Actual news item: At a Free Comic Book Day event in Portland, Maine, about a dozen people were dressed in costumes outside of a comics shop when a man attacked them, throwing a Stormtrooper to the ground and punching a Ghostbuster. Adam Barnes, 31, is 6'4" tall and weighs 300 pounds, and was apparently intoxicated when he crossed the street to approach the group of costumed attendees, which also included the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. He put a Stormtrooper in a chokehold and threw him to the ground where he "was trying to be intimidating above him and screamed obscenities to everybody," according to the Green Lantern. He was eventually arrested by police a block away, where they had to take him down by taser. Barnes was charged with two counts of assault, disorderly conduct and five counts of criminal threatening.
The inside story:
In a brutal act of irony Saturday, a conversation among people dressed as superheroes and Stormtroopers about how much they'd love to see somebody try to mess with them right then was interrupted by a violent attack by a 6'4", 300 pound intoxicated man that left them bruised, scattered and badly shaken. "We were just talking about how intimidating we would probably be to, like, criminals or evildoers," said Percy Scranton, 20, who was dressed as Iron Man. "I mean, who would be crazy enough to step out of line with a bunch of superheroes and science fiction warriors standing by in plain sight? At least, that's what we were saying at the time. I guess it turns out we didn't look as threatening as we thought."
Melinda Pleasance, 18, who was attending as Black Widow, added, "We were kind of laughing about it, but deep down I think we all meant it. Mitchell, this Jedi Knight who ended up getting grabbed by that guy and thrown down? He was like, 'The thing about wearing this gear is that it's not about just pretending to be a kick-ass warrior. It's about becoming a kick-ass warrior, at least as long as you've got the gear on. I can totally feel myself transform into a more confident, powerful person when I attend events in my Jedi costume.' Next thing you know, this guy comes running across the street and just grabs Mitchell and takes him down like he's a rag doll. Mitchell kind of squeaked and said something about his glasses, I think."
Colby Meadows-Hansen, 29, a witness to the event, was in costume as Spiderman at the time. "The last thing I remember saying is how I bet if we were to witness a crime while we were all in these costumes, we'd totally step up to the plate and find that inner hero in ourselves. You know how people can, like, lift a bus when the need arises? I was saying that there was no way we could stand by and let somebody get away with stealing something or hurting somebody. In these personas, we'd just find ourselves standing up to the bad guy and conquering evil. With that many of us in full-on hero mode, we'd have a criminal down and begging for mercy before he knew what hit him. That was before this enormous crazy man came up to us and started screaming obscenities and attacking people. Once we realized what was going on, all I remember is a kind of mad scramble to get the heck away from that crazy mother. Then we all waited around and watched from a ways off when the cops took him down. My mom brought snacks, and she offered band-aids around if anybody needed them, but nobody did."
At least three attendees had non-life-threatening respiratory emergencies, said officials, all of which were treated at the scene by the sufferers with their own inhalers. Several of the costumed victims were heard to inquire whether the police would be providing a trauma counselor to help them overcome the effects of the attack. Though no significant property damage was claimed in the incident, there was reportedly substantial harm to the interiors of several costumes.