Seattle is Becoming a Real Life Comic Book

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).


Phoenix Jones


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.


Purple Reign


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.


Rex Velvet


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.


  1. Fawk you’re so lucky to have vigilantes/heroes in your city! I live in Montreal and so far… all we got are lousy cops that are too quick to hit you with a stick during a protest or whatever…

    I must say I often thought (and I’m surely not the only one!) to become a vigilante myself, dress up and patrol the streets to protect the innocents. (Laugh all you want, I assume my fantasies!)

    But now a villain enters the scene… Wow! I’m convinced that in a near future, vigilantes and crooks will be more of a common sighting than now… and like you said, the day people will get “powers” or power-like enhancements, we’ll definitely get superheroes and supervillains!

    Thanks for the AWESOME article Molly!

  2. Where do these guys “patrol” (?) at because apparently I need to wander of the Hill one weekend and do some people watching.

  3. oh man. this will not end well.

  4. This. Is. Awesome.

  5. Want to break up the day to day patrolling of Seattle?
    Come to Chicago and walk around South Halsted on a warm Summer night around 11:00 PM.

    • No kinding!!!! Where are your super heroes now??!! I have lived in Chicago my whole life and that is just one of our finest areas (sarcasam), if these so called heroes are looking to battle with some evil do’ers Halsted is a great place to start and then for some more excitement, keep heading east or west from there and I am talking like in a ten miles radius you will find plenty of villians, thugs, drug dealers and much, much more!!
      I will say this, I admire them for the message they are hopefully trying to send! Or is it for fame and exposure, or just a silly little game, or another form of a gang; I guess we all will see soon enough.
      Good Luck Heores!!


    • wait… you mean like outside sidetracks or something?

    • Amen! Chicago has some places that seem more like suicide slum or crime alley than a neighborhood. I really wish we could have a phoenix jones or master legend for those parts. I condone their honorable crazy headed do-gooding ways.

  6. I guess this is going to devolve into a kind of internet-based pro-wrestling?

    There are just so many lucrative ideas floating around in my head right now!! Mind you; this is some funny azz shit, but there are some potentialy great business options here and I am going to capitalize on this starting tonight….MMMWWWAAAHHH-HAHAHA-HAHA-HA!!


    (Am I a Hero or Am I a Villian or maybe Both)

  8. “The people’s villain.” I like that.

  9. I always felt that the point of Watchmen was that a “realistic” world that results in the creation of superheroes is a dark & awful place to be. The emergence of masked vigilantes because of crime run amok & the failure of society to maintain law & order.

    Are we now living in that world?

  10. Okay…

    I keep reading stories where these guys are getting sued for pepper spraying people. I know this might be dumb, but what they are doing is illegal right? If they actually try to fight crime? Not just do a neighborhood watch type job in costume?

    • Vigilantism is, by definition, illegal. Taking the law into your own hands, that’s what it is. So yep, technically, they can be sued… Now if they’re really doing it to protect people that might be hurt, that’s, to my eyes, heroism…

    • Mostly what they do is report car jackings and make citizens arrests, which basically amounts to yelling at someone who is trying to steal a car “I’m calling the police!” and then standing there while they run away. A few times they’ve broken up fights with pepper spray but mostly it’s a lot of walking around and being a presence

    • The law (in Canada anyways) protects the crooks more than it protects the innocents…

      I could get sued/emprisonned for resisting a burglary if I hurt the person that’s doing the bad deed. As stupid as that my friend.

      Now, in the USA (the way I see it on TV anyways) you all got guns and if someone enters your house and you kill them, it’s your right to protect your property… Now here in Canada, I would probably do some jail time for doing that… (and we don’t have guns)

    • yep. i’m gonna go ahead and point out that the whole george zimmerman-trayvon martin debacle is superhero vigilantism taken to the logical extreme conclusion.

      now, before anyone starts typing: i get that both this post and phoenix jones/rex velvet are, by and large, for fun. i’m more pointing out my preference for superheros to remain something that exists in fiction only. sorry i’m being heavy. end diatribe.

    • a lot of us have guns. not everyone, though.
      there have been cases in certain states of burglars suing homeowners for shooting them and winning. not many. but some.
      i guess if you’re gonna shoot someone in your house, you’d better kill’em.

  11. I know I’m not the smartest man in the world, but this article is kind of just goofing around with the whole premise, right? Law enforcement and community watch groups are what we have and even then things can go wrong. I’m not sure how costumes will make things better. I just don’t see it.

