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Clark Kenting / Comic Books

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Clark Kenting in comic books.

  • Supergirl: Several incarnations of Superman's cousin have tried her hand at Clark Kenting. In order from bad to better:
    • Post-Flashpoint Kara didn't use any extras prior to "DC: Rebirth" (but only half-heartedly attempted to have a secret identity in one story).
    • Pre-Flashpoint and Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade Kara versions followed her cousin's example by using glasses.
    • For most of her Pre-Crisis life, Kara used a brown wig to hide her blonde hair.
    • In the original The Supergirl from Krypton story, Clark buys a brown wig, a blouse and a long skirt to create his cousin's secret identity.
      Superman: There! That wig of pigtails makes you look like a different girl entirely who was born on Earth!
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    • Reversing this, when the naturally brunette Post-Crisis Linda Danvers lost the ability to transform into Supergirl, she started wearing a blonde wig in her heroic persona.
    • The animated Supergirl of the DCAU uses both wig and glasses.
    • Supergirl (Rebirth) Kara wears loose clothes, glasses, dyes her hair brown and braids it into a ponytail, and behaves like a insecure, quiet, geeky girl (as opposite to her hot-blooded, fiery and determined real self).
      Director Chase: "Kara Danvers" is a tool for you to walk amongst the people you protect.
  • Kon-El, the Post-Crisis version of Superboy, is probably the worst offender of them all. He changes his clothes, but makes no attempt to cover his face or change his mannerisms in any way. As a result, trained government officials can easily pick him out of a crowd or recognize him after bumping into him. That said, it should be noted that Kon doesn't have much of a Secret Identity to begin with, given that the government is aware of his existence already.
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  • Rebirth's Superboy, Jon Kent, is also a terrible offender. Aside from wearing a baseball cap and fake glasses, Jon makes no attempt to alter his voice or mannerisms or even change what jeans he's wearing in his uniform. This is only further compounded by his status as a Bad Liar who can't come up with a good excuse for all the things he's doing. This issue gets lampshaded heavily by Beast Boy.
    Starfire: [The Teen Titans are in the Kent apartment] That "S" on your chest means that you're a big advantage.
    Jon: "S"? What "S"? I'm just a normal kid... that Robin happens to know...
    Beast Boy: We know who you are. Your Secret Identity is more obvious than mine. And I'm green!
  • Identity Crisis: Deconstructed, as villains discovered the secret identities all the time. The answer: a little mind wiping by Zatanna.
  • Batman:
    • In the Comic series Batman: Year One, Batman pulls off Clark Kenting in his first attempt at doing vigilante work by using make-up to make a distinguishing fake scar on his face. People focus on the scar so much they don't notice any other real details. Nobody recognizes that it's Bruce Wayne. However a pimp sees through the disguise in that he knows Bruce is up to no good. He thinks Bruce is an undercover vice cop, however. Bruce hadn't yet mastered his ability to hide in an undercover role.
    • Further lampshaded in an issue of Batman Adventures. To infiltrate the underworld, Batman assumes the identity of "Matches Malone", by wearing a false mustache and carrying a match in his mouth. When Alfred expresses concern over whether it will be effective, Bruce simply tells him that "I know a guy who does this with just a pair of glasses."
    • In Issue #0 of the Batwoman series, Batman has been surveilling Katherine "Kate" Kane to determine if she is the person behind the Batwoman mask. He knows she has the skill to be Batwoman, she is the daughter of two career soldiers and she earned the position of Cadet Captain at the Military Academy at West Point, and she also has the motivation: her mother and twin sister were murdered when they and she were kidnapped in her childhood, but he does not know if she has the drive to be Batwoman. To test her he decides to "mug" her and see how she reacts, and he disguises himself with a black wig. Only a black wig. In the narration, he muses how "Clark" always said the simple disguises were the best. Batwoman herself averts the trope; not only does she wear a face-concealing mask, but her long red hair is actually a wig that covers her much shorter (albeit still red) hair.
    • Matches Malone, Batman's criminal persona, is him with sunglasses and a mustache which shouldn't hide the fact that it's billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. To his credit he also dons a heavy New Jersey accent and even in jail he gets to keep his sunglasses.
    • In an interesting twist, when Nightwing took over as Batman following the latter's death, he had to work hard at convincing people that he was the original. The average citizen, unaware of the situation and obviously not too familiar with Batman, bought it instantly. Renee Montoya, on the other hand, saw through it instantly. Meanwhile, a story arc was made out of Two-Face figuring out it wasn't the same man he'd fought for so long and coming gunning for the new "fake" to try and deduce who it was.
