Created By: FantasyLiver on October 2, 2012 Last Edited By: FantasyLiver on January 29, 2013
Troped

Second Super Identity

Basically when a superhero is secretly another superhero.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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:

Type I 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.

Type II 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 and 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."

Comic Books
  • 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!

Film (Animated)

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Tabletop RPG
  • 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.

Toys
  • 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.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • 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

Comics
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.


Community Feedback Replies: 85
  • October 2, 2012
    Goldfritha
  • October 2, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Hank Pym, the original Ant Man, has a habit of juggling multiple superhero personas. Some continuities explain this as him being crazy.
  • October 2, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Web Original
  • October 2, 2012
    JonnyB
    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.
  • October 2, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Does it have to be a hero? for example Robin in Teen Titans becomes Red X (who is not a hero).
  • October 3, 2012
    AP
    • Captain America went undercover as both Nomad and The Captain on two different occaisions.
    • Spider Man did this as an entire group of heroes. During the Identity Crisis arc, he adopted four different superhero personas. Eventually these personas were adopted by other heroes, creating The Slingers.
  • October 3, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 3, 2012
    NESBoy
    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.
  • October 3, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • 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.
  • October 3, 2012
    m8e
    Change it so it doesn't have to be heroes.
    • Medabots: Hikaru Agata(henry) with his two alter egos, the Phantom Renegade and Space Medafighter X. At one point Space Medafighter X's golden mask is cracked which reveals the white mask of Phantom Renegade.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    All right, it seems like most people want it to not just apply to heroes. So I'll change it so it can be villains or others instead.
  • October 3, 2012
    Stratadrake
    We're definitely needing a better title here. Super Alter Ego?
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    You're right, we need a better title. But Super Alter Ego sounds like their "regular alter ego." Like Peter Parker's Super Alter Ego sounds like it would be Spider-Man but that's not what this is trying to convey.
  • October 3, 2012
    m8e
    "Alter Alter Ego"?

    But does this trope require that a the normal identity is the real identity? Like Peter Parker real name is Peter Parker but he makes up the spiderman name and costume to hide his real identity, and later uses those other identities.

    or Hikaru Agata really is Hikaru Agata but wears a White Mask Of Doom as the thief Phantom Renegade and later wears the golden mask as the alien Space Medafighter X.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    I like Alter Alter Ego. The trope just requires that one has to have two "super" identities that are different than the other one and that one of their identities is not generally known to the public. Like Batman is his "real" one while Bruce Wayne and Matches Malone are his "fake" ones.
  • October 3, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Hm, the Teen Titans one won't fit, maybe. Robin has had 3 identities: Robin, Red-X (a thief who was working for Slade, so he could learn his plans, and Slade's apprentice (his friends were held hostage, in a way), in the show the heros don't have a muggle Identity.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Anyone have a picture link for this trope?
  • October 3, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 3, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Does The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes/Captain America (Mk II) count?
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    I don't know about Bucky/Cap because that's his new identity. That is to say, he disregarded his Bucky persona for his Cap one. To activate this trope, the superhero must have a secret identity in addition to his superhero persona.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    All right I need feedback. Should we keep the name or change it to Alter Alter Ego? Or other names, I'm open to suggestion
  • October 3, 2012
    NESBoy
    Alright, for your interest, here's a link to the Agony Booth review of World's Finest #155.

    Also, I found an earlier World's Finest tale from #119 revolving around a superhero named "Tigerman", who turns out to be... Superman!
  • October 3, 2012
    Bisected8
    I like Alter Alter Ego too, although Recursive Secret Identity is more descriptive.
  • October 3, 2012
    johnnye
    Isn't this Multilayer Facade?
  • October 3, 2012
    foxley
    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.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Okay so should it be Alter Alter Ego or Recursive Secret Identity. The Identity Crisis example is listed on the page.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Also, it's not Multilayer Facade. At least, I don't think so. Multilayer Facade is when a superhero has something under the mask to protect their identity if the mask falls off. So sort of like hero insurance. This trope is when someone has two heroic, or villainous, identities in addtion to their real identity. So they are similar but different enough to warrant a different trope.
  • October 3, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Another example being in the 1987 TMNT cartoon, sorry for the Ninja Turtles references but hey I like my Turtles, Donatello becomes the superhero known as Dark Turtle. If someone could get me an image link, I remember his costume being great and it would make a good trope picture.
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    All right I really need feedback on the name PLEASE. More examples would be welcome

