By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
Have you ever, even for just a moment, felt like you were stuck in between two worlds? You know, like you were in a Twilight Zone episode?
Perhaps it’s because of the recent release of The Avengers movie, about a group of Marvel Comic Superheroes. I’ve seen a lot of stories about real life superheroes lately and it’s kind of strange. Case in point; have you heard of the Xtreme Justice League?
It’s members are everyday Joes who dress up like flashy comic book superheroes and patrol the city streets of San Diego, California in search of crime. The group has an uneasy alliance with local law enforcement (that may be putting it lightly) who’d prefer they take their capes and go play video games.
Here’s a list of current members: (taken from their website) Mr. Xtreme, Shadow Hare, Urban Avenger, Good Samaritan, Vigilante Spider, and Radnor.
NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" featured a group similar to the Extreme Justice League recently. They were portrayed as a group of vigilantes who sometimes clashed with the police. Reality and entertainment blended once again. Seattle police have been dealing with a group of superheroes patrolling the streets at night for over two years. They call themselves the Rain City Superhero Movement and say they're part of a nationwide movement of real-life crime fighters.
Their superhero names are: Thorn, Buster Doe, Green Reaper, Gemini, No Name, Catastrophe, Thunder 88, Penelope and Phoenix Jones, the Guardian of Seattle. No need to stop there. Go to reallifesuperheroes.org and prepare to meet a lot of superheroes patrolling the mean streets of America.
I recall a time, from 1964 to 1966, when I bought every Marvel Comic that came out. Spiderman was my favorite. I read some DC Comics, like Superman and Batman, but considered Marvel the home of the coolest superheroes.
Little did I imagine how decades later, my favorite superheroes would emerge in full blown movies and cartoons on TV. And running around in real life! Maybe you can see my point about feeling like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode.
Lately, I’ve had to pinch myself to make sure I’m not in an alternate universe. The cops in San Diego are concerned the Xtreme Justice League may take on more than they can handle when they make their next big move into the gang infested areas in South East San Diego.
Things get a little funky when I consider superheroes who don’t have super powers. How can that be? Anyone stupid enough to dress up in tights and a cape better have super powers if they intend to take on organized gangs. Mr. Xtreme and his peers carry some self defense weapons, like stun guns and mace, and they all study Kenpo karate. Automatic pistols and rifles trump those trinkets big time! As for getting in a karate move before being shot point blank, I think the outcome is predictable.
I have nothing against these civic minded superheroes (they could do a better job of designing their costumes) and I wish them well. I just hope they don’t let their flashy alter egos completely take over and have a bad ending for their efforts. There are no second chances in the real world, unlike the comics.
I was hooked on comics in my teenage years because they provided an escape from reality. Today, I don’t read comics. I don’t watch comic book cartoons characters on TV. I have to admit I may see The Avengers movie because I’m still a kid at heart, and I love how realistic the characters look. To my ever lasting credit, I understood I was reading fiction back in the sixties when I eagerly devoured the latest issues of The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and X-Men.
Today’s movie audience practically becomes part of the movie with 3-D cinema photography and stunning sound systems. Some theaters even have seats on platforms that rumble the viewer for additional effect. Disaster movies, especially ones with earthquakes, can literally be a jarring experience.
The whole viewing experience in theatres is designed to blur reality. It seems to be working too well for some folks. Sorry Mr. Xtreme and loyal side kicks, but you appear to be a good example of what I’m talking about.
I know, I’ve treated this subject in a somewhat whimsical fashion, but there’s nothing funny about people losing touch with reality. Especially if they, or others are hurt.
As It Stands, superheroes are cool, but I’m afraid they don’t exist in the real world.
WEBSITES THAT HAVE PICKED UP THIS COLUMN:
2) Everything About Comics: Comics Blog
3) Comprehensive real-Time Self-Defense Newswire