    • Back during the Knightfall storyline Jean-Paul Valley had to work just a bit to convince everyone that Batman was back after his crushing defeat at the hands of Bane. Bane wasn't fooled for a second and dismissed him as a pretender. When JP armed himself with the armor, Harvey Bullock just mentioned that "the kid gloves came off". However, Commissioner Gordon just wasn't convinced that the Batman running around in armor was his Batman. Superman noticed it, too, but because he just recently came back from the dead, he really didn't have much time to investigate. The Joker noticed it, too, by his actions, as did Catwoman by his reactions around her. Though, with the exceptions of Bane and Superman, they didn't know that it wasn't Bruce Wayne under the mask, they knew it wasn't their Batman.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman also uses glasses as a disguise, although she changes her hairstyle as well. The fact that her abilities are magic-based may also help.
    • The original version stated Wonder Woman co-opted the identity of an actual Diana Prince (who, miraculously, looked exactly like her). This Diana then took off for South America to get married. She later returned and asked for her identity back.
    • Wonder Woman was engaged in this even before she left her home island. Her classic origin (recounted in, among other places, Super Friends) had her donning a tiny little eye-mask to "disguise" herself for the iconic tournament, as her mother had forbidden her from participating. In every version of the story, it works, even though she's doing it under the noses of people who've known her for her whole life (it's especially silly in her initial Golden Age origin, where she was the only one who wore a mask; later versions had all the contestants masked to avoid favoritism on the part of the judges, and at least one threw a Voluntary Shapeshifting mask into the mix).
    • George Perez did away with her secret identity when he revamped the character for Volume 2 following Crisis on Infinite Earths. As he saw it, Diana would feel no need to hide who she was, and since she was entering the modern world for the first time she would never have been able to pull it off anyway.
    • Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark originally had the ingenuity to wear a black wig and goggles, though even then her costume was mainly thrown together from what was already in her closet. She ditched them after a situation where she had to chose between maintaining disguise and saving the day, but her lack of secret identiy going forward made it difficult for her to find a school willing to take her due to the potential danger to the other students.
    • Revisited in The New 52 with Clark and Diana begin dating. Even though Wonder Woman maintains no civilian ID, she is able to go out on a date with Clark in relative anonymity simply by putting on glasses and changing her hairstyle.
  • Young Avengers: Patriot started out with a full face-mask, but switched to a domino mask early on (his grandfather figured it out quickly). Stature also wears a domino mask, while Kate limits herself to some Cool Shades, if that. Wiccan wears a headband and cloak, leaving his face completely open to see. However, he is a Witch...
  • Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, was an odd case. In his early adventures, he didn't seem to put any effort into keeping his identity secret whatsoever, and routinely did stuff like trying out for the Olympics under his own name, running at super speed. And in any event, his "Mercury" style helmet left his face uncovered. Later stories did have him use his secret identity (and everybody else just forgot it, apparently). His secret was supposedly maintained by subtly vibrating his face at super speed while in public. Then in 1978, the semi-retired Garrick went "back" to having a public identity.
  • Viciously parodied in the 1980s-vintage independent comic book Megaton Man, in which the title character is a grotesquely over-muscled hulk, whose attempts to hide behind a Kent-like blue suit and glasses fool no-one but himself.
  • Parodied in The Tick, in which the title character attempts to adopt a secret identity by donning thick glasses, a tie and a flowered purse — while still wearing his antennaed blue spandex super-suit.
    • This is parodied constantly in The Tick, because the characters never appear outside their costumes. One episode featured him and American Maid posing as normal hotel guests, taking on assumed names, and the hotel concierge (working for the villain) only suspects something is up because the Tick picks an obviously made up name ("Nick Soapdish") and not because he's got two completely undisguised superheroes standing in front of him.
    • And Clark Oppenheimer is a Captain Ersatz parody of the Trope Namer himself. Much of his onscreen time is used to mock this trope mercilessly. The Tick both isn't fooled and doesn't understand Clark's need to maintain an identity.
  • Subverted in Green Arrow, in one issue a cop that had been working with the hero turns up unexpectedly at Oliver Queen's home. Oliver asks in surprise "How did you know who I was?" The cop replied "Was it supposed to be a secret?" After that Oliver stopped even wearing a mask.
    • He was also instantly recognized by Mia Dearden, who pointed out that he uses a tiny little mask, has a one-in-a-million beard, and doesn't even bother to alter his voice when in costume.
    • Played straight later on, when Oliver Queen was elected Mayor of his home city without anyone noticing the similar taste in goatees.
      • In a much older issue, Clark Freakin' Kent of all people tried to convince Ollie not to run for office, since being in the spotlight would make it much easier for people to realize he looked a hell of a lot like Green Arrow.
    • Lampshaded during Morrison's JLA run, where the team got chewed out by a random citizen of Star City who just happened to have a blond goatee. Maybe blond goatees are just perpetually in-fashion in Star City!
