Tag Archives: silver age

The Lowest, Most Despicable, and Most Harmful Form of Trash: Batman’s Secret Identity in the Silver Age

The secret identity has been an indelible part of the superhero mythos since Superman first landed in 1938. Little more than children themselves, and writing for a primarily young audience, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster saw the inclusion of mild-mannered Clark Kent as part of the power fantasy of the Superman character. To the world at large, you might seem meek or mild, or bullied, but inside is an unlimited potential–a Superman waiting to break free. For most of the history of the superhero, the secret identity was an essential component of the concept with any masked hero having a hidden life outside of the capes and spandex. 

But as the comics have kept up with modern times and been adapted to the screen where the beautiful faces of the actors are a selling point, the masks and secret identities became less essential and creators began to see the story potential in either removing the component from their characters or putting less focus on it. Often the secret identity becomes a punch line. Indeed, many heroes have grown past the need for a secret identity and make more sense without it. Why should Steve Rogers hide he is Captain America? Or why would Tony Stark, with his massive ego, pretend not to be Iron Man? Even Superman, in the comics, recently revealed his identity to the public at large, no longer able to reconcile the truth and justice he stands for with living a lie.

Only a few superheroes still maintain a secret identity as an important element, and it is primarily because of their public perception as outsiders and vigilantes. Spider-Man went to the ends of the Earth–both on-page and on-screen–to recover his secret after it went public. Daredevil’s brand of justice puts his practice as a lawyer in jeopardy. And Batman, while no doubt a hero, works outside the law and is at odds with the police of his city. Unlike Superman, who often works alongside the authorities even as he criticizes them, Batman is fundamentally opposed to the authority of the state and his mission would be jeopardized if he could be held legally accountable for his actions.

Continue reading The Lowest, Most Despicable, and Most Harmful Form of Trash: Batman’s Secret Identity in the Silver Age

Strange Adventures: Artifice, Narrative and the Nature of Truth

Art by Evan Shaner

Reading Strange Adventures, the latest Tom King maxiseries with collaborators Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner, along with letterer Clayton Cowles, is an act of engaging with an artifice. The very structure of the work directs the reader to recognize its fabrication and question the truths it presents.

According to King, the series “is trying to speak to the nature of truth and how our assumptions about that nature can tear us apart.” 1 The story is set amid the backdrop of war, but it is not about the trauma of a single event on a broken man trying to put the pieces back together. It is an exploration of the American moment under Trumpism, where “Truth” as an abstract concept seems increasingly meaningless.

Continue reading Strange Adventures: Artifice, Narrative and the Nature of Truth