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Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that fights for truth, justice, and the Ame… nope… umm… Empathy, let’s just say empathy.
I’m your host this week, Aaron, and helping vanquish the forces of evil this week is, Shea!
I’m Shea, and this week I learned that an avocado is a vegan kinder egg.
You know Plastic Man was an egg for a while but what hatched out of him was… not as good as a Kinder Surprise.
Speaking of super heroes…
While DC struggles to make an alien god, or a violently narcissistic, billionaire relatable Marvel has been crushing the pop culture scene for more than a decade. And sure, in comics for going on a hundred years. So it’s no wonder that people have become fixated on the idea of becoming a superhero.
Sadly, with the tragic exception of a few kids trying to fly each year, almost no one has the balls… or ovaries… to suit up and take back the night.
I say “almost” because today we’re talking about Real Life Super Heroes. And for those of you who read the show notes, that phrase is capitalized because it’s a proper noun. As in, Real Life Superheroes is an organization, or a league if you will, of heroes fighting for what’s right… or, you know, justice.
Unfortunately, people don’t have super powers… but thanks to comics and movies like Kick-Ass, even the depowered, non-billionaire, crowd is feeling like they can get in on the action. Seriously, a large percentage of the heroes we’re about to talk about cite the story of an awkward kid dressing up in a green unitard and getting his ass beat so badly his super-origin is hospital bills and nerve damage as the inspiration for their own origin stories. Personally, I might have chosen the path that doesn’t include your mentor’s mentor getting tied to a chair and set on fire while his daughter and your uncomfortably young love interest watches—but you do you I guess.
After all, what successful superhero doesn’t have a closet full of what’s left of their friends and family?
I suppose, as with most comics, we should start at the beginning. The Silver Age if you will… because Captain Ozone widely considered to be the first real life super hero but also his costume is mostly silver… I’m clever.
Captain Ozone first burst onto the scene in 1989, interestingly, a year and a half before that Captain Planet swindler stole his gig. Captain Ozone doesn’t have any superpowers to speak of but like Booster Gold, or more accurately, John Conner, Ozone has come back from the future, 2039 to be precise, to warn us that we’re literally murdering the planet and should stop doing that lest we find ourselves in the dystopian hellscape he grew up in.
His notable accomplishments include more than a decade of teaching American and Candian children about environmentalism, how kids can make their own PSAs about the environment, many of which have run on cable TV in both countries, he established Eco Art Day, November 24th, and organized the 2010 Green Power Rally. So that’s all good stuff.
Captain Ozone’s mission was to come back and stop oil barons from destroying the future. Armed only with his trusty Toilerang, his car-top mounted, silver, time traveling crapper, he takes on the DC elite in the fight for a greener future!
According to rlsh (real life super hero) fandom wiki no one ever unmasked Captain Ozone and while he hasn’t been seen in years I like to think he’s still out there even now, protecting us from Exxon and such.
Captain Ozone makes a good introduction because he’s, by all accounts, a cool guy, the first hero, and an example of the kinds of heroes who would follow him.
Our heroes today fall roughly into four categories. The first of which is the Public Advocate hero. These fine heroes, like Ozone in DC, or Thanatos in Vancouver, or Redbud Woman in Beijing, spend their heroing time advocating for causes like the environment, the homeless, or other worthwhile social causes.
Before we meet those heroes let’s briefly mention the other categories that the internet has landed on for grouping heroes.
The next category is Untrained Patrollers. These heroes like Mr. Xtreme, The Eye, and Knight Warrior, patrol their local areas for minor crimes in progress and, armed with a camera and cell phone, record events and call police. Think colourful neighborhood watches.
Then we have Actual Vigilantes. These heroes dress up in actual body armor… well, most of them, equip propper weapons, and venture into the night to dispense violent justice as they see fit.
Finally there are Superhero Groups like the Emerald City Heroes, The Black Monday Society, or the Extreme Justice League. These groups of heroes pool their resources to provide community support, increase the reach of their aid services, and go to ComicCon.
