Zombies, monsters and superheroes have left the woodwork

Actors appear as zombies on the set of "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" on Feb. 2, 2012, in Savannah, Ga. (Richard Burkhart / Savannah Morning News, Associated Press)

There never has been a better time than now to be a zombie. Or a vampire. Or a superhero.
And it has zero to do with Halloween creeping up.
These characters provide us with an alternative from a world consumed by real-life monsters in the form of recession, war, disease and feuding politicians.
I played a zombie once — by accident. I smacked the corner of a wall and split my head open at my grandparents’ house while frantically running away from the TV the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video in the mid-1980s. The injury has long since healed (its effects are debatable), but other zombies live on.
Don’t believe me? On Sunday night, AMC’s hit, zombie-covered TV show “The Walking Dead” set record viewership numbers in its season-two debut. This comes off the heels of movies such as “Zombieland” and “Shaun of the Dead” in recent years, zombie walks in Duluth and zombie pub crawls in the Twin Cities and all over the country.
And the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Duluth even has a “Teen Paranormal Romance” section.
Then there are vampires. They may lack exposure to sunlight, but they’ve seen plenty of the spotlight.
The fourth installment of “The Twilight Saga,” movies and books (there’s your “Teen Paranormal Romance”) for fans of the sensitive vampire, hits theaters in a month. This year also gave us the movies “Priest” and “Fright Night.” And TV shows “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural” have capitalized on the craze, too.
MTV has a show called “Teen Wolf,” but there are no zombies or vampires, and there’s not even a trace of a basketball-playing Michael J. Fox. You can imagine how disappointed I was upon hearing that news.
The zombies and vampires may meet their match in a new collection of superheroes — or more accurately, superhero wannabes.
Benjamin Fodor, who wears a bodysuit that would make Batman blush and goes by the handle Phoenix Jones, was arrested in Seattle recently after he covered a group of people with pepper spray in what he says was an attempt to break up a fight, the Associated Press reported. He’s one of a growing number of costumed vigilantes popping up; the website reallifesuperheroes.org lists 660 members.
“With the current economic state, people are getting into easy, inexpensive escapes,” said Josh Allen of Duluth’s Dragon Port Games & Comics. “Exactly why? The geek thing became cool.”
Certainly cooler than terrorism and cancer.

Jimmy Bellamy is a multimedia editor at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. Contact him at (218) 723-5390 or jbellamy@duluthnews.com. This column originally appeared here.