Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
seneschal

A Superman Surprise

Recommended Posts

Decades of comics, movies, and radio and TV shows have persuaded us that if Lois Lane could ever catch  Clark Kent without his glasses the jig would be up, his true identity as Superman would be revealed.  The spectacles must be magic or something.  However, I’ve been reading an omnibus of Forties Superman stories.  In the August 1942 tale “Muscles for Sale” the unthinkable happens.  As part of investigating a crime spree, Kent joins a gymnasium and has a boxing lesson with the brawny proprietor.  He’s sans suit and glasses, boxing trunks only.  Lois is surprised at how buff he is but still doesn’t recognize the hero she has the hots for even when he’s standing two yards away.  As Kent easily dodges the instructor’s blows, she sniffs at what a chicken he is and walks away.

Wait, it gets better.  The crooks, believing they have their latest customer hypnotized, dress Kent in a Superman costume and send him to help rob a fancy dress ball Lois Lane is covering.  Lane doesn’t gasp that Superman has turned to crime; she wonders why her co- worker is in costume and with the bad guys.  It isn’t until Kent falls (apparently to his death) out a window then returns through the same window as his alter ego (still wearing the substitute costume) that she identifies him as Superman.  And she buys the explanation that Clark was made-up to look like Superman and was rescued by the real thing seconds before Superman bounded in to save the day.

It isn’t just Lois.  None of the other characters in the story, having met Clark Kent, Kent in costume, and Superman scratch their heads and say, “Hey, wait a minute!”  Yeah, yeah.  Comic book logic.  But still, really?

Edited by seneschal
  • Like 1
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Year ago I read something by DC that claimed that Superman had some sort of (subconscious) hypnotic power that distorts how people see him as Clark. That was supposed to explain why nobody recognized him. It's a silly explanation, but at least it was an attempt to address the obvious issue-made more obvious by TV and film, where the audience can't miss it. 

 

Personally, I'd just say that Ka-Els baby blankets had some sort of perception filter built in. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I remember that.  It was after one of their many reboots of the DC universe.  The gimmick was that Kal-El’s face actually changed subtly when he switched identities.  They quickly dropped that and went back to the magic glasses schtick.  Things were especially dicey after the Death of Superman saga.  Superman and Clark Kent vanished and returned at the same time — the former sporting a flowing mane and the latter noticeably beefy with his hair pulled back in a ponytail.  The Daily Planet office is stuffed with bright, nosy investigative reporters.  Riiiiiiiight.

The transformation from Clark Kent to Superman was most convincing on radio, where actor Bud Colyer’s voice dropped a full octave when the soft-spoken newsman ditched his street clothes.  The change in attitude and personality was utterly believable.  Of course, there was the storyline where a minor hood burglarized Kent’s apartment and stole his costume.  Superman called on Batman to help him get it back and prevent gangland from figuring out where it came from.

By the way, aren’t you glad the Cthulhu Mythos doesn’t get rebooted like the DC and Marvel universes do?  We’d have had Cthulhu for president and epic rapp battles with Godzilla for sure.  😳

Edited by seneschal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole secret identity thing would be especially problematic given modern technology: voice prints, DNA matching,   facial  analysis;  it would be more work than its worth to try and protect a secret identity. Or every 'super' would go 'Iron Man', with a head to toe body armor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or go the Fantastic Four route and have public identities, celebrities with powers.  Doc Savage went that way, too.  Must have quiet retreat with good security.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, given all the ways to track people in big cities now, or gather even minute DNA samples?  It would be a matter of weeks to work out a short list of suspects.  Maybe if you could teleport and lived in Oregon while fighting crime in NYC you could hide your secret ID for some time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clark Kent traditionally pulls it off mainly b the way he behaves. He's no wimp as Clark, but his mannerisms, attitudes, and body language are so different from Superman that nobody makes the connection. It even reached the point where Lex Luthor in the comics, did the research, traced down all the leads, found conclusive proof that Clark Kent was Superman -- and then discarded the notion completely because he believed anyone as powerful as Superman would be as selfish and ruthless as he is by definition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×