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The Reveal / Comic Books

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  • Although old news now, the identity of the Green Goblin in the original Spider-Man comics was a well-kept secret for years before it was finally revealed to both Spidey and the readers.
    • Stormin' Norman did double time on this trope when he was revealed to be the true mastermind of The Clone Saga all along.
    • His successor, the Hobgoblin, is the king of this. His true identity was the single biggest plot point of the Spider-Man books in the eighties, and thanks to editorial interference, a really lame reveal, several more fake-out reveals, and judicious retconning, his real, this-is-it, honest-to-God-this-time identity wasn't revealed until fourteen years after he first took up the pumpkin bombs.
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    • Roderick Kingsley, the true Hobgoblin all along, in fact first appeared in 1980, many years before the retcon and three years before he ever donned the Hobgoblin's hood, which actually brought his ID back to what his creating writer had intended. It was still one of the most convoluted rides in Marvel history, possibly only exceeded by the Fantastic Four's Hyperstorm.
    • Likewise related to the Goblin, Go Down Swinging reveals that Emma, the nanny for Harry's sons and a character introduced during Marvel Legacy, is really a still-living Emily Osborn, who realized that Norman was a monster and faked her death.
  • The Hush storyline in the Batman comics does this a few times, eventually becoming somewhat incomprehensible as to who was doing what. It first appears that Jason Todd was responsible, then Tommy Elliot, and then apparently the Riddler was responsible all along.
    • Hush is Tommy Elliott and has been Elliott in all appearances after this storyline. He simply enlisted Jason Todd and the Riddler to help him with an Unreveal and an unmasking respectively. The only real problem was having the real Jason Todd unmask as Hush then immediately switching him with Clayface when Batman wasn't looking so that Batman would think it was Clayface posing as Jason Todd all along (the original story has it as Clayface all along, it was a later writer who added the detail about the real Jason Todd having been there as well.)
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    • Similarly, The Long Halloween storyline suffers from this, with about three or four people claiming responsibility for the murders which could only have been committed by two at most. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, they were written by the same person. This actually makes sense in the story. The original culprit created an identity to throw suspicion off and the others took advantage of the situation using the identity and established details of the MO to kill people they wanted dead. One of the copycats wants everyone to think it was all him out of spite for his father whose organization is targeted by the killer. Alternately, that guy was the only killer and the other person claiming to have done it was just crazy. It's deliberately left ambiguous.
    • This actually seems to be a good way to throw the "World's Greatest Detective" a curveball, by having a masked villain turn out to be multiple people. It was used again in the animated Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman where Batwoman turned out to be a wealthy socialite, a cop and an engineer working together. Batman seems to have less difficulty with the idea here than he did in the other two stories.
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  • The main page image comes from Detective Comics #168 as Batman and some college students try to track down the Red Hood, a criminal with a unique mask who had escaped a decade earlier. It looks like he's returned but it turns out to be a copycat who had knocked out the real Hood and used the costume. They find the real Hood who relates how he had escaped through the chemical vats of a playing card company only to find it had transformed his features. He thus decided to take on a new name: The Joker. For fans in 1951, the revelation this was the origin of Batman's greatest enemy was a shock.
  • The Dead Man is a side-story published in the pages of 2000 AD, following an amnesiac, deformed gunfighter wandering the Cursed Earth trying to discover his past. Eventually he retraces his steps to a burned out village, where he finds a gun, a motorcycle and a badge with a name on it: DREDD.
  • In the final issue of Supergirl series Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Mr. Mxyzptlk reveals that he was behind everything, including Kara's one-way trip to Earth.
    Mr. Mxyzptlk: Oh. I totally love this part! I get to tell you all about me and my clever plans!
  • In Superman story Kryptonite Nevermore, the nature and origin of the Sandman Superman was kept secret for while. In the second-to-last issue it's finally revealed that it is a creature from the Realm of Quarrm, an alternate dimension where only unformed, shapeless beings exist. The explosion which destroyed all kryptonite on Earth opened a rift between both universes, and he escaped, passed over Superman's unconscious body and sank into the desert sand, charged with Superman's mental and physical vibrations. Slowly it became alive, took on Superman's form and began sapping his powers.
  • One of the most effective and shocking reveals, mainly due to Jim Steranko's vivid two page spread artwork, was in Marvel's Strange Tales #156, Nick Fury, Agent of Shield. The hitherto always hidden leader/creator of HYDRA turns out to be Fury's missing WW2 archenemy, Baron Wolfgang Strucker.
  • A classic X-Men issue has Angel rescued by a kindly white-haired scientist. He convinces Angel he's helping the citizens of the Savage Land and Angel goes to stop Ka-Zar from an attack. Laughing, the man notes how Angel had no idea who he was and "perhaps clothes do make the man" while opening a cabinet to reveal an item every X-Men fan would know: The helmet of Magneto. It worked as it was the first time ever Magneto had been shown without the helmet.
