Over the course of writing about Real Life Superheroes, one of the most interesting things has been to see all sorts of different kinds of people interpreting their superhero personas around the world.
It’s not surprising to hear about people doing this in New York City, the backdrop for so many comic books.
But Spearfish, North Dakota? Hong Kong? Helsinki?
There are superheroes patrolling some unlikely places.
The RLSH I’ve spoken to furthest North is Polar Man of Iqaluit(Latitude: 63 degrees, 44’55”N) in Canada and the furthest point South would be Captain Australia of Brisbane(Latitude: 27 degrees,28’04”S).
People always want to know how many RLSH are out there, but getting an accurate census is a very difficult task. New RLSH are appearing all the time, established one are disappearing. Sometimes they disappear for awhile and then reappear. Sometimes they change their name, and sometimes change it several times.
It also difficult to decide who to count as “active.” I generally don’t like to write much about a RLSH unless there is something that points to the fact that they actually are active- photos, video, media, reports that they were part of a group meet up, etc. There have been many cases where an online profile was set up just out of the person’s boredom or just to goof around.
To help get a general idea of who is out there and how many, let’s take a trip through the continents.
AFRICA and ASIA
There are really no known cases. I heard a rumor there was a RLSH in Africa, but haven’t seen anything to confirm. Red Arrow is from Hong Kong and did good deeds like handing out toys to poor children around Christmas, giving directions, and even shielding pedestrians with an umbrella in rainy weather. He moved to Great Britain.
The closest thing to RLSHs are the “local heroes” of Japan. These heroes are created by companies or local government for martial art shows and stage shows designed to teach children lessons. Most are only known in the local area they live in, but some have become nationally famous.
Chojin Neiger, for example, has a typical Japanese space robot look and has spawned comic books, radio and television programs, and a series of original songs.
|Chojin Neiger is a popular example of what are called “local heroes” in Japan|
The aforementioned Captain Australia is the lone bloke down under. I had some contact with a fellow named Shadow Wolf from the Melbourne region, but I believe he has disappeared. I vaguely remember a New Zealand hero who was hanging around online briefly.
|Captain Australia is the lone superhero of Down Under|
After the United States and Canada, the country with the most RLSH is Great Britain. There were at least a dozen or so that I’ve run across. I exchanged a few e-mails with The Statesman who organized a few London meet ups.
Italy also has a RLSH scene, led mostly by Entomo, the Insect Man.
He formed a league of Italian RLSH called Rivendicatori (Vindicators). Other RLSH can be found in odd corners of Europe- Laserskater of Helsinki patrols via rollerblades, the H-less Gost Face patrols Holland, there is a RLSH of France named Le Vigilant.
There was one RLSH of Argentina named NN, and at least a few in Brazil. Brazil also had a group that was doing a sort of “superhero performance art” that were called Herois do Cotidiano (Everyday Heroes), which I profiled on the Heroes in the Night blog HERE.
Mexico City had a “social luchador” movement that started with a guy called Super Barrio and soon similar characters were joining him.
|Super Barrio and others like him referred to themselves as “social luchadors” in Mexico City|
These guys used their luchador costumes to draw attention to social issues- workers and housing rights, animal rights, the environment, and violence against homosexuals. The only RLSH currently active in Mexico that I can think of is a newbie named Vampireto! (exclamation mark included).
On the top side, Canada has a good number of RLSH coast to coast, from Vancouver to Saskatoon to Calgary to Toronto. I would estimate maybe 12-20 active RLSH.
That leaves the USA. A good way to try to do a head count is to look at the active teams. As I described in a previous FOG! column, there are several RLSH teams in New York, Florida, the Midwest, Salt Lake City, Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest and of course many individuals here and there in between.
A very rough estimate- 200 minimum in the USA, with many of those semi active, maximum 400, with an additional 50-75 worldwide from other countries. Whether this is a growing or shrinking number is also debatable, as new people are signing up all the time, but others are disappearing.
I do believe the number is continuing to grow and will continue to for some time.