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Monday, June 25, 2007

Random Thoughts about Secret Identities...

While chatting with someone online the other day, I got to realize that while I love the idea of secret identities and exploring superheroes in their secret identities, none of my absolute favorite heroes really have one.

I mean take Guy Gardner. Everyone knows Guy Gardner's a Green Lantern or Warrior, depending on the time period. Heck, his bar was a museum to that fact. It makes sense though, Green Lantern (at least for the Corps Lanterns) is more of a job title than a codename. In space, the Lanterns all call each other by real names (since when you're around thousands of Lanterns, addressing everyone as "Green Lantern" gets confusing. It's only on Earth, with its prevalent superhero culture, that Green Lantern becomes a name in its own right. And then only for Hal and Kyle (and to be honest, that boy transformed in a crowded coffee shop, people are going to figure it out.) be honest, I'm never sure how secret John's identity IS at any particular time. But Guy's certainly isn't. No one ever really called him "Green Lantern" anyway..."Guy Gardner" is more than enough name for anyone, I suppose.

"Honor Lantern" is a pretty kickass title though.

Hank Pym at least has a masked identity. Sometimes. But at this point, the question kind of becomes "Why." And has been for years. When you've cycled through four different codenames in possibly that many years, you're probably better off just going by your name. You're not fooling anyone.

Besides as long as you pull shrunken weaponry out of your pants, I'll be happy. Laughing and telling really bad, immature jokes, but I'll be happy.

Sand and Bucky kind of predate the need for sidekicks to have actual disguises. I mean, sure they wore masks, but dude. They didn't HAVE code names. "Bucky" is not a code name. "The Golden Boy" might have been, if Wes had the brains to stop introducing his sidekick as "Sandy" first. Dude, eventually someone's going to realize: "Hey, the Sandman is always with a tiny, blond, elegantly coiffed, snarky kid named Sandy! And Wesley Dodds is always with a tiny, blond, elegantly coiffed, snarky kid named Sandy! I wonder if there's a connection!"

Then again this WAS the forties.

Both characters do at least have codenames, but everyone and their uncle seems to know that the Winter Soldier (which is a really kickass codename, I think) is Bucky Barnes. I'm not sure if anyone knows the Sandman's identity, but considering Sand didn't have one as Sand, I think folks can do the math.

It's just interesting to me, because there are characters that absolutely require their secret identities to function. Superman's nothing without Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne and Batman are such twin fucked up sides of the same character that losing one is inconcievable. On the other hand Diana's shed Diana Prince pretty easily. Secret identities are vital for most heroes to function in the "real world" and keep their loved ones and themselves safe with some semblance of a normal life. I think secret identities are smart. At the same time, EVERY SINGLE ONE of my absolute favorite characters doesn't have one. That's so weird.

It's not like there's any sort of common trend for any of them either, they've each got complely different reasons. I certainly wouldn't stop liking them if they decided to somehow create their own secret identities. I just think it's a really weird connection.


  • At June 25, 2007 10:32 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I think that by now, just about everyone has figured out that Oliver Queen is actually Green Arrow too.

    Tora and Bea had code names, but went by their regular names all the time. Ted may have pretended to have a secret identity, but again, it's pretty obvious who he was. Come to think of it, a lot of the old JLIers were fairly cavalier about their "secrets".

    And yes, "Honor Lantern" is a greata title. I can only assume that he gets a tiny secret thrill every time he's called by it.

    Does Guy know Batman's secret identity? Most of the other JLA people seem to, but I've always wondered.

  • At June 25, 2007 12:16 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    And hey, do you want to do the "eight things about yourself" meme? If so, consider yourself tagged!

  • At June 25, 2007 2:17 PM, Blogger Neil said…

    It seemed to me that DC was pretty loose with Hal's identity after "Emerald Twilight" and especially after "Final Night." Sort of how they are with Barry Allen (at least before the end of "Blitz.")

    Anytime he showed up, people usually referred to him as "Hal" more often than "Parralax."

    I do like the gag Kevin Smith had in "Quiver," where it was pointed out that Ollie's identity is ridiculously easy to figure out, as he doesn't even attempt to mask his voice.

  • At June 25, 2007 4:42 PM, Blogger David C said…

    There was a funny bit in Mike Grell's Green Arrow series where the CIA wants him to do a mission for them. Agents come to the flower shop and Ollie's all "Why, what makes you think I know that green-clad vigilante?"

    One of the agents says something like "You mean you actually think it's a secret?" :)

  • At June 25, 2007 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh yeah.

    Too bad Brad Meltzer and Judd Winick didn't get the memo about how when Ollie died, his secret identity was broadcast around the world and on the front page of The Daily Planet.

    Which just makes the last five years of Green Arrow even more ludicrous...

  • At June 26, 2007 9:32 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I've always found it hilarious that Ollie actually BELIEVES he's fooling anyone. I can only assume that Roy, Dinah, Mia and Conner just roll their eyes and humor him.

    I still can't quite figure out how Jean Loring knew who Tim was, though.

  • At June 26, 2007 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've always found it hilarious that Ollie actually BELIEVES he's fooling anyone.

    That was actually a running gag (even if mostly within my own mind) for my City of Heroes character, The Americommando.

    Julia Jensen, the 6'8" one-eyed blonde fitness and self-defense instructor, was "secretly" the Americommando (also a 6'8" one-eyed blonde woman with an eyepatch.)

    My take on it was that, the population of 6'8" one-eyed blonde women, even in the City of Heroes setting, is fairly limited, so of course [i]everybody[/i] knew. But they all liked her, so nobody wanted to let on, and they all "played along" with the notion....

  • At June 27, 2007 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've always found it hilarious that Ollie actually BELIEVES he's fooling anyone.

    Oh, that gag was hillarious when Smith and Grell played off it.

    I was refering more to the fact that once Winick took over the book, Ollie suddenly believed he had a secret identity after years of knowing he didn't have a secret identity. Smith had Regis and Kelly talking about his and Black Canary saving people while on a date, for crying out loud!

    Which just annoys me - among all the other things about Winick's GA run that annoy me - not because nobody thinks about how the town hero and the mayor have the same build, voice, hair and stylish beard...

    ... but because of all the other things that should have given Ollie away - like how his adopted son and Green Arrow II are the only 5'9" blonde-haired, Black/Asian men in town, to say nothing of how Connor has NEVER kept a secret identity.

    Not to mention Mia. And the revelation that Ollie's refusal to fight back in the recent run-off election was to prevent Mia's name from being dirtied in the media. Which makes me wonder - just how lazy are all the reporters in Star City that nobody asked questions before or during the election that the millionaire playboy was sharing quarters with a 16-17 year old ex-teenage prostitute who apparently has a criminal record now? :P

  • At July 17, 2007 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    John Stewart has pretty much never had a secret ID. It was a defining difference between him & Hal.


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