace says it all, “there is right, and there is wrong, nothing more.” Talk about strong and silent, well almost silent, but certainly a fellow of few words.
The New Orleans online paper asked to interview “Nostrum,” but he didn’t respond to the request. It’s likely he wants to keep his identity disguised. He may be Mayor Ray Nagin, after all, taking care of the city by day and arrayed in a hero’s costume by night. Nah, most folks would rather have Aaron Neville because the lad can sing and has the body to intimidate as well. But who knows for sure?
For those who want to join “Nostrum” the sign up page is here. Understand there are terms and conditions for joining because these folks live in the shadow of the law, on the fringes where identities are kept secret and where activities do not always correspond to the usual and customary ways of crime fighting. Since New Orleans hardly has any crime fighting, according to its statistics as the city with the highest crime rate of the nation, who would mind a couple of fellows who cross the line just a bit in apprehending the bad guys.
In the meantime the modern Gotham, alias the Crescent City, also known as Chocolate City, needs to know that somewhere there is a great hero waiting to rescue the people from harm. No one knows for sure when he will show up, but hopefully next time there’s a crime wave—like tomorrow.

Costumes and Capes: Real Life Superheroes on the World Superhero Registry

Originally Posted:
By Erin Thursby
Human evolution has finally taken a turn toward spandex. Superheroes aren’t just in movies; there are actually 200 registered real life superheroes on the World Superhero Registry.
You might think that this surge in superheroism might have something to do with all the movies that are out. It does, but there was also a surge soon after 9/11.
Do you have what it takes to be a registered superhero? Here are the rules according to
Costume: 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. You have vowed to actively fight for the betterment of humankind and to serve as an example for others. The costume of a Real-Life Superhero must be of sufficient quality to show some care went into its creation.
Heroic Deeds: The purpose behind becoming a Real-Life Superhero must be for the benefit of mankind, and the Heroic Deeds must be of sufficient degree as to exceed normal everyday behavior. If proof of Heroic Deeds is not present, a listing may still be added to the Registry, however, it may be marked as “inactive” or “unconfirmed” in the description.
Personal Motivation: A Real-Life Superhero cannot be a paid representative of an organization, not even a benevolent one. The motivation to become a Real-Life Superhero must come from the individual: not an advertising gimmick or a public relations campaign.
Carrying guns, knives or other weaponry is also frowned upon because it means that members can be arrested for vigilantism.
The most active superhero group is in Salt Lake City. They’re known as the Black Monday Society. They’re not four color heroes. Instead they look more scary than heroic. This group patrols the city streets.
“We’re not out running around fighting bad guys like in comic books. We’re out there to be a symbol for the people for the community to show that if you don’t like what your community is, you can change it,” said Ghost of Black Monday, during an interview with the local FOX station.
Instead they help drunk folk and escort them to the bus station, and scare young thugs away when they’re doing something wrong.
“Just like a neighborhood watch, only we have fun with it,” they said.
Check out the superhero registry to see if you’ve got a hero in your town. Mainly they work as symbols of hope rather than actual crime-fighters, and some of them are just registering for fun.
So it seems that real life superheroes aren’t busting up drug rings and going all Batman on the mob. It’s a little disappointing, but realistic.
I have visions of the future though. If this trend spreads, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a superhero that lives up to the comic books.

