It's a complaint heard daily in the big urban centres: There's never a superhero around when you need one. Despite what the movies tell us, no Caped Crusader flies over the city and peers into apartment buildings with his X-ray vision. Spider-Man has been noticeably absent from the walls of office towers, and if Wonder Woman and her golden lasso are flitting through the skies in her invisible plane, she's being awfully quiet about it. (Maybe she's leery of that X-ray vision.)
Yet word comes from New York of a group of ordinary people called Superheroes Anonymous, a name that suggests they know what they're doing. After all, superheroes have fought hard over the years to remain anonymous in their day jobs. The cleverest technique is to don a pair of glasses, which, if comic books are to be believed, so changes your appearance that even your closest friends no longer know who you are. (Chief enemy of the secret identity: contact lenses.)
The heroes assembled in New York fall into two groups, vigilantes and good neighbours. There's Street Hero, who wears a black mask and tall black boots to protect women with her martial-arts skills. Another hero, the Super, has the power to fix faucets and repair frayed wires. He wears a red cape, yellow shirt and white mask. According to The Associated Press, they were brought together by a filmmaker who read about their exploits on the website MySpace. Even in the superhero world, it pays to advertise.
Whether Superheroes Anonymous has any openings is unknown. Might there be a role for Flasherman, who could direct a super-scowl at cars that don't signal a left turn until the light turns green? How about Attentionwoman, who might lasso sales clerks who spend their time talking on the phone while customers stand and fume at the counter?
Since the superheroes were reluctant to divulge personal details about themselves, it's anyone's guess where they operate or what exactly they do. So play the odds. Next time there's trouble, call on someone wearing glasses.