  • October 4, 2012
    m8e
    But what is the three identities in the Turtles example? Donatello, Dark Turtle and Donatello in Conspicuous Trenchcoat?
  • October 4, 2012
    Koveras
    Recursive Secret Identity is more descriptive, as Bisected8 said...
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    In answer to the question, Donatello is a mutant turtle, then he is a ninja crimefighter, and then he is also a superhero known as Dark Turtle
  • October 4, 2012
    tardigrade
    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.
  • October 4, 2012
    m8e
    Donatello is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(Exactly What It Says On The Tin). He doesn't use another name(identity/alter ego/whatever) when he is out fighting crime.
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Well I suppose I should amend the trope in response to m8e's realzation. Donatello, who as mentioned above, took the identity of Dark Turtle. However, Dark Turtle is a crimefighter, just like Donatello's other identity. Don doesn't have any other alter ego apart from being a TMNT and being Dark Turtle. So this tropes should apply to people who have at least TWO identities that they use to combat crimes (or commit them.) So a "normal" secret identity is not required for this Trope to take place. Also, if someone could tell me the episode, but on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Commander Nebula disguises himself as a mercenary when being a commander bores him. Sorry but my rememberance of the episode is sketchy.
  • October 4, 2012
    JonnyB
    @johnnye: It's certainly related, but after reading the description over there, it's not the same thing. Multilayer Facade is when one the mask is removed from one person (not always a superhero), revealing a second secret identity underneath. This is when a hero has two separate identities. The reveal is unimportant and both identities may be working at the same time, and unknown to the public to be the same person.

    A villainous example: 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.
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Thanks to the above for the better explanation. Now, I am new to this, I got my account yesterday, but is this ready to become a trope? If so, if I convert this to a trope, how do I make the trope popular? If not, what do I need to do to make this a true Trope?
  • October 4, 2012
    JonnyB
    Congratulations, it seems you've found a trope we've all missed. What do you need to do now?

    First, a YKTTW should stay active for three days before it is launched. Secondly, you should wait until you have five hats (five people have agreed your new trope is ready to launch). And in the meantime, you should add the examples people post to the trope above (see other YKTTW's and already launched tropes for examples on how to do this).

    See the YKTTW Guidelines for other advice on how to build your trope. And don't worry about it "becoming popular." If you build it, they will come. And indeed, they already have been; this is a fairly long list of comments for a new YKTTW posting.

    As far as an alternate name goes, I don't think Recursive Secret Identity works, that sounds too much like Multilayer Facade to me. How about Alternate Secret Identity?
  • October 4, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Long story short, copy the examples from the comments to the write-up and wait for the hats.
  • October 4, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^Sharpish, so we can add hats :)
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Alternate Secret Identity is great! Thanks for the advice.
  • October 4, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Anyone else like Alternate Secret Identity for the Trope name? Also, more examples are still welcome. I tried to put up all the examples from all the media that you all have given me but I may have missed a few. If I did, let me know and I'll put it up

  • October 4, 2012
    mythbuster
    In Dragonball 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."
  • October 5, 2012
    Koveras
    @FantasyLiver: If you click on the pen symbol next to a comment, an edit form will open and you can copy the author's original markup. If you then click on the pen symbol again, the form will close without saving anything. Please do copy the original markup if the commenters go to the trouble of formatting their examples...
  • October 5, 2012
    m8e
    I copied the examples with markup to the bottom of the page. Hope that's ok.
  • October 5, 2012
    Arivne
    If I understand the trope correctly it's not about having multiple secret identities, it's about having multiple hero/villain identities.

    Multiple Super Identities?
  • October 5, 2012
    m8e
    I think we can add:

    "Related to Becoming The Mask, Secret Identity, Secret Identity Identity, Multilayer Facade."

    @Arivne: Maybe...

    Something like:
    • The character switch back and forth between the two hero/villain identities depending on context.
    • The character give up one hero/villain identity and creates a new one for some reason.
  • October 5, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Hey guys. Thanks for posting the original markup for me and reformatting it. I'm still finding my way around and I wasn't sure if tropers wanted me to put their words in the trope page or for me to paraphrase.
  • October 5, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Any ideas for a trope picture?
  • October 6, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Hey fellow Tropers, I'm thinking about making this a trope tomorrow. Is that wise? Also, any trope picture ideas?
  • October 6, 2012
    Jordan
    nvm
  • October 7, 2012
    morenohijazo
  • October 12, 2012
    FantasyLiver
    Is this tropeworthy yet?
  • October 31, 2012
    Telcontar
    [test bump]
  • November 8, 2012
    MarqFJA
    This has been unlaunched due to premature launching.
  • December 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Not sure the Captain America example counts as the trope is described. During the times when he was "The Captain" and "Nomad" he had specifically given up the Captain America identity.
  • December 27, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    ^-Yeah. This isn't any occasion of a codename change.

