There are two sides to the mask—and Death’s Head Moth lives them both, working as a costumed and civilian activist in and around one of Virginia’s largest metropolitan areas. But whether he’s aggressively confronting perpetrators of violent crimes or looking in on children in local hospitals, this dual-lived hero believes one thing with all his heart: “There is no sanction for evil. And the one weapon necessary to defend against it, is justice.”
Introduced to the online community of Real Life Superheroes by a friend four years ago, his initial reaction was more than a little skeptical. “I read this article about these guys and I thought the same thing as everyone else, ‘These guys are gonna get shot.’ But the idea got planted in my head, and I thought ‘what if… what if. And if something were to happen—worst case—I have a mask on, and no one would know who I was.’ So I decided to give it a shot.” And after putting himself back into training, leaning down to bulk up, refining his martial arts skills, and creating a distinctive persona capped by an arresting, signature mask, he felt he was ready to try.
“You don’t have to have a crazy ‘origin story’ to realize that some things are wrong and shouldn’t be allowed,” he states. And to that end, Death’s Head Moth appears out of the shadows, masked and forbidding, a strikingly intense presence in an equally intense pursuit against those who would commit rape, robbery and malicious vandalism. “People shouldn’t be allowed to perpetrate evil against each other unchecked,” he says. And so, cloaked in full Death’s Head Moth gear, he concentrates on patrolling dangerous areas in his city—and the towns that surround it—hoping to act as a deterrent to would-be criminals. But he also makes it abundantly clear that he will not back down from a fight, if he is faced with one. “No one has the right to force anyone to do anything against their will. And that’s what I’m trying to stop.”
But there is another side to this complicated hero, one that walks among us in the clear light of day, unmasked and unburdened of gadgets and weaponry—but with no less fire in his belly to see justice served. In his civilian identity, he visits the young patients in places like St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, bringing them gifts at holiday times, and often just to reach out a loving hand to our society’s most vulnerable members.
So how does he reconcile these two very different paths?
“Handling the difference in personae, and identifying with these opposite images, is like anything else, really. It’s about using the right tool for the right job. Sometimes jeans and a t-shirt are more effective then full body armor,” he says. “And I guess I think differently in one role than the other, too.”
In the end, there’s only one kind of thinking that underpins it all—the singular belief that he can be an instrument for change. “It crosses all boundaries—politics, religion, sexuality,” he says. “Throughout doing this, I have stood side-by-side with anarchists, Hassidic Jews, and good ol’ boys from the South… men, women, from one coast to the next, and they all have one thing in common. They want to make the world better. And I want to be a part of that.”
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