A night with Seattle's superheroes

"Phoenix" strikes a pose during an interview in Seattle.

“Phoenix” strikes a pose during an interview in Seattle.

Originally posted: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/110685494.html
By Luke Duecy
In the middle of our interview in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, a scream in the distance sends Phoenix sprinting across a parking lot and peering down onto a street below.
He takes stock of the fight happening a block away, but quickly determines that it’s just a couple of friends yelling and shoving each other at a hot dog stand.
“It’s not something I need to prevent,” says Phoenix, who is wearing a mask, cape and hat.
Welcome to the world of Seattle superheroes.
There’s Buster Doe, No Name, Troop and their leader, Phoenix. We don’t know their real names, but almost every night they suit up and set out with Kevlar and stun guns for protection.
They say their mission is to patrol city streets and stop crime.
“I don’t go around and look for people who park their car wrong,” Phoenix says. “I do acts of violence — I physically saw you assault another person and I intervened.”
It all started years ago after one of Phoenix’s close friends got beat up outside a bar.
“There were like 70 people outside and no one did anything. No one called police, 911, nothing. They just stood there.”
On this night, under a full moon, I went along to see Phoenix in action. He has a wife, kids, a 9-to-5 job and a Facebook page. He also patrols cities all around Puget Sound five nights a week.
He says he wears the mask to protect his family from bad guys who may want revenge. But what about the costume?
“Surprisingly enough the easiest thing to hide bullet proofing under and be recognizable for police so I don’t get shot, is a super suit,” Phoenix says.
For Phoenix, being a real-life superhero is part feeding the homeless, part public relations, and nothing like the comic book heroes we all knew as kids.
“I’ve had a couple guns pulled on me,” says Phoenix, adding that he’s been shot and stabbed while stopping fights.
It isn’t all that exciting.
In an alley in the city’s International District, Phoenix confronted two men after hearing that someone was selling drugs in the area. He spoke to them and asked if they were selling, and the two men walked off.
While Phoenix says he’s just out to help, Seattle police would rather he not intervene directly.
“We would recommend and we would prefer that if people see a crime, witness a crime, have knowledge of a crime, that they pick up a phone and call 911,” Detective Mark Jamieson said. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt and certainly people that are dressed-up their intention might be mistaken by other people.”
Officials are concerned that these superheroes might take the law into their own hands. But Phoenix isn’t planning to sit around.
“I’m definitely not going to let my fellow citizens be assaulted when I can say ‘no,'” he says. “If I walk around and find nobody, that would be a good day. The fact is that I’m finding people – that’s bad – you shouldn’t need me.”
And then I saw what police are concerned about. At the end of our night, Phoenix stops a man who he thinks is trying to drive home drunk.
“Just back up!” Phoenix yells as the man rushes him. He warns the man to stay back or he’ll use a telescoping stun gun he just pulled from under his cape. “Stay back, stay away — I don’t want to have to Tase you!”
One of Phoenix’s colleagues calls 911, and police arrive to defuse the situation. But, the officers are worried.
“I know who you guys are, I know what you’re doing,” an officer tells the costumed group. “But, somebody drunk all of a sudden having people in their face with masks on… now it’s not the norm.”
Did the superheroes escalate the problem? For Phoenix the answer is no.
“We never had an issue with you,” Phoenix tells the man he tried to stop. “We just wanted you to get sober and get home safe.”
It’s just another night of crime fighting.

Prime Armor

First and foremost, thanks everyone for all the great comments.  I’m glad it meets with general approval.  After all, it and I am here to inspire you and everyone to follow suit (pun intended).
Secondly, I have a lot a questions on the gear which I am happy to answer.  I’ll list the questions and who asked, then answer below.
January 10, 20079:27 AM
Obviously ALL custom work! Chicken plate over Leather right? How’s the Mobility?
The armor (with the exception of the helmet, which is steel) is 18 gauge aluminum.  Hard enough to take any non-ballistic hit and obviously stab proof.
The Chameleon
January 10, 200712:30 AM
You can move in that getup, right? Cool!
The mobility is excellent.  I can high kick, low crouch, climb, sprint and somersault, of which I have done all of in the armor.
January 10, 20079:28 AM
Just noticed the Mic! Cell?
I have a voice amplification unit as well as listening amplifier and cell phone access.  In future versions, I am considering making this a throat mic, but I kinda like the look of the mic.
January 10, 2007 9:22 AM
AMAZING! What are you using as a Holster?
It is custom made.  The inspiration is a Anglo-Saxon battle ax holder.
January 10, 2007 10:15 AM
what is your cape made of?
The cape is made of synthetics.  It is a dress piece.  A am planning on making a ballistic version, probably dark for regular patrols.
January 10, 2007 9:29 AM
Just realized that’s a shotgun Side saddle with all your Cylinders, Brilliant. Mind if I follow suit?
Not at all!  I hope everyone finds something they can use!
January 10, 20079:30 AM
Kevlar or more steel?
The helmet is steel.  It is armor and is ballistic although truthfully I don’t know if they have rated authentic steel armor helmets.
January 10, 20075:17 AM
your head doesn’t look pointy in this one 🙂
The pointy actually has a … er … point.  It defects blows and projectiles more efficiently.
The Wall™
January 10, 20071:03 AM
How do you keep cool in all that gear? It must get pretty hot in AZ during the Summer…
The armor has plenty of ventilation and the under armor is “heat gear” and sweat wicking.  I imagine the summer might get a little uncomfortable.  I will be using an evaporative gorget (they use them in Motocross) and a cool pack in the helmet (used by professional mascots).
January 10, 2007 9:13 AM
is the helmet and the mask one unit or does it consist of two seperate components? I really like the leather mask. Where can I get one?
The helmet and mask are two pieces. I also wear a heat gear Under Armor baklava underneath that.  Its very comfortable.  You can get both by hiring a professional armorer to make them for you.  =)
Again, I’m glad it is met with some excitement.  This is an exciting time, for all of us.  This is the window we should use to fill the streets with heroes and inspire everyone to live with the Heart of a Hero.  Be proud that you are a pioneer in this endeavor.  Be proud to be a real life superhero.
Be the change the world needs.
Citizen Prime

