Meet Vancouver's very own superhero
Has a challenge for the City of Vancouver
Originally posted: http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/246361–meet-vancouver-s-very-own-superhero
By News1130 Staff
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – He takes care of those who live in the city’s dark places, defending and helping people on the mean streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. News1130‘s Mike Lloyd is revealing the details of a clandestine meeting with the man who calls himself Thanatos, The Dark Avenger.
“I’m a real life superhero here in Vancouver. I take care of those who really need help the most. I take care of those in the street, I watch out for them, I defend them, and I help them out. I do monthly hand-outs of food, blankets and necessities. I patrol the [Downtown] Eastside and keep my eye on things. When I see things I report them to the police.”
On a stormy afternoon, Thanatos strides between the gravestones of Mountain View Cemetery, cloaked in black with a wide-brimmed hat and masked behind a twisted, iridescent skull.
Why the dramatic backdrop? “This is an appropriate place to meet Death. Where else would you meet him? At McDonalds?”
Thanatos is the Greek God of Death, and the man behind the mask says he took on the persona after a conversation with a police officer.
“I was told people on the street had nothing better to look forward to than death. That really stung me. I thought if that’s the case, Death had better get out there and start taking care of these people. I originally came up with the idea of going out with the robe and scythe but I realized that would be impractical.”
Instead, he ended up in black overcoat and hat, body armour underneath, and masked behind a green skull-face.
“I started researching and found out other people were using the same idea to draw attention to what they were doing. So, being a comic book geek at heart, I fell back on that and redesigned the figure of death. I’m based on The Green Hornet, The Shadow, The Spirit, a bit of Doc Savage and a bit of Batman. The persona works.”
Thanatos stresses he is not a vigilante. “Swinging in on a rope, beating up the drug dealer, leaving him tied up for police looks good in the movies, but this is the real world and you can’t do that. It doesn’t work. It’s a bigger problem than just trying to take criminals off the street one at a time. It’s a social issue and society has to change to stop people from landing on the street and getting swept up into the drugs and crime down there.”
This is certainly no game for the costumed man as he asks to be tapped on his chest.
“Feel that? I wear a level 3A bullet proof vest. It is dangerous. Some of the people I encounter are coming down off methamphetamine or coming off other drugs. The drug dealers and gangs are also quite dangerous. I’ve had guns flashed at me. I’ve seen guns down there ranging from small handguns to AK-47s. I’ve had knives flashed at me. I had someone try to stick me with a [sharpened] bicycle spoke and when you stick that into someone it usually catches something vital. I’ve had someone throw a bullet at me from across the street.”
As the wind whips and the clouds darken, Thanatos says he feels the need to continue his work. “I’ve helped out over the years as myself. No one remembers. No one cares. The idea of real life superheroes using costumes is to draw attention to what we’re doing. That draws attention to the problem.”
And there are others, many of them chronicled in the Real Life Superhero Project.
“We are all over the world. Right now there are probably 300 of us who are active and out trying to actually help the world be a batter place. Most are in North America, but we have people in Asia, people in the Mid-East and we have quite a few in Europe and Great Britain. There are a few of us in Canada.”
As the meeting draws to a close, Thanatos has one last thing to add, a challenge to the city.
“We have had terrible riots here in Vancouver. We had a great outpouring of emotion shown on the plywood, people saying ‘I love you,’ we need to do something, we need to better our city. So, I’m issuing a challenge to the city of Vancouver. Everyone go out and help 10 people before the end of July, anything they can do. If they can keep someone alive on the Downtown Eastside for a day, give them water, give them cereal bars, give them whatever. If all they can do is stop for five minutes and talk to these people and give them time, that’s fine, too.”
With that, the meeting ends. Thanatos turns, disappearing deeper into Mountain View, preparing for another night of trying to help Vancouver’s vulnerable and, hopefully, inspiring others to do the same.