Unpowered Superheroes in the News [Updated]

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Law novelist and former prosecutor Allison Leotta went to the Washington Romance Writers retreat last weekend. I also considered going, not because I like that genre but because I figured I might well be the only male human there. Another guy apparently had the same idea, because Allison reports that the attendance was 130 women and one (1) man.

She didn't say whether he scored or not, so I'm just going to assume he did. The thought of a guy not being able to score at a romance writers' convention, of all places, is too depressing to contemplate.

Anyway, Allison's blog commonly features her reviews of episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, to which she applies her experience as a sex-crimes prosecutor, explaining what they got right and wrong in each episode and assigning an overall grade. Last week's episode, which involved people dressed like superheroes, got a B minus. Its relevance here is really just that it involved people dressed up like superheroes, which as Allison points out is, believe it or not, an actual thing.


Nor are these guys just dressing up for pictures, like the Hollywood Boulevard "superheroes" or the Roman "gladiators." They go out and patrol the city (Seattle, in the case of this trio), striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, or triggering some sort of emotion, at least.

Phoenix Jones (not his real name), he of the black and gold above, is the most famous of these people so far, partly because he's been arrested at least once for allegedly pepper-spraying somebody who didn't deserve it. (No charges were ever filed.) According to Wikipedia, which seems like an appropriate source here, Jones is part of a ten-member team that also includes supercitizens Thorn, Buster Doe, Green Reaper, The Mantis, Gemini, Catastrophe, Thunder 88, Penelope, and the intriguingly named, or not-named, No Name. (Other reports suggest that Pitch Black, Red Dragon, Purple Reign and Blue Sparrow are also part of the group, but you know how these superpeople come and go.) Collectively they are known as the Rain City Superhero Movement, or, alternatively, "dorks."

I don't want to be too critical of these people, though, because (1) I am arguably a dork myself and (2) it appears that, loony as they may be, it seems like most of them mean well and some have (reportedly) actually stopped a crime. Phoenix Jones once chased away a car thief, another person claimed Jones had saved him from a potential "beat-down," and on a couple of occasions they are said to have helped police solve a crime, although I'm not sure it's the police who are saying this. What the record of supercitizens elsewhere might be, I don't know, but according to Wikipedia they definitely exist. In fact, the Wikipedia article on "Real-life superheroes" lists over four dozen of them, and not just in the U.S. as you might expect, but all around the world.

I would highly recommend you at least scan that article just to get a sense of the names people have come up with. Some at least sound intimidating (Thanatos, The Viper, Razorhawk), some not so much (Moon Dragon, Captain Oyster, Captain Xavier Obvious). I wouldn't want to tangle with Superbarrio, but could probably kick The Statesman's ass. (What's his secret identity, Mitt Romney?)

Other good lines there include, "His mother has expressed concern for his safety," and "Police have expressed their preference that Captain Australia not intervene in incidents anymore."

Update: A reader in Seattle reports that Phoenix Jones was active again today, this time apparently intervening to protect the federal courthouse from May Day demonstrators. (Whether they were really threatening it, I have no idea.) A Seattle Times picture showed Jones and an unidentified associate (maybe Mantis?) sort of lurking around while two other guys argue, but maybe they were on their break at the time. Another picture showed a demonstrator wearing a "V for Vendetta" mask, so now I'm totally confused as to who's on what side.