The Desert of the Reals

(OR, “I was Watching the Watchmen, I swear, but then I looked away and missed them.”)

Sunday Times (UK):

Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US

There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies. They may look wacky, but the superhero community was born in the embers of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when ordinary people wanted to do something short of enlisting. … In recent weeks, prompted by heady buzz words such as “active citizenry” during the Barack Obama campaign, the pace of enrolment has speeded up. Up to 20 new “Reals”, as they call themselves, have materialised in the past month.

… Mr. Invisible is cheered that at least his grey one-piece “invisibility suit” works, proven when a drunk urinated on him in an alley. [more]

Bonus link, for those of you who have kids haven’t seen it yet: what I assume are the best five minutes of Watchmen. A little found history, a little alternate history, a little Dylan. What more do you need?

Edited to add: Hat tip to my man in Tel Aviv, Dotan. And I hope it’s clear that this is part of a well-established genre of “those wacky Americans” stories which should generally be read with salt shaker at the ready.


  1. Watchmen was very good, still have yet to read the book. Wacky ‘mericans is right, I think we should have more Sheriffs, someone local who’s an active citizen. How real are these Reals, anyway?

  2. The Watchmen opening credits montage (establishing the alternative 1940-1985) is fun, and the movie is actually a lot better than I expected from some reviews. It is quite successful when it sticks to the violence, much less so in the character development arena, and downright creaky when it tries to do exposition. And the Times article on the Reals — like you don’t have wacky weirdos in Britain?

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