• Jax great Dallas Eliuk doffs padding for cape and tights to let his alter ego out to play
The geekdom of Dallas Eliuk can be traced back to his childhood, watching Adam West play Batman on television and reading DC Comics about the Caped Crusader.
Today, it's displayed in Eliuk's thousands of collectibles and his own alter ego.
Philanthropist Bruce Wayne by day, superhero by night - that's Batman.
Eliuk works in community relations by day and wears a mask as goalie for the Portland LumberJax lacrosse team by night. He says the symbolism of the one-man-against-the-world mentality does not escape him.
'Batman's a regular person with a dark vigilante side. He renders his own justice,' says Eliuk, the National Lacrosse League's all-time greatest goalie who leads the Jax against New York on Saturday (7:30 p.m., Rose Garden).
Eliuk says other superheroes don't do as much for him. Superman is less appealing because 'he's indestructible,' and the Incredible Hulk simply displays unbridled strength.
Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Eliuk says, 'my first spoken word was 'Batman.' '
His first Batman comic book, dated December 1967, features Catwoman and Batwoman quarreling over the superhero on the cover. Today, Eliuk, 43, can chuckle trying to read into things.
'Maybe that's the other fascination - he's always surrounded by strong women,' he says.
Eliuk met his match in his new bride, Daria O'Neill, a radio personality with 105.1 'The Buzz.' As their relationship took off, Eliuk broached the subject of Batman - and Spiderman, since Eliuk isn't naive enough to think that only one superhero saves the world. Sunday cartoons told him that.
Eliuk couldn't believe that O'Neill loved comic books and superheroes, too. This sort of thing just doesn't happen with women, he thought. It had been such a 'big issue' with his ex-wife.
'I'm Batman, I'm Batman!'
Eliuk and O'Neill began exchanging Batman lines all day, with Eliuk yelling the occasional Commissioner Gordon classic: 'He gave us a signal!'
They got engaged. They emerged from their Northeast Portland home for parties last Halloween - Eliuk dressed as Batman and O'Neill as Cheetah. Eight days later, Batman re-emerged with Catwoman at his side for a comic book show at Memorial Coliseum.
It was Eliuk's first public appearances in Portland as Batman, but not the first time the chiseled pro athlete had donned the mask, cape, tights, boots and gloves and said, 'I'm Batman.' (His ex-wife actually made most of the costume.)
Every so often, Eliuk will open up the closet door and emerge from the Batcave as Batman just for some private kicks and giggles - 'generally at my insistence,' O'Neill says. 'It's fun - I don't know how to describe it without painting a debauched picture.'
Eliuk wouldn't comment on whether Catwoman or Cheetah makes an appearance at the same time.
Coincidentally, their dogs, a 10-year-old terrier named Pinkie and a 15-year-old pinscher named Tyke, have pointed ears like bats, not due to plastic surgery.
Does it look like he's joking?
The couple tied the knot New Year's Eve at home, but O'Neill says a Batman-theme marriage celebration is planned for spring or summer. There will be heroes joining Batman on one side, and villains with leather-printed Catwoman on the other side. Guests will register by Batcomputer. No word on whether the couple will then take the Batplane on their Bathoneymoon.
'Holy fanaticism,' you might think.
But Eliuk takes Batman and his alter egos seriously. He once played Gene Simmons and the bass in a Kiss cover band, after all.
Eliuk has several Batman animation cels framed on his walls and resin figurines with Batman sitting on one table. In one room and waiting for display at the couple's new home are scores of boxes with action figures, statues and toys - his favorite is a doll made in Japan.
In another room are several boxes of Batman (and Spiderman) comic books - about 800, many in plastic sheets. On the walls are movie posters. In the cabinet are all the Batman (and Spiderman) movies and TV shows on DVD and video.
He, obviously, has seen them all many times. And he offers this Ebert and Roeper-like breakdown of the five Batman movies: The recent one with Christian Bale was 'phenomenal … he has a presence, he's not a wuss'; Michael Keaton was good playing the Caped Crusader the first two times; and the Val Kilmer and George Clooney versions were 'god-awful' (the films, not the actors).
Eliuk never has met Adam West, Bale, Kilmer, Clooney or Keaton. He hasn't met Tobey Maguire, who has played Spiderman three times on the big screen. The first two Spiderman movies he liked, the last one sucked, he says.
'I just appreciate their work,' he says, of the actors who have tried to play Batman and Spiderman.
Spidey's a close second
In his garage sits the Batmobile, a 1998 Z3 BMW with about 60,000 miles on it.
'I've joked with Daria that when it's on its last legs, I wanted to take it to a body shop and have fins put on the back,' Eliuk says.
When he sees anything related to Batman, 'I'll buy it, I confess.' But it has to be a work of art and not silly or cheesy. He already has the Batman slippers and robe.
Eliuk also likes Spiderman, a fondness he traces back to cartoons and a 1973 comic book when the arachnid took on the Punisher for the first time. The Jax goalie has a Spidey costume, too, and a cool limited-edition bronze statue of him.
But the likes of Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow have never got the best of Batman, no matter how much he admired the gallery of villains. Batman's record speaks for itself.
Spiderman can't beat up Batman, nor would he want to try. An epic clash might ensue on the skyscrapers of Portland over this comment from O'Neill:
'Batman is like a grown-up Spiderman.'