The astounding adventures of the Wall Creeper, Colorado's own superhero

See photos of crime fighters around the world at westword.com/slideshow. Also, on the Latest Word blog, find a super discussion of Watchmen and a Q&A with a local supervillain.

You don't exist. You think nothing, you feel nothing, you are nothing. That's the secret to becoming invisible, to becoming the Wall Creeper.

And he is surely invisible tonight. No one notices as the lean nineteen-year-old makes his way across Civic Center Park and up the granite front steps of the State Capitol. He's just another night prowler, bundled up against the cold in a black leather jacket.

Probably no one would pay attention even if he were wearing his full battle suit: The Kevlar composite vest, the blunt-trauma pads strapped to his martial arts-toned arms and legs, the custom-designed full-face covering purchased from Hero-Gear.net. Most people go through life in a stupor. It's like what Master Legend — who's been battling Florida evildoers for more than a quarter-century — says: "It's not that a man becomes invisible; it's just that a man becomes invisible to everybody else. If you are an outcast that nobody cares about, no one notices you."

In other words, people don't see what they don't expect — and no one expects to see somebody like the Wall Creeper, a flesh-and-blood superhero.

Nevertheless, the Wall Creeper can't risk wearing his battle suit. Not tonight, his first Denver patrol. He doesn't yet know the city like he knows the Colorado mountain towns and rural communities he's spent three years patrolling. Until he finds his footing here, there's no need to attract attention. So all he carries, folded and tucked in his breast pocket, is the most important piece: the black mask he places over his mouth and nose like some terrible demon beak. It's inscribed with an ornate "W" intertwined with a serpent-like "C" — the insignia of the Wall Creeper.

He paces at the foot of the Capitol building, waiting for his colleague Zen Blade to arrive. He's edgy, too distracted by his nerves to scope out nearby walls and obstacles for footholds in case he needs to wall-creep to a good vantage point or escape route. He's never met the Aurora crime fighter who wears a triple-crescent logo on his chest and knit cap, along with aviator-style goggles, but from what he's learned of him online, the two have much in common. That's why he contacted Zen Blade and suggested they meet up tonight, to join forces as they prowl the streets.

While the Wall Creeper waits, the city below him seethes. Somewhere nearby, a siren wails. In the shadows of Civic Center Park, a group of men holler and tussle. Maybe they're playing around, maybe not. On the side of the Denver Newspaper Agency building, the block-long LCD news display scrolls through its never-ending inventory of despair. Drug dealers. Rapists. Pedophiles.

To the Wall Creeper, it seems that with each passing moment the world is getting worse, the shadows deepening, the hands ticking closer to midnight. That's why he's taking a stand, hopefully before it's too late. He'll stand guard, never resting, as it is written in Isaiah 62:6: "I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem. They will never be silent day or night. Whoever calls on the Lord, do not give yourselves any rest, and do not give him any rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it an object of praise throughout the earth."

A man in a black leather coat approaches. "Waiting for someone?" he asks.

"Zen Blade?" responds the Wall Creeper, extending a hand. Zen Blade, several years older and bulkier than Wall Creeper, left his suit at home, too, but is nonetheless ready to patrol. "Let's go," he says.

The night awaits.

Nobody knows my whole story," the Wall Creeper says when he first consents to an interview. "Most nineteen-year-olds are just trying to get lucky and get drunk. I want to save the world. It's taken over my life, and I'm happy with that." But people need to know he's not just some vigilante or costumed weirdo, he explains. (And, to be clear, he prefers to be called a crime fighter, not a defender, warrior or costumed activist. Worst of the bunch, he says, is probably "real-life superhero." After all, no one would say "real-life police officer.")

"My greatest desire is to aid the police in stopping crime in this great city," he writes in an e-mail. "Every fiber of my being wants to patrol, to aid, to help the citizens of this city, and the real heroes, the police and firemen, in Denver."

To explain why, he agrees to meet — under strict and secretive conditions. He'll only show up at a public, neutral location — a quiet park in a metro-area suburb near where he's been patrolling the past few months or, on cold days, in a nearby chain restaurant. He wears unremarkable civilian clothes over his lithe physique, and there's none of the swagger or eagerness of other guys his age. Smiles, for example, are few and far between. He's the type who blends into a crowd, the last one anyone would expect to be rounding up villains or crushing crime syndicates.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner