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  1. #31
    Mighty Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    This is the DC Universe of President, Now Justice League Member Lex Luthor, so I buy the glasses and super hypnosis.

  2. #32
    Astonishing Member Tuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The glasses are not an effective disguise. Clark and Superman do look alike. That's the point. For the reader it is obvious, yet no one in the world of Superman can see it. That's the point! I think that Byrne story where Luthor's computer shows him that Superman is Clark Kent, yet he can't believe it, is one of the best things that Byrne came up with.
    It's also a meta issue. Even thinking he has a secret identity. One of the things I really like about the New 52 version is that they address this. Superman doesn't wear a mask (in a world where most heroes do), has told people he has a home (the Fortress), and has told people he is an alien from a dead planet. Clark has a history, parents, a social security number, an American childhood. He doesn't write about the Justice League (in fact he's specifically known for writing about the forgotten little people of the world). He has a different demeanor.

    I've always held that Batman has the shoddier secret identity. And New 52 addressed that too by having Wayne publicly fund Batman.

    One of my best friends is a dead ringer for David Cross. No one suspects he was secretly running off to film episodes of Arrested Development when he wasn't around. (And the best part . . . if my friend wears contacts, the resemblance goes down significantly.)
    Last edited by Tuck; 08-07-2015 at 07:54 AM.

  3. #33
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    It's also a meta issue. Even thinking he has a secret identity. One of the things I really like about the New 52 version is that they address this. Superman doesn't wear a mask (in a world where most heroes do), has told people he has a home (the Fortress), and has told people he is an alien from a dead planet. Clark has a history, parents, a social security number, an American childhood. He doesn't write about the Justice League (in fact he's specifically known for writing about the forgotten little people of the world). He has a different demeanor.
    Astro City's Samaritan handles it pretty well. His civilian disguise includes glasses and changing his hair color (electric-blue to white). He works as a fact-checker for a publication and his identities NEVER interact with the other's supporting cast. I think only one person knows the dual identity and she is the WW-analogue (name is Winged Victory). As a result, no one has a reason to connect the two. Obviously, DC wouldn't do that since that would make the Daily Planet and all supporting characters obscure and pointless.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    I actually liked that story, even tho it could have been handled better. I liked the idea that, for all of his genius, Luthor could not make himself believe a being with power of that level would stoop to living so ordinary an existence. And since, and Lex' eyes, his judgement could not be flawed, the computer's conclusion had to be wrong.
    I think having the whole duality stare him in the face like that without him putting two and two together goes way overboard to make that point, and that it makes what should be a demonstration of how he sees the world and his archnemesis look like plain old idiocy.
    Opinions vary. Thus, we enjoy the spice of life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The first story where it dawned on Lois that Superman must be Clark Kent was "Man or Superman?" in SUPERMAN NO. 17 (July-August '42). It's a great little story, you should all read it. It's been reprinted a few times.

    The glasses are not an effective disguise. Clark and Superman do look alike. That's the point. For the reader it is obvious, yet no one in the world of Superman can see it. That's the point! I think that Byrne story where Luthor's computer shows him that Superman is Clark Kent, yet he can't believe it, is one of the best things that Byrne came up with.

    It's a psychological truth. We often should see things that are right in front of us, but we don't. I don't think it needs more explanation than that. The comics were exciting for kids for all those decades because the readers were in on the secret. They knew that Clark was Superman--and he would wink at them from the comic book--and they could feel superior to the characters in the story, because they could see what the characters couldn't see. That's the nature of irony and why it's an oft-used device in drama.
    I was always surprised that DC never mined a very old idea. In the first couple of issues of Action Comics, way back in '38-39, Superman alters his face to go under cover, without the use of make up. Now I don't think he should be the Martian Manhunter, but I'm surprised no one ever dipped into the "facial muscular control" schtick to claim that Supes sufficiently alters the planes of his face, the shape of his lips, and perhaps even where the hairline sits on his forehead sufficiently when in costume to foil attempts at identification. The closest anybody ever got to that was claiming that he slumps all the time as Clark and that his glasses and hairdo make him look radically different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuck View Post
    It's also a meta issue. Even thinking he has a secret identity. One of the things I really like about the New 52 version is that they address this. Superman doesn't wear a mask (in a world where most heroes do), has told people he has a home (the Fortress), and has told people he is an alien from a dead planet. Clark has a history, parents, a social security number, an American childhood. He doesn't write about the Justice League (in fact he's specifically known for writing about the forgotten little people of the world). He has a different demeanor.
    That works as long as he don't let people photograph him, and he doesn't hang around people for any length of time in both identities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuck View Post
    I've always held that Batman has the shoddier secret identity. And New 52 addressed that too by having Wayne publicly fund Batman.
    On that point, we part company. I respect your right to your opinion...with which I ardently disagree.

