I want to focus on the Real-Life Superhero Movement... which is seemingly sweeping over the world as of late. To be 100% honest, it's not all that new.
I toyed with the "real world" superhero genre in 2001-2002. I created a character called THE RANSOM. The title character of this comic, published in Cream City Comics: Inkblot, is a desk jockey looking for something useful to do with his life. Sick of hearing about muggings, kidnappings and rapes in his beloved hometown, The Ransom (emotionally) snaps and becomes an unmasked vigilante. A few years later, in 2005-2006, I created another superhero which wasn't super at all... THE DEAD CRICKET! He appeared throughout the Cream City Comics/Bud Burgy Inc.-published MUSCLES & FIGHTS series. For any readers familiar with the character and backstory, TDC is an ordinary working stiff with aspirations of being something... or someone... more significant. Specifically, he has daydreams/fantasies of himself as a superhero. In a way, The Dead Cricket! is a more humorous exercise of what I'd already examined with The Ransom... disatisfaction with everyday life and human inner rage as we see the world/civilization around us tumbling down.
But, even before those projects, the idea of a "real world' in which superheroes exist could be found in published comic books... Zorro, The Spirit, Batman, V For Vendetta, The Watchmen, Mystery Men, Sin City, and a few others immediately SPRING to mind. Television and film have brought live action versions of these characters to the screen, as well as creating animated RLSHs like; The Incredibles, Despicable Me (super-villain) and Megamind.
Well, just when you thought the superhero comics craze couldn't get any... erm... CRAZIER...
In 2004, a person known as "Kevlex" responded a question posed by Mark Schmidt asking why there were no Real-Life Superheroes in existence by creating the World Superhero Registry. The Hero Coalition, founded in 2006, was the first attempt to connect crimefighters through an online MEGA NETWORK. Since that time, various sites/forums have surfaced catering to local crime fighters around the globe. In 2008, a website was created to research and archive the activities of these self-proclaimed Real-Life Superheroes. And just what kinds of activities do these masked (and unmasked) CRUSADERS perform? They take part in food drives and community fundraisers. They walk the streets, by night, in search of crimes to prevent. And they are covered in documentaries, such as; Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero: The Documentary Film About RLSH (2008).
For me, this is the wildest spin-off of comics in the US since serious comic book shop debates and in-fighting about the goings-on in the latest issue of (fill in the blank) comic book. These well-meaning individuals have been covered on programs like GOOD MORNING AMERICA, they've been written about by US and European magazines, and they've been lampooned on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
Whether or not I think donning a costume/uniform and patrolling the streets is a good idea... I DO NOT... is immaterial. It's nice to know people still care enough to become involved in their respective communities. But let's hope these citizens don't draw too much attention from the amazing heroes around us all the time; soup kitchen/homeless shelter volunteers, The Salvation Army, The Goodwill, educators, social counselors, EMTs, fire fighters, police officers, military personnel and other civil/community servants.
You can read more about this wild PHENOMENON by clicking the entry title.