  • The original Ghost Rider appears to help out the heroes in Issue #3 of Blaze of Glory. It would be easy to assume it's Carter or Lincoln Slade, the previous holders of the name, but when he unmasks in Issue #4, it's Reno Jones, who had previously been left for dead, under the cowl.
  • Joss Whedon pulls off several during his run on Astonishing X-Men. First he brings back Colossus, in such a way as to leave no doubt that he's the real deal. Later, he has the revelation that Colossus was actually the one prophesied to destroy the Breakworld all along, since the molecules making up his organic steel body are capable of causing a destructive chain reaction with the planet's core. Then there's the revelation that the "prophesy" (which is actually just one possible future) was deliberately leaked by the peace-loving prophet Aghanne, who actually wants Colossus to destroy the Breakworld because she believes that living under Powerlord Kruun's barbaric rule is a Fate Worse than Death.
  • The end of Thunderbolts #1, in which the titular team is revealed to actually be The Masters of Evil. What's really impressive is how far they went to keep secret the fact that there even was a secret. Peter David, as a favor to Kurt Busiek, even had the solicitations changed for the Hulk issue in which the Thunderbolts first appeared in order to keep the secret under the rug.
  • Gotham City Sirens began with a life-or-death arc struggling against the Joker (The frikkin' Joker), with the evil clown wreaking horrible vengeance on the three stars, only for it to be revealed that it is not the Joker at all, but instead it is...Gaggy? Gaggy the ex-sidekick from the Silver Age? The dwarf clown who actually ran away from the circus? The ex-sidekick who has spent decades living in an old abandoned hideout, waiting with bated breath for the return of the Joker in extremely disturbing stalker fashion? Seriously? Yes, seriously, it is Gaggy the whole time, and it actually comes off as pretty creepy and unsettling, and he gives the women a good run for their money. He loses, but it is their series, did you really expect the first villain to bump them off?
  • Dark Avengers 13 reveals that the Void is actually Galactus. Or thinks he is. Or is lying. Maybe.
  • Due to a miscommunication between the authors of the series and its artists, Batwoman's reveal in 52 actually became an accidental case of Dramatic Irony. The original intent had been for Batwoman to make her first ever appearance during a Dynamic Entry while being a Big Damn Hero, following several small hints intended to make both the readers and the characters think that it was actually Batman. However, two issues prior to this reveal, she had actually been drawn in full detail on the final page of the issue, already establishing not just her existence, but that she was involved in the current story. Commentary released in the Fifty Two trade-paperbacks reveals that the first drawing was supposed to be a silhouette that would again make the readers think it was Batman, but that artists were unaware of this and instead drew her in full detail. The characters of the story are still unaware of her existence, but it is no longer a surprise to the readers.
  • In the Marvel UK Transformers Generation 1 story "Target: 2006", Galvatron decides to gloat over Jazz by revealing his shocking secret: he's actually Megatron from the future! This may possibly have partially spoiled The Movie.
  • Frank Miller usually writes straight forward stories but when he wants to, he can pack a reveal. Such was the case with Ronin The ancient Japanese characters in that don't exist, including the hero himself. The central character came from a TV show that an autistic, telekinetic young man sometimes watched. A supercomputer was using his powers and a little biotech to make him turn his fantasy into a reality, essentially turning himself into a hero. That way, she could easily manipulate him into doing her bidding, which would eventually lead to the destruction of mankind and the emergence of biotechnology as the dominant lifeform.
  • The final issue of Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool reveals the tool (and the technalchemy that drives it) were developed by Steelgrip's partner Flynn, on a mission from a group of Cosmic Entities.
  • Incredible Hulk: The mystery of the Red Hulk's identity. It is far too convoluted to explain here but involved opening a can of LMDs.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • The first volume has the revelation that "M", the League's mysterious benefactor, is actually Professor James Moriarty, who became the director of British Military Intelligence soon after surviving his confrontation with Sherlock Holmes at Reichenbach Falls. The League's mission to steal back the cavorite from The Doctor was just an attempt by Moriarty to weed out his rivals in the London underworld and get his hands on fuel for his armed airship.
    • The final volume has the revelation that The Moonchild is actually a deranged Harry Potter, who was groomed by Oliver Haddo (inhabiting Thomas "Voldemort" Riddle's body) to become a raging psychopath.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man issues 698 and 699, the first two parts to the final ASM storyline "Dying Wish", hits readers with two big ones.
    • #698: In the final pages, it's revealed that, somehow, Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man have switched bodies, with Ock!Spidey intending on leaving Spidey!Ock for dead!
    • #699: Doc Ock pulled this off thanks to the events of issue 600, Spider-Island and Ends of the Earth and pulled it off during the storyline prior to this when Spidey was forced to dull his Spider-Sense when the Kingpin had been able to amplify it to painful levels.
