Since the original 1930’s run of Superman by Joseph Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the secret identity has become a staple of the superhero genre. It has been utilized by Marvel and DC alike.
Everyone knows that Superman disguises himself as Clark Kent with a pair of glasses and a nerdy demeanor. Everyone knows that brooding bad boy Batman is actually billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne. But it seems that in recent years, the ‘secret identity’ concept has become less of a priority for comic books, including Marvel and DC.
In an interview, John Siuntre’s Word Balloon podcast, famous comic book scribe Mark Millar bemoaned the lack of secret identities for superheroes in modern times. First, he described Brian Michael Bendis’s decision to reveal Superman’s identity as more of a publicity stunt than actual storytelling…
I hate the idea of this being used against Bendis because I do love him. Brian is one of my favourite people in the industry and I love that he’s doing this stunt because this stunt is a great stunt. Comics work best with a great little stunt out there… and will make the tabloid newspapers.
He then went on to describe the modern Marvel tendency to do away with secret identities as one of their mistakes of 2000″.
No doubt, he’s referring to examples such as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. When both were introduced in their initial comics, their identities as Captain America and Iron Man, respectively, were unknown to the Marvel Universe’s fictional public. In recent times, however, their identities are widely known within the world of comics.
Millar further opined about the importance of secret identities as “what the reader is, and then they become the hero through reading the stories…Kids identify with the human and then get a chance to do these adventures.” Going back to Clark Kent, he described the character as “A god choosing to become a person, and I love that…”
Do you feel that Marvel and DC comics need to reintroduce the importance of secret identities to their comics? Or do you think the age of the secret identity is well and truly gone? Share your thoughts in the comments below.