Plate Armor

*From Beerio’s Manual
Plate armor was traditionally made of iron or steel in the day of the knight, however due to the use of stronger and better crossbows and bows and the damnable invention of the gun, plate armor became less and less useful until it was abandonned altogether.The main problem with plate armor wasn’t that it couldn’t be made bulletproof. The problem was to make it bulletproof it became too heavy to be worn for a reasonable amount of time during combat.
Today man has learn of new and better materails other than iron and steel.
To make bulletproof plate armor today there are a few materials recommended:
High density plastic
Kevlar or other ballistic fabrics incased in a resin.


KEVLAR® is a space-age material designed by DuPont Industries. The material has been used for bullet-proof vests, helmets, masks, and friction absorption in the automotive and aerospace industries among other applications.
General Features of KEVLAR® :

High Tensile Strength at Low Weight
Low Elongation to Break High Modulus (Structural Rigidity)
Low Electrical Conductivity
High Chemical Resistance
Low Thermal Shrinkage
High Toughness (Work-To-Break)
Excellent Dimensional Stability
High Cut Resistance
Flame Resistant, Self Extinguishing

Historic Kevlar Explination Video
From Beerio’s Manual
When working with Kevlar, don’t think of it as sewing, but as making armor such as the medeval warrior did with leather.
1. Find some clothes that fit you as you would like your new suit to fit. I would suggest something old, stained and with holes in it because you are going to be disassembling them.
2. Cut the clothes up along the seam. Becareful to use the seam because that is how the patterns were assembled originally.
3. Use the new patterns to outline where the cuts will be on the kevlar fabric.
4. Cut the kevlar carefully as marked.
5. Assemble the kevlar along the seams as the original suit was.
Some key points:
Practice on some cheap fabrics in case your first attempt does not go good the first time. Kevlar is VERY expensive. Don’t think of the fabrics you practice on as wasted because they can be used for other purposes such as normal day use (if they are really bad looking you can wear it around the house or for bed clothes)
You can also dye them and wear them over your kevlar suit. Kevlar is strong but not very fashionable.
You do not need to use a needle and thread to assemble the patterns together. Rivets, screws and powerful glue are other ways to fashion kevlar together.
Kevlar’s main weaknesses are that it decomposes under alkaline conditions or when exposed to chlorine.
20 layers are needed to stop a 9mm handgun bullet traveling at 1200 feet per second


NOMEX is the registered brand name of a flame retardant material marketed and first discovered by DuPont in the 1970s. It can be considered an aromatic “nylon”. It is sold in both fiber and sheet forms and is used as a fabric wherever resistance from heat and flame is required. Nomex type 410 paper is the original and one of the larger grade types made, mostly for electrical insulation purposes. The paper is used in electrical laminates such as circuit boards and transformer cores as well as fireproof honeycomb structures where it is saturated with a phenolic resin. Honeycomb structures such as these, as well as mylar-nomex laminates are used extensively in aircraft construction. Both the firefighting and vehicle racing industries use NOMEX to create clothing and equipment that can stand up to intense heat. Both aramids are heat and flame resistant but Kevlar, having a para- orientation can be molecularly aligned and gives high strength. Meta aramid polymer cannot align during filament formation and has poor strength.
Race car drivers commonly use a hood to protect them in the event of fire.Military pilots and aircrew wear one-piece flight suits made of over 92% NOMEX, to protect them from the possibility of fires and other mishaps. The remaining 8% is usually Kevlar thread used to hold the fabric together at the seams.

Keeping cool under Kevlar

*From Beerio’s Manual
Keeping cool under many layers of Kevlar
There a few different methods for cooling in suits.
*One way is to put different types of cooling packs in the refridgerator and then stuff these packs in pockets in the inside of the suit.
*Another is to have tubes with water (salt water might be better to keep the water pure and keep it from turning green and slimy) running around the body on the inside of the suit.
*Last, and least effective, is to have holes and vents for ventilation.