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The secret identity of an LA lawmaker: Mike Bonin, the superhero collector




A Martinez (l) and LA City Councilman Mike Bonin pose in front of just one half of Bonin's collection of superhero action figures at his City Hall office. He apparently has even more at home.
A Martinez (l) and LA City Councilman Mike Bonin pose in front of just one half of Bonin's collection of superhero action figures at his City Hall office. He apparently has even more at home.
Leo Duran/KPCC

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We talk with a lot of newsmakers, community leaders and celebrities. Usually it's about their work, but rarely do we find out they have a secret identity.

Until now.

Host A Martinez's desk is legendary for having nearly 100 action figures of The Flash (mostly the Barry Allen version).

http://gfycat.com/IllegalIdleJoeyBut we discovered that someone out there we regularly talk to has his own collection of superhero action figures.

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin has been interviewed about tackling homelessness, jaywalking, regulating AirBnB and more.

He's also a huge fan of DC superheroes, with more than 100 figures in just his City Hall office (there are even more at his home).

"I have an addictive personality," he said. "I went on a spree that hasn't stopped yet."

This obsession started only a few years ago when his sister passed away. He then started to reconnect with aspects of his childhood, which included reading comic books.

It took his now-husband by surprise.

"My husband had been out of town for a few weeks, and he came back and discovered I had a bookshelf of probably 15 action figures," he recalled. "I had a secret identity!"

There was no Batman vs. Superman-level beef, however.

"He did allow me to put the Golden Age Flash and the Golden Age Green Lantern figures on our wedding cake," said Bonin.

The collection is a good icebreaker, he says, because it shows off his personal side to constituents and colleagues.

There are a couple of "white whales" that he's still on the lookout for: Liberty Belle, a superheroine from the 1940s and Robin from the Earth-Two universe who wears a yellow cape.

But he's got a secret tool in his utility belt for those figures that are MIA.

"I've gone so far as to hire someone to do custom action figures," he said.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the character Liberty Belle. KPCC regrets the error.