  • January 14, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Well, it's been awhile since I last visited here but I still think this thing could become a trope. Hats/comments/edits are now welcome.
  • January 14, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Another Marvel example, the Ronin identity seems to be tossed around from costumed hero to costumed hero. Originally envisioned as Daredevil in disguise, leaks led to creators scrambling to making it a deaf super heroine named Echo. It then went to Hawkeye, and eventually Black Widow's ex-husband, Red Guardian.
  • January 14, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Well, Ronin is more like a Legacy Character. This trope is when a hero or villain has more than one costumed identities for whatever reason.
  • January 14, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Good point, though I think the Echo example would still apply for this trope.
  • January 14, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    So Echo is a superhero, who is also Ronin? That would work.
  • January 14, 2013
    batgirl1
    • 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.

    (Incidentally, wouldn't "Recursive Secret Identity" mean that the hero ends up disguised as himself somehow?)
  • January 14, 2013
    Hodor
    • 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. In the spin-off Dark Avengers, team-members were generally supvervillains playing Costume Copycat to similarly powered heroes.
  • January 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    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.
  • January 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Cleaned up the Daredevil and Captain America examples, then added a Batman/Superman one.
  • January 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Also, for a name, I vote for Second Super Identity. Or something like that.

    Since it's a secret identity that's also Super. Alternate Secret Identity implies that there are two civilian identities, and one super identity.
  • January 15, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Second Super Identity is great. Feedback?

    ^^ And thanks for the edits but the Superman/Batman thing doesn't really work seeing as Superman doesn't actually take Batman's identity.
  • January 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    It doesn't? It's the exact same thing as the Daredevil/Iron Fist thing. Superman is posing as Batman.
  • January 15, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Oh, he was? You didn't mention that or maybe I missed it. Okay, I thought you were saying that Superman just travelled to Gotham.
  • January 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Sorry, I wrote the Animated Series one first so in my mind it was a logical continuation.

    Not sure if this counts, but they posed as Captain Marvel and Hawkman (who were their enemies at the time, due to Superman being framed for a crime) in Superman/Batman (and the animated movie, Superman Batman Public Enemies) but this is more Dressing As The Enemy.
  • January 15, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Yeah, it's not really this trope. Still, thanks for the example that you added.
  • January 19, 2013
    batgirl1
    So wait, does a superhero impersonating another existing hero count for this trope, or is it only for creating a new super identity from scratch?
  • January 22, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Ummm...it's been awhile. Tell you what. From the beginning, it was for the hero creating a new super identity from scratch. Them impersonating another existing hero should be another trope. I'll fix the examples that are just impersonations of another heroes.
  • January 22, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Maybe just make it a variant (or a Type I/Type II?), for simplicity's sake. Both this trope and that hypothetical one could use the extra examples, and if it becomes an issue we can split it off?
  • January 23, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    ^ Actually, that's not a bad idea splitting it off into Type I and Type II. I'll get on that.
  • January 24, 2013
    morenohijazo
    Done.
  • January 24, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Dr. Mc Ninja dressed as another costumed character named Dr. Mc Luchador in order to infiltrate King Radical's organization (unbeknownst to everyone but Mc Ninja, Mc Luchador had died). Would this count or just be Dressing As The Enemy?
  • January 24, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Depends, was Dr. Mc Luchador a costumed hero or villain? And was Dr. Mc Ninja only using the Dr. Mc Luchador disguise to infiltrate King Radical's organization and no other purpose?
  • January 24, 2013
    toadking07
    Do all the times Superman had someone (Batman, robots, etc) pretend to be Clark Kent so people would see Superman and Clark at the same time? And what about all the times Ironman had someone else fly around in the Ironman suits to prove that Tony Stark wasn't Ironman?
  • January 24, 2013
    randomsurfer
    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.
  • January 27, 2013
    morenohijazo
    I've worked a bit with the page, but I think someone needs to check the examples. I'm not familiar with superheroes stories, so I have no idea of whether they're right.
  • January 27, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Excellent work, morenohijazo. I've checked most of the superhero examples and they've all been right.
  • January 28, 2013
    PopcornInsomniac
    So then, what are we waiting for?
  • January 28, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    I really don't know. I've never launched a Ykttw before so I was waiting for any possible other examples before I launched it. I read the Ykttw Guidelines so I kinda know what to do but I did make it Up for Grabs if anyone wants to launch it. If not, I'll launch it soon.
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