So, your superhero, for whatever reason, decides to go undercover as another crimefighter. Maybe it's to do things that their alter ego can't be seen doing. Maybe they dress up as another preexisting hero to cash in on their reputation. Sometimes it's just a stylistic name change. Or sometimes their alter ego is being hunted by cops and they need to crimefight while getting their name cleared. Whatever the reason, the hero now has another crime fighting alter ego in addition to their original one.
There are two types:
This is when your hero decides, that for whatever reason, they are going to create an additional superhero alter ego besides the one they already have. This is often, but not always, due to necessity or due to a superhero mid-life crisis. This new identity is often less well known than their original one.
This is when a superhero or vigilante assumes the mantle of another superhero. This is often to cash in on the reputation of that hero but it could be just because they owe the other hero a favor or it's part of a secret plan. Very frequently done to help a hero hide his secret identity.
aka Recursive Secret Identity
Related to Legacy Character
, Becoming the Mask
, Secret Identity
, Secret Identity Identity
, Multilayer Fašade
Examples of Type 1
Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball Z, Gohan becomes a crime fighting superhero. At first, he just turns into a super saiyan and is referred to as "The Gold Fighter." Later, Bulma builds him a sentai outfight and he adopts the moniker, "The Great Saiyaman."
- Captain America went undercover as The Captain on two different occasions.
- Spider-Man did this as an entire group of heroes. When Spider-Man was accused of murder during the "Identity Crisis" storyline, he temporarily adopted four other costumed identities to allow him to continue fighting crime without appearing as Spider-Man: Hornet, Progidy, Ricochet and Dusk. Eventually these personae were adopted by other heroes, creating The Slingers.
- Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, has a habit of juggling multiple superhero personae. Some continuities explain this as him being crazy.
- Marvel Comics ' Ronin was intended to be an example (he was supposed to be Daredevil in disguise) but Executive Meddling changed Ronin's identity. It still remained an example, as Ronin was revealed to be Echo, a deaf superheroine.
- In the Thunderbolts series, the original premise was that the Masters of Evil took on new (faux) super-hero identities and presented themselves as a replacement for the Avengers.
- Early in Peter David's run on The Incredible Hulk the Hulk is caught in the middle of a gamma bomb explosion and presumed dead, but he ends up hiding out in Las Vegas as a mob enforcer calling himself Joe Fixit. This ends up being the gray Hulk's all-but-official name.
- There's an earlier World's Finest tale from #119 revolving around a superhero named "Tigerman", who turns out to be... Superman!
- In Smallville, Clark Kent/Superman takes on a secondary superhero persona as "The Blur", when Jimmy Olsen captures him on camera as a red-blue blur.
- In Dexter, the Bay Harbor Butcher, who is famed for murdering serial killers, is actually Dexter. In the second season, the Bay Harbor Butcher even becomes inspiration for a super-hero character: The Dark Defender.
- Champions supplement Champions III. After a hero named Revenant killed a gang member and was indicted for 2nd degree murder, he continued operating as a hero under the name Kestrel.
- In the action figures based on the 80's TMNT cartoon, they released a Super Mike action figure who was basically a Captain America Expy persona that Michelangelo adopted. Super Mike also had a sidekick parrot named Crackers. They also made a Batman Expy identity for Don, known as Super Don. The Super Don action figure is based on the Dark Turtle Example below.
- Another example being in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) cartoon, Donatello becomes the superhero known as Dark Turtle.
- In one episode of The New Batman Adventures, Batman faces a new vigilante in town who calls himself "The Judge", who is going after the city's criminal element and has a more violent manner of dealing with them. Batman tries to stop him as he targets Two Face, only to discover at the end that The Judge is really a new multiple personality of Harvey Dent.
Examples of Type 2
- The Silver Age of Comic Books has quite a few one-off stories where superheroes become other superheroes under certain circumstances. For example, World's Finest #155 had Batman become Nightman after Superman tricks him into being hypnotized. Note that the spoilers are deliberate, as the story revolves around the mystery of the hero's identity. Here's a link to the Agony Booth review of World's Finest #155.
- A Story Arc in Daredevil had an erzatz Daredevil running around Hell's Kitchen (the real Daredevil is in prison at the time), which turned out to be Iron Fist.
- In 52, everyone thought that Supernova was Superman in disguise. Actually, it was Booster Gold from the future all along.
- In the Dark Avengers (Spin-Off to the Thunderbolts in the Type I section, several team-members were supervillains playing Costume Copycat to similarly powered heroes.
- There's a Silver Age comic in whic Superman and Jimmy Olsen go to Kandor and are forced to take on the identities of Nightwing and Flamebird.
- The Superman dressing as Batman example was used in the episode "Knight Time" of Superman: The Animated Series. Batman being invincible served to spook the villains of Gotham even more, enhancing Batman's legendary status.