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Second Super-Identity

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Who was that strange, masked man?
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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 Façade.

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Examples:

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    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 mid-series his identity as Char is essentially an Open Secret amongst the members of the AEUG and the enemy forces' leaders. He ends up revealing his true identity to the world at his publicly-broadcast address to the Federation assembly at Dakar.
  • Death Note's L, the greatest detective in the world, also assumes the identities of the second and third greatest detectives, respectively Eraldo Coil and Deneuve.

    Comic Books 

Marvel

  • 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. By having 4 different identities (2 of which he used to go undercover as a "supervillain"), Spidey could freely discard any one that got compromised while continuing to act as a hero. 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.
    • In Mighty Avengers (2013), a powerful guy joins the team with the first disguise he found, a ridiculously colored "Spider Hero" outfit. When he clarifies he'd be happy to wear anything hiding his identity but better looking, Luke Cage hands him a box of old Clint Barton's stuff, so the reader still doesn't know his first identity, but he becomes the new Ronin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • During Flash Thompson's time as Venom, he relocated to Philadelphia and came up with some other identities to hide his symbiotic status. One of them was "Hail Mary, the Mother Superior of Punishment", a vigilante nun, because frankly why not at this point.

DC

  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Much like his mentor, Tim Drake occasionally takes on the identity "Alvin Draper" to spy on the underworld or do other things he can't as Tim.
  • In Bronze Age Legion of Super-Heroes, Miss Terious and Sir Prize replaced Superboy and Supergirl when the Earth was covered in Kryptonite, eventually revealing themselves to be Dream Girl and Star Boy, who had previously left the team.
  • Martian Manhunter: Since he's a Shapeshifter 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.
  • 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.
  • Before being forced to take up a new superhero identity and adopting Red Robin on a more consistent basis Tim temporarily used the alias in the pages of Robin after suffering burns to the back of his head and neck. He also used "The Spectacular Sunbird" for about a day when he realized that in his hurry he'd forgotten to remove a wig he was using before changing into most of the Robin costume.
  • There's an earlier World's Finest tale from #119 revolving around a superhero named "Tigerman", who turns out to be... Superman!
  • Supergirl:
    • Before her existence was revealed to the world, Pre-Crisis Supergirl sometimes operated as the heroine "Mighty Maid".
    • Post-Crisis Supergirll briefly took up the "Flamebird" moniker during the Candor story arc.
  • 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 Kandor.note  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).

Other

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Happens to a few characters in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Donald, Fethry and Daisy are all superheroes as the Duck Avenger (Paperinik), the Red Bat and Super Daisy respectively, and also work as spies for Scrooge's Private Intelligence Agency.
    • Being a continuation of the "classic" Paperinik stories, Paperinik New Adventures already has his two Paperinik and PIA agent identities... Then a Double Duck story confirms that it's set in the same universe as Paperinik New Adventures, adding a third identity. This actually got Foreshadowed in an omake where he accidentally took his superspy tuxedo (Double Duck) instead of his superhero costume (Paperinik).
    "Sometimes I envy other super-heroes who have to manage ONE single DOUBLE identity!"

    Fan Works 
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka created her Power Girl identity when she became a superheroine for first time. Later she decided she had to become a different and better kind of heroine, so the she made a new costume and took a second secret identity as Supergirl.
  • Xander Harris in The Child of Rao: Book II is a kryptonian superhero and has another identity as an Amish bang baby who's an Actual Pacifist and only participates in search and rescue work for the Justice League.
  • Worm – Waterworks: Taylor starts to set up multiple Tinker Rogue identities.
    • Plumber: specializes in plumbing, pipework, and liquid-based machinery.
    • Sailor: specializes in aquatic vehicles and transportation.
    • Hydroponics: specializes in irrigation, filtration, and water management systems.
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    Film - Animated 
  • In the 2007 TMNT film, Raphael becomes the vigilante known as Nightwatcher.

    Film - Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Brennus: It's revealed that The Dark likes to do this in his spare time, by creating entirely new super-villain personas and using them to do mercenary work. Why? Because people tend to runaway screaming when the world's greatest super-villain shows up, and he needs to keep his skills sharp through practice. It becomes useful when his secret son need his help, and neither of them want people to find out about their relationship.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow Oliver has, as of Season 4, assumed his third identity. First he was known as "The Hood", then "The Arrow", and now the "Green Arrow". Each had his own costume and the public even thinks the Arrow is dead, not knowing that all these 3 were the same man.
    • Likewise, Sara Lance went from being The Canary/Black Canary to White Canary after joining the Legends, although she's mostly just called Sara.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • 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.

    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 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.

    Video Games 
  • In a meta sense every City of Heroes player is doing this once they create a second, third, forth... etc. character.
  • In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, masked wrestler The Amazing Nine-Tails (Damian Tenma) says he has recently started wrestling under a second, Heel persona in addition to his normal Face one. The problem is, the two personas have been scheduled to fight each other very soon, leaving him in quite the pickle.
  • In The King of Fighters XIV, the King of Dinosaurs is actually Tizoc from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, who was previously a member of the KOF 2003 and XI rosters; after getting beaten by Nelson he wanted a grudge match, but since that doesn't suit his Face persona he adopted a more villainous identity. Of course, he's not very good at it: his character profile is still mostly identical to Tizoc's, he still goes on For Great Justice rants during his win quotes, and Terry Bogard sees through the disguise instantly and engages the KoD in a friendly conversation for a few moments before he realizes what he's saying and comically tries to reassume his shattered bad guy identity.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Recursive Secret Identity

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