  • Captain Marvel stories usually play this trope straight:
    • Captain Marvel Jr. is somehow able to keep a secret identity as Freddie Freeman despite the fact that his Marvel form looks exactly the same as his normal form. On the other hand, the fact that Freddie is legitimately disabled likely helps divert suspicion.
    • Likewise, Mary Marvel looks just like her alter ego Mary Batson, though Depending on the Writer, her superhero identity may be a "grown-up" version of her ordinary self. A bigger problem might be the fact that both identities share the same first namenote , though this was avoided in the 1990s "Power of Shazam" series. In that version, "Captain Marvel" was treated (like, e.g., Green Lantern) more as a title than a unique name. Third parties would usually distinguish Mary from her brother by referring to her as "the lady Captain Marvel" or something similar.
    • Captain Marvel himself is normally an example of Older Alter Ego, but in Kingdom Come, the grown-up Billy Batson looks exactly like Marvel, which becomes an important plot point.
    • Golden-Age Fawcett comics suggested that it was a combination of factors. The bright flash of light and loud noise disoriented bystanders, so even people who were looking right at Billy as he changed often didn't realize what happened. Reactions to Freddy and Junior, or Mary and Mary, suggest that the two identities don't look exactly the same, even though they're drawn that way. Then again, it was also uncertain how "secret" their identity was supposed to be in those days. Their biggest foes already knew who they were, and they had no qualms about transforming in the middle of a group of people (and introducing themselves afterwards).
  • Golden Age superhero Captain Battle stretched the trope to the breaking point. In his civilian identity, he was William Battle, a World War I veteran who used to be a captain in the army. It didn't help that he didn't wear any disguise whatsoever while operating as a superhero. It doesn't help that he wears an eyepatch in both identities. One wonders how the intros for those stories went. "In his civilian guise, he is William Battle, the retired Captain! But when crime rears its ugly head, he puts on no disguise and becomes Captain Battle, man of mystery!"
  • Subverted in Invincible; best friend William figures out who Invincible is the first time Mark (Invincible) tries this in front of him.
    • His girlfriend, Amber, figures it out as well. When Mark's mom scolds him for letting so many people in on his identity, he protests that it's a lot harder fooling people in "real life" than in the movies.
    • It is however played straight with Atom Eve and Omni-Man. Especially when you realize that Omni-Man is both the world's most famous hero and, in his secret identity of Nolan Grayson, a popular and celebrated author.
    • Mark and Eve are instantly recognized by their teacher when the confront him about turning popular students into living bombs. He remarks the Eve isn't even wearing a mask.
    • Most of the people who recognize Mark as Invincible are people who have actually spoken to Mark, and are probably recognizing him by his voice.
    • Like the Superman example above Omni-Man/Nolan Grayson has fairly generic features to begin with. Furthermore as an author and writer (not a reporter) he can choose to keep a much lower profile than other celebrities and come off as a bit reclusive and eccentric. How many Calvin and Hobbes fans actually know what Bill Watterson looks like?
  • Subverted in The Authority. At one point, Apollo and Midnighter attempt to settle down in San Francisco, in order to give their daughter, Jenny Quantum, a vaguely normal childhood. As Apollo (a Superman Expy, who for this scene wears glasses) attempts to explain the concept of secret identities to Jenny, Midnighter ruins the whole charade by throwing the real estate agent 500 feet into a lake when he upped the asking price of the house they were looking at.
  • Parodied in an issue of The Avengers. Quasar, a member of the team, shows up at the mansion in his civilian identity and wearing a pair of glasses; every Avenger he meets thinks "I hope Quasar doesn't think those glasses are disguising anything."
  • Parodied in Gold Digger in the school days of one of the main characters. When some of the school staff turn out to be evil and try and conduct mind control experiments on the student body, Brittany "Cheetah" Digger's best friend convinces her to join her as a superhero as "Pink Avenger and the Cheets". Despite the fact that Brittany is the ''only werecheetah in the world'', and the only non-human student in the school and probably city, the evil villains never saw through the disguise during their entire school stay. The rest of the student body, on the other hand... figured it out in about five seconds making it a big Everybody Knew Already to them, but keeping quiet out of approval.
  • Spider-Man is generally not an example due to his costume fully covering his body, but sometimes it still happens:
    • Perfectly demolished in a story in which Ben Urich places a call to Peter Parker's cell phone, implies that he knows Peter's secret, and requests a meeting. Once on the roof of the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man asks how Urich could have figured this out. Ben's response goes on for several panels. Some of the highlights: "Peter, I'm an award-winning investigative journalist at a major metropolitan newspaper. We've been working out of the same offices, and frequently assigned to the same stories, for something like eleven years now. I'm honestly insulted you thought I was never going to figure this out." "You frequently smelled like smoke. You know who else always smelled like smoke? Matt Murdock. You told me once that you knew Daredevil was Matt Murdock. Now, how could a substitute science teacher and part-time photojournalist possibly know that Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer in Hell's Kitchen, was the vigilante Daredevil. Oh, right."