  5. #35
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    What I've never understood is people who take "Smallville" as a nickname to be some kind of mean girl insult.

    For some readers, it's as though she's calling him "Small junk".

    Nicknaming people by where they come from is a thing you occasionally see as a term of endearment (sometimes backhanded, sometimes not) in the big city, especially the kind of big city where few people are from there. It's not super-common but I think it provides familiarity to their interactions.

    They also did a variation of this on Voyager where Torres nicknamed Kim "Starfleet" (which was kinda silly since that nickname would work for half the ship).

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    Opinions vary. Thus, we enjoy the spice of life.



    I was always surprised that DC never mined a very old idea. In the first couple of issues of Action Comics, way back in '38-39, Superman alters his face to go under cover, without the use of make up. Now I don't think he should be the Martian Manhunter, but I'm surprised no one ever dipped into the "facial muscular control" schtick to claim that Supes sufficiently alters the planes of his face, the shape of his lips, and perhaps even where the hairline sits on his forehead sufficiently when in costume to foil attempts at identification. The closest anybody ever got to that was claiming that he slumps all the time as Clark and that his glasses and hairdo make him look radically different.
    I've always been surprised they didn't go one further, have Kryptonians look alien, and say that Kal's rocket (and the other Kryptonian space travel mechanisms) blend the appearance of a Kryptonian to match the locals. Thus, Clark would always have just looked like Jonathan and Martha because his appearance was based on them.

    You could have similar ideas for Krypto and even Beppo (who might be handled a touch more seriously) and it raises interesting ideas with Kara and the Phantom Zoners.

    And a variation on this could work especially with the powered up costume. Same basic frame but maybe the DNA sequencer adjusts his face and height and apparent bodyfat. If Clark Kent doesn't have abs or those striking dimples, and a different hairline, nobody will see it. You keep the basic skeletal frame and eyes for the readers' sake but maybe Clark is a bit huskier, shorter, less muscle definition, maybe some stubble.

    You could bake that into his glasses. (Which I'd prefer to the chest button.) I was never keen on hypnotic glasses and "anime armor" but I think I'd be cool with a transformation where removing the glasses causes a physical morph in his body (maybe even make it dangerous for anyone else to put them on) and maybe does some tailoring of a costume he still has to wear under the suit, lengthening sleeves, adding cape and boots.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Gerard View Post
    I've always been surprised they didn't go one further, have Kryptonians look alien, and say that Kal's rocket (and the other Kryptonian space travel mechanisms) blend the appearance of a Kryptonian to match the locals. Thus, Clark would always have just looked like Jonathan and Martha because his appearance was based on them.
    I've often thought that Byrne was trying to imply that in the Man of Steel relaunch. The design of the birthing matrix that contained Kal-el in his version was nearly identical to the egg that he drew that hatched the alien invader Marinna in Alpha Flight. In the Marinna story, she was waiting to be programmed with the genetic template of the dominant native lifeform, and adopted a female human form because that was the first thing to touch her egg (plus aquatic characteristics due to centuries adapting to lying on the ocean floor). I've sometimes wondered if he had a story in mind where Superman meets Kryptonians, and they don't look a thing like him.

  8. #38
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    I liked the All-Star Superman movie, but one of a few disappointments is that it didn't carry over the scene when Clark picks himself off the floor and challenges Luthor, and then everyone just assumed he was Superman disguising himself as Clark Kent. I thought it was a good twist on Byrne's development on how Luthor just assumed the facts were wrong.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Gerard View Post
    What I've never understood is people who take "Smallville" as a nickname to be some kind of mean girl insult.

