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The Unreveal / Comic Books

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Unreveals in comic books.


DC Comics

  • In the Batman comic series Gotham Knights a scene featured Batman analyzing the blood left behind by villain Prometheus, a JLA-level threat whose identity has never been revealed. The computer displayed "Match found" — and the matter was never brought up again. Interestingly, the Prometheus in question later turned out to be an impostor, and the name of the real Prometheus remains unknown to this day.
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  • Subverted in the first Batman / Grendel crossover; Batman doesn't know that Hunter Rose is Grendel but the reader does. During the final battle, Batman succeeds in unmasking Grendel, only to find that he had painted the Grendel mask pattern on his face with greasepaint.
  • In Blackest Night #5, we see Hal Jordan and the leaders of all the other Corps reciting their oaths simultaneously... except for Larfleeze who just goes "Eh?" Although readers only know this is an unreveal if they know that Geoff Johns has said the Orange Lantern oath hasn't been heard yet, and is his favourite. Otherwise you might conclude that Larfleeze simply doesn't have an oath (since he's not really in a Corps), or that it's the word "Mine!" (as stated in his Tales of the Corps factfile).
    • In Paul Cornell's "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, Lex Luthor mentions he said the oath when he was an Orange Lantern in Blackest Night and it was "bizarre". He still doesn't say what it was.
  • The angels in Lucifer have Barbie Doll Anatomy, yet the protagonist has clearly been involved with Action Girl Mazikeen. In the second-to-last issue, Spera works up the guts to actually ask Mazikeen how that worked. Mazikeen whispers in her ear, Spera looks surprised and rather impressed, and that's all we hear about that.
  • While the other New Warriors are trapped in various points in time the Sphinx sends Speedball to a kinetic dimension that is revealed to be a representation of time and the source of Speedball's bubbles and powers. One of the bubbles calls out to him and reveals a major revelation about the moment Robbie Baldwin became Speedball. Once he was rescued from the kinetic dimension he forgot what he learned. Later the Speedball who was rescued from the kinetic dimension is revealed to be a clone with the mind of one of his descendants in the future and killed by the Sphinx. When the real Speedball gets rescued he doesn't seem to remember the big secret he learned in the kinetic dimension either.
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  • Not a perfect example, but when Destruction is finally revealed by name in The Sandman, his name is given in Ancient Greek.
  • In an early issue of Young Justice, the others dare Robin to take off his mask. He does... and because he expected this dare, he has another mask on. (This is only an in-universe Unreveal, as the audience has long known him to be Tim Drake by this point.)

Marvel Comics

  • Civil War: Frontline: In issue #10, two characters independently found out the secret of the war and were rushing to tell each other (neither of them knew that the same thing was what the other person was going to tell them). On the phone they said they should say it in person; when they meet in person and are about to say it they get interrupted by a battle. When they're finally safe, they point it out to each other in their notebooks, and when it looks like they're finally going to say it, the story ends.
  • In Marvel Comics' Dark Reign Files, Quasimodo is tasked with profiling and assessing various personalities who may be of use to Norman Osborn as the head of HAMMER. On the first page we see emails from Quasimodo to Osborn that detail his efforts to this end, blah blah; One of them concerns the identity of Facade, a minor Spider-Man villain whose identity was made into a huge mystery but never revealed. But the lower half of the paper is torn off and it ends with "Facade is-"
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    • Later during Amazing Spider-Man, Facade is defeated and decides to confess his true identity to Spider-Man, only for Spidey to cut him off, saying he doesn't have time, and swings away.
  • In one issue of X-Men, Rogue and Gambit go on a date. She is about to tell him her real name (in Real Life one of the minor undisclosed mysteries of the Marvel Universe for almost 30 years), but he hushes her and says that it's not important to him.
  • In X-Statix when Mr. Code's mask is removed, and in the Post-Script Season mini-series X-Statix Presents Dead Girl when the Pitiful One's facecloth is removed, the heroic characters all recognise both characters (in the first case as a celebrity and in the second case as a specific deceased Marvel C-list villain), but the reader isn't told who they were.

