I came up with an idea for some fanfic in the DC/Superman universe. I'm not going to use the name of any DC characters, just allude to them to try to stave off any legal issues, and I don't plan on selling the stories anyway. But that's not the question.
My character is a second or third tier super hero. He has a bunch of super abilities similar to Superman, but nowhere near the strength or stamina. He can fly, but only a couple of miles. He can see through some things, but not very well and not through any metal. He also has a few abilities Superman doesn't have, so not a straight ripoff.
Part of the story will be about how he fights crime in his small-ish town of 200k-300k people, but generally stays within 100 miles of home, not doing anything international or even national. This is also his full-time job, so he only uses his real identity when he wants to relax or otherwise be incognito. The other part of the story is about how he is a bit of a screwup, as he's still learning his powers, what their limits are, and how to expand them. It's intended as a comedy, rather than a serious "superhero" story, if that makes any difference.
I'm trying to figure out how he pays rent, buys and fixes his "uniform" (it's not costume, pfft), and feeds himself without being rich. He grew up middle class and I don't want any financial windfall to "deus ex machina" his modest lifestyle. I also don't want him eating ramen all the time. He's not a genius, he graduated high school normally, and went to some college, but decided it wasn't for him as he couldn't focus on schooling while learning of and about the new powers he got the day after he graduated high school.
I've considered bounties for the criminals he brings in, but first time thieves and murderers aren't going to have a bounty. And he isn't the type to go after deadbeat parents, either. I doubt a small time vigilante would be able to land a deal with the local police department, and I don't want him to be a cop, either. "Private eye" is so over done, it's not even funny. Again, "super hero" is his one and only gig.
Rewards are good, but not everyone gives a reward, and he's not going to be sniffing around for a lost pooch, either. I could go with a semi-rich, private backer, but there's a lot of strings to that. Maybe I can play those strings into plot points, but I'd rather my hero be independent.
He's also not the mafia, requiring protection money from the city or individuals. I don't have any plans for a local "super friends" kind of thing, but even if I did go that route, it would have to be internally funded through legal means and one of them not "just happening" to be rich.
So what other ways can my hero support himself by catching bad guys, and without skimming some off the top of what he returns or protects?
In other words, how can this guy be a superhero without some other full time employment supporting his crime fighting efforts?
I forgot to mention that I don't want him to be like Captain Amazing in the Mystery Men, who has NASCAR-esque patches on his outfit. Besides, he's a bit too small-time and local to get any real sponsors. Ok, so maybe local sponsors, rather than Pepsi, like Lance Hunt lost, but it's a bit too commercial for my/his taste. Then again, it might be funny to have "Bob's Bass and Tackle Shop" as a sponsor.
Also, my hero isn't impervious to pain or injury. He can get burned, broken bones, bleed, feel pain/cold/heat/, and more, just at a higher threshold than a normal human, but not at a Superman level. He also gets tired and needs to eat. He might be able to carry a grand piano up 5 flights of stairs by himself, but he'll also need a drink of water, eat a snack, and take a 5 minute rest before doing anything else. He can carry someone with him during a flight, but only for short hops.