    For some readers, it's as though she's calling him "Small junk".

    Nicknaming people by where they come from is a thing you occasionally see as a term of endearment (sometimes backhanded, sometimes not) in the big city, especially the kind of big city where few people are from there. It's not super-common but I think it provides familiarity to their interactions.

    They also did a variation of this on Voyager where Torres nicknamed Kim "Starfleet" (which was kinda silly since that nickname would work for half the ship).
    I think some of it might be from people who hate it when Clark's upbringing on a farm is used to define him. I've seen a lot of people express dislike of Clark Kent being the "real" person and Superman being a mask. Lois calling him "Smallville", even if not maliciously, doesn't sit right with them for that reason.

  10. #40
    Astonishing Member JackDaw's Avatar
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    The way Superman preserves his secret identity...or whether he uses one at all... is one of the things that ought to be better addressed in "all age" Superman series...just whacking on a pair of glasses doesn't work that well once target audience doesn't comprise entirely of trusting youngsters.

    It's a pity that instead of challenging some of the hoary old conventions that don't work so well anymore that DC just seems to think main things you need to do to turn a kids comic to all ages is to add a bit of sex, and a lot of violence.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    But it was a relatively small period of time between the Byrne reboot and when Clark revealed his true identity to Lois. So in the post-Crisis era, I'm not convinced this would have ever been such an irritant to comic book fandom. We're talking almost thirty years. For most of that time, Lois has known or strongly suspected Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same.
    That's the thing, though. HE had to reveal it to her. She almost got married to the guy and never figured out it was the man she had fantasies about for years, but with a pair of glasses. I'm sorry, but you can't pretend that you don't see why some people think it doesn't make her look all that bright.
    That might be an irritant for you, but for anyone under the age of 35 that's ancient history and not something that would have been part of their contemporary Superman reading life. For them, for most of this period, Superman has been married to Lois Lane and Lois has known that he was Clark Kent--and even aiding him in keeping his identity secret.

    So if the argument is that Lois is seen as ignorant by the readers and that explains why DC has downgraded her character, it doesn't make sense for the current era. It may be that contemporary readers look back at the comics that existed before they were born and see that Lois Lane as so stoopid--but that Lois was part of a time that is long gone. It wouldn't be unusual for these readers that Lois was so stoopid, because I find that a lot of contemporary readers think everything was so stoopid before they were born. Lois, Superman, Batman--it doesn't matter who, they just shake their heads and are at a loss to understand what was the attraction of those comics compared with what they know now.

    So I return to my earlier observation that it's only in recent times that Lois Lane has become unpopular--at least in the comic books. She was always popular before that, so what happened to make the publisher and the readers turn against Lois?

    You don't have to look in the deep dark past for that answer--it hardly seems likely that DC is trying to repair some damage from a previous continuity that most people never experienced firsthand. I suspect it's actually the marriage that created this pushback against Lois Lane.

    In other media, where Lois has been a popular character, she is usually NOT married to Superman. If there is a marriage, it only comes at the end of the story (e.g. SMALLVILLE). And with LOIS AND CLARK, many feel they jumped the shark when those two kids jumped the broom and the series slid downhill after that. In the decade before this one, DC editors and writers were struggling with the marriage and reader interest in her character fell. Some just wanted Lois to die.

    I see this as analogous to the pushback against Batman and Robin following the '60s TV show. Even though the Dynamic Duo had been highly popular, they were now toxic in the view of fickle comics fans. Something had to be done to distance Batman from "Camp." So most of the old costume villains were put on hold, but more importantly Dick Grayson left for university and the Dynamic Duo was split up. Lucky for Robin his character didn't suffer too much for this; however, that Dynamic Duo was gone for good.

    My theory is DC wants to put some distance between Lois and Clark to remove the memory of the marriage, which they see as one of the problems of the old continuity. Unfortunately, Lois Lane has had to take a backseat when she used to be one of DC's most popular characters.
    You can't jump a jet plane like you can a freight train,
    So I'd best be on my way in the early morning rain.

