The Super Hassles Of Being A Real-Life Superhero


ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fabio Heuring was standing outside a Seattle nightclub with a friend on a Saturday night, smoking cigarettes, when a man bolting from a bouncer ran into them. Enraged, the man ripped off his shirt in the middle of the street and prepared to give Heuring’s buddy a beating. Just then, in swooped a bizarre sight: a self-proclaimed superhero in a black mask and matching muscle-suit. He doused the aggressor with pepper spray, much to Heuring’s shocked relief. A couple hours later, though, using those tactics on another group of clubgoers would land the superhero – Benjamin Fodor, better known as Phoenix Jones – in jail for investigation of assault, sending pangs of anxiety through the small, eccentric and mostly anonymous community of masked crime-fighters across the U.S. The comic book-inspired patrolling of city streets by “real life super-heroes” has been getting more popular in recent years, thanks largely to mainstream attention in movies like last year’s “Kick-Ass” and the recent HBO documentary “Superheroes.” And as the ranks of the masked, caped and sometimes bullet-proof-vested avengers swell, many fret that even well-intentioned vigilantes risk hurting themselves, the public and the movement if they’re as aggressive as Jones. It’s not clear how many costumed vigilantes there are in the U.S. The website lists 660 members around the world. They range from members of the New York Initiative in New York City and the Shadow Corp in Saginaw, Mich., to a character named Nightbow who says he has patrolled the streets of Carlisle, England, for three years. MORE

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