"Phoenix Jones," (the Guardian of Seattle, natch) part of the Rain City Superhero Movement, poses with an unidentified (and seemingly quite mystified) police officer. Photo via SeattlePI
I chose the main title of this post for a reason. There are some events you can simply, absolutely, not make up. For example, Seattle is currently plagued/beset/graced by its own superhero movement. Via an interesting article from Seattle PI:
Vigilante justice has come to Seattle, and the caped crusaders drive a Kia.
Seattle police say a group of self-described superheroes have been patrolling the streets at night trying to save people from crime. They call themselves the Rain City Superhero Movement and say they're part of a nationwide movement of real-life crime fighters.
The national website -- cited in a police bulletin sent to Seattle officers Wednesday -- states "a Real Life Superhero is whoever chooses to embody the values presented in super heroic comic books, not only by donning a mask/costume, but also performing good deeds for the communitarian place whom he inhabits."
Police say the "costume-wearing complainants" are lucky they haven't been hurt.
In one instance, police say a caped crusader dressed in black was nearly shot when he came running out of a dark park. In another case, a witness on Capitol Hill saw the crusaders wearing ski masks in a car parked at a Shell station and thought they were going to rob the place.
Police got the license plate and found those masked characters drove a Kia Fate registered to one of the character's godmothers, department staff said. She told police her godson goes around doing good deeds.
It gets even better, as the superhero "movement" (blame my poli-sci background, but they've got to get a little bigger before they've earned the title) seems to combine laudable things like a desire to do good in one's area and forge your own identity with a large dose of delusional batshit and old-fashioned subcultural sniping:
Investigators identified nine people dressed in costume going around Seattle after dark. A police source said the characters go by Thorn, Buster Doe, Green Reaper, Gemini, No Name, Catastrophe, Thunder 88, Penelope and Phoenix Jones the Guardian of Seattle.
But don't listen to Captain Ozone or Knight Owl, police were told. They're apparently not part of the group.
Yeah, fuck those posers.
Police say another incident with the self-proclaimed superheroes came about 3 a.m. Nov. 4 at Sixth Avenue and South King Street in the International District.
Police responded to a harassment complaint and found Phoenix the Guardian of Seattle dressed in a "black colored Batman costume and a black ski mask," department spokesman Jeff Kappel said.
He was standing with four other men and one woman, all in costume with their faces covered by ski masks and bandanas. They were dealing a man making threatening statements and swinging a golf club.
Police took the golf club as evidence. The "costume-wearing complainants" refused to press charges because they didn't want to identify themselves to officers, Kappel said. So the suspect walked.
Wow. Hell of a dipshit move there.
Honestly, I'm surprised this didn't happen before. Superheroes have been a cultural concept for the better part of a century and, after awhile, people in search of something truly different start to do really strange and/or awesome things based on those concepts. Naturally, this tends to result in some insanity along with innovation and costume-bedecked violence is certainly nothing new in society. It's hard not to see that in the superhero statement that ends the article: "You can inspire people to believe they can CREATE themselves a symbol and embody it --- and it's not a lie." There is something there, at least in the ideal.
The problem, however, is the execution. Inherent in the superhero mythos is the "super" part of the equation. Even if the superhero movement's people are, as Phoenix Jones (the Guardian of Seattle!) claims, all MMA and ex-military badasses, they're not Bruce Wayne. Or Superman. Or Black Canary. No one is. This ain't the damn comics and even those who walk out of a serious fight on the winning side tend to be pretty badly injured.
As it is now, it doesn't seem like Seattle's costumed crime-fighters can keep one golf-club wielding maniac from walking. One street gang set, who lack costumes, ballistic cups or aliases but often have a willingness to use guns and numbers, would probably finish them pretty easily. Alternatively the police (also big on guns and numbers, for a reason) could just arrest them if they become too much of a nuisance. A Kia will not outrun a patrol car.
Prediction: if this continues, it's only a matter of time before one of these superheroes ends up in the hospital, jail or the morgue. Or they could become more practical, dial back the costumes, find a money source, seek strength in numbers and just become a regular old gang. If you think I'm kidding, look at the origins of urban neighborhood gangs or the Tongs. It's a surprisingly slippery slope from vigilante community protectors to straight-out organized crime.
Look at it this way, though: for decades numerous comic writers have wondered what would happen if superheroes existed in the real world. They may just get their answer.