  12. #42
    Astonishing Member Tuck's Avatar
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    No secret identity should actually work. It's just one of the conventions of the genre. Way I see it, as long as they put something into the reasoning, I don't see the problem just going with it. And I reiterate, how is Oliver's or Tim's or Hal's disguise better? At least Superman had the advantage that people assumed he didn't have a civilian identity.

    In real life, if someone you know shows up to a Halloween party in a full rubber mask, you know who it is immediately. Because facial recognitions is only one of the many things your brain uses to recognize someone.

    It's speculative fiction. You can't pick at any of it with too much "reality". I mean, if Superman had to absorb sunlight over the course of years to reach his maximum power level, why does exposure to red sunlight weaken him so quickly? And if Kryptonian cells are basically solar batteries, how are there so many ways to strip their powers permanently? Does their DNA change?

    Just go with it until something is so egregious that they've clearly not even tried to make it fit the world.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    ...I return to my earlier observation that it's only in recent times that Lois Lane has become unpopular--at least in the comic books. She was always popular before that, so what happened to make the publisher and the readers turn against Lois?

    You don't have to look in the deep dark past for that answer--it hardly seems likely that DC is trying to repair some damage from a previous continuity that most people never experienced firsthand. I suspect it's actually the marriage that created this pushback against Lois Lane.

    In other media, where Lois has been a popular character, she is usually NOT married to Superman. If there is a marriage, it only comes at the end of the story (e.g. SMALLVILLE). And with LOIS AND CLARK, many feel they jumped the shark when those two kids jumped the broom and the series slid downhill after that. In the decade before this one, DC editors and writers were struggling with the marriage and reader interest in her character fell. Some just wanted Lois to die.
    It's interesting. The Mr. and Mrs. Superman feature was pretty popular in its time, but that was Earth-2 rather than the Earth-1 (main) continuity of the day, and it only published as a backup feature, never as a lead or solo feature. It may have been easier to sell the idea as an on-going "imaginary" story than as the main status quo. In a way, it also undermines part of what Superman's whole appeal was.

    The entire Superman myth was a (male) child's fantasy of being more powerful than people realized. Even children know that can't be so, but sometimes imagine a pretend life, running parallel to their real existence, where they're not only powerful, but famous for it. Superman's whole secret identity gig tapped that (whether Jerry and Joe did so deliberately or not), and the relationship with Lois played to it. As originally written, she wouldn't give the smitten Clark the time of day, while she pined for Superman, who wouldn't commit to her. That triangle resembles a child's futile crush on a pretty (or handsome) teacher, imagining a case where the child is the desired one in the relationship, and can payback an insufficiently responsive attitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    My theory is DC wants to put some distance between Lois and Clark to remove the memory of the marriage, which they see as one of the problems of the old continuity. Unfortunately, Lois Lane has had to take a backseat when she used to be one of DC's most popular characters.
    I'm not so sure about this one. I think Lois+Supes will be back, but I don't think it's that deliberate, and I think it too is a function of the motives behind secret identity.

    Superhero comics have moved away from the secret identity, as the audience has moved away from consisting of children. With that change, I'm not sure if writers see the utility of the Lois relationship that they once did. Instead, I think they're after the Power Couple concept, which is a more fabulous image for people to fantasize about in today's Look-At-Me-All-The-Time era than the idea of a secret existence. I don't like it for Superman, but I can see why they're trying it.

    However, Byrne's reboot was supposed to be The Last Word On The Way It Is For Superman Henceforth back in 1986. And so it was. For a while. Sooner or later, somebody's going to say, "let's get back to the legend's roots."

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Gerard View Post
    What I've never understood is people who take "Smallville" as a nickname to be some kind of mean girl insult.

    For some readers, it's as though she's calling him "Small junk".

    Nicknaming people by where they come from is a thing you occasionally see as a term of endearment (sometimes backhanded, sometimes not) in the big city, especially the kind of big city where few people are from there. It's not super-common but I think it provides familiarity to their interactions.
    The "Smallville" nickname can come off really mean in some shows/movies in comics everybody reads them with other voices in his mind, that's fair. For example in the Throne of Atlantis animated movie Lois just crashes Clark and Diana's dