Here's another piece of mine that just ran on the Pilot Season blog, in case you missed it:
We Can Be Heroes (and not just for one day)
Not long ago, I received a very nice letter of comment from someone who enjoyed Twilight Guardian, someone who probably understands her quest better than most. His name is the Crimson Fist, and he's a superhero.
No, he's not the stereotypical, media-driven notion of a superhero in the real world. He's not a used car salesman dressing up like "Rebate Man" for his new spate of commercials. He's not even Mark Millar's Dave Lizewski from "Kick Ass" getting his head handed to him by thugs on a nightly basis.
No, the Crimson Fist is one of the (at least) hundreds of folks out there patrolling our neighborhoods who are part of the RLSH (Real Life Super Hero) community. These are individuals who have decided that one person can make a difference in their corner of the world, so they don a mask and colorful costume and take to the streets.
No, they don't save us all from a Skrull invasion (that I know of). No, they don't keep the Red Skull from getting his hands on the Cosmic Cube. But if I ran into a mugger, I'd sure be glad to have one of them around. If someone were burglarizing my apartment, I'd be overjoyed if a RLSH were there to send the thieves packing, or to alert the police. Heck, even if I was in the situation I went through a few weeks ago, when I lost a contact lens during one of my late-night strolls, I'd be proud to have a superhero down there with me, on my hands and knees in someone's driveway, searching with a flashlight at 2 a.m.
Some people might compare these masked protectors with neighborhood watch groups, or to organizations like the Guardian Angels, but I'd say a more apt comparison might be made to a man named Lenny Skutnik. I've written about Lenny before, written about how, in January 1982, he risked his own life when Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River. Lenny Skutnik jumped into the frigid water to save a woman who was too exhausted to grab the rope that had been lowered to her.
I don't think there's anyone among us who wouldn't consider him a hero, but think about this: if, instead of his street clothes, Lenny Skutnik had worn a big red "S" on his chest, he wouldn't been indistinguishable from a superhero. No, not just indistinguishable; he would have BEEN a superhero. And for my money, he was anyway.
When asked about it all, Lenny Skutnik said "I wasn't a hero. I was just someone who helped another human being. We're surrounded by heroes. What made this different was that it was caught on film and went all over the world." And he was right.
So whether it's the Crimson Fist in Atlanta, Zetaman in Portland, Insignis in Salt Lake City, Tothian in NYC, or any of the rest, real life superheroes are out there doing what they do. For some it might be breaking up a fistfight between teen-agers, helping someone who locked the keys in their car, passing out "survival kits" to the needy, or getting the word out about a blood drive or Toys-For-Tots event. For others...well, who knows? That darned Cosmic Cube is still out there somewhere.
And in a nine-block area of the midwest, a young woman in a hoodie and domino mask does her part.
Keep voting Twilight Guardian, gang.
Troy Hickman, August 19, 2008