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Book Review: Heroes in the Night

Heroes-in-the-Night_lgHeroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement

Tea Krulos, 288 pgs, Chicago Review Press, chicagoreviewpress.com, $18.95 CAN

Forget Kick Ass: superheroes are real.

Since the mid-1970s and beyond, ordinary citizens around the world have been donning capes and wearing their underwear on the outside in the name of making their neighbourhoods better places to live. Some limit their activities to homeless outreach and reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities, while others fight crime just like the comic book heroes that inspired them.

Though real-life superheroes have often been maligned in print and mocked on the six o’clock news, Milwaukee-based freelance journalist Tea Krulos has produced the first serious, definitive analysis on this quirky community.

He traces the beginning of the real-life superhero movement back to the 1970s, travels across North America embedding himself on patrol with its stalwarts, uncovers a sub-community of real-life super-villains, reveals the real-life superheroes that exist around the world and finds himself at the centre of a controversial incident that questions the need for real-life costumed do-gooders at all.

Of course, there’s always a lingering question: Should real-life superheroes really be confronting criminal activity head-on, or should their activities be limited to a glorified neighbourhood watch? In a completely objective, serious and respectful look at this subculture, Krulos not only raises this question, but shows readers the outcome of both approaches. He also offers various portraits of the psychology behind what it is that compels a person to put on a homemade superhero costume, create a gimmick, and try to make their world a better place.

While there are many articles and TV news stories on the real-life superhero phenomenon, this is the only book-length examination of the community told from the inside. Krulos does such a masterful job of examining every nook and cranny of this movement that there doesn’t really need to be another one.

From Broken Pencil 63

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