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By Hunter Clauss, Editor-In-Chief
Spandex-clad superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man and Superman have found homes in the colorful panels of comic books, movie theaters and the imaginations of readers around the world, but there is a growing community of real-life superheroes who are taking to the streets.
The popularity of the real-life superhero scene is growing almost as fast as an old-timey locomotive moves thanks to the Internet. The visibilty of this blooming community has led to a new Sci Fi Channel reality-television show that is currently in the works. “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?” will feature 11 real-life superheroes fighting through various obstacles in order to prove they have what it takes to be the best real-life superhero.
“It’s so ingrained in our public consciousness that somebody’s got to be doing it,” said Arizona-based hero Kevlex, whose heroic deed is taking part in his own neighborhood watch by patrolling around in a mask and light body armor. Kevlex refused to give his real name so that his secret identity could remain safe.
While these real-life superheroes do not possess superpowers like super strength or x-ray vision, heroes like Kevlex are motivated to take action by their outrage at criminal behavior.
“There are people out there actively promoting child molesting,” he said, refering to the North American Man Boy Love Association.
Kevlex believes that groups and organizations that promote racism or crime should not have a place in today’s diverse society. Kevlex said that he always wondered why there were not any superheroes making a stand against crime.
“It’s making a stand as well as being a symbol,” he said.
Kevlex searched for websites that covered the superhero scene but wasn’t impressed by what he found.
“There were a few sites that dealt with it in passing or dealt with it as a curiosity, but nothing that really pulled everything into focus,” he said.
So to help find other real-life superheroes, Kevlex created the World Superhero Registry, www.worldsuperheroregisrty.com, as a forum for active players in this scene to communicate with each other.
The registry keeps track of real-life superheroes around the world. But in order to be recognized by the World Superhero Registry as a real-life superhero, certain criteria must be met. Superheroes must have a well-thought out costume, perform heroic deeds for their communities and be personally motivated.
Among those real-life superheroes listed on the World Superhero Registry is Angle Grinder Man. Living in England, this modern-day Robin Hood frees automobiles from police clamps or boots with his trusty power grinder.
Also listed on the World Superhero Registry is Terrifica, who has been featured in New York magazine and on NPR’s “Wait, Wait—Don’t Tell Me!” Donning a blond wig and a golden Valkyrie bra, Terrifica patrols New York City’s bars and protects intoxicated women from being taken advantage of by men.
There are also crime-fighting super teams listed on the registry. The Crimefighter Corps is one such group that patrols the streets of Jackson, Mich. The team includes the Queen of Hearts, Crimefighter Girl and Captain Jackson, whose alter-ego, Thomas Frankini, was arrested for driving under the influence in 2005.
While the World Superhero Registry has listings from all over the globe, Kevlex believes there are more real-life superheroes roaming the streets than those listed.
“The people who are the most serious tend to not talk much,” he said.
Kevlex believes these hardcore heroes are ones who are going after organized crime bosses, as well as performing other highly dangerous activities. Kevlex mentioned that these kinds of heroic deeds are extremely dangerous, but that he would also come to the aid of anyone in trouble no matter how risky the situation might be.
But not all superheroes have their own powers, and some superheroes, like the fictional Batman of Gotham City, rely on gadgets for their personal safety as well as to fight crime. Real-life superhero inventor Professor Thaddius Widget strives to invent these same gadgets and accessories for the needs of his superhero clients.
“Many of the items I create are potentially hazardous,” Widget said in an e-mail, so as not to reveal his secret identity. “Some are ridiculously dangerous.”
Widget invents and sells anything from steel-reinforced gloves to grappling hooks. Two projects he is currently working on are a compact grappel launcher and an electrified fighting staff.
Since he creates and sells such devices, Widget said that keeping his identity a secret is important so he can’t be held accountable for his inventions.
“I refuse to be sued because someone uses a grappling hook improperly and falls to their death, or puts out an eye with a pointy bit of equipment,” he said. “I expect my customers to take personal responsibility for their purchases and their actions.”
While real-life superheroes have the best of intentions when it comes to patrolling their neighborhoods, Sgt. Eugene Mullins of the Chicago Police Department thinks they should find other ways to help fight crime.
“We don’t want any citizen to go out and hurt themselves to try and be a vigilante,” Mullins said. “They can be in spandex and a cape if they want to—as long as they don’t interfere with a police investigation.”
Mullins said citizens should call the police department if a crime is taking place rather than take matters into their own hands. He also encourages people to problem solve with the police department on how crime can be reduced in their neighborhoods.
“That promotes a healthy neighborhood,” he said. “We don’t want anybody going out and getting themselves hurt.”
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