Police Invoke Keane Act: Local Superhero Viper Told to GTFO

The Police vs. Viper

The Police vs. Viper

In what is surely just the first shot fired in the inevitable war between the authorities and masked vigilantes, the police of Columbia, Tennessee have demanded that the local superhero, the Viper, cease his activities in the fair southern U.S. city. The move, reported by ABC News, recalls the harsh actions of government authorites in Watchmen, where the notorious Keane Act outlawed all masked crimefighters in the United States. Things aren’t quite as violently oppressive in the quiet city of Columbia – where, the ABC reporter takes care to note, there are many pigeons – but it is very much against the law to wear masks on the street. As such, the mysterious Viper has found himself S.O.L.
Garbed in a Power Rangers-esque costume of green tights and a mask, the Viper told ABC News, “I’m not in it for the ‘wow’ factor.” But while the Viper only wishes to inspire his fellow Columbians to do the right thing, the local police saw things differently. “My future endeavors are limited right now, since i’m confined to headquarters,” he said, deppressingly.
The events in Columbia do not bode well for other real-life superheroes like Phoenix Jones, especially as their flamboyant actions continue to draw attention from the media and perhaps undermine the authority of the police. In any case, ComicsAlliance will continue to monitor the situation.
Xeno be with you, Viper. We join the good citizens of Columbia, Tennessee in awaiting your defiant return to action.
[Via ABC News]

Crushable Books: ‘I Superhero’ And The Pain Of Being Phoenix Jones

Originally posted: http://thecelebpress.com/blog/2011/01/18/crushable-books-i-superhero-and-the-pain-of-being-phoenix-jones/
Posted by Drew Grant
When even Spiderman can’t fly through Broadway rafters without breaking most of his ribs (Turn Off The :-( !), it’s hard to imagine the real world containing men and women who would willingly risk life and ridicule by fighting crime. At least, not without being seriously deranged in the head.
Two weeks ago, we learned about Phoenix Jones, a masked vigilante who runs the Real Life Super Hero website and stops crime on the side (or maybe the opposite way around). Phoenix recently apprehended a carjacker in Washington state while wearing a nifty homemade mask and cape ensemble, leading the geeks of the world to go “Finally.”
But karma gave a giant wedgie to those same nerds last week, when some evil guys broke Phoenix’s nose with a gun just last week. What a shitty world we live in, huh?
Still, Mike McMullen has hope. I, Superhero is one man’s attempt to become the type of crusader that populate the pages of Marvel and DC by shadowing members of RLSH forums. What Mike finds during his time spent with IRL Justice Leaguers like Master Legend, Mr. Xtreme, and Amazonia is often funny, sometimes sad, and overwhelmingly inspirational.
That’s not to say a lot of these people don’t seem real effed up, to tell you the truth. Like when Mike goes to Orlando to meet “Master Legend,” only to find a guy who was abused as a child and takes out his aggression on possible perverts with extreme intolerance. Much like Rorschach from The Watchmen, Legend hates police and seems extremely unstable.

8/3/09 Patrick Wilson Interview

Superhero was part of Patrick Wilsons security force at the Sunscreen Film festival. In return he was kind enough to take questions from the Real Superhero community. He had just played Night Owl II in the Watchmen & was well versed on the subject. He had done his homework & was facinated by us as well.

