Salt Lake City: Red Voltage and two of his masked crime-fighting colleagues were approaching an intersection here in Utah’s capital on a recent evening, walking night patrol on foot, when a car suddenly slowed next to them. The night was bitterly cold, laced with a wispy stew of fog that might or might not conceal a thousand dangers. The car’s window rolled down.
“Hi, superheroes!” a woman shouted from within. “I’m in love with you guys!”
Eat your heart out, Batman. In a niche of urban life that has evolved in recent years somewhere between comic-book fantasy and the Boy Scout oath, a cadre of self-cast crusaders — some with capes, some without, all with something to prove — are on the march.
They prowl the night in Boston, in San Francisco, in Milwaukee, in Minneapolis, even as far away as Australia. Whether they are making the world safer or just weirder remains an open question.
Some go out armed with gear like mace, pepper spray or police batons; others say they carry only cellphones, aiming to be eyes and ears for the police, who in most cities, including Salt Lake City, are keeping a wary distance.
“We’re not endorsing them, supporting them, condemning them or anything else — we’re staying neutral and out of it,” said Detective Joshua Ashdown, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department. “The ones we endorse are the ones we have trained.”
Red Voltage, who in mild-mannered daytime life is a 23-year-old residential leasing manager named Roman Daniels, casually waved a gloved hand to his female drive-by fan. Clad head to toe in a red-and-black leather suit, his face covered by spandex, he is, he said, a different man when the mask goes on — a better man…
[continues in the New York Times]