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Real Life Superheroes

The link is exactly what it says: it's a community of real-life super heroes. Yes, people who dress up in spandex outfits and capes, and go out into the world to fight evil!

No, really. They're not kidding.

This is a phenomenon that sprang up in the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The idea is that a number of folks sat there and watched as the United States was attacked by evil forces – something that made us feel helpless and unable to prevent. What could we do in the face of something like that? For many people, it was an incentive to go out and sign up for the armed forces, so that we could (in theory) strike back against terror. But not everyone is capable of serving in the army. Some took it upon themselves to join militias. And a few people came upon the idea of becoming…real life super heroes.

Of course, this is real life we're talking about here – the real world where bullets kill people, and the only super powers you have are your somewhat limited athletic abilities…and your ability to use the Internet. But even so, these folks really do dress up in costumes, and they go out and "do good."

For most of these folks, it's a PR stunt as much as anything else. After all, a guy or girl dressed up in a spandex looks really silly – there's just no way you're going to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers if you dress up like that. And for most of these "super heroes," the type of heroing they do is modest compared to the fictional adventures of Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. In fact, this site's page on How To Be A Superhero lists typical, everyday things that anyone can do to help their community:

The part about dressing up in a costume is really just a way of getting some additional attention and satisfying your ego. But still, that's not so bad if it brings attention to your cause and makes people feel better. What's so different about delivering toys for your local charity drive in a Mickey Mouse costume, or in the costume of Radiance, Zetaman, or The Black Knight?


And yet, some of these Real Life Superheroes go a step or two further…and maybe they've even crossed the line into something truly strange. A few of these superheroes do more than just help ladies across the street. They really do go out and hunt down criminals – muggers, thieves, rapists, and people who hurt others. There have been some reports of a few costumed superheroes who've actually injured themselves in real fights with real criminals. A news story on April 29, 2009 described a strange person who calls himself Shadow Hare. (The article can be read here: [1]) He dresses up in a costume and cape, and he goes after criminals in the Cincinnati area. Armed only with a taser, handcuffs, and pepper spray (no gun so that he won't be arrested as a vigilante), Shadow Hare has taken to the streets of Cincinnati to clean up the streets, for real. He's actually been injured in at least one fight, and he allegedly worked with a California superhero called "Mr. Extreme" to track down a rapist. And he's not the only one – there really are a few of these people who take this "super hero" hobby to a point where it's more than just a hobby. They're actually risking their lives over this.

These over-the-top crimefighters have banded together into a loose network called the Allegience of Heroes. Unlike the Real Life Superheroes link on this page, their Internet connection is secret – presumably because the crimefighting these people engage in is far more serious than volunteering for the local library.

The reaction from the public over these costumed crimefighters has been predictable: "Idiots! Stupid fruitcake nutjobs!" "Ridiculous!" "They're going to get killed!" "…go back to your pizza and comic books, i mean almost all these guys arent even in shape. these are the same guys that go into the woods to do that live role playing wierdness, there living in a fantasy world except it will turn into reality when the bullets are real in the streets and not there crumbled up piece of cardboard they throw at each other in the woods while yelling 'Fire BALL!! I hit you, your dead.'"

Why would someone risk his (or her) life dressed up in a ridiculous spandex costume? If you really want to go out and do good, you could do so anonymously, without having to wear a silly costume. So that means these guys are in this for the attention as much as for the "good" they do from catching petty criminals. But, you may argue, is that so bad if these people are actually doing some good?