Vigilantism and the Superhero

Originally posted: http://mysterio.startlogic.com/WordPress/?p=556
By Brad
As a lifelong reader of comics, I feel like an aging punk rocker, horrified at how my private subculture has been appropriated by the mainstream media. Like an indy music hipster, —dude, I heard it first on vinyl, I don’t even own a cd player— aging comic book readers like myself disdain comic book movies. I read that when I was in high school. The movie totally ruined it.
Comics have become an accepted part, if not the most accepted part, of the American entertainment landscape. Mainstream comics, particularly as depicted in movies, are always dark and gritty. But it’s important to remember that transition didn’t happen until the mid-1980s with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Superheroes before that period, who were sometimes wanted by the law à la Spiderman, were never seen breaking the law, but were depicted as trying to uphold it as private citizens. The genius of Watchmen and the Dark Knight is that they follow the thinking process of the classic superhero with two different conclusions. I liked the Watchmen movie, but it glossed over the main point of the comic: the corrosive effects of vigilantism on a society.
I’ve discovered people who are wearing garish costumes and trying to fight crime, but without the benefit of superscience, superstrength or really anything. This is so absurd and charming that one can’t help but support these costumed crusaders. Superbarrio is my favorite of the Real Life Superheroes. It’s hard not to like this over-weight gentleman who puts on a Lucha Libre wrestling mask and has sworn to protect the poor people of Mexico.
These Real Life Superheroes hearken back to another age of comics when morality was presented in simpler terms. We can chuckle at these people and wonder if they’re doing this in earnest or as a form of cosplay. However, the sentiment of the superhero, to go beyond the rule of law and rid the streets of crime, has had expression in the Real World, that isn’t so wonderful.
Bob Kane’s Batman chose his costume and persona in an effort to frighten criminals, who he called a “superstitious and cowardly lot.” The Ku Klux Klan wore their hoods and white sheets to appear as ghosts, to frighten and terrorize Blacks. Placing burning crosses on the property of Blacks was originally an affront to the deeply Christian beliefs of rural Blacks, whose religion and spirituality was their only real possession. It was only later that cross burning was rationalized as a some kind of internal Christian ritual.
The Klan’s illegal actions were applauded and celebrated in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. It’s hard to imagine a film about the KKK being presented as the “good guys”, but the film was a blockbuster success. It was the Batman of its day.  After his private screening at the White House, Woodrow Wilson even commented, “it is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true”.
At roughly the same time as the Ku Klux Klan, there was another costumed group, although this time not dedicated to racism, that decided to take the law into their own hands. On paper, the early Bald Knobbers sound like a decent bunch, similar in concept to Curtis Sliwa’s neighborhood watch group,The Guardian Angels. The Bald Knobbers were a secret society of men, who wore an odd, masked and horned costume, and were trying to uphold the peace. The Bald Knobbers were Missouri Republicans, who were loyal to the Union during the Civil War. In the lawless environment of post-war Missouri, they acted like an unaccountable police force. Unfortunately this group that was formed to protect the people of Missouri, drunk with power, applied brutality and murder not only to criminals, but those they felt who were immoral. They later attacked and murdered people for what they believed to be licentious and anti-Christian behavior.
During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, more Americans got in on the illegal vigilante act, but this time with governmental approval. The American Protective League, which had around 300,000 members, was not a bunch of costumed crusaders, but a large snitch group, dedicated to disrupting Unions, Wobblies, anarchists, anti-war advocates, and other undesirables. These characters opened private mail, broke into people’s houses, riffling through desks and drawers and found 3 million cases of “disloyalty.” There was even a kid-friendly junior version with the Our Gang title, Anti Yellow Dog League.
I thought of these things after watching the recent Batman movie. It does have an explicit desire to go beyond the perceived limits of law. Bruce Wayne uses technology to spy on every single person in Gotham city. He knows it’s illegal and unethical — it’s clearly an unreasonable search and seizure — but does it anyway. The ends justify the means.  Many people saw a connection between the Patriot Act and other erosion of civil liberties with the viewpoint of Batman. When the Soviets had a massive domestic spying network, complimented by legions of snitches, they probably thought they were doing the right thing too.
The graffiti in The Watchmen comic reads, “Who Watches the Watchmen?” Something to think about in these times.