  12. Have any of you seen that recent HBO Documentary film called “Superheroes”? Its kind of interesting and sad, but showing the rise of the real life superhero movement all over the country. Their hearts

    this whole movement kinda reminds me of the “Guardian Angels” back east….except a lot less intimidating and effective.

    • I was actually going to mention this. Awesome documentary, sad, uplifting and awesome at the same time. Covered a bit of the Seattle guys, but the NY superheros looked awesome. they had a cool name too, something syndicate? I can’t remember, need to watch this again.

      I live in San diego, and there is a group here and a few solo guys. But they have a scene in the doc during comic con, where this group of self proclaimed superheros goes to Bumville in Downtown SD, not far from the convention center and give out water and food to the homeless. They did this instead of going to the con, thats dedication. Interesting stuff for sure.

    • the sad thing about these fake-ster “heroes” from my POV is that we can kinda of see it ending badly for all of them at some point. Getting themselves into a dangerous situation, or making a mistake that hurts someone. Passion, angst and a costume is a very weak replacement for the training and accountability of actual law enforcement.

    • I was actually lucky enough to be at the premiere of this film at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2011. The film’s directors and Mr. Xtreme and Zimmer were both there to answer questions after the film and both seemed like very nice, normal, and well meaning people. I didn’t think the film was sad at all. Most of the ‘superheroes’ were really just doing local community work and I thought that was great. Very few if any were doing what could be catoregorized as actual ‘crime fighting.’ I haven’t seen the film since HBO purchased it so they could very likely have made changes to it, but I found the version I saw to be uplifting.

  13. Here’s a video of our local boy scout in black defending the courthouse from a group of anarchist during a riot on May 1st.

  14. This also reminds me of how a real life Batman Incorporated is starting because several people have crudely dressed up as Batman across the planet to also be involved with protecting people.

    I find this absolutely fascinating and I can’t believe how big it’s gotten over in Seattle. I had no idea Phoenix Jones had a wife AND her name is Purple Reign. They seriously need to turn this into a movie pronto….Also, not a fan of the handlebar mustache on Rex there. I love handlebar mustaches but it’s too silly for me here.

  15. Eh. He’s alright, but I could be a better supervillain that that guy.

    In fact…

  16. I want to see someone patrol the streets and actually keep his Identity secret. Is this even possible? Would you constantly have to evade police? I know Pheonix Jones was arrested for that pepper spray incident.

  17. Here’s a link to The Music Video for Phoenix’s Jones Theme Song by Quickie.

  18. Rex is just a performance artist trying to get his 15 minutes, by piggybacking off of Phoenix’s fame. I would say that he’d be gone within a week or two, but knowing the type, he’ll keep milking the character as long as it pulls views.

    Meanwhile, our heroes have their own PR department and right now Purple Reign is doing an awareness and fundraising campaign for victims of domestic abuse. Check out her site and click on the Live Action Super Heroes tab to see videos of their actual patrols taken from a chest mounted camera.

  19. Here is the way it should be done if we are doing the true Super hero thing right??:
    Do not reveal you secret identity to anyone and don’t stick around long enough to be caught in the act. When you tell everyone who youa are you leave yourself and your loved ones around you in severe danger and you make it seem like you really are only in it for the attention and the possible pat on the back. I have to be honest vigilantisum (spelling I know), probably not the best thing in the world however; it may be the way we are headed in this world. Someone needs to stand up and say this is enough, unfortunately we are not indestructable and more powerful than a.. you get the idea. I would do the vigilanty thing for real if I could have the protection, resources and training the fictional Bruce Wayne has had. If I werand alien from another world with god like powers I would definitly end all nuclear threat and then destory all drug trafficing to start. Would that then also be vigilantisum, a hostile take over, or what??
    Anyway, this is a fun little article and very imaginatively, stimulating and kinda of heart warming from Molly’s point of view. All of us read comics and at some point in time wished we could see, meet or even be one of these fictional characters. Believe it or not I bet there humans out there that would even like to be one of those villians believe it or not?! It is simply in our nature and that’s the only sad part and thats why there will always be the battle of good vs evil in our everyday lives witch are not as entertaining as these here fictional lives that we delve (do not know if that is the right spelling and I hope everyone gets what I meant), into just to get away from our rather insane high risk already kind of lives good or bad.
    Molly thanks for the update on the Seattle scene and this very unique take on it, very inspiring to the imagination.


