Nerd Culture

The Epic Super Hero Battle Returns This Weekend With an Interactive Twist

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This weekend's version of the battle, he says, will be more of an interactive experience than its first two editions. During the 2009 and 2010 incarnations of the ESHB, which were organized by both Improv AZ and members of the Arizona Cacophony Society, participants merely came to a specific location and engaged in mock costumed combat using Nerf guns and other harmless weaponry.

The 2011 edition of the event was beset by scheduling conflicts and other problems and ultimately wound up being cancelled, Moriarty says, so the members of Improv AZ decided to stage this year's event by themselves, albeit with a twist.

According to Moriarty, the event will now incorporate something of a flash mob element to it whereby those who show up will engage in an overall story that will guide their movements and actions. The day before the battle, participants can download a specific MP3 from the Improv AZ website or sign up for an RSS feed. The file can be placed onto their iPods, smart phones, or another digital music device that they'll bring with them to the event.

After donning costumes and gathering near the south entrance of the Third Avenue Parking Garage adjacent to Craftsman Court in Scottsdale. When organizers start the event, Moriarty says, participants will all simultaneously press play on their devices.

"So everybody's getting these instructions and they don't know what they're doing for this flash mob until they listen to it," Moriarty says. "Like, 'You're gonna run north now and start doing jumping jacks,' or 'look at people in their cars and point and laugh.' You could cheat and listen to it in advance, but the idea is to not press play until you get there."

Everyone will walk on foot throughout the nearby streets and sidewalks, he says, and their actions and movements will be dictated by the story that's unfolding on the MP3.

"[People] will be walking around Old Town, they're going to be doing things and interacting with a couple of the stores and some of the different landmarks," he says. "They're not going to have to get in their cars or go anywhere else."

While he admits that the story itself "won't win any awards," it will involve adventurous exploits and deeds of derring-do that will take participants on a heroic journey.

"It's going to be super hero-oriented, which means there will be super heroics and super villany involved," Moriarty says. "That's all part of the story. So who the villains are and who the heroes are is all going to be wrapped up in the plot as it unfolds. We're telling everyone to put on a costume and show up."

And, as the name of the event portends, they're will be battles between characters, albeit using Nerf weapons, water guns, and mock theatrics.

"They're won't be any real fights and hopefully no one's going to take an angry swing at anyone else, but heroes and villains are going to come together in truly an epic super hero cataclysmic battle," Moriarty says. "There will be victories and defeats and harrowing escapes."

As with previous editions of the ESHB, Moriarty says they're encouraging people to come dressed as completely original heroes and not rip-offs of existing characters from the worlds of comics and sci-fi.

"I don't want 30 Batmen there," he jokes.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.