By: Will Roberts
I’m temporarily residing in a grey satellite town, cowering in the shadow of a slag heap in South Yorkshire. Though the mine nearby is still, on paper, a going concern it is one of the countless forced to hand over it’s gift-wrapped testicles to dear old Maggie back in the early 80s and the town is bitter, backward and belligerent because of this. There is a stretch of road near me which always smells like shit, it’s everywhere. I say this not flippantly but literally and I say this not out of spite but simply as a rather illustrative statement of fact; so brow-beaten is this place that concern for social/environmental issues hasn’t progressed even as far as acknowledging street strewn dog faeces as something to take action against; these guys would charge the beach to roll a stranded whale back into the sea but only because they would consider it to be an illegal immigrant (‘fuckin whales, stealing all our jobs’), the idea of allocating any percentile of your brain’s processesing power to anything grander and more noble in scope than, say, the increasing price of pipe tobacco or the inability of Royal Mail to deliver CASHMYGOLD envelopes in a timely fashion is anathema. This isn’t entirely true, a man not too far from my current residence has had solar panels fitted to his roof though I believe he was recently burnt as a witch.
There is a community out there striving to drag us kicking and screaming out of the apathetic funk in which we’re mired. God help me, I should hate these plucky mentalists for hauling me from my comfortable pit of ‘meh’ but, god love ‘em, I don’t. I speak of the Real Life Superheroes (RLSH for short), the seemingly ordinary citizens around the globe (though obviously mainly in America) who don their gay apparel and patrol their beleaguered streets. Reeled I did when I saw these bright, becostumed braves admonish litterbugs and hand sandwiches to the homeless. Swooned I did when I saw our brave new protectors spray mace in the faces of handbag snatchers.
Thanks largely to the 2009 film Kick-Ass and the recent media hubbub around Seattle’s own Rain City Superheroes headed by the erstwhile Phoenix Jones (though they pre-date both by many years), this community has been able to touch more cold hard hearts than ever. Those unfamiliar with the RLSH should go towww.reallifesuperheroes.org/ immediately.
The friendlier of these folks take their costume tips from the camp and colourful world of the old marvel and DC heroes; it’s all bright colours and capes. Should you ever see one of this particular breed tackle a mugger you would be unsurprised to see words like ‘PAFF’ and ‘ZONK’ leap into the air as your champion doles out a hiding. The other type seem more akin to the ‘Dark Knight’ re-imagining of the Batman series. These guys are all ski-masks and black leather, body armour and army surplus. Samiritan, for instance, has a photo on his bio in which he sports a futuristic black mask and helmet, milky white Marilyn Manson contacts and a facial expression which screams ‘god I hate you, I hate you so much I could punch your mum and eat your soul’. Similarly Mr Jack is turned out in a black and purple suit and a black balaclava which gives him a seemingly inappropriate ‘master criminal’ air. It’s worth noting however that even this physical manifestation of childhood fears is apparently ‘working to create bonds of understanding and help every person I come in contact with to get the most out of their life’. Well, fair enough. Carry on.
I had hoped to find that the RLSH were out there fighting crime, hitting on it’s girlfriend and stealing it’s pint but they predominantly act as informants for the police and involve themselves in blood drives, charity yard sales and soup kitchens for the homeless (though the rather darker www.rlsh–manual.com/ offers a guide to the weak points of the human anatomy and hints on the best ex military hardware to buy) but it is comforting to know that there are people out there who care so goddamned much that they’ll put their underpants on outside their trousers in public and show the rest of us up as the lazy, ambivalent, ingrates that we are. Bet they clear up after their dogs too.