Other Comics

  • Archie Comics: The meaning of the "S" on Jughead's sweater is a mystery. Of course, the only time this fact is mentioned is if an Unreveal is going to happen. One example is when Jughead learns his family is moving away, he decides to tell Archie, but only gets as far as "The S stands for..." when his dad announces that they aren't moving.
  • In issue #11 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, The Faceless Big Bad is shown speaking to his minions. In the bottom panel on that page, his speech bubble ends in a Dramatic Ellipsis and he's shown lifting the bottom of his mask... but on the next page, he stops just above his chin, scratches the itchy spot on his neck, and lowers the mask again.
  • In an Italian Donald Duck story possibly retelling War and Peace with the ducks in the main roles, the threat of "cosacking" is repeatedly used and presumably being a fate worse than death, but we never learn what it is; at the end, the story's version of Daisy tries to force Donald to tell her, after they have married, but at the last minute he maintains it is such a horrible thing she is better off not knowing.
  • G.I. Joe reboot:
    • In the civil war story arc of Image Comics, Serpentor removes Cobra Commander's helmet only to reveal a balaclava underneath. He lampshades a bit by making fun of CC's paranoia issues. And then the helmet explodes, killing Serpentor and proving that Cobra Commander is Crazy-Prepared.
    • During Marvel's run issue 55 even advertised this in the cover for Destro, Cobra Commander, and Snake-Eyes. They all do remove their masks in the issue, but a clear shot of the uncovered face is not given for any of them.
    • A later story arc (Issues 93-96) has Snake-Eyes' face fully revealed, right before he gets plastic surgery to look normal again. Of course, he gets captured and tortured by Cobra, culminating in getting a face full of hot coals.
    • In an inversion of this trope, in a later issue Destro casually tosses his mask away at the end, and we are shown his perfectly normal face. There was absolutely zero in-universe or real-world buildup to this reveal.
  • The Haunt of Fear story Wolf Bait, which unusually has no supernatural elements at all, centers around four passengers (all of whom have an important reason for reaching the city) on a sleigh going speeding across the Russian tundra with a pack of starving wolves after them. They manage to delay them a few times with bullets and meat, but soon run out of both, and if the wolves reach the horses it's all over. They soon realize the only way to slow down the wolves long enough for them to escape is to sacrifice someone. Once they all come to agree on this, the decision takes but a second, and the other three throw themselves on the sacrifice and throw him/her to the wolves. It's all in shadow, and the reader has no idea who they picked.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd's face is obscured from the readers in a similar fashion in the original comics, using bandages, panel borders, darkness and the like. As an additional kicker, criminals that do see his face invariably die soon afterwards, keeping his looks a secret even within the story.
  • It's not exactly a Comic Book, but the comic on the Cover of the LP KISS UNMASKED shows a reporter who tries to take a photo of, well, KISS unmasked. They take off their masks and look just the same underneath. Two records after that one they took off the masks for real, but it didn't look that cool.
  • Oxymoron: Mary takes off Oxymoron's mask after finally defeating him, but the reader never gets a clear look at him since it's shown from Oxymoron's POV. Although Mary does say she is rather disappointed that underneath it, he's just an ordinary man.
  • V for Vendetta has V's identity. We're left guessing as to what sort of person he was and whether he was anyone we'd know — or even whether he was speaking literally or metaphorically when denying the Luke, I Am Your Father possibility (though Word of God has said V was indeed being literal in that case). We go through several fake Dream Sequence reveals, before Evey finally realizes that it's important that his identity never be revealed, and that she should instead take up his mantle. This is because V the man had long been lost so that V the persona could take his place. The identity of the man he was before he became V would never be as important as the idea. It becomes a deeply symbolic variation of Becoming the Mask.
  • Agent 355's real name is a secret throughout Y: The Last Man, despite a fair amount of badgering from Yorrick. Close to the end, she whispers it to him, but we aren't told what it was. However, the clever reader can deduce her real name. Word of God says that 355's real name was carefully placed in the comic over the run of the series. It's almost certainly "Peace". Did you really think that the inscription on the tree used as her grave marker meant nothing, when the last thing she asked Yorick to do is call her by her real name? And that the peace symbol used to make the Y on one of the covers she appears on, that means nothing as well? Hah!
    • Another prominent Unreveal of the series is, what the hell caused the Gendercide? Various possibilities are offered up - such as the removal of a fabled artifact from its native land, said to bring a great disaster if it leaves the soil - and when one "solid scientific" possibility is offered up (tampering with the earth's morphogenetic field), it's instantly debunked as fringe science. Word of God says that the true cause is mentioned somewhere in the series, but is never made explicit.


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