Watchmen: Out of the phonebox and into real life

The expertly managed hullabaloo around Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of the Watchmen comic series (it opens in cinemas today), sees superheroes move ever closer to the centre of our shared culture.
Just as readers of Shakespeare, Byron or P.G. Wodehouse swam in a rich soup of biblical and classical references that informed their understanding of every sentence, so modern readers and moviegoers have unconsciously assimilated a common vocabulary of superheroics. If T.S. Eliot were writing today, he would pepper his poems not with allusions to the heroes of Greek myth but to the adventures of the Justice League of America. These gaudily dressed commercial demigods may be the closest thing we have to a pantheon.
Once confined to the “funny papers”, costumed adventurers broke through into the adult world in 1986 with the publication of Frank Miller’s iconoclastic The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s daring Watchmen. Before those two series there had been attempts to bring the masked vigilantes from their fantasy milieu into a world a little more like our own. But it wasn’t until Watchmen, set in a parallel mid-Eighties America on the brink of nuclear war, that the effect of costumed adventurers on the society they inhabit was considered.
Comics publishers were overjoyed that a new, older, wealthier demographic was buying comic books and responded by publishing bound collections of story arcs from their monthly comics and branding them “graphic novels”. A few genuine long-form comics expressly written for the format were also attempted, but only a few came close to achieving the commercial and critical impact of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns. Too many writers thought that the “darkness” was the selling point, and produced comic books not much different from the Silver Age comics of the 1960s and 70s but with added violence.
To achieve much more is difficult: the relentless momentum of the graphic format leaves little time left for characterisation or introspection. By slowing the action down, inserting additional material such as mock autobiographies by the characters, Moore was the first comics writer to create rounded, flawed, believable supermen. It was that, more than the artwork, that propelled Watchmen onto Time magazine’s 100 greatest novels list.
The mixture of introspection, political subversion and old-fashioned derring-do established by Moore is still, a quarter of a century later, the template for most modern comics writers. If you are looking for the most interesting of the new superhero comics today, try The Authority, a superhero team story where, rather than just scrapping with mad scientists and purse-snatchers, the heroes try to use their powers to change the world. In Ex Machina, the technologically enhanced hero settles for running New York and almost averts 9/11 but spends as much time defusing controversy over public art funding as chasing supervillains.
Perhaps the most interesting fruit of Watchmen – and a sign of how mainstream superheroes have become – came in a pair of books that dispensed with illustrations altogether. Although Batman-themed young-adult easy readers and the film spin-off “novelisations” had appeared before, Tom DeHaven’s It’s Superman was something entirely different. Set in the 1930s, it retells the story of the origins of Superman. Although still a pacy read, it has a rich sense of period that invites comparison with Steinbeck. For pop-culture students there are little nods to the Max Fleischer Superman animations and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
Austin Grossman’s 2007 novel Soon I will be Invincible was an even more knowing and playful examination of superhero archetypes played out through a pair of beautifully crafted internal monologues. Like many of today’s writers, Grossman has a native fluency in classic superhero lore, resulting in a book studded with pop-culture detail. The humour of films such as The Incredibles and Mystery Men rely on audiences being steeped in superhero culture. Watchmen too is dependent on cinemagoers understanding exactly which conventions are being subverted. And of course nowadays most moviegoers do: the mythic history of superheroes pervades our culture in the same way that the tales of Asgard or Olympus once did. We are all, wittingly or unwittingly, aware of the mechanics of secret identities, hidden lairs, radiation accidents that empower rather than disable and miraculous flying machines that are the staples of the genre, whether we are talking about classic heroes like The Fantastic Four or Moore’s dysfunctional superteam.
Superheroes are big business: Dark Knight raked in a billion dollars at the box office, Iron Man took more than $500 million in 2008 and the third instalment in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman franchise netted an impressive $890 million.
It is no surprise then that publishers are keen to find new superhero properties. DC Comics’ big hitters, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, all appeared first before the end of the Second World War. Marvel’s heroes are a little younger, but their biggest-earning heroes all still date from the early 1960s. There are dozens, perhaps scores, of new superhero-themed movies in the works: of all of them Mark Millar’s Kick Ass is the one most likely to offer something genuinely novel and exciting.
Superheroes have conquered more than the entertainment media. Two or three nights a week Citizen Prime patrols the streets of Salt Lake City in his mask and cape armed with stun guns and a police baton. He is not the only one. There are at least 30 real-life “superheroes”, of varying levels of effectiveness and seriousness, scattered across America, with odd examples popping up as far afield as Tunbridge Wells. With no powers other than idealism, and with no supercriminals to battle, they are something between a fancy dress party and the Neighbourhood Watch.
That may not always be the case, though: the technology to create armoured exoskeletons like that of Marvel’s Iron Man is under development by the US military and may only be a decade away from coming to fruition. Implantable enhancements will probably come a generation later. Assuming that they do deliver the promised combat advantage, the enhanced strength and senses of military supersoldier programmes will find their way into the hands of the criminal element – and, of course, once we have supervillains then superheroes, or at least superpolice, won’t be far behind. You will need to be ready. Better buy some comics.
Michael Moran writes the Times Blockbuster Buzz blog

Real-Life Superheroes Becoming More Popular

Originally posted: http://www.cinematical.com/2008/12/30/real-life-superheroes-becoming-more-popular/
By Erik Davis
Dec 30th 2008 // 11:02AM
While they’ve been around for a few years now — emerging from the suburban shadows shortly after 9/11 — the current superhero craze, propelled mainly by popular movies like The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Watchmen, has created more than just big-screen sequels — oh yes, try an assortment of real-life superheroes (or so they like to think). For example, the Green Scorpion (pictured right) works out of the New Mexico/Arizona region, is a member of The Justice Society of Justice organization and states the following on his website: “Eventually, everyone has the opportunity to awaken and become who they always wanted to be. Some people just hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.”
Or what about Doktor DiscorD, who’s also a member of The Justice Society of Justice, and states: “We dont care about victimless crime like drug use or people buying prostitutes. the kind of CRIME we’re talking about is the kind that makes little old ladies afraid to leave their houses.” Laugh all you want, but Scorpion and DiscorD are joined by roughly 200 other real-life superheroes (or, as they call themselves, “Reals”) all across the world. According to a pretty hilarious article in the Times Online, the rules are fairly simple: “They must stand for unambiguous and unsponsored good. They must create their own Spandex and rubber costumes without infringing Marvel or DC Comics copyrights, but match them with exotic names … they must shun guns or knives to avoid being arrested as vigilantes …”
Homebase for these “Reals” looks to be the World Superhero Registry, where you can scroll through tons of real-life superhero profiles, read interviews, scan the message boards, scope out a gadget gallery and — get this — read movie reviews, the last of which appears to be … drum roll please … The Dark Knight. So what do you think of these real-lifers? Cool thing to do on a Saturday night, or people desperately in need of a real life?