Mark Wayne Williams
Express readers picked a “super hero” in this year’s vote for Northern Michigan’s Best Local Hero.
That is, if by “super hero,” you mean someone who dressed in tights, scaled a not-so-tall building, and got busted by the cops while carrying irritant spray, a sap and collapsible baton.
The world-famous Petoskey Batman, a.k.a. Mark Wayne Williams, 32, of Harbor Springs, received the most votes in the hero category this year.
Williams was arrested in Petoskey in May and a booking photo of him dressed in a sweaty homemade Batman costume catapulted him to fame and subjected him to some of the Internet’s most bat-awful snark.
Williams ended up making a deal with prosecutors and ducked felony concealed weapons charges when he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer last fall.
In October he was sentenced to six months probation, during which time he must leave his alter ego in the closet -- he is barred from wearing the Batman costume until his probation expires in April.
FAMOUS ON FACEBOOK
Williams did not respond to messages left for him on Facebook. A phone message left for his attorney, Bryan Klawuhn, also went unreturned.
When Williams was sentenced, he said it was not his intent to hurt anybody with the weapons police found in his possession.
The judge suggested he keep a low profile. Despite apparent media-shyness, he didn’t exactly do that.
The experience might lead some to seek out time away from the spotlight, but Williams has, apparently, attempted to milk his notoriety, at least a little.
A Facebook fan page for “Petoskey Batman” has chronicled his life as he faced charges, pled guilty, and, into this year, awaits the end of probation.
According to one post, he is looking forward to the end of probation so he can dress like Batman once again and pose for a professional photo shoot.Those photos are bound to be popular; on Facebook, Petoskey Batman has many fans.
He’s racked up 4,294 “likes.” To put that in perspective, Petoskey Batman’s representative in the Michigan House, Rep. Frank Foster, has just 1,437 “likes” for his Facebook page.
In October, a post from Batman that read “anyone want to help form a ‘Justice League’ here in petoskey?” got 42 messages in response.
In his most recent message, Petoskey Batman apologized to fans for lack of activity on the site, but he vowed to return.
“Ive had a lot of things keeping me busy so I havnt been able to post much on here. I WILL be back to patroling and doing what I can to help in Aprill. It seems that I will not be alone iether....” Petoskey Batman wrote on Feb. 10.
BATMAN TAKES THE HIGH ROAD
Along the way, Petoskey Batman has maintained a good attitude about the Internet ridicule he’s endured.
When a fan posted a link to a buzzfeed.com list of 2011’s best mugshots, a feature that ranked William’s snapshot at number seven, Petoskey Batman responded in good humor: “nice!” he wrote.
“I should have gotten #1 though! LOL!” In response to a troll who posted abusive, name-calling comments about him, Petoskey Batman attempted to take the high road: “OH Yeah, . . . , I was having fun too. It is possible to have fun while trying to help others. Its more rewarding than just partying and not giving a shit about anyone but yourself too. You should try it sometime instead of just adding more ignorance and negativity to the world.”
Indeed, it appears, based on his Facebook posts, that Petoskey Batman wants to get back to his roots on the other side of the law -- crime fighting.
He posts links to media reports about unsolved local crimes and he has taken a special interest in domestic abuse.
He has posted about his support of the Woman’s Resource Center.
In December he tried to raise money for a woman who was in an abusive relationship:
“Ok. Heres the deal. I know this woman who was in an abusive relationship and had to go to the WRC just to escape him. The good news is that she did get out of the relationship, the bad news is, they have a kid together. In fact, to keep her from leaving him, he had held their daughter over her head telling her that if she left he would file for full custody and make it so she couldnt see her daughter anymore. well, he is following through with his threat. “ The post goes on to explain that Petoskey Batman wants to raise money to help the woman hire an attorney.