  20. No, fuck these real life superheroes. Fuck them hard. I’m tired of everyone in the comic book community jerking these guys off because they’re in love with the idea of there being real life superheroes. There was a “superhero” named BeeSting that nearly shot a guy in a scuffle because the guy’s motorcycle was too loud. Phoenix Jones assaulted a group of people that were dancing. Then there’s Jones’ friend, Midnight Jack, the peppered sprayed a group of protesters at the MayDay protest. This is all stupid.

    • @JosephDanielsTCR7 – Then there is your point of view, and I never really thought of that and by no means am I praising any of these so called heroes. I see what your point of view and for most of these individuals like you explain could actually be considered the villians or at least intaginists or lackies for some other wrong doings that this is distracting people from seeing. Sounds to me like you know some of these individuals very well and has had a direct effect on you. So with that said I was only speaking in a more imaginative sense and not really giving any real creditability to these clowns.


    • Judging from the videos I saw, I want to high five Midnight Jack so hard that my hand explodes and I have to have it replaced with a robot hand. Fuck those people. Scum of the earth.

    • I bet if you had a robot hand, they’d let you join. That would be boss.

  21. Oh and would’nt the police just go to Phoenix Jone’s residence and arrest him??


  22. Seems simply like a new way for desperate people to grab onto a little piece of fame.

  23. I think this is all interesting, but can we really call them superheros? or Vigilantes? I wonder if any of these guys have the time, money and commitment to do real police work for free. Until they become more proactive if their search for crime(go after known drug dealer or something like that), I can’t call them superheros or vigilantes. Just a glorified Neighborhood watch, but thats also needed.

  24. You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
    All right, all right

    HUH?? HUH??


  25. Back in the real world, Seattle just had a spell of Anarchist/Occupy riots in which cars were burned, non-corporate property was damaged for no reason, and any sort of political message was lost long ago.

    Where were these real superheroes then? Because I’m pretty sure some of them would have intervened, maybe protected a few innocent people’s private property, and maybe even protected a peaceful protester should one of the cops gotten a little too rough.

    Frankly, I think this “real life comic book heroes” thing is a disgraceful farce. People are living in a fantasy world, pretending to be “real heroes”, and meanwhile their actual society is disintegrating before their eyes.

    How much unreality can people stomach? This is no different than little kids running around with capes on. I’m supposed to think this is new and different and awesome? It’s pathetic. It’s nothing more than overgrown babies who haven’t grown up. To think that this is “real” in any way is ludicrous. You have to life off of media hype to even entertain this silly stuff.

    There is a real world out there. There are everyday “heroes” trying to get by, trying not to lose their jobs, trying not to let the government take away their rights, trying not to lose personal relationships due to the stress of urban life. And then there are people lost in media simulacrum who think everything is funny and fine.

  26. This is all very, very disturbing. Not so much the villain stuff, that looks like it’s all tongue and cheek, but the concept of costumed vigilantes running around a major city trying to “fight” crime. I read superhero stories as a form of escapist entertainment and strongly object to the concept of individuals taking the law into their own hands in real life, whether they wear a costume or not. Law enforcement should be the responsbility of trained individuals who are accountable to the public, not yahoos in a mask. Neighbourhood watches should be organized and sanctioned by the police department. While superheroes in comic books are (usually) morally infallible and uber-competent, real people are not. I hope the people described in this article smarten up before they hurt themselves or someone else.

    That being said I understand there have been, for a while, a numer of individuals who dress up as superheroes to raise awareness of various social issues and charitable endeavours. Perhapes this would be a more constructive use of the time and effort of people who feel they need to dress up and make the world a better place.

    Also: Is Seattle really very crime ridden. I’ve never visited/lived their but I get the impression it has a pretty low crime rate.

    • Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      Seattle is a mess lately. I moved out of the heart of Seattle because my car was stolen, broken into twice, apartment broken into, mailbox broken into. I was scared to walk at night because there are so many mentally disturbed homeless people here.

    • Oh I am sorry to hear that.

  27. “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…” And they’re wearing hockey pads.

  28. Yep, downtown and Belltown are a mess. Record number of shootings already this year, and gang numbers are reaching a very scary level. I moved out of downtown a few years ago cuz it was just getting too crazy.

    And everybody hating on Phoenix needs to relax. He’s brought some people to justice who deserved it. Find something a little more worthwhile to bitch about.