    • This trope was further spoofed in another Spider-Man comic where Spider-Man briefly meets another hero, who is clearly a Marvel Comics parody of Superman. When this hero shows up without a mask on his face, Peter Parker asks how he disguises himself. The man's response is to pull out a pair of glasses and put them on. It fails.
    • Touched on in yet another issue where one of Spider-Man's contacts offhandedly refers to him as a New Yorker. When Peter responds with "How do you know I live in the city?" the man just smirks and replies "Ask me again with that Queens accent how I know where you're from."
  • In one issue of The Uncanny X-Men the beaten up father of Bobby Drake/Iceman, while lying in a hospital, asks Gambit a few questions. Bobby's father doesn't understand why some people engage in the X-Men although some of them are perfectly fine looking, just like Gambit, seeming to ignore his pretty unusual eyes. One can't blame him for that, even many colorists forget that Gambit doesn't have normal eyes, or make them blue instead of red. Gambit's eyes are also hypnotic. It's possible that people just don't notice them.
  • Played for laughs in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Doreen's efforts to hide her secret identity often manifest as a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
    Doreen: I'm Doreen, and I'm actually a totally regular person.
  • Like everything else about Superman, this was parodied/deconstructed in Supreme Power. Mark Milton tells his government handlers he can disguise himself — and puts on a pair of glasses. The agents just shoot him that look. The fact that Hyperion has no secret identity and thus no real human contact is one of the reasons he becomes so unhinged later. Goddammit, they should've let him wear the glasses... His original Squadron Supreme counterpart wore a tiny domino mask as Hyperion that covered no more than glasses would, and when the Squadron "went public", he removed it on television as if it were a dramatic Reveal.
  • Samaritan's civilian disguise in Astro City is just a pair of glasses and change of hair colour, but it's actually quite convincing, even to the reader. There is the fact that his civilian name is Asa Martin, an anagram of Samaritan.
  • In the early Silver Age Human Torch, "everybody knows that Sue Storm is the Invisible Girl, but no-one knows her brother Johnny is the Human Torch." After the writers realized how stupid this plot point was, they retconned it into everyone knowing, but since they were aware of Johnny's attempts at hiding it, they respected that he didn't want them to talk about it. An earlier story where the brilliant Wizard tries, and fails, to learn Johnny's identity is quietly ignored, and he knows perfectly well who the Torch is in his next appearance.
  • Parodied in The Inferior Five, where even though only Awkwardman wears a mask, nobody knows their true identities. Even Awkwardman is pretty obvious. "Nobody suspects clumsy, oafish Leander Brent is really clumsy, oafish Awkwardman!... I wonder how come?"
  • More subtly parodied in The Intimates. The teacher of the Secret Identity class is Mr. Hyde (referring to the dual identities), who greatly resembles Superman and wears glasses. Lampshaded by one of the series' signature infoscrolls in the final issue after he finally uses one of his powers: "Can anyone guess what kind of 'vision' does Mr. Hyde have? (Hint: It's temperature based, as well as being the complete opposite of 'cold')"
  • Lampshaded in The Trouble with Girls. In one storyline, Lester Girls decides to try disguising himself using a pair of glasses and the pseudonym Leroy Gals. Though his internal dialog also mentions that he's also subtly altering his posture, voice, etc. He promptly meets and begins a romance with his reocuring foil who's disguised herself by wearing a brunette wig.
  • Conner Kent, the second Superboy, is one of the more ridiculous examples. He uses glasses like Clark Kent does, but he doesn't wear a freaking costume. His "costume" as Superboy is a black S-symbol t-shirt, jeans and work boots. That's right, he takes off his glasses and changes shirts, and no one recognizes him. At least the comics incarnation of Conner tends to wear different civilian clothes when he's not active as Superboy, unlike his animated counterpart in Young Justice (see Western Animation, below).
  • Cassie Sandsmark, the second Wonder Girl, wears a similar ensemble, but in the version of Teen Titans starting in 2003, she does not have a secret identity, which caused problems finding a school that would take her. Originally she had the ingenuity to wear a black wig and goggles, though even then her costume was mainly thrown together from what was already in her closet. She ditched them after a situation where she had to chose between maintaining disguise and saving the day.
