In those early days, the fledgling crime fighter walked the streets in stretchy long johns from Walmart, a cape borrowed from his 2-year-old son’s Halloween costume and a ski mask. It was the mask, he says, that inspired the mixed martial arts fighter to turn vigilante.

The low-budget costume was pragmatic. “I figured, if I’m going to get stabbed, I might as well get stabbed in $5 gear,” he says.

His budding career mostly involved breaking up fights after the bars closed. But because he dubbed himself a superhero — ?albeit one with no powers other than a “kind of spidey sense” — the would-be crime fighter quickly started to attract local media attention, which led to his being recognized as he strolled the streets. That necessitated a makeover.

A costume maker from the East Coast emailed Jones after reading of his exploits and offered to make him a real cowl and costume out of neoprene lined with chicken wire. It’s stab- and stun gun–proof, Jones boasts. Beneath it, he wears a bulletproof vest.

Jones’ crew comprises a rotating group of pals who clearly look up to their leader and who are clearly far less taken with crime fighting than they are with the idea that they get to call themselves crime fighters. Buster Doe has served as the Rain City ?Superheroes’ purveyor of random street knowledge — what the punks who call themselves ?Juggaloes look like, for example — and also its electrician, having constructed a homemade stun gun from a disposable camera, using a technique he gladly demonstrates with a pair of scissors. As for superpowers? Buster insists he is very good at being able to tell the time without glancing at a watch.

Jones gets into costume at a local comic book store with a hidden room in it, but up until recently, he began every night on patrol at “Base 2” (his godmother’s house), monitoring security cameras he’d installed around the house and checking Facebook, his primary tip line, on a desktop computer in a cluttered office.

Because he’s often targeted by self-?proclaimed “Real Life Super Villains” (or the catchy RLSV, for short) who hack his page or try to reveal his secret identity, Jones’ ?Facebook is only sporadically online, in accordance with whether he wants to be in or out of the public eye. But when it’s up, the crime fighter can hardly stay on top of his messages, which are largely media requests but also include glowing praise from fans and regular offers to help, most of which he politely ignores. “He’s always talked about being a superhero,” says his girlfriend, whose name Jones requested we keep anonymous. “It just seemed natural.”