Superheroes in Real Life - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul):
"Geist's breath fogs the winter air as he surveys the frozen Minneapolis skyline, searching for signs of trouble. His long duster flaps in the breeze as his eyes flick behind reflective sunglasses; a wide-brim hat and green iridescent mask shroud his identity from those who might wish him harm.
Should a villain attack, the Emerald Enforcer carries a small arsenal to defend himself: smoke grenades, pepper spray, a slingshot, and a pair of six-inch fighting sticks tucked into sturdy leather boots. Leather guards protect Geist's arms; his signature weapon, an Argentinean cattle-snare called bolos, hangs from a belt-holster.
...Finally, his destination is in sight: People Serving People, a local homeless shelter. Geist strides boldly into the lobby—a cramped, noisy room where kids and adults mill about chatting—and heaves his stuffed paper bags onto the counter. "I have some groceries to donate," he tells Dean, the blond-bearded security guard on duty, whose placid expression suggests superheroes pop in on a regular basis. "And I have an hour on the meter if there's anything I can do to help out."
...Such is the life of Minnesota's only superhero—a man in his mid-40s who sold off his comic book collection to fund a dream borne of those very pages. Unlike his fictional inspirations, he hasn't yet found any villains to apprehend in Rochester, a sleepy city of 95,000 about 80 miles south of Minneapolis. But that doesn't mean he's wasting his time, he says. "When you put on this costume and you do something for someone, it's like, 'Wow, I am being a hero,' and that is a great feeling."
BY MOST OBSERVERS' RECKONING, between 150 and 200 real-life superheroes, or "Reals" as some call themselves, operate in the United States, with another 50 or so donning the cowl internationally. These crusaders range in age from 15 to 50 and patrol cities from Indianapolis to Cambridgeshire, England. They create heroic identities with names like Black Arrow, Green Scorpion, and Mr. Silent, and wear bright Superman spandex or black ninja suits. Almost all share two traits in common: a love of comic books and a desire to improve their communities.
...Most Reals use a combination of martial arts and weaponry. The Eye is a 49-year-old crimebuster from Mountain View, California, who wears a Green Hornet-inspired fedora and trench coat. Though he focuses mainly on detective work and crime-tip reporting, he prepares himself for hand-to-hand combat by studying kung fu and wielding an arsenal of light-based weapons designed to dazzle enemies.
"In movies, a ninja will have some powder or smoke to throw at you to distract," he explains. "That's essentially what I'm trying to do."
...For sheer investment in gadgetry, none top Superhero, an ex-Navy powerlifter from Clearwater, Florida. His patrol vehicle is a burgundy 1975 Corvette Stingray with a souped-up 425-horsepower engine. He wears a flight helmet installed with a police scanner and video camera, and carries an extendable Cobra tactical baton, a flash gun, sonic grenades, and a canister of bear mace. Topping off the one-man armory is an Arma 100 stun cannon, a 37mm nitrogen-powered projectile device. His ammo of choice? Sandwiches. "Nothing stops them in their tracks like peanut butter and jelly," he explains in a video demonstration posted online."