So, I mentioned some other Advocate heroes, let’s talk about them.
Venturing north to Vancouver we’ll find Thanatos Necrium. Thanatos took his name from the Greek personification of death after, as a civilian, he heard a Vancouver police officer describe Vancouver’s homeless people as “have nothing to look forward to except death itself.”
Sporting a black trench coat over a bulletproof vest, a wide brim hat, skull pattern tie and a green skull mask, he first appeared in 2013. Thanatos, now retired, spent his hero career distributing hot meals, and basic necessities like blankets, canned and jarred food, and hygiene supplies. Together with hero Motor Mouth, Thanatos started a Super Group, the Pacific Protectorate, which spans the coast from San Diego to northern Alaska helping those in need.
RedBud Woman is one of the few known masked female superheroes based in Asia. She has also been called the Beijing Bauhinia, named for a large pink flowering plant. RedBud’s RLSH profile lists her super power as Enhanced Kindness, which fits. Redbud sports a skin tight black outfit, think boudoir-Huntress, with a long blcak cape and bright blue mask. Her heroics include distributing needed supplies and food to Beijing’s homeless population but she’s most active around Christmas when she distributes cold weather supplies but also sings and dances to give those living rough a little holiday cheer. She’s been inactive for a few years now following public criticism of her motives for helping people, because even when your stated goal is just to go do good the world will still go out of its way to critisize you for vagine reasons.
Starting our list of Untrained Patroller heroes is Knight Warrior. KW basically is Kick-Ass if you made him blue and took away his escrima sticks.
He began his humble quest for justice in Salford, Merseyside, in the UK. He patrolled for illegal activity and more than once reported that simply showing up in a weird costume was enough to scare people away. But he was ready for action, having a cell phone, police whistle, mace, and, as his saying goes, being all out of bubble gum he was ready to kick ass. In 2011 he launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Salford. Following the uptick in popularity his costume became more like that of DC’s Guardian. Also thanks to mayoral publicity in 2012 he met his eventual wife Knight Maiden.
In 2013 they welcomed Knight Baby into the league. This golden age of the British Knights was partially documented in an episode of BBC3’s Boomtown. Unfortunately, as any CADMUS employee will tell you, when heroes get famous villains come out of the woodwork.
In 2013 a gang recognized the two Knights while on patrol and jumped the heroes. Knight’s no-training at all didn’t kick in and he was severely beaten by the gang who then groped Knight Maiden, causing them to retire. But as any hero will tell you, old habits die hard, and in 2015 Knight Warrior turned his investigations inward to discover Knight Maiden’s infidelity with longtime friend The Weasel. Ok, I made that “Weasel” bit up, but it fits. Following the super-divorce Knight Warrior relocated to Liverpool to do a radio program. Knight Maiden stayed in Salford and according to her facebook page, does porn.
Knight Warrior’s tactics, if you want to call them that, are pretty standard for this class of hero.
Hailing from Cincinnati Ohio, Shadow Hare, who “sees the shadows within shadows” follows the same basic outline. Patrolling Cincinnati on his black segway Shadow can often be found putting himself between riled up people at public events, protecting crows from violence. Trained in Shorin-ryu karate and MMA he carries handcuffs, mace, and a taser for protection. Working with the Allegiance of Heroes super group he has been known to travel to other cities to support his fellow heroes during large events or civil unrest. When not fighting the scurges of Cinci Shadow is often found giving out meals to the homeless. His brand of vigilante justice comes at a price though as he has reportedly been injured multiple times stopping robberies and muggings.
Finally, closing out the Untrained but ready to rock’n’roll heroes is Florida Hero, Master Legend. ML and his trusty sidekick Ace, are one of the most widely known heroes in the world thanks to a December, 2008 feature in RollingStone magazine. When Master Legend and Ace aren’t out fighting crime they’re in the Legend cave… garage… shed… practicing their sweet sounds. Master is, of course, on guitar and lead vocal. Together with Ace on drums, Pain on… another instrument, their band Justice Force has released over 100 original songs that their mothers all love. When the sun sets though, he and Ace load up in the Master Mobile and patrol with Team Justice or the Justice Crusaders, both superhero teams Master Legend organized.
