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.
- In the 1970s he becomes disillusioned with the U.S. government and takes on the new identity "Nomad".
- 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.
- The Incredible Hulk
- Early in Peter David's run, 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.
- In the Omega Hulk storyline, the superintelligent Hulk took the name Doc Green.
- 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 Silver Age, Superman would sometimes shrink himself and Jimmy Olsen to visit the bottle-city of Kandornote . There, they would sometimes adopt the personas of Nightwingnote (Superman) and Flamebird (Jimmy), a pair of costumed heroes along the lines of Batman and Robin (Superman lost his superpowers while in the city but was still muscular and athletic, and he had some gadgets to help him out as well).
- 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. For his part, 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-Zero Hour! version of the story from Starman, it was Doctor Mid-Nite.
- In a variation on the theme, Batman occasionally takes on the identity "Matches Malone" to spy on the underworld.
- 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.
- During the ''X-Men storyline "The Twelve", Apocalypse has a new Horseman, Death, who fights and kills Wolverine. Death turns out to be the real, albeit brainwashed, Wolverine. The Wolverine he killed was a Skrull imposter.
- Moon Knight himself has been known to operate as both Moon Knight (the violent and vengeful gadgeteer vigilante) and Mr.Knight (a violent intellectual sarcastic vigilante).
- Inverted by the same character, who has multiple civilian identities. As cabby Jake Locksley, he can keep an ear to the ground, and as Steven Grant he's often invited into high-society functions. His actual birth name is Marc Spector.
- In the Big Bang Comics universe, Knight Watchman's sidekick - Kid Galahad - inherited the role of Knight Watchman. He operates both as the publicly known and liked Galahad during the day, and as the mysterious and feared Knight Watchman at night.
- Nightwing once adopted the alternate superhero identity of the Target when it became inadvisable for him to operate as Nightwing. And of course, he'd previously had the identity of Robin.
- Supreme had a version of Superman's Nightwing identity, when he and Diana Dane entered the Prism World as Doctor Dark and Duskwing, based on Professor Night and Twilight.
- In the 2007 TMNT film, Raphael becomes the vigilante known as Nightwatcher.
- 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.
- Price. Anima, as White Lady.
- The practice is so common in the setting that it's given a name: Moonnighting. A Multiple Reference Pun on 'moonlighting' and the sheer number of heroes who use the word 'night' on the list.
- 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.
- Subverted Trope: Clark isn't actually Superman yet at this point. He only adopts that identity in the series finale.
- From 1991, 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 80s 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.