A Hero in All of Us
international group the Real Life SuperHeroes
ONLINE BONUS: Read an interview with Minn. Superhero "Geist"!
Marco Rascón Córdova has always felt a calling to stand out. And for the past 20 years, he’s answered it in a most peculiar fashion: by patrolling the working class neighborhoods of Mexico City in cranberry-red tights and responding only to the name, “Superbarrio.”
One glance at him – overweight, middle-aged, and by all means slower than a speeding bullet – and it’s clear that, by traditional standards, he’s far from super. But to Córdova, “traditional” isn’t the kind of hero he’s going for. In fact, he’s not looking to beat criminals to a pulp at all. He’s striving to protect the rights of the working class through organized protests and petitions, all the while donning his brightly colored get-up. And the best part? He’s not alone.
Over the past several years, dozens of inspired people across the globe – representing both the early-twenty-something and near-senior segment – have tied capes to their necks and set out to do good for the public. Look up to the sky: here come the Real Life Super Heroes. (Holy new phenomenon, Batman!)
Before I continue, I think it’s important to note how widespread this occurrence actually is. In September of last year, an official Real Life Super Hero project was established serving as a meeting ground/alliance for emerging heroes across the globe. According to the website, more than 150 individuals are currently in action, serving both publicly and privately. Meetings and conferences are continually held across the country to share ideas and teach strategies to old members and newbies alike. In short: this is the closest thing to the Justice League this world will ever see.
Within it, the personalities and “powers” are unique to each hero involved. Take Angle Grinder Man from England: lanky with shoulder length hair and a baby blue onesie, he works pro bono on the streets of London by cutting the wheel clamps off paralyzed vehicles. Then there’s Terrifica from New York City, who prowls the downtown bars to keep inebriated women from getting taken advantage of. Polar Man from Canada shovels driveways for the elderly, and Recycle Boy teaches children the importance of being resourceful … and the list goes on.
A particularly intriguing hero is SuperSuperDara, hailing from Brazil. Similar to most RLSHs, she deems public service one of her greatest contributions. To SuperSuperDara storytelling is the best weapon to teach children about the dangers of sexual abuse.
“(It’s) a serious problem, which leads to psychological scars that will last forever,” she told me. “I try to warn children and make parents, educators, and community members aware of this paradigm shift they need to do.”
A day in the life of our Brazilian hero involves visiting schools and reading aloud her favorite story, Segredo Segredîssimo, which, according to her, strongly reiterates the importance of sexual abuse awareness. Her contributions are well-received by her community, and her tweets are regularly followed by congressmen and popular Brazil-based magazines, she said. Her ultimate goal is to make a radical shift and teach protection techniques to the younger generation.
“Changing paradigm is necessary in Brazil, and in order to do so a superhero is required,” she said. “Mere mortals couldn’t do such a thing.”
Now with all these people across the globe standing up to serve their communities, I’m forced to ask: why not Eau Claire? Sure, the city’s been named one of the safest places to live in the country, and the biggest crimes I’ve seen in my four years of residency have been petty at worst. (To the thief of my patio chair: the hunt continues.) But as these RLSHs have proven you don’t need invisibility, inhuman strength, or even web-shooting wrists to be considered super. Volunteering and displaying pro social values in any atmosphere are steps in the right direction. The project stems much deeper than a group of adults who spent too much time with comic books as kids; although, as some have stated, the reading material was definitely an inspiration.
Check out RealLifeSuperheroes.com for more info. ONLINE BONUS: Read an interview with Rochester, Minn. Superhero "Geist!"
INTERVIEW: Rochester Superhero Geist
Of the more well-known heroes from the RLSH alliance is Geist from Rochester, Minnesota. Although relatively new to the league, Geist has managed to make his name quite well-known. His costume, which he describes as “green Space Cowboy-chic,” is as bizarre as it is badass. I was able to get in contact with him via e-mail a few weeks back. Here’s a snippet of my ventures into his mind:
Volume One: So, Geist – how long have you been doing this?
Geist: I became active as Geist, doing charitable missions and crime patrols, in April of 2007.
V1: That’s cool. What was it that inspired you to pursue something like this?
G: So many things inspired me to become Geist that I have at least five different answers to that question and they're all true. I was especially affected by the events of 9/11, perhaps more so than most. I was personally affected by crime and injustice in my childhood. I've been poor, hungry and without food to eat. I loved comic books as a teenager way back when. I was at a personal crisis of sorts in my life where I just didn't think I was living up to my potential.
It all begins to add up to its own conclusion, don't you think?
V1: Certainly does. You probably get this a lot, but… how did you decide on your costume?
G: It sounds odd, but I might have to say that it picked me, one piece at a time. Although I intended to be more film noir-ish, it started with the hat. When I saw that ginormous hat at a cowboy western shop on my way to the Twin Cities, I couldn't resist it.
The coat is made from a combination of two different coats - one, a British Army coat and the other, a western-style duster.
The boots are urban, not western-style. I love walking in them every time I put them on.
The gauntlets (bracers) came at least a year after I had been doing this. I found them at the Minnesota Ren Fest one late summer and knew that I had to have them for both protection from knives and flair.
V1: What would you say is your specialty/super power?
G: I don't see a limit as to what degree I can try to help. I've looked for specific criminals, often arriving at the correct suspects the day before the police nabbed them, helped people walk across unsafe cross-walks with my attention-getting appearance, obliterated rid of gang graffiti with neutral-gray paint, patrolled the streets looking for crime and fed the homeless in the meantime, talked-down domestic situations in someone's yard, apprehended a criminal to turn over to the police and made a lot of donations of items to those in need. That especially includes children, animals and the homeless.
To sum it up briefly, I look out for The Forgotten - those who are overlooked by society. Someone has to look out for them and I figure that it might as well be me.
V1: That’s definitely admirable. Anything else you’d like to add?
G: A huge reason for the costume is not to draw attention to ourselves, but to the cause in need. I'm anonymous and take no credit personally.
I could be your brother, your co-worker or mailman. It really doesn't matter who I am. I could be you. And THAT's the whole idea. It's time that we started looking out for each other in a big way.