Savannah’s superheroes, The Astrals, collaborate with Reach Out and Read
Written by Stephen Chen
From the streets of Broughton, the doors of the Flying Monk, the walls of Planet Fun and the entrance of WSAV, the people of Savannah have noticed the triangular vortex symbol for the mysterious group call the Astrals.
The Astrals held their first city-wide fundraiser event for Reach Out and Read Georgia on Feb. 9 at Bay Street Theater. The event kicked off the donation competition that compliments the fundraising. Beyond raising money for non-profits, the Astrals have been secretly active in the community, assisting local homeless shelters and playing a key role in many police investigation, according to Knight, the group’s spokesperson and founder.
“The Astrals are an anonymous community service group,” Knight said. “We are just simply a bridge between the people and the authorities.”
Cloaked in a black and white armor suit, a grey cape, military combat boots and futuristic black visor helmet, Knight’s identity is completely shielded. “We have secret identities, we have the costumes, we have made enemies,” said Knight. “We’re not vigilantes. We’re doing everything lawfully. We have a great relationship with people.
“What makes us different from vigilantes is the trust we have with our community and the authorities,” Knight said. A big part of the Astrals is their paramount involvement with sensitive police cases. Setting up a communication between the police and the people, as well as investigating, the Astrals have helped the police find critical witnesses and evidences.
The Astrals was started by Knight, Reflex, Apex and Strix. “We started out a little over a year ago,” said Knight. “The whole team has been around individually for longer than people would expect.” Knight has operated in the dark for 15 years. “I think from here on out, people are going to see our imagery more just to normalize it.”
Knight explained that the decision to be anonymous came after loved-ones were threatened his involvements. “Being anonymous, as you can imagine, getting the word out is very, very, difficult,” said Knight. “The problem is, how do we present ourselves as an option for people without seeming shady.” The Astrals never became an ominous group, Knight explained, “using the imagery and anonymity of the superheroes, we were able to get a better response.”
On the night of Feb. 9, the Astals patrolled, as Knight calls it, the streets in full costume for the first time.
“People told us that we were more approachable than cops,” said Knight. “I think it’s the imagery that got that reactions that lets people trust us a little easier.” The Astrals isn’t a reaction to the police, it isn’t an attack on the police, rather, it’s a service for the people. “I think there’s a mix of why people have this reaction, but one of our contacts in the police department made a great statement. He said that he thinks it might be because of pop culture influence, and also maybe it’s because that people want something like this to be real.
“We were all just getting tired of hearing about dangerous or sensitive situations that were going on unreported to the police,” Knight said, “because people were too uncomfortable, or simply, don’t want to get involved. We just wanted to help out anyway that we could.”
On his nightly patrol, Knight simply looks out for any situation that he can help with, whether it is reporting suspicious activities to the authority or helping the community by sending resources. “Anyone can be an Astral, just don’t be a bystander,” Knight said.
The Astrals are looking to expand. They are looking for a place to call their own that would make people with critical information for cases feel safe to talk. They are looking to expand beyond Savannah, even internationally. They are always looking for people with the same desire to help. “We have a newcomer – Lady Justice; a new recruit – Arachnid,” Knight said. “We also have a behind-the-scenes team.”
He didn’t set out to be a real-life superhero; it just “sort of happened this way.”
“I think people always imagine themselves as the hero of the story,” said Knight. “Whether it’s a story that they are telling their friends, family or even to themselves, they always want to see themselves as the hero.” Heroes are more than the masks. Heroes are the people behind the masks. “And people see themselves in that,” said Knight. The Astrals are a chance for people to live that out. “Be the closest they can be to a real superhero.”
Beyond inspiring people to become the extraordinary, the Astrals aspire to inspire the next generation. “Kids really mimic what they see out in the world,” said Knight. “If even just one kid sees the team and see us as larger-than-life and the good we do, and that can inspire them, then this is work worth doing.”
The Astrals impact the community, inspiring people in different capacities, “by giving people the opportunity to be something that they always felt like they could be, but never knew how or too afraid to,” Knight said.
People can be the hero by donating to Reach Out and Read. The donation competition ends March 28. Whoever donates the most, online or by mail, will have the opportunity to turn on the new Astrals Spotlight for the very first time. “It is our answer to Batman’s Bat Signal,” Knight said.
The Astrals will be seen patrolling the streets in costume periodically or incognito. You can reach the Astrals on Facebook and Instagram, as well as email email@example.com.
The upcoming, inspired-by-real-life comic book series of the Astrals, will be available for purchase exclusively at Planet Fun and other items with the Astrals logo, available in local businesses such as Savannah Coffee Roasters, support the group. All of the proceeds will go to local charities, such as the Homeless Authorities of Savannah or other local charities. “We are also always looking for new recruits or artists to collaboration,” Knight said.