  • Power Girl carries on the Kryptonian tradition in her own series, simply wearing a slightly different hairstyle as Karen Starr. Although (especially as drawn by Amanda Conner) she is unusually good at dressing in layers, it's still hard to believe people don't make a connection. Indeed, several people do figure it out, which is lampshaded by Atlee, the latest Terra, who points out that Power Girl and Karen Starr look exactly the same. This was also lampshaded by Superman himself, who recommended against making Karen Starr the public face of her company, noting that she's not very good at maintaining an effective secret identity.note  Of course, the obvious answer (joke, that is) is that most people aren't looking at her face. This is even parodied in her team-up with Harley Quinn (yes, really).
  • Black Canary doesn't wear a mask (aside from her appearances), but the original Black Canary, Dinah Drake, wore a blonde wig, as did her daughter Dinah Laurel Lance, originally. It worked well as when wig-less they looked nothing like their costumed selves. The younger Canary now grew out her hair and simply dyes her hair blonde, however, and while her secret identity was acknowledged to be a relatively thin one, it was made public by villains in a 2010 Birds of Prey storyline.
  • Red Arrow has one of the tiniest masks in comics. Seriously, it conceals about as much of his face as a pair of sunglasses would. Earlier in his career, as Arsenal, Roy Harper used sunglasses as his only mask. Even earlier, as Speedy, Roy wore a more traditional Robin-style domino mask.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics superhero stories both play it straight and justify it.
    • Super Goof (a 1960s parody of Superman) is Goofy in long-johns with a cape and his ridiculous hat with Superman's power set, yet no one could ever figure out why they never saw Goofy and Super Goof in the same place (this was carried over into animation through an episode of House of Mouse; at the end, Clarabelle thought that Super Goof's secret identity was Dumbo). It's apparently because nobody WANTS to believe Goofy is Super Goof: the one time the Beagle Boys tried to use the police new supercomputer to find out his secret identity, everybody thought the supercomputer was still damaged by Super Goof's earlier sabotage when the computer actually told them it's Goofy (in fact, the Beagle Boys outright said that Tinkerbell was a more believable candidate). Some stories have Mickey Mouse know Super Goof's secret identity, the implication being that either Mickey is that good as a detective or was just open-minded enough to consider and check.
    • In Italian Donald Duck comics, Donald has a superhero / Anti-Hero alter ego called Paperinik, who is Donald with a costume based on Fantomius with a domino mask and Donald's signature hat, yet nobody noticed in spite of people knowing their resemblance. It's explained, as in the previous case, due a combination of people not wanting to believe the lazy Donald is the city's idol and scariest person, Donald and Paperinik having appeared before people at the same time (due either robots taking Donald's place or volunteers replacing Paperinik), and Paperinik being a Master of Disguise who has disguised himself as Donald multiple times (or, in one memorable occasion, as a monster disguised as Paperinik disguised as John Rockerduck disguised as Paperinik). The rather obscure video game adaptation, PK: Out of the Shadows, reinforces the difference by adding the fact that, as Paperinik, Donald uses a voice modulator to disguise his voice (while Donald is still voiced by Tony Anselmo, Paperinik's voice is done by Rob Paulsen).
      • The only people who saw through Paperinik's disguise and couldn't be fooled into thinking it was an error are Everett Ducklair, Lyla Lay and the Griffin, all from Paperinik New Adventures, and bypass Paperinik's usual tricks: Everett has Psychic Power and read it out of Paperinik's mind, while Lyla and the Griffin have technology that allows to see through Latex Perfection, and saw that Paperinik doesn't wear a Donald mask with a domino mask on it but only the domino mask (at which point it was easy).
      • In the first story it was even worse, as Paperinik only wore Fantomius' costume with his trademark hat and no kind of mask. It was actually a colouring error, as Paperinik was supposed to wear Fantomius whole costume (that includes a blue silk mask covering the whole face except the beak), but the colourist missed it and depicted Paperinik's face white (the novelization of the story Retcons it away as showing that Donald had considered wearing Fantomius' mask but in the end opted for the domino mask). Due the second story having Paperinik acting disguised as Fantomius (he had to infiltrate a costume party in Gladstone's place, with Gladstone planning to enter disguised as Fantomius), it wouldn't be until the third story that the domino mask debuted, by which time Paperinik was already The Dreaded.
      • Speaking of the third story... Most of Duckburg actually suspected Donald to be Paperinik, but after the police inspected Donald's car (that doubled as Paperinik's one) and failed to find Paperinik's devices (that had been removed beforehand in expectation of this inspection), the issue was dropped. The story ended with the first instance of Donald being seen in public at the same time as Paperinik (with Paperinik actually being a flying robot).
      • The greatest example of people being fooled into believing Donald isn't Paperinik is the 2014 story "Raceworld", in which, due the peculiar circumstances, Donald's heroic side takes Paperinik's form... And Mickey, who in Italian stories is shown as a great detective, quips that, until then, he had believed that Donald was Paperinik. Apparently he had guessed the bots and replacements, and it took the real Paperinik appearing at the same time as the real Donald to fool him.