Entomo Interview by Kevlex

12/01/2008 Entomo Interview
Kevlex: How did you become aware of the RLS movement?
Entomo: In 2003, I became alert because Terrifica and Mr.. Silent. Something was going to happen, it was in the air. So I started my training, unaware of the making of a new “wave” of Superheroes which was occurring underground, at least in America.
I had already acknowledged the existence of Super Barrio Gomez in the early Nineties, however.
Kevlex: What is your motivation for becoming a RLS?
Entomo: I am what I am. Since day one, long time before I would don a Battle suit, I’ve always worked to achieve equilibrium between the various factions struggling on the chessboard of reality. I was going to become what I already was from the start.
There’s no other “logic” to argue. I was just following the path that Nature had arranged for me. I’m doing that right now, in this moment. It’s my destiny.
Kevlex: What do you hope to accomplish as a RLS?
Entomo: Everything. I’m an Agent of Balance. I fight for a FAIRER world.
Kevlex: Do you have any special skills or training that helps with your RLS activities?
Entomo: Training, yes. It’s still an on-going process, because you never reach a point where you don’t really need to train anymore. That would be ridiculous.
I practice athletics, bodybuilding and Krav Maga.
As far as my morphic faculties are concerned, you can apprehend them here:
Kevlex: What do you usually do while in your RLS persona?
Entomo: A vast array of tasks. I do whatever I choose to do. That’s my ethics. I’m stuck between Order and Chaos, and move from one pole to another.
Basically, I’m a a detective and a patroller but, believe me, I can turn into a man of action quite easily.
Kevlex: What is the most significant thing you have accomplished as a RLS?
Entomo: Can’t really determine that. It’s up to people to define my legacy. I would say that, in the end, I will be regarded as a symbol of total justice and dangerous freedom.
I saved lives, I helped a lot of people and… I did it for free. Not a bad accomplishment, isn’t it?
Kevlex: What is the theme or concept behind your RLS costume and name?
Entomo: I own paranormal faculties related to insects – that being said, “paranormal” is a word open to various interpretations. Think of me as a post-modern shaman, whose faculties are connected to a parallel plane of consciousness.
Kevlex: What equipment do you use in your RLS personna?
Entomo: I’m in the process to adopt a self-customized Tazer; in Italy, we call that “Dissuasore elettrico”. It will be a totally-new version, since I’m gonna do some serious modifications.. That would be the stinging Tail of the Insect-Man.
Kevlex: Which RLS’s do you take the most seriously?
Entomo: Everyone I can sense as being “the real deal”. Thanks to my Parallelogram ability, it’s not that hard. Just to name few: Captain Ozone, Superhero, Tothian, Geist, Master Legend, Amazonia, Captain Prospect, Nostrum, Knight Owl, Squeegeeman (sometimes).
Kevlex: What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing the RLS community?
Entomo: Inspiration, expansion and popular acceptance.
Kevlex: Considering the many different philosophies that RLS’s operate under, do you think there will ever be one unifying organization for the RLS movement?
Entomo: We don’t need that. I don’t need that, at least. I work for nobody.
Kevlex: What would you do if you had great resources, such as Bruce Wayne does in the batman comics?
Entomo: Can’t answer. Secret matter.
Kevlex: How do you feel the media portrays the RLS community?
Entomo: Mixed bag, but that’s life..
Kevlex: What has been the reaction of the public, your family, friends, and law enforcement to your RLS persona?
Entomo: Not many know I’m Entomo, just thirteen people: they are useful allies.
In regard to the rest of your list, I don’t care about law enforcement. I bet I could be perceived by some of them as an “anarchist”… and they are dead right, I’m just that. An anarchist Superhero.
Casual people appear puzzled. But you must shock in order to shake.
Kevlex: What advice do you have for people thinking of becoming RLS’s?
Entomo: Find your inner avatar, the “Superhero” you keep locked inside. Then, materialize him as a “second skin” you must dwell in. Embody what you truly are. End of the story.
I inject justice.

Geek Squads

Kristen Mueller Utne Reader
In Jackson, Michigan, police are turning to a surprising ally in the fight against crime: a trio of spandex-clad crusaders armed with Mace and known as the Crimefighter Corps. The group’s de facto leader goes by the name Captain Jackson and keeps his true identity a closely guarded secret. He prefers to call his getup a uniform–picture Batman in yellow gloves and a purple cape–and explains that he’s been prowling the streets with his 17-year-old daughter, Crimefighter Girl, since 1999, when he noticed that ‘there were no beat cops around.’ They were soon joined by Queen of Hearts, an anti-domestic violence activist, and the threesome became regulars at community events, feted by local law enforcement. ‘By definition, we’re superheroes,’ says the Captain.
Nationwide, Captain Jackson and his crew have plenty of company. ‘An entire community of real-life superheroes patrols the streets from Los Angeles to Boise, Chicago to Phoenix,’ reports Punk Planet (March/April 2007). They gather on MySpace and WorldSuperheroRegistry .com to discuss morals (‘Is it ever OK for a superhero to kill?’), gadgets (Jackalope asks for advice on building spring-loaded boots), and defense gear (like arm guards forged from PVC piping). Some attempt to take law enforcement into their own gloved hands, but most just try to make the world worth living in and inspire hope in the rest of us. ‘It’s all about standing up for what’s right,’ New York City’s Dark Guardian told Punk Planet. ‘It’s about not throwing garbage on the floor. It’s about not walking by homeless people and totally ignoring them.’
These real-life superheroes pursue missions as diverse as the logos flaunted on their chests: In Seattle, reports Rivet (#16), Transit Man rides buses and encourages commuters to ditch their cars. England’s Angle-grinder Man made international headlines back in 2003 for helping drivers dismantle wheel clamps on their illegally parked vehicles. And in St. Louis, the 26-year-old art student Glitterous battles the mundane, sticking sparkly magnets onto street signs in an attempt to beautify the city, according to an April Riverfront Times article.
Mediamakers have also latched onto the phenomenon: Last year’s The Superman Handbook (Quirk) and Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? (Chronicle) offer advice on leaping between tall buildings and overcoming your personal kryptonite; the Sci Fi channel’s reality show Who Wants to Be a Superhero? enters its second season this summer; and four new superhero-themed blockbusters (one spoofing the genre) will be released next year.
During the Cold War, Americans sought solace in Westerns, in which the cowboys always whupped the ‘red’ Indians. Today, with diabolical masterminds plotting terrorist attacks from caves and underground bunkers (while weenie politicians wring their hands), the appeal of superpowerful and superethical saviors is strong. Take 22-year-old Tothian, who launched the online Heroes Network and scours the New York/New Jersey area in combat boots, a homemade supershirt, and sometimes a cape (he ditched his mask because it posed ‘tactical disadvantages’) searching for thieves, rapists, and muggers. Tothian graduated from military school at 16 and now serves in the Marine Corps. He says being a superhero is not much different: ‘I’m pretty much fighting the bad guys, saving the world, that kind of stuff.’
When it comes to actually fighting crime, however, most real-life superheroes are more pfftzzz than kraack. Captain Jackson has brandished the Mace tucked into his utility belt only twice, both times against dogs. He and his fearsome trio typically make sure business doors are locked after hours and alert cops to teen vandals. ‘In reality, what we are is pretty much neighborhood watch,’ says Jackson. Still, police in the town rely on the Corps for backup when they’re short-staffed, Jackson says, and he’s a
regular at local chamber of commerce meetings. Even after Jackson was nailed in 2005 by a real-life cop for drunken driving, he only hung up his cape for 12 days before ‘bigwig officials’ begged him not to quit, he says.
Thirty-nine-year-old Kevlex, named for the supermaterials Kevlar and spandex, runs the online World Superhero Registry from his home in Arizona, and he occasionally patrols Flagstaff. He has yet to foil a felon, though he once attempted to nab a shoplifter who was chucking groceries into a bush. ‘Any one cop is probably a hundred times more effective than anyone in our group,’ he says. ‘Real-life superheroes are law enforcement hobbyists, at best.’
Instead, the superhero community, which is dominated by white males in their teens and 20s–nerdy sci-fi fans and former military types–see themselves as symbols of hope in a world where terrorists hijack planes and genocide is overlooked. They’re trying to prove that anyone can provoke change, as Kevlex puts it, by ‘taking a stand for your version of the world, and doing it in a very public way.’
But that’s not to underestimate the sheer glee of prancing down the sidewalk in a mask and a leotard. ‘Walking around in a cape with the wind blowing through it is just really cool,’ Kevlex says. ‘It’s kind of an ego boost.’ Pilgrims travel thousands of miles to shake hands with the Crimefighter Corps in Michigan. ‘People all over the globe utterly go nuts over the opportunity to meet us,’ the trio’s Queen of Hearts says. ‘It’s a positive endorphin high. Not even sex can touch the high you get off this.’

