Who was that strange, masked man?
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. 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.
Related to Legacy Character
, Becoming the Mask
, Secret Identity
, Secret Identity Identity
, Multilayer Fašade
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 outft and he adopts the moniker, "The Great Saiyaman."
- Not exactly super, but Char from Mobile Suit Gundam is actually the secret identity of Casval Rem Deikun, who seeks revenge on his father's murderers by posing in their army as his dead friend Char. Then, in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, he takes a second secret identity as Quattro Bajeena. This one is completely ineffective thanks to his Paper-Thin Disguise, and by the end of the series his identity as Char is essentially an Open Secret amongst the members of the AEUG and the enemy forces' leaders.
- Captain America went undercover as The Captain on two different occasions.
- This was because the Government demanded that he work exclusively for them, and when he refused, they forbid him from using the Captain America identity, which they legally owned. They gave the identity to another hero, Super Patriot, who later ended up trading costumes with The Captain and being renamed US Agent.
- His Ultimate Marvel counterpart spent some time as that universe's Black Panther.
- 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, Prodigy, 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 (I.e. Giant-Man, Wasp, Goliath, Ant Man, Yellowjacket...). Some continuities explain this as him being crazy.
- Clint Barton USUALLY goes by Hawkeye, but he's also been Ronin (the second Ronin in the Avengers) & Goliath. And he tried out the Captain America identity after the death of the original, but decided it wasn't for him.
- 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 former Anti-Villain.
- 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!
- Back in the early '90s, the Superman comic books had a super-antihero named Gangbuster. After a year, he turned out to be Superman, with a trauma-induced separate personality.
- In the New X-Men series written by Grant Morrison, the friendly Chinese dissident mutant Xorn (who was explained to require a mask at all times due to the nature of his powers) was revealed to be Magneto in disguise all along, who after crippling Professor X proceed to take a giant, Nazi-esque leap over the Moral Event Horizon. Attempts were made by higher ups and other writers to retcon this as soon as possible, leading to a Continuity Snarl, wherein Xorn was explained to be Xorn pretending to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn. And then later on, another Xorn showed up who was the brother of the impostor Xorn. Its not clear if Morrison intended for Xorn to be Magneto all along or not, but if he did then some Fridge Logic comes up as Xorn explicitly had Healing Hands as a power and Magneto did not; however, Morrison maintains that he always intended Xorn to be Magneto.
- Martian Manhunter: Since he's a Shape Shifter who has been on Earth since 1955, J'onn has used a number of identities, including the superheroes The Bronze Wraith in the seventies and Bloodwynd in the nineties. Although there was a real Bloodwynd.
- Batman took on the identity of "Starman" for an issue in 1951 when a dose of Fear Gas (from Professor Milo this time) made him terrified of bats. In the post-crisis version of the story from Starman, it was Doctor Mid-Nite.
- In 52, Lex Luthor thinks Superman has done this and become the new hero Supernova. After looking into it, his subordinates come to the conclusion it's actually Superboy. Of course, they're all wrong. It's Booster Gold.
- In a non-superhero example, Miss Level the witch from A Hat Full of Sky used to perform in circuses as Topsy & Tipsy, a mind-reading act. This was made much easier because Miss Level's "superpower" isn't that she's psychic, but that she's one person with two bodies.
- In the Wild Cards series, the superhero Black Shadow killed a couple of criminals early in his career. Sought by the police, he simply adopts various other superheroic identities. He eventually starts thinking of himself as "Shad" just so he has an internal identity that he can cling to, because things have gotten so confusing.
- 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.
- From 1991 to at least 2014, the true identity of wrestling clown Command Bolshoi remained unrevealed. Haruyama #2, Miko-san, Piko, T-1 Mask, Medium and Dotonborishoi have been revealed to be the same person as Command Bolshoi however.
- 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.