    • Daisy has her own superhero alter ego, Paperinika, who is a female and Straw Feminist counterpart to Paperinik. Despite this, the two don't actually like to work together and neither knows the other's secret identity. Which is fine... except that in the American translations, Paperinika is renamed "Super Daisy", but the stories are otherwise translated straight. This has the effect of making Donald look like a complete moron since he can't figure out who she really is, unless you've read Paperinika's original story: Donald's reaction to seeing Paperinika the first time was to ask Daisy why she was dressed that ridiculous way, and only got convinced it's not Daisy due to her acting much coldly and keeping a cool head in situations where Daisy would usually lose it (she was really pissed at the time. She later became an actress good enough to pull Paperinika's personality on purpose).
      • It's also implied that Donald is the reason Paperinika's disguise works: if Daisy's fiancee, who is known to be able to recognize identical triplets from near-invisible details, says she's not Paperinika and has a very vocal dislike for the latter, most people capable of recognizing Daisy through her costume will think it's just a casual resemblance.
    • Paperoga (Fethry Duck) becoming the debatably useful superhero Bat-Paperoga (or "Red Bat" in other countries). It's an obvious spoof of Batman and his disguise doesn't even try to hide the actual identity. It's Played for Laughs, and the identity is kept by a combination of the Red Bat's outfit giving actual cover and the Red Bat being seen as awesome (in his first story he humiliated the Beagle Boys with the help of a headless gorilla) instead that the lucky Fake Ultimate Hero he is.
    • And taken even further with José Carioca's alter-ego Morcego Verde (Green Bat), another Batman spoof:note  His costume is less concealing than Fethry's (despite him wearing a beat-up Batman cowl/cape combination) and while he's wearing it his friends still call him "Zé" or, at their most secretive, "Hey Zé... I mean, Morcego!" In this case there's no justification, only Rule of Funny.
    • The Beagle Boys once robbed a jewelry shop and avoided recognition by not wearing their masks despite being otherwise dressed in full Beagle Boy regalia.
      • Also played straight by Don Rosa in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: when Scrooge first met them in his youth, the Beagle Boys (the original outfit composed by Grampa Beagle and his sons) were wanted criminals who couldn't show their faces in public, and started wearing the masks to hide their identities on suggestion of their employer Porker Hogg. It worked: they were even tricking the river police into leaving when Scrooge unmasked one of them, at which point the police recognized them and proceeded to arrest them.
  • Vixen from the Justice League is another maskless DC hero, although the rest of her costume may be enough of a distraction - or maybe she just has a public ID, since she's a supermodel in her civilian identity.
    • While Vixen did wear a mask at the beginning of her career, her identity is definitely public knowledge by now. In Grant Morrison's Animal Man run, she showed up at the title hero's house in-costume, and Animal Man's wife was shown Fangirling over the fact that a popular supermodel was in her living room.
  • Spoofed in The Mighty Thor, when after losing the ability to turn into his mortal alter-ego Donald Blake, Thor has to come up with a new human disguise that will distract people from the fact that he's still almost seven feet tall with long blond hair and the physique of a god. Nick Fury hands him a pair of eyeglasses, noting that "they always worked for that other guy!" As if that wasn't enough, Thor then walks out the door and runs straight into a clumsy, oversized newspaper reporter named Clark, who thinks, "Gee, that looked like... I could have sworn... naaaah." It gets even more ridiculous when Thor grows a beard and maintains it in his civilian identity. In later years he just stopped caring.
    • Later on, Thor's boss deduces that "Sigurd Jarlson" is far too athletic to be anything other than a superhero — clearly he is none other than Captain America.
    • Spoofed harder by Beta Ray Bill, who on one occasion reverted to his pre-Super Soldier form and toured New York City with an overcoat and a set of false glasses with rubber nose and mustache. The alien race Bill was born to, although roughly humanoid, are all hairless, lack external noses or ears, and are bright orange. The narration chalks this up to "New York being what it is".
    • Subverted with Eric Masterson when he wielded Mjolnir in Thor's stead (before he became Thunderstrike), and actually grew a full blond beard whenever he transformed. It's even subverted by the Absorbing Man when he gets a good look at Masterson's face and realizes that Masterson isn't the same Thor that he's been fighting for so many years.
    • There was also the time Thor, in his later, more typical Clark Kent-ian alter ego Sigurd Jarlson, told a story to a friend's children about Thor and had to dodge accusations that he was really Thor himself afterwards. The children later discover the truth when they snoop in Jarlson's bag and find Mjolnir, although they promise to be good Secret Keepers and not tell anyone.
  • In various incarnations of the Teen Titans, Beast Boy puts Raven's attempt at a secret identity through its paces by frequently going to see her at school. None of her classmates seem to find it odd that she's constantly talking to green animals, though. The 2003 animation even lampshades it.