Master Legend is here to help so he’s always careful to stop to help old ladies cross the street, or look out for the needs of the elderly. When not in costume he fights for renters rights in areas of Orlando where gentrification is pushing the older communities out of their homes… of course… he also does some of that work in costume when normal tactics don’t work.
It isn’t all grannies and guitars though. When ML is out on patrol he carries pole arms, chains, escrima sticks, bear mace, tasers, and non-lethal weapons like air-powered bean bag cannons to stop criminals in their tracks. The hero life has cost him though. It’s hard to find an understanding wife, much less keep her, or hold down a 9 to 5, because when justice calls, he answers, any time day or night.
Like many real life heroes ML has appeared in a comic or two here and there but most notably has an Amazon Original series called “The Legend of Master Legend” which is a dark comedy based on his life and exploits.
Finally, the category everyone has been waiting for. The real Batmen wading out into the darkness to strike fear into the hearts of villains and, also more often than not, strike their… faces. Yeah folks, it’s Actual Vigilante time.
Mr. Xtreme, without a leading “E”. This San Diego-based hero is one of the more famous ones willing to bust you in the face, though he hopes he won’t have to. Trained in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and caring handcuffs, pepper spray, a taser and his own willingness to use them he patrols the streets with members of Xtreme Justice League, the hero squad he founded. While his identity remains a secret it is known that he is a security guard by day who took up cap and cowl after being the victim of violent crime and a less than ideal childhood.
HIs colourful costume is said to be based on the Power Rangers. It’s bright yellow cammo and black armor are covered in clippings from newspapers about Kitty Genovese, the now-famous murder victim whose attack was witnessed by almost 40 people, all of whom assumed someone else would call the police, so no one did. When founding XJL he dedicated his work to her memory. He was also an early participant in Project HOPE, a humanitarian NGO providing healthcare to those in need. In July of 2020 Mr. Xtreme announced that he was retiring and leaving the hero business to the members of his XJL.
And from a brightly colour protector we move to Dark Guardian. The first thing you’ll notice about Dark Guardian is his maskless willingness to tell you his real name, Chris Pollak. He does this to promote his own martial arts school where he teaches up and coming heroes how to handle difficult situations. He focuses on teaching children self defense, heroic ideals and values, how to deal with bullies, and help their communities. As all heroes seem to be, Guardian was inspired by tragedy. HIs friend’s mother was lost on the streets of New York, which he now patrols with his own team of heroes, the New York Initiative.
Trained, and indeed teaching, various forms of martial arts and hand-to-hand combat Dark Guardian hopes to help everyone find their inner hero… and if by chance you find your inner villain, he’ll put a boot up your ass.
Closing out the roster is perhaps the world’s most famous real life hero Phoenix Jones. Phoenix, and his colleagues in the Rain City Superhero Movement, fight crime and call the cops… frequently. Jones, who began Ben Fodor, explained that once up on a time his son, leaving a water park, ran to and fell down at the family car. Realizing the car had been burgled and his son cut on the broken glass Fodor yelled for help, but the only passers by were videotaping the incident and refused to stop recording to call 911. Not long after he and his friends were attacked in the street and when reaching for his phone, in the car’s glove box, out fell the burglar’s ski-mask, which he dawned before chasing and subduing the attackers until the police arrived. And just like, Phoenix Jones was born.
Early in his career Jones dressed in black with a yellow belt and band on his hat, as seen in this picture he took with the police officer he turned a suspect over to.
Phoenix now wears black and yellow body armor reminiscent of Batman. The armor itself caused a bit of controversy in the hero circles as he crowd sourced the nearly 10,000$ it cost to have Professor Widget, an ultra clandestine supplier of hero gear and weapons in America, build the custom, bullet proof, stab proof, flame retardant armor he wears on patrol.
