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How two ‘real-life superheroes’ — who should have been bitter enemies — fell in love instead

James and Krystal Marx on patrol together during May Day 2016
Courtesy of James Marx
James and Krystal Marx on patrol together during May Day 2016


This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.  

Krystal Marx is a City Council member in Burien. Her husband James is an Iraq War veteran. They’ve both experienced hardships that never fully left them: in her case, it was poverty and homelessness as a kid; for him, it was combat-related PTSD.

Their relationship, and their healing, began on rival superhero teams.

Across the country, there are real people, often in full costume, who walk the streets fighting crime, helping the helpless and generally doing hero stuff. In Seattle, there were two main teams in the mid-2010s. The Rain City Superhero Movement, led by Ben Fodor AKA “Phoenix Jones,” wore the full get-ups and spent evenings breaking up bar fights and monitoring suspicious activity. The other team, the Washington Initiative, focussed more on homeless outreach and generally didn’t wear costumes (besides kevlar vests and other protective gear).

Those two teams shared bad blood — to the point when, James says, the Rain City Superheroes were outright forbidden from consorting with Initiative members. So when a romance began budding between the two prominent superheros, it would shake Seattle’s “Real Life Superhero Movement” to its very foundations.

Listen above for the full story, to hear Krystal and James Marx tell their story.


Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.