    Raven: What secret identity? You're green!
  • Kyle Rayner's first appearance as the new Green Lantern, before he chose the mask that covers most of his face, suggests that some people will be fooled and others won't. A woman rushes up to him proclaiming that he saved her years ago and asks if he remembers her, while a man comments on the new Green Lantern's different hair. Later stories suggested that no-one who knew him was fooled; the mask may have covered his face, but to anyone familiar with his artwork it was recognisably a Kyle Rayner design. Although Hal Jordan plays this straight where even his boss and love interest Carol Ferris doesn't recognize him past that little domino mask he has. You'd think that she would recognize the facial structure of somebody that keeps ask her out on dates.
    • Well, there was that [[Memes/Comics one]] time...
  • Supreme does it exactly the same way as Superman. As a kid he used to dye his hair, while changing into Kid Supreme, but he stopped when he realized nobody recognizes him anyway. At some point in a story Diana Dane realizes that Supreme and Ethan Crane look alike, but quickly dismisses it and points out some differences, like Ethan being shorter. She later suddenly realizes that Ethan IS Supreme. Supreme actually wonders why even Evil Genius Darius Dax gets fooled by it. Supreme being the meta work that it is, the working theory they eventually land on is that nobody recognizing the disguise is "part of the story", and Diana's unique reaction to it is her part of the story.
  • Greyshirt is a pastiche of The Spirit, and as such he doesn't have a dual identity... but news sources have widely speculated him to be former gangster Franklin Lafayette. Again, not that this matters because Franklin Lafayette is officially missing and presumed dead and Greyshirt doesn't keep a secret identity, but the point (and subversion) is that people are almost certain about who is under that mask.
  • Iron Man:
    • For a brief time in , Tony Stark decided to become a normal 9-to-5 worker and so he shaved off his facial hair and put on a pair of glasses.
    • There's also the Iron Man secret identity itself. The armor covers his whole body so it's not a straight example of this trope, but for years in the comic book Tony maintained the pretense that Iron Man was a separate person from Tony himself, a bodyguard with a secret identity. Having Tony and Iron Man appear together was easy enough thanks to stand-ins and robots, but such occasions were still so rare, and Tony was so rarely seen when Iron Man was busy being a superhero, that it's surprising so few people figured it out. Apparently no one notices that Tony Stark's famous bodyguard and Tony Stark are virtually never seen together, especially in times of danger when you'd really expect him to be at Tony's side. There's a reason the movie version couldn't even get through the "he's my bodyguard" excuse with a straight face and just admitted it right away.
  • Somewhat mocked in Empowered, where while stalling for time, the titular heroine tells her captors that she's actually a guy and is wearing a highly convincing "gynocamoflauge" suit to appear female, as nobody would suspect a hero's secret identity to be the opposite sex. When they buy it (because everyone knows superheroes are messed up), she goes on to claim that one of her male teammates is a woman in a male-looking armored suit which she originally built to control her hot flashes, a female one is really a guy with very nice legs, and a third is actually a mutated cocker spaniel. Said teammates are not happy about this when the "truth" hits the headlines.
  • Phantom Lady lampshaded this as early as 1942. She looks identical to Sandra Knight. Sometimes she had to go tremendous effort so people didn't see both of them. sometime her boyfriend and her father didn't notice it-which she always wondered why.
  • The Marvel Comics Avenger hero Echo utilized the perfect disguise to escape legions of ninja warriors. A man-suit. Being a slender female, bulky fake muscle/armor hid her curves well. Those without super-senses were fooled.
  • Fables has the Witching Cloak which can disguise the wearer in many ways and means. The Big Bad knows this and instructs his soldiers to question anyone with a funny backstory. A new soldier's transfer story is torn apart and he is slain. The wearer of the Witching Cloak had been a cleaning lady all along.
  • Played straight for a while in Wolverine, with Logan creating himself the secret identity of "Patch" in Southeast Asia, which consisted of putting on an Eyepatch of Power and not popping his claws. This was later subverted: apparently everyone realized there aren't a lot of short hairy men with wingtip hair, but decided it was safer to just humor The Berserker who stores knives up his wrists.
  • For a while, Starfire of the Teen Titans managed to keep a secret identity as a model by simply covering her glowing green eyes with a pair of sunglasses. Apparently no one noticed her orange skin. Apparently people just thought it was fake and a celebrity gimmick, but have you seen her body? Or her hair? Hey, wait a minute...
  • A tie-in to Crisis Crossover Fear Itself shows that Speedball has been working at a volunteer organization devoted to helping survivors of the Samford Disaster. Since he's blamed for said disaster (rather than the villain who actually did the killing), he's been disguising himself with a pair of glasses. Being the Marvel Universe, people are smart enough to see through it. Being the Marvel Universe, people are also stupid enough to try and beat up the indestructible guy whose powers are fueled by pain.