He is also known for taking the crime fighting a little too far, having been arrested for assaulting and pepper spraying people. One incident of note saw Phoenix pepper spraying an out of control crowd.
Eventually keeping a secret identity was too much and he announced his civilian name to the public after his arrest (because it would have made it out anyway). Jones is a father of two and a special ed teacher by day.
He’s been featured in a handful of comics, all available at the comic book store where he changes into his costume. He was also invited to the premiere of the documentary “Super”, which he also appears in, in 2011.
So there you go true believers, there are heroes in the world ready and willing to lend a hand or defend the defenseless, and that’s not all! We live in a world of heroes with more spring up every day. So look for another installment of Real Life Super Heroes in upcoming episodes of Interest If True, and remember, you can be a hero too! All it takes is empathy and the motivation to act on it. You don’t have to lift buildings or assault drug dealers to make the world a better place. Donate to WyoAIDS, or if money is tight, volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. Even reaching out to someone having a difficult time can change their world for the better. And having summoned my most rousing Lee, I guess the only thing left to say is, EXCELSIOR!
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After Aaron’s tale of real life stupor heroes, I thought instead, I’d tell you about real superheroes, the comic ones, and some of the more ridiculous powers they were gifted with.
In comics, there are universes full of characters who are able to move faster than a speeding bullet, control the elements, easily lift entire buildings and fly. And then, there are the other guys; those weirdos with powers so nonsensical, it’s no wonder they have become the butt of many a fan joke.
My favorite pointless hero has to be Arm-Fall-Off Boy! I’m sure you are curious what his powers are, it’s quite hard to figure out by his name. In keeping with the theme of super-literal superhero monikers, this DC Comics character gets his name from the fact that he can literally detach his own arm and use it to beat up villains. So basically, he has the power of almost every single action figure that has ever been produced. This, as you might expect, begs the question… What?!
According to his creators, AFOB’s powers are intentionally ridiculous, which makes sense, since he was both the first to try out for the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the first to be rejected. In fact, the character is so inconsequential that he initially isn’t even given a name (although in the Zero Hour reboot, it is revealed that he is Floyd Belkin from the planet Lallor). It’s seriously impossible to imagine his creators developing a character whose sole ability is popping off his arm and using it to bludgeon bad guys without the conversation devolving into a fit of giggles.
For 2020 this might be the perfect hero, a superhero who literally ate his way out of his problems. A one-time member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Tenzil Kem is an alien from the planet of Bismoll (The Legion of Superheroes is the group AFOB failed out of). Matter-Eater Lad’s powers are the result of his planet’s inhabitants evolving in response to an unexpected tragedy. When all of the food on Bismoll became inedible thanks to some pesky microbes, the Bismollians adapted by becoming able to eat and digest all matter.
In addition to being able to keep down random objects he consumes, Matter-Eater Lad can also analyze matter’s contents, determine if it contains poisons, metabolize his food quickly in order to obtain super-speed and use his special Bismollian digestive enzyme in order to make tough materials like steel easier to consume. Being able to eat any and everything might make for a good party trick, but the image of a Legionnaire stepping up to help the team by tying on a bib and tucking into a nice piece of, say, rebar, is laughable.
If you were to hear the name, “Black Condor,” you might think that this would be a pretty significant and badass superhero. Black is the obvious color for anything remotely cool and rebellious, and condors are fearsome birds of prey.
In the instance of Richard Grey Jr., however, the thing that hold him back from being a top-flight vigilante is his origin.
Grey Jr. was abandoned as an infant and raised by an actual condor. He learned how to fly by simply flapping his arms, mimicking his caretakers. He failed several times until one day he was able to fly.
Aside from being physically impossible, this origins means that literally anyone could acquire this power. He didn’t have special genes, or a magic spell placed on him, he just flapped his arms until he could fly. This is another creation from DC, they really loved cool super powers.
Dogwelder is a member of DC’s Section 8, a “superhero” team led by delusional superhero wannabe Six-Pack, a supporting character in the comic book series “Hitman”.
