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The Dark Ghost is out there. Meet him here.
I LOVE COMIC BOOKS. GROWING UP, I WANTED TO be Spider-Man. For me, “With great power comes great responsibility” isn’t just a tagline in a movie; it’s honestly how I try to live my life.
So in 1977, when Marvel Comics proclaimed that there was a REAL LIFE SUPER HERO out there, I was thrilled. Maybe even I could be a super hero!
Unfortunately, that “hero,” who called himself “The Human Fly,” turned out to be a stuntman (Rick Rojatt) that liked to ride jumbo jets (on the outside) and free-climb on things. Marvel was just capitalizing on his fame to sell comics.
Fast forward a few years, and there begin to be unsubstantiated reports of “Real Life Super Heroes” (RLSH). But these aren’t stuntmen or actors out to make a buck; they’re normal folks who put on costumes (usually modeled on their favorite comic book hero) and go out to actually fight crime and help the helpless in their neighborhoods. As the years went by, their numbers slowly climbed. There are now dozens around the country.
Initially, they were a curiosity. The media ate it up and the police repeatedly warned them not to intervene in “real” crime. With the arrival of the internet and social media, their numbers exploded. We’ve even got a couple right of RLSHs right here.
“Dark Ghost” has been operating in Chattanooga since 2010. When I meet him at Coolidge Park, one of the many places he patrols, late one night for this interview, he’s accompanied by Chattanooga’s other RLSH, the “Mystery Man.” As Dark Ghost approaches, the first thing I notice is that he’s a big guy. Not fat—big. And even though he’s dressed head-to-toe in black, complete with trench coat, fedora and a full-face mask, he moves in a way that it’s easy to tell he’s in the kind of shape that most of us aging comic nerds can only dream about.
The only weapon he carries seems to be a very stylish walking cane. Still, his overall look is very familiar to me…
The Pulse: Rorschach of the “Watchmen” seems to be your inspiration.
Dark Ghost: Well, it’s a bit of him and a bit of “Vic Sage,” aka “The Question.”
TP: What event in your life led you to this?
DG: Like most comic nerds, I’m sure you were probably bullied because you were a comic nerd growing up, I got tired of being bullied, so I started standing up for myself. I saw other kids getting bullied and it just got to where I couldn’t stand by and let it happen. The teachers, the staff of the school weren’t doing anything to stop it. So I decided to stand up to the bullies for those that couldn’t stand up for themselves. And it evolved into what you see tonight.
TP: But was there any one thing though, later in life, that made you put on the outfit?
DG: My niece, when she was three, she was a victim of child molestation, by her grandpa on her daddy’s side. He got away scot-free. And I had a bit of a moment [with him], that I’m not going to describe, but he left the state because of that.
TP: Since you mentioned family, does anyone in your family, or friends, know about this?
DG: (points to Mystery Man) I’ve known this gentleman since kindergarten. And my grandmother knows.
TP: Vigilantes are romanticized in comics, but not so much here on “Earth-Prime.” What sort of reactions have you gotten from the people you’ve actually helped?