  • Perhaps the most over-the-top parody of this trope ever can be found in Elseworlds 80 Page Giant. It features a title page from a fictional Silver Age story where Batman's secret identity is Adam, as in "Garden of Eden" Adam. Despite the fact that he is the only man in the world, Eve still can't figure out that Batman and Adam are the same person.
  • In Irredeemable, flashbacks reveal that The Plutonian's secret identity was limited to Clark Kenting, plus changing his hair color and style (but not using a wig, apparently). Just like the trope namer, he worked in journalism, but seemed to do something more behind-the-scenes than actual reporting. And the fact that it's later revealed that the Plutonian is a Reality Warper neatly justifies any implausibility in the disguise.
  • Played for Laughs in PS238Tyler, the only Badass Normal in a school full of metahumans, is also the only one whose superhero identity falls under this trope, to his own perpetual confusion. (The fact that Cecil sees through it instantly just confuses him more.) To be fair, it's Justified by the fact that a.) it's actually a pretty decent disguise ("Moon Shadow" has a mask and a football helmet to block his face), and b.) nobody expects Tyler to take up a superhero identity, since he's a token Muggle and vocally prefers to stay out of trouble. Also, while Tyler has no powers, Moon Shadow is the most powerful superhero in the world, with an ever-expanding list of amazing abilities.
  • In Big Bang Comics, Ultiman (the Captain Ersatz of Superman) doesn't wear a mask, and his identity as astronaut Chris Kelly is well known to the public. However, he keeps another identity — that of Carl Kelly, Ultiman's mustachioed black sheep twin brother. 'Carl' and 'Ultiman' are technically co-workers, as Carl is assistant to Ultiman's military superior Gen. Black. Those who know them both think Carl avoids Ultiman because he can't relate to or feels inferior to him, and because Carl's considered something of a bum nobody thinks anything of him leaving work in the middle of the day only to come back as if nothing happened.
  • Double Subverted in Marshal Law. The titular Marshal is at the airport, on the lookout for murderous Superman expy Public Spirit, when someone looking like Public Spirit in a business suit and glasses walks by. The twist: they're a decoy, deliberately meant to distract Marshal Law. In the mean time, the real Public Spirit has nearly made it though airport security and escaped, thanks to his clever disguise of... a business suit and glasses.
  • Superlópez: Being a Superman parody, it's a given. However, as the series went on, he stopped wearing glasses when he's in civilian clothes, elevating the trope Up to Eleven, since there's literally no physical difference whatsoever between the two personas and people still don't recognize him.
  • The Robins, especially Dick and Tim, generally only use a simple Domino Mask as their only concealing feature (though, as Red Robin, Tim did employ a Batman-like cowl). Possible justification, however, lies in the fact that, at least Post-Crisis, the Robins, like Batman, generally operate at night, where recognizing their faces would be difficult thanks to the darkness of the night and their speedy acrobatic combat style.
  • Played for laughs in one issue of Impulse : Bart gets pointed out that his near-Shonen Hair tier hairdo is really distinctive... so in his usual style he promptly shaves his head. He ends up having to wear a wig as a civilian for a good bunch of following issues so people don't notice the hyperactive teen of the neighbourhood went bald at the same time as the masked hyperactive teen with Super Speed.
  • Taken fairly far in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, given that two of the team's members are No Celebrities Were Harmed Funny Animal counterparts of Eighties celebrities Burt Reynolds and Rona Barrett (a gossip columnist). Despite wearing little more than a Domino Mask over their faces, they're not only able to give exclusive interviews with each other, but continue their respective careers with no one the wiser! Even Alley-Kat-Abra, who started as an unknown martial arts instructor, apparently manages to make her social debut just after the superheroine who looks exactly like her in a leotard shows up.
  • An issue of Hanna-Barbera's Dynomutt from Marvel had a gossip-mongering talk show hostess trying to learn Blue Falcon's secret identity. Following B.F. and Dynomutt wrapping up a crime, the hostess sprays unremovable blue paint on the exposed part of Blue Falcon's face then arranges a meeting of all the people she thinks is really the hero. She confronts Radley Crown (Blue Falcon's identity) only to find that Dynomutt has applied blue paint on the faces of the other suspects as well.
  • Parodied in a variant cover for a Daredevil book, presented as a series of sketches for a "How to draw Daredevil" tutorial. First, the artist suggests pulling up a photo of someone who looks like Daredevil for reference, "like popular New York District Attorney Matt Murdock!" At each step, the artist unwittingly points out similarities between Murdock and Daredevil, before the penny drops on the final step.
    Step 6: oh my god


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