Dogwelder is a mysterious and likely disturbed individual who never speaks. His face is never revealed; always hiding behind a welding mask. All we know of Dogwelder and his methods are that he seems to live in an alley, he sets traps for stray animals, has a supply of dead dogs (perhaps just puppies) and he fights evil by pouncing upon evildoers and welding a dog to their face.
Dogwelder perishes in Section 8’s final battle; vaporized by acidic demon vomit/spit/unknown-secretion. In a weird twist Dogwelder’s successor (Dogwelder II) travels to the Pyramids of Egypt and is subsequently transported to the Dogwelder afterlife. Here it is implied in that there have been many others in the past, all inflicted with the same curse by Anubis. There is a lineage of Dogwelders apparently…
Talk about a lucky guy who just stumbled his way into becoming a superhero.
Once a regular guy working a regular construction job, Gabriel Carlos Dantes Sepulveda happened upon a strange entryway into catacombs while working on a job in his homeland of Argentina. He snuck into the site at night and explored the hidden land he unearthed. While poking around, he discovered a vibranium suit that was in the style of the Spanish conquistadores of the Fourteenth Century. He decided to put it on and become a superhero called Conquistador.
It’s amazing that a normal construction worker became an ally of Captain America, Wolverine, and Daredevil just because he was wandering around and found a suit of armor, but here we are. He has no other powers. Just the suit.
Men cant have all the fun; Gin Genie (a.k.a. Beckah Parker) was a member of X-Statix, a group of mutant superheroes who were more preoccupied with becoming rich and famous than doing anything altruistic like saving the world. Gin Genie’s “thing” was that she was capable of seismokinesis, or “the power to generate seismic vibrations.” The only problem? She could only do so when she is very, very drunk.
The force of her seismic blasts was actually concurrent with her blood-alcohol content. In addition to being a pretty problematic idea for a superhero, it also made her an inept fighter. When she was drunk, Gin Genie occasionally aimed her seismic waves at her fellow X-Statix team members, meaning she was often more of a liability than an asset. Her career as a superhero was cut short when she died while on a mission.
Probably one of the most potentially offensive superheroes to ever exist, Rainbow Girl is a mood swing-prone superhero with the ability to harness the emotional spectrum… because women, right?
Born Dori Aandraison, she hails from the planet Xolnar. An aspiring actress, she wanted to become a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in order to work her way into the acting world. She managed to score a trip to Metropolis by using her powers to win the “Miss Xolnar” contest. What powers you ask? Why, the ability to make herself irresistible to people around her by emanating a field of light that basically looked like a rainbow… hence, her name.
She didn’t make the Legion’s cut, unfortunately, and instead, married a member of a wealthy Metropolis family in order to stay on Earth. She had an epiphany while writing her autobiography and realized she still wanted to pursue her dreams of superheroics, so she ended up joining the Legion of Substitute Heroes instead, despite the fact that she felt they were not high-profile enough for her to meet her goals. So yeah, she was basically the worst.
Of all the heroes in the Marvel pantheon, few are quite as strangely stupid and entertaining as Squirrel Girl. Her basic powers revolve around her ability to commune with squirrels (duh), and her buck-teeth that are capable of chewing through wood. She also has increased speed, agility, and strength.
In a brilliant stroke of self-awareness, Marvel chose to make her the most competent hero in its entire universe, marked by the “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” series. In it, she defeats the likes of Wolverine, Deadpool, Dr. Doom, and even Thanos, making her the dumbest hero to ever accomplish so goddamn much with so little. I absolutely love Squirrel Girl, in her first ever appearance she saves Ironman and takes down Dr. Doom, all with squirrels and nut puns!
I’m Aaron, and I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-hosts.
Find out more about the show, social links, and contact information at InterestingIfTrue.com.
Music for this episode was created by Wayne Jones and was used with permission.
The opinions, views, and nonsense expressed in this show are those of the hosts only and do not represent any other people, organizations, or lifeforms.
All rights reserved, Interesting If True 2020.
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