  • The Superior Spider-Man #1 ends with a startling surprise: Peter Parker isn't dead, but, mostly trapped within his own psyche, he's unable to do anything but stop Octavius from crossing certain moral lines!
  • Rat Catcher is the story of an FBI agent who is hunting the eponymous Rat Catcher, a legendary assassin who hunts down and kills mob informants, even ones who go into the Federal Witness Protection program, and who turns out to be a corrupt FBI agent himself. That isn't the twist. The twist, and the big reveal, mid-way or so through the comic, is that the FBI agent whom the story had heretofore led the reader to believe was the Rat Catcher is actually the one hunting the Rat Catcher, and the other agent, whom was to believe was hunting the Rat Catcher, is himself the killer. He is hunting the other agent to avoid being exposed himself.
  • Wolverine vol. 2 issue 75 made the reveal that, hidden underneath Wolverine's adamantium claws were actual bone claws. This is pretty significant as, up until that point, all flashbacks with Logan had him without his claws. There was even an issue of What If? that ran with it.
  • Nemesis, The Secret Service, Superior, and MPH all occur roughly around the same time that Kick-Ass Volume 3 ends. Jupiter's Legacy and Super Crooks are in-universe movie properties though.
  • Seconds:
    • The shadow monster growing in the walk-in is actually the house spirit of Lucknow, vengeful at Katie for abandoning the building.
    • Katie isn't really fixing her mistakes; she's taking the place of a Katie in an Alternate Timeline where she made a different decision.
  • The Marvel Universe limited series Battle Scars introduces two new characters: Marcus Johnson and his best friend Cheese. Towards the end of the series, however, its actual intent becomes clear and the seemingly new characters are revealed to be Canon Immigrants — Johnson not only turns out to be the son of Nick Fury, but he's actually an adaption of the Samuel L. Jackson design that was first established in Ultimate Marvel and later popularized in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As for Cheese, his true identity happens to be none other than Phil Coulson, a Breakout Character originating from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Violine has several throughout its series:
    • At the end of the third book, Violine's mother is revealed to not be her real mother.
    • In the fourth book, it is revealed that Marushka is not actually her mother, but Francois' governess, Marushka, and Muller is her twin brother. They also murdered Violine's father's parents when he was a child so they could get the house.
    • At the conclusion of the story, it is revealed that Violine's mother was her school teacher all along.
  • Grant Morrison's run on the X-Men comics revealed just WHY the Marvel Universe is a bunch of UngratefulBastards - the millionaire John Sublime is really a colony of sentient bacteria capable of infecting and controlling the dominant species on the planet, moving to new hosts whenever that role changes. Unfortunately for Sublime, mutantkind is immune to him, and with mutantkind set to take the role of dominant species from humanity, he decided that the only solution is to destroy them, starting by making humanity hate them.
  • DC Rebirth has a few:
    • The biggest is that Dr. Manhattan is the true party responsible for the New 52 universe—itself being the same universe as the pre-Flashpoint one.
    • The original red-haired Wally West is still around.
    • The Joker's a legacy characterthe Golden Age Joker is not the same Joker who crippled Barbara Gordon, and the Joker responsible for the events of Death of the Family and Batman: Endgame is himself a separate entity from the other two.
    • From Superman Reborn, Superman and Lois were split into two, hence both the pre-Flashpoint and New 52 versions. Additionally, the man claiming to be the "real" Clark Kent is nothing of the sort—he's actually, Mr. Mxzytplk.
    • Mr. Oz is really a still-living Jor-El.
  • Throughout the series Kingdom Come, Lex Luthor has been subtly intimidating people with the fact that he apparently has Captain Marvel under his control. Batman is the one to reveal Luthor's secret; he has the adult Billy Batson, who has grown up and now looks like his superpowered alter-ego, under mind control. Actually changing into Captain Marvel breaks him free.
  • Spider-Men has this with Ultimate!Mysterio, who's actually a series of robotic avatar used by the classic!Mysterio.
  • At the end of the first Clem Hetherington book, Clem finds out after the race that Mr. Kilburn killed her parents.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Diana starts to unravel a bunch of untruths to reveal that Themyscira was created as a prison for Ares, whose psychotic urges and desire to plunge the world into war were subdued by the influence of Aphrodite. The Amazons are the eternal guardians of Ares' prison. The "Ares" Diana faced in "Year One" was really Phobos and Deimos trying to find their father. The fake Themyscira, the New 52 Amazons, and the New 52 Olympians were all created by the real Olympians, the Patrons of Themyscira, to further hide Ares from Phobos and Deimos.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: "The Problem With Cats" seems to be about Wonder Woman fighting Circe, Cheetah, and Medusa on an island only for the tale to be interrupted by an older sister upset her little sister is playing with her toys without permission and has drawn spots all over one of her dolls to make it into Cheetah.


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