I'm a gamer and a comic book geek through and through. I love my superheroes and like many others have argued the merit of one character/power over another, rolled up and roleplayed more than a few in an attempt to get a taste of what being a superhero is like. I've even spent more than a few moments fantasizing about being a superhero, but I have never truly considered becoming one, for real. I mean who in their right mind would run around in spandex, which is very unflattering, and face down real criminals, with real guns... not me.
However, there are people in the world who are doing just that. This is the ultimate superhero LARP, playing superhero in the real world, fighting the never ending battle, which seems like it would be cool, but I just can't get past the bad guys using real guns part.
In a Rolling Stone article I found online, it appears there are more than a few people around the world that have decided to take on the role of caped crusader in their own neighborhoods. Some are even banding together and forming super teams. The avid comic book fan and major geek in me thinks this is the coolest shit I have ever heard and wants to get out there myself... well in spirit at least. The Mental Health Professional (once I get my degree and take my boards) in me finds this behavior disturbing and wonders why seemingly normal people would even consider doing something this ridiculous. Now I can tell just by reading the RS article that the characters featured in the article have had some traumas in their lives and escaped into a fantasy world, that they then merged with the real world. There is definitely some attention seeking behavior at play, but more impressive than all the psychobabble I can come up with is their unshakable belief in doing good. Their need to make the world a better place in some small way. I find that both fascinating and inspiring.
These people have taken something many of us daydream about and spend hours rolling dice to recreate, and they live it. They seem to have just a touch of Peter Pan in them, refusing to grow up, and yet still taking responsibility for their fellow man. They are trying to take the weight of the world on to their shoulders, even though no one asked them to. Are they mentally unbalanced... probably, but I can't help hoping that one of these guys will be around if I or a loved one ever needs them.
If you want to learn more about these real life Superheroes, or feel the overwhelming need to don spandex here are some links that you may find useful.
World Superhero Registry
The Green Scorpion (based in Arizona)
Wolrdwide Heroes Organization
Justice Society of Justice (based in Indianapolis)
Superhero (based in Florida)
Master Legend (based in Florida)
Dark Guardian (based in New York)