For some reason I have never been a fan of comic books and superheroes. I’ve watched the Batman movies but they did nothing for me. Some guys, however, are completely the opposite. They take their love of crime-fighting caped crusaders to the extreme and actually start running around in the middle of the night dressed like some crazy vigilante.
It’s hard to criticize their well-intentioned effort to solve crime and protect citizens. There have been a few times when I thought about springing into action. Usually though, just as I get ready to slip into a phone booth like Superman the situation resolves itself. The other thing is that I’m almost never out of the house after 10:00 p.m. in the evening. Being a regular person with a normal home life means I miss my chances to intervene in muggings in dark alleys. And, well, I didn’t want to go there but I’m a little past my prime to be fighting it out with a couple of methed-up 20 year old criminals anyway.
Even if I can’t personally squeeze into spandex and leap off tall buildings, the fact that these vigilante superheroes keep cropping up amazes me. I’ve bumped into a couple of these people at work (although none are the ones in the pictures below) and I’ve tried to figure out what makes them want to run around in tights solving crime. Based on my imperfect research and personal impressions, I am ready to classify for you the three types of vigilante superheroes.
The true believers
These vigilantes actually think they are out there doing good and fighting the forces of darkness. The cape and the costume are just for show. If it makes the bad guys laugh and is a little extra padding protecting them from a tire iron, then the suit did its thing. One guy even admitted to sewing a police style bullet-resistant vest into his outfit. I don’t know why they sometimes wear a cape but I suspect it is because they are also big fans of the comic superheroes they imitate. The truly believe they are protecting us from evil.
Anyway, the true believers are generally pretty well equipped and trained for crime fighting. Many of them say they have a lot of martial arts training or military backgrounds. Most of the true believers put a lot of time and money into the whole caped crusader thing so they actually think through what they are doing. They may swoop down to protect a tourist but they make sure they know which one is victim and which one is the evildoer before they leap into action.
They can screw up, though. Take for example Phoenix Jones from Seattle. That’s him in the picture to the left. He leads the ‘Rain City Superheroes’ which is a group of ten people who perform their own form of vigilante justice on the streets of Seattle. Jones carries a Taser, something he calls a ‘net gun,’ and a grappling hook when he is fighting crime. You can read more about his band of merry men by clicking here. His outfit also includes body armor, a ballistic vest, arm and leg trauma plates, and – get this – a ballistic cup. A few years ago he told police that the bulletproof vest helped stop a bullet during an incident in Tacoma. In the fall of 2011 Jones got arrested for pepper spraying an angry mob. That case got resolved but he lost his day job.
Apparently Jones’s bunch has an arch enemy supervillian called Rex Velvet, although it is hard to tell if the guy is serious or not. Check out his video by clicking here. He does have a seriously wicked moustache. Apparently he also has his own brand of vodka and a really cool website.
The part timers
I wasn’t sure if I should actually make a separate category for these people except that it seems like these guys pop up from time to time. Take for example the mystery British man who has recently been revealed as a pudgy 39 year old takeout food delivery driver. He brought a 27 year old guy wanted for burglary, stolen goods, and fraud-related crimes to a police station in northern Britain while wearing the ill-fitting Batman costume in the picture. He disappeared into the night without leaving a trace before the police could get his name.
The part timers are easily identified by their cheap outfits and beer bellies. They are not athletic crime fighters swinging from traffic lights doing good deeds. They are on a lark. They are acting out some fantasy about saving people in their spare time. Because they are wearing a Halloween costume and don’t know what they are doing they run the risk of getting victimized, which is a shame because they are such well meaning people.
A good example of the part timer is Mr. Xtreme. That’s him in the picture to the right. He founded the group “The Xtreme Justice Group” and they patrol San Diego. He doesn’t really strike me as much of an intimidating man of action who is going to chase down bad guys. In his own defense he has said he isn’t a vigilante at all but is doing his costume thing “to prevent crime and empower people to prevent it themselves by being seen. We’re showing the community that they can take a stand, not be prisoners in their own communities.” Good for him and good luck.
These are my favorites. The crazies always are. Most of the time these people are harmlessly lost in their own fantasies. One good example is Allison “Apocalypse Meow” King from Portland, Oregon. She says on various websites that she got into crimefighting by following her husband on patrol, saving the good people of Portland. Then in 2007 she designed her own costume which features a red cat head and now goes out in full costume with other crazies like her husband Zetaman. Check out Zetaman’s pictures by clicking here. He’s a candidate for inclusion in this section but I ran out of room.
Or consider Angle Grinder Man. He patrols London at night looking for people who have illegally parked and had their cars booted. That angle grinder he’s carrying is what he uses to set their cars free. This is what he says this about his transformation from regular guy into a superhero: “My obsession with wheel-clamping is actually a rebellion against a much deeper malaise,” he said. “Namely, the arrogant contempt that politicians hold for the people who put them into power, and whom they claim to represent.” OK, sure guy. You should take your meds every day and not just when your parents are coming over.
Another good one is Super Barrio who waddles around Mexico City basically doing nothing except entertaining the locals and stirring up trouble for ne’er-do-wells that are too drunk to get out of the way.
These people are out there having fun and pretending. Most of the time they’re worth a few good laughs. It’s hard to be upset with them running around acting crazy. Until, of course, they get too drunk or carried away with it all and somebody calls the cops. Then it’s no longer fun like Captain America found out. But until then they’re enjoying themselves as if every day is dress up day!