Get ready for a new kind of hero...the really laughable kind. By day he's 23 year old Benjamin Fodor - husband and father. By night he's Phoenix Jones, the leader of Seattle's growing superhero community. Yes, that's right, Seattle has a real world equivalent of the Justice League, the Rain City Superhero Movement, and they actually try to fight crime. Sometimes they end up on the wrong side of the law. Fodor was recently arrested after allegedly breaking up a fight using pepper spray, perhaps injuring bystanders. The incident was caught on tape, as was his dramatic unmasking at the court house during his preliminary trial appearance. Watch both videos below. Phoenix Jones may have his heart in the right place, but these costumed antics are more hilarious than heroic:
Here's local news coverage of Fodor's arrest and unmasking:
And the uncut footage of Fodor as Phoenix Jones, shot by Ryan McNamee, who has been following the Seattle superhero team for the past eight months:
Look, as strange and laughable as the incident above may be, I don't want to make fun of Phoenix Jones. Partly because he's a huge dude with an impressive record as a mixed martial artist, but mostly because wanting to help people isn't silly. Dressing up in a costume however... it just strikes me as an immature way to handle the problems in the world. But I'll let you judge for yourself as to whether Fodor's heart and fists are in the right place. He recently gave a really in depth interview to Ken Goldstein at WizardWorld. You can see part of that interview in the following video:
Fodor is just one of many "real life super heroes", including the rest of the Rain City Superhero Movement. (By the way, that group includes Fodor's wife, known as Purple Reign). As well-intentioned as modern super heroes may be there's really just one thing I take away from the whole Phoenix Jones phenomenon: our modern world allows for some pretty crazy sh*t.
We're probably going to enable a lot more soon. See, while it may not play a huge role in the creation of Phoenix Jones, technology is getting ready to create the potential for many more real world superheroes. Fodor uses some sort of body armor and stab-plating, as well as non-lethal spray. The quality and civilian availability of those devices has increased dramatically in the past decade. But that's just the beginning. We've seen aerial drones enter the commercial market, many with military level capabilities. Police are about to have access to new versions of these flying robots that can launch tasers to stun suspects. Civilian use probably isn't far behind, especially as do it yourself projects in the field are plentiful. Is Drone Man or the Drone Commander going to start patrolling our streets soon? Well, civilian border patrol groups already use the devices. Then there's exoskeletons which can enhance a person's strength and stamina. Military versions are being tested and commercial units are already in the field. Exo-Man is coming! What about the superhero that wants to take down organized crime more stealthily? Cheap and high quality spy glasses will allow that undercover vigilante to instantly broadcast what they observe to the net in real time.
The list goes on. People like Fodor may not need much beyond their own convictions to enable them to fight crime, but technology doesn't hurt either. As we see more and more sophisticated devices available for public consumption, rest assured we'll see more vigilantes using them as well. Is that sad, funny, or heroic?