Modern Day Superheroes

abc_superheroes2_070614_mnIt’s a bird! It’s a plane!! It’s … Squeegeeman and Captain Xavier Obvious?
That’s right. Squeegeeman and Captain Obvious are self-proclaimed superheroes — much like the Fantastic Four or the Amazing Spiderman, only they’re real people … and not that super.

Criminals and Pedestrians Beware!

They stalk the mean streets of New York City. Squeegeeman wields his squeegee of justice, squeegee gloves and squeegee grappling hook, while Captain Obvious uses his megaphone of truth through which he dispenses the obvious — his particular superpower.
“Usually, it’s just the sight of me that prevents people from doing crime. It’s like having a lot of cops around,” Squeegeeman explained.
Squeegeeman and Captain Obvious patrol New York in their superhero costumes, complete with capes, masks and, of course, their superpowers. And while they do claim to fight crime all the time, their primary objective is to do good deeds.
They hand out water when it’s hot, visit hospitals, plant trees and collect money for various causes like the AIDS walk.
According to Captain Obvious, we can all use a superhero or two in our life. “I can’t imagine a world without heroes. There is always good, and there is always bad, and they need heroes to pick people out of the bad and into the good.”
And apparently, being a superhero is a full-time job. It’s what they do. They wouldn’t reveal their identities to “Nightline,” nor would they disclose the location of their secret lair.

The Making of a Superhero

So how does one become a superhero? Spiderman, for example, got bitten by a spider. Superman came from Krypton, and the murder of his parents set Batman on his path. Was Squeegeeman attacked by an evil squeegee?
“No, really, I was kind of born with Supersqueegee abilities,” he explained. Captain Obvious said their motivation comes from instinct. “It’s right to do the good thing, and not enough people do good things, so we need to bring attention to doing the good things.”
Of course, all superheroes have their superweakness — their personal kryptonite that renders them powerless. Captain Obvious spoke of his nemesis — Indian food. “It’s oppressive,” he laughed. “You wouldn’t be laughing if we were eating Indian food!”
While there is an undeniable humor to these caped crusaders, the costumes, quips and props might be what it takes to be a hero in a modern-day metropolis like New York City. And as amusing as they may look, there is substance behind their spandex.

Every Superhero Has A Message

“My main concern is apathy,” said Squeegeeman. “I feel like in our modern society there is so much surrounding us every day, so many things going on … Xavier and we as Superheroes are trying to break the mundane. People go through life not caring, because there is so much going on. They don’t have a chance to see what’s really going on from day to day.”
So the villain — their arch-nemesis, you might say — is apathy. Captain Obvious said, “There is a lot of time we are walking down the street and people don’t even look. They are that indifferent … so what we are trying to do is bring attention to things that need that kind of attention. Good charities, good worthwhile causes.”
As with fictional superheroes, at their core is belief. They believe in their cause and are dedicated to their mission. So if late one night, you’re wandering through the dark streets of New York City and you see two caped men brandishing their squeegees and megaphones, never fear — they are there for your protection.