I’m currently living in the setting of a real life comic book, and it’s freakin’ awesome.
As comic book fans, we are all familiar with the origin story of superheroes: Tragedy, discontentedness with crime, an intense urge to stomp out evil or right wrong. Super powers, insane wealth, a run in with a radioactive plant. There is always that moment of “will I use my abilities for good or evil?”… and then away we go.
A few years ago, it was a late night here in Seattle, WA… and a hero was born. Well, something akin to that. Basically, a buff guy who was a fan of superhero comics decided to don a crazy costume and start patrolling the streets of Seattle to keep mischief under control. He has an origin story that may or may not be true:
He dropped a friend off at the bar, saw a huge fight happening outside of the bar, went into his glove box for his phone to call 911 and saw he had a ski mask in there, put it on and broke up the fight. And that is how “Phoenix Jones” was born.
By day, he is a professional mixed martial arts fighter. By night, he brazenly walks the streets of Seattle in a olive and mustard colored costume perfectly contoured to his body, his posse in tow. His wife, Purple Reign, also oftentimes accompanies him on patrols (leaving their young son with a babysitter fit for superheroes, I’m sure).
Since the arrival of Phoenix Jones on the scene, an entire group was sprung up: The Rainy City Superheroes. They meet up, drink coffee, and talk about all the awesome crime they are going to eventually fight. Mostly, they just stand around on sidewalks as clubs are emptying out after last call, looking a mixture between ridiculous and fearsome. The cops are constantly annoyed with their meddling as they don’t have proper training, and none of them have really done a whole lot to assist anything, but at this point they have become such a commonplace sight to local Seattle-ites that it’s almost comforting to know they are there.
One of the vigilantes walked me to my car once after I was exiting a club, a long night of photographing drunk people behind me. He wordlessly nodded at me as he deposited me at the door of my Subaru. My heart skipped a beat – it was surreal. I felt like Mary Jane Watson.
The phenomenon is strange. This comic books to real life conversion has hit other major cities, but Seattle is really leading the charge. Perhaps it is our high concentration of geeks due to our technology based career options, but every time I see the Rainy City Superheroes there are more and more unfamiliar masked faces. I see them at superhero movie premieres, sipping coffee at Starbucks, and recently they even intervened during the May Day riots as people dressed in black smashed the windows of businesses.
Their fighting style is unique depending on the vigilante, but it generally involves pepper spray or martial arts. They are all obviously quick on their feet. They wear bulletproof vests.
I approached Phoenix Jones at a movie premiere once. I felt like Gwen Stacy, nervously twirling my hair. The line between reality and comic books were uncomfortably blurring as he stared at me intensely with his dark eyes. Meekly, I introduced myself, I told him what I do. He’d read ifanboy, and that made me giggle. I asked him if he would ever sit down with me for an interview, and he gave me the number of his agent in LA. A little thrown off, I nevertheless excused myself gracefully and enjoyed the movie.
I have been riveted to the Rainy City Superheroes since their uprising. They never do a whole lot, but they make themselves very accessible – live streaming their patrols, running popular twitters, granting interviews constantly to local outlets, etc. But their storyline was becoming… stagnant. I had heard their origin stories too much, didn’t really care much for the new faces, and I was so used to seeing them lurking in alleyways that I didn’t even get excited anymore.
And then yesterday, HE arrived: Rex Velvet.
A real life superVILLAIN.
And I am pretty damn excited.
Like a video that The Joker would make for Batman (but with much more lighthearted tones), Velvet introduced himself with this doozy of a line: “This video is an invitation for Phoenix Jones to unmask himself. All this play time needs to end.”
I felt my knees get weak just as I read that. As I watched the video, ripe with moustaches and bowler hats, I think I fell in love.
Since his appearance, my obsession with the Seattle comic book drama has intensified tenfold. I didn’t even make it to my local comic shop yesterday because I am so content with what is happening in real life around me that my thirst for new story lines was quenched considerably.
I’m just desperate for someone to genetically engineer super powers as soon as possible so this can become even more interesting. Until then, I am going to watch with bated breath as my fondest childhood desire becomes reality – I live in a world where comic books are real. Now if only Rex Velvet will take me on as his Harley Quinn-esque partner in crime/love interest, my life would be complete…
You can watch Rex Velvet’s video calling out Phoenix Jones here.
Molly McIsaac roams the streets of Seattle looking for masked vigilantes and villains, not trouble. If she could have any superpower, it would be the power of shapeshifting. Follow her weird and oftentimes hilarious rantings on twitter.