SEATTLE -- In real life, he was Erik Martin, a foster child with severe health problems and a rare form of cancer. But in his imagination he was Electron Boy, a superhero who saved Seattle from the forces of darkness and evil one spring day last year.
Erik died Friday at home. He was 14.
In April 2010, hundreds of volunteers in Seattle and Bellevue made Erik's superhero story come true, in an elaborately choreographed event created by the Washington chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Wearing a handmade superhero costume he helped design, and riding in a DeLorean sports car, Erik rescued the Seattle Sounders from Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy. He saved a Puget Sound Energy worker stuck in a bucket truck, rescued people trapped on the observation deck of the Space Needle, and captured the villains, played by Edgar Hansen and sidekick Jake Anderson, both of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch."
The story of his big wish went viral on the Internet. The foundation was swamped by people pledging money and offering to help other children with life-threatening illnesses see their dreams come true.
"Erik's wish just cast this net and brought them into the mission" of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said spokeswoman Jeannette Tarcha. "People just wanted to be part of it."
A group of independent comic-book creators inked and published a real comic book of his exploits. And the "Fans of Electron Boy" page, still active on Facebook, drew thousands of members -- today, its fans number nearly 12,000.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to grant him his wish, Erik told wish manager Jessie Elenbaas that he wanted to do things he has never been able to do: to run fast, be powerful and help people.
"Everyone wants to see someone become a superhero for a day, especially someone struggling with as many issues as Erik was," she said.