Friday, January 10, 2014

Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement by Tea Krulos | Book Review

Heroes in the Night is about the Real Life Superhero (RLSH) movement.  The author has a blog by the same name, where he keeps up with the activities of RLSH, especially the few in his hometown of Milwaukee, WI.  The RLSH movement is mostly what you'd expect:  older teens and adults who create superhero personas and outfits and spend their nights roaming city streets, looking to aid anyone in distress.  This could involve assisting someone who's had a few too many into a cab for a safe journey home or actually helping break up fistfights.  I was relieved to find out that most RLSH carry no weapons and have no hesitation in calling 911 for professional back-up.

I also found it really interesting to hear about all the community service that most of the RLSH do; most are involved in raising money and awareness for children's or homeless or battered women's charities.  Isn't that the perfect pairing?

This book, however, failed to grab me for two reasons:  first, I didn't get the layout of the chapters.  The book really seemed to jump rather quickly from topic to topic.  It wasn't organized by geographic location, activity (vigilantism vs. charitable work), or time.  There were very few "characters" who persisted throughout the book, and they weren't enough to carry it.  I think this book would've benefited from having at least one unifying subject.  Or having been presented in chronological order?  I don't know.  I felt lost.

Second, I couldn't get past the idea that these were ADULTS, mostly men, running around major American cities late at night in full superhero costumes, including full-face masks.  Personally, I'd be scared witless if a large man in full body armor or a trench coat (the two most popular outfits, according to this book) and a ski mask/full face mask/head stocking approached me.  It's no wonder some of these guys have frequent run-ins with cops!  Am I the only one?  I can't be the only one.  These aren't outfits like in the movies; these are definitely homemade.  I'd be terrified.

Finally, I wish there were more pictures.  For such a "colorful" (literally and metaphorically) cast of people I'd have loved to see this book presented with a lot more full-color pictures.  Most of the pictures were tiny (about 2"x2") and black-and-white; there were only a few pages of full-color photos in the centerfold.  Heck, it might've worked for the author to present his information in graphic novel format!

(Psst... Want to see one of these guys?  Here you go:  this is Geist, a Real Life Superhero.)

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