Most comic-book crime fighters are mild-mannered by day before donning their superhero fancy dress at night and it seems super-fan Christian Tyler Hardee is no exception.

The 20-year-old chemistry student at Colombia University in the US was recently stopped by local police after arousing suspicion for prowling the campus late at night.

However, after he was asked a few questions, it became clear that Hardee was trying to prevent crime rather than create it, the Colombia Daily Herald reports.

The youngster had been donning his own superhero fancy dress - complete with a Spiderman-style utility belt, mask and tights - in order to catch criminals and keep the community safe.

Calling himself The Viper, Hardee commented: "I am just a guy trying to do what is right, in tights."

Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that his utility belt contained a screwdriver, some ninja throwing stars and a mobile phone to call the police with.

Columbia Police lieutenant Michelle Jones said she was pleased to find he was not a criminal, but warned him and the public that it is not advisable to go about fighting crime themselves.

It's a tough time to be a superhero - last month we reported how a man who has been dressing in an Incredible Hulk costume for ten years was evicted from Hollywood Boulevard because too many people had been copying him and intimidating the public.