When I was young I often wondered what the world would be like if superheroes were real.
Now they are.
And I don’t mean that superheroes are real in the sense that single parents, hard working people, and people who go out of their way to help others are superheroes (though they are). I mean specifically that there are people out there who dress up in tights and help the city in costume as real life superheroes (except to be fair–it’s more like body armor instead of tights).
If you haven’t heard about this phenomenon, here are some samples, from right here in Seattle, where superheroes like Phoenix Jones and Troop and many others patrol the city and do what they can to help out. Here’s a recent article from the Seattle P.I. covering the Rain City Superhero Movement. And here’s a report from KOMO news about spending an evening with a few Seattle superheroes on patrol.
Some superheroes even participate in an international community of do-gooders called Real Life Superheroes. Take a look at their superhero registry and you’ll see that there are superheroes in Mexico, Italy, and even Iraq. It’s global.
If this is the first you’ve heard about this, you might need a moment. Breathe. The world has superheroes in it.
No, they don’t have super powers (that we know of). They just like doing good. Not all of them focus on fighting crime, either. Many do charity work of all types, from championing various good causes to helping the homeless (Nyx and Life appear to be fine examples).
You might think they’d be crazy to dress up in a strange outfit and walk around the city (much less risk their life in a potentially dangerous confrontation). And you’d be correct. But they just might be the right kind of crazy.
Some people are skeptical of the true value of superheroes. They say things like, “We already have people who fight crime,” (meaning the police), and “We already have people who volunteer for good causes,” and they’re right. We have people who do these things, and we need them.
But we need costumed superheroes, too. I know this because of everything I learned from comics.
If you are fighting crime, or helping people, or doing any number of types of good, yes–you are a superhero. But when you put a costume on, you become even more powerful. This is because you give voice to a mighty myth that says “Yes, good can win.”
This is the message infused into virtually every comic book and sprinkled throughout all superhero mythology. Good can win. It doesn’t always, and often it’s messy, but whether or not good wins in whatever specific comic you happen to be reading, there is the message that good can prevail, that it’s possible.
Thanks to comic books and superhero mythology, I believe good can win. And when I see people in costume doing good as superheroes, I believe harder.