Civil Society

Bitten by a Radioactive Community Volunteer

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From the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, a thrilling, action-packed feature about self-proclaimed superheroes:

By most observers' reckoning, between 150 and 200 real-life superheroes, or "Reals" as some call themselves, operate in the United States, with another 50 or so donning the cowl internationally. These crusaders range in age from 15 to 50 and patrol cities from Indianapolis to Cambridgeshire, England. They create heroic identities with names like Black Arrow, Green Scorpion, and Mr. Silent, and wear bright Superman spandex or black ninja suits. Almost all share two traits in common: a love of comic books and a desire to improve their communities.

Among the heroes: The Cleanser, who "strolls around picking up trash," and Direction Man, who "helps lost tourists find where they're going." And then there's Master Legend, who relates this tale of crimebusting gone wrong:

One evening when Master Legend was on patrol, he heard a woman scream and ran to investigate. But when he located the damsel in distress, she thought he was attacking her and called the cops. "They wanted to know if I was some kind of insane man, a 41-year-old man running around in a costume," he recounts. "Apparently, they had never heard of me."