Move over, Watchmen. A real-life collective of costumed superheroes has taken to the streets of Seattle to fight for law and order. The Rain City Superhero Movement prowls the city late at night performing good deeds. But Seattle police worry that the amateur crime fighters could end up being seriously injured. Here's a quick guide to what the caped vigilantes are doing:
Who are these masked men and women?
Seattle investigators have identified nine costumed individuals: Buster Doe, Catastrophe, Gemini, Green Reaper, No Name, Penelope, Phoenix Jones the Guardian of Seattle, Thorn, and Thunder 88. Phoenix Jones, a 22-year-old man who patrols the street in a black cape, fedora, white belt, and mask, revealed his real identity to Seattle police in early November. He is normally driven around by a woman who, wearing no costume, stays in the car while he performs his superhero duties. "So far, no confirmation if this is actually his mom," says Alison Nastasi at Cinematical.
What do they do?
For the most part, they appear to drive around the city looking for fights to stop. One pair of "heroes" wearing ski masks was spotted in a parked Kia Fate that was later traced to the godmother of one of the "characters." Another group of vigilantes were discovered by police "dealing with" an angry, golf-club-wielding man. The cops confiscated the club, but none of the anonymous superheroes wanted to press charges for fear of being identified.
Do they have any formal training?
"Everyone on my team either has a military background or a mixed martial arts background," the man known as Phoenix Jones told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "We're well aware of what it costs to do what we do." Jones told police he regularly wears body armor and a bulletproof vest when patrolling the streets. Other members of the "Movement" carry Tasers, nightsticks, and pepper spray. They say they do not carry guns.
What do the police think?
"Seattle police think they're silly at best, dangerous at worst," says Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. One masked vigilante was almost shot by cops after running out of a darkened park, for example. Police say they would rather the costumed avengers help testify against criminals than put themselves in danger.
How do they find out about crimes?
That remains a mystery, says Cartier at Seattle Weekly. "They may have police scanners, they may have inside sources, or simply Internet access to the SPD police blog." What they don't have, yet, is a "skyward pointed spotlight of any kind."
Who are they?
No one knows, but it hasn't stopped some Seattle types from guessing. Like Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), "could the men behind the masks be local Seattle millionaires?" wonders the Belltown Blogger. "It's interesting to imagine Bill Gates or Paul Allen doling out a bit of vigilante justice in our neighborhood."