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Author Topic: Superman's Secret ID: who should know it?  (Read 8137 times)
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Lee Semmens
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2006, 01:14:48 PM »

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Interesting how the one person that it would be the most appropriate to know Superman's secret identity never has, in any version of Superman: Jimmy Olsen.


And yet, in the mid-1960s, Edmond Hamilton has Batman reveal himself to be Bruce Wayne to Jimmy in World's Finest Comics!

Although a great admirer of Hamilton's comics' writing, I consider this to have been a big mistake on his - or editor Mort Weisinger's - part.

This revelation seems to have been quietly ignored in later years, though; similarly to Mopee's assertion that he caused the lightning flash that gave Barry Allen super-speed, in a misguided story by Gardner Fox in The Flash #167 (February 1967).
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nightwing
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2006, 01:17:35 PM »

I think the Fantastic Four may pre-date even Ralph Dibney as far as the public knowing their real IDs.  In essence, the FF never even HAD secret identities.  Monikers like "Mr Fantastic" just seem to be "noms de guerre" rather than actual aliases.

Of course, unlike Ralph the FF never wore masks, so maybe they don't really count for the purposes of this discussion.

Personally, I welcome any novel twist to the tired old "secret ID" gimmick.  For my money the two best were:

PLASTIC MAN: As secret identities go, you can't get much more unexpected than Public Enemy Number One!  Plas' identity was never a major theme in the original strip...we virtually never saw him without the goggles...but underneath he was Eel O'Brien, a career criminal.  I liked the idea of a guy who could never reveal his identity even if he wanted to.

THE SPIRIT:  Never took his mask off, but was secretly Denny Colt.  He wore the mask not to confound a nosey girlfriend, but because his real ID was officially dead, and stayed that way.  Of course everyone who mattered knew the "secret" anyway, but they rarely -- if ever -- spoke about it.  It was a non-issue, which was certainly a refreshing change from the boring mind games between Clark/Superman and Lois, or Batman/Bruce and Vicki.

THE SHADOW: Now here's a guy who's so mysterious even his secret identity's secret identity had a secret identity!  Radio listeners and a lot of pulp readers "knew" that The Shadow was really wealthy playboy Lamont Cranston.  But if you hung around til issue 209 ("Crime Over Miami"), you learned that even "Lamont Cranston" was a facade, and beneath it was aviator Kent Allard.  And later still, Kent Allard's body was found in the wreckage of a years-old plane crash, meaning BOTH "secret ID's" were bogus!  You can't get much more mysterious than a character who's in print for 20 years and keeps his identity secret from even his biggest fans the entire time! :shock:
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2006, 01:36:10 PM »

Batman, Wonder Woman and maybe the rest of the JLA.
The Kents, Pete Ross and Lana Lang.

Only few persons for a big secret!
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2006, 03:01:45 AM »

Quote from: "Genis Vell"
Batman, Wonder Woman and maybe the rest of the JLA.
The Kents, Pete Ross and Lana Lang.

Only few persons for a big secret!


I don't know about Lana at all - one of the more interesting subplots with the character was in the eighties Lana started to get hot and heavy with Superman, without knowing he was Clark Kent. Keeping an identity secret while doing a romance is a much more interesting idea than having a romance and letting the girlfriend know everythihg. Why is it every romance in a comic book movie ends with the girl knowing the good guy's secret, anyway?

Quote from: "Permanus"
But beyond that, it makes sense that a guy like Superman would need Clark for his life to have some sort of normal dimension: he is not only the greatest celebrity on earth, he is its most extraordinary citizen; he'd be mobbed all the time without Clark and would be forced to live in the Fortress of Solitude all the time, and would end up like Elvis in Graceland.


While I'd never thought of it that way, it IS an interesting idea:

One of the reasons Superman needs Clark Kent psychologically is that Superman is too humble to be "Superman" all the time.

Quote from: "Permanus"
I don't think that Jimmy should be in on Superman's secret. Superman probably thinks of him as mostly a part of Clark's life, a part of his normal life, and he would like to keep his two identities completely separate. The fact that they sometimes coincide is probably something he regrets, but was probably also unavoidable after a while. Ideally, Clark's friends would never meet Superman, and vice-versa, but it's like the work-life balance, I suppose. Sometimes it spills over, no matter how hard you try.


This brings up an interesting question, which is why and how it became known that Superman "made Clark Kent his friend." It's a common wisdom done by everybody from Morgan Edge to Lex Luthor on up that Clark Kent is an old friend of Superman's. Why would Superman do that, I wonder?
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Permanus
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2006, 07:39:30 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
This brings up an interesting question, which is why and how it became known that Superman "made Clark Kent his friend." It's a common wisdom done by everybody from Morgan Edge to Lex Luthor on up that Clark Kent is an old friend of Superman's. Why would Superman do that, I wonder?

I suppose it would happen unavoidably if you pretended to be two different people after a while. People would start to ask Clark: "Hey, did I see Superman flying through your living-room window the other day?" and he'd have to say "Oh, yeah, it was poker night. We never miss it." Since Clark and Superman always seem to be in the same general area, it would make sense to assume that either they are the same guy or that they are close friends, and he has to play along with the latter option. I don't know how it happened in canon, but I don't suppose Superman just issued a press release one day to say that Clark was a really good friend of his.

One thing that never made sense to me was Superman's insistence that he couldn't marry Lois because his enemies would try to get at him through her. Er, I hate to break it to you, Superman, but they already do; in fact, this happens to all your friends. They're always getting kidnapped and held hostage. (I think my favourite example of this is when Terra-Man kidnapped them all, including Steve Lombard, oddly enough, and brainwashed them into thinking they lived in the Wild West.) In real life, their known association with Superman would make their lives hell and they'd need 24/7 bodyguards.

Ah, the glorious madness of the secret identity. Remember when Matt Murdock hurriedly created a "twin brother" for himself after Foggy and Karen saw him changing into Daredevil? He had to live with that for months, pretending to be three different people -- himself, Daredevil and his own twin brother, in what must have been one of the silliest secret identity plot twists ever. Wouldn't it have been simpler to come clean? In comic books, there is often a certain moral backlash to having a secret identity, with the character stuck in a spiral of lies. Oh what a tangled web we weave...
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2006, 01:39:50 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
I don't know about Lana at all - one of the more interesting subplots with the character was in the eighties Lana started to get hot and heavy with Superman, without knowing he was Clark Kent. Keeping an identity secret while doing a romance is a much more interesting idea than having a romance and letting the girlfriend know everythihg. Why is it every romance in a comic book movie ends with the girl knowing the good guy's secret, anyway?

I like the idea of adult Lana knowing the secret, but Superman not knowing that Lana knows, like Pete Ross (or like Mary Jane Watson if her knowledge of Peter Parker's identity wasn't a big retcon).  Who says that Superman has to 'let' Lana know anything?  What if Lana is afraid that if she tells him she knows his secret, that he'll just use a super-hypnotic kiss to undo it?  Smiley
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