Superhero Obsession: Why We Love Fantasy

"He heals people with a touch," said Pagels. "He can raise the dead. ... When people feel vulnerable, they look at Jesus with the superpowers who's going to come in the clouds ... and right all the wrongs. What could be better than a God who could come and do all of that? "

Every era creates the superheroes it needs. There is currently a new wave of super-heroines, following in the footsteps of Wonder Woman and Bat-Girl.

Modern Day Super-Heroines

Among those creating the new generation of female superheroes is writer Gail Simone. "We've got some great, strong, powerful female characters now that have their own fans," said Simone. "And, they don't have to have Superman in the comic with them to be successful."

And they don't have to wear spandex to fulfill the role.

"A really interesting example ... is Twilight," said Knowles, who contrasted the familiar image of a frightening Dracula with the new image of vampires as sexy and young. "They glow in the daylight. ... They're beautiful, they're intelligent ... they give young girls what they want in life ... eternal youth, eternal beauty, everlasting love. These are not vampires anymore, these are superheroes."

The recent surge in interest in superheroes has also created a market for early comics. Recently, New York comic book dealer Vincent Zurzolo sold a high-grade first edition of the 1938 Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, for a staggering $1.5 million dollars.

"Superman ushered in the age of the superhero," said Zurzolo. "Before superman there were heroes, but nobody quite like Superman with super powers. "

Real-Life Superheroes Among Us

More than 70 years later, people seem to want more than ever to relate to and even become superheroes. In the recent movie, "Kick-Ass," actress Chloe Moretz plays a young girl who dresses up and morphs into a real-life wanna-be superhero.

And across the country, people are actually creating their own real-life superheroes personas. There are more than a dozen of these real-life superheroes, with names like "Thanatos," "Nyx," and "Life," who dress up and take to the streets to fight crime and help the needy.

"None of us are ever going to shoot rays out of our eyes and we're probably not going to fly any time soon," said "Life," who helps feed the homeless in upper Manhattan, wearing a black vest, hat and mask. "But ...we all have the powers to do something, and it's just a matter of using out own god-given gifts and putting them toward good and making the world a better place."

This month, Los Angeles movie poster photographer Peter Tangen is mounting an exhibit of those real-life superheroes -- including "DC's Guardian." Tangen photographed more than 20 real-life superheroes for a project that will help raise money for children's charity.

CLICK HERE to see Tangen's photos of real-life superheroes and CLICK HERE for more information on Tangen's exhibit

"It immediately caught my attention that there were these people that actually took it into the real streets and used it in their lives to try to make the world a better place," said Tangen.

Will Superhero Boom End?

Is there any end to this current boom in superheroes in sight? Not soon, according to Knowles. "When is the economy going to really rebound? When are we going to go back to those nineties boom times? When are we not going to be worried about terrorism? We need the fantasy ... it's a balm."

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