Strange visitors for other planets? Sovereign leaders from forgotten realms? Sure, they may sound like classic superhero archetypes to you and I, but that doesn't mean that they have all their paperwork together. A recent art installation by artist Neil Rivas celebrates the allure of the illegal comic book alien.Californian artist Rivas' San Francisco show Illegal Super Heroes featured a series of posters showcasing superheroes and other genre characters both famous (Superman, Wolverine, Optimus Prime) and slightly less-so (Wild Thing?) who weren't born in the United States, but live or have operated here - potentially arriving without going through the appropriate channels. The mission statement of the exhibit explains:

If humans can be declared illegal aliens due to immigration policies, then this must be applied to all, including super heroes, right? Illegal Super Heroes is a series of interactive posters that deal with notions of illegality and challenge immigration policy in the U.S. via the use of comic book icons such as Superman and Wolverine (X-Men). Each poster will contain a phone number for viewers to call and participate via the San Francisco ICE Field Office – Illegal Super Heroes Department and help detain the illegal super heroes.

The text at the bottom of each poster reads:

Super heroes who enter this country without proper authorization are breaking the law, plain and simple. These "illegal super heroes" are subject to deportation at any time. Their very presence is in direct violation of federal law. To report an illegal super hero, contact the San Francisco ICE Field Office – ISH Department. Their area of responsibility covers Northern California, Hawaii, and Guam. Officers in these divisions are obligated by law to make records of any reported "illegal super hero activity."

"I grew up with these comic books and superheroes and it was never an issue where they came from or how often they would cross borders," Rivas said, explaining the origins behind the show. "My hope was that because superheroes are an approachable subject, people would naturally be attracted to the project visually and that it would awaken nostalgia." It'll undoubtedly do that - and maybe it'll plant seeds for an upcoming Marvel Comics summer crossover, as well. Immigration Wars, anyone?

[Via Laughing Squid]