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Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013

Costumed Activists, Caped Crime Fighters

Milwaukee author rides with the “Real-Life Superheroes”

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The superheroes are among us. Some patrol the dark streets of our town by night, others deliver toys to needy children by day. Real-life caped crusaders come in many costumes and with many agendas. The phenomenon is the subject of Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement by Milwaukee writer (and Shepherd Express contributor) Tea Krulos.

The archetypes go back to Robin Hood and gained imaginative force in the last century with Zorro and Batman. By the 1970s, intrepid costumed activists began to surface, leaving their mark on corporate malefactors. With the Internet, a network of influence sprang up as folks who fancy monogrammed tights began to find each other and form a loose “Real-life Supehero Movement”—even as some of the masked men (and women) reject joining any association. The subculture has manifested itself throughout urban America, including Milwaukee’s Riverwest.

After interviewing many of his subjects and accompanying several on their dawn patrols, Krulos finds that the assorted Mr. Silents, Dark Guardians and Watchmen fall into three broad categories. Some lend their gloved hands to charitable causes, others are spooky vigilantes spoiling for a fight, while others are costumed neighborhood watch patrols whose peculiar visibility might turn heads long enough to stop crime. Reporting from the front line, Krulos lets the stories speak for themselves. Readers, if so inclined, can supply the irony.

Krulos reads from Heroes in the Night at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, at Boswell Book Co., 2559 N. Downer Ave. The after party starts at 9 p.m. at Stonefly Brewery (735 E. Center St.), featuring a superhero costume contest, a silent auction to benefit HOPE (RLSH’s charity) and music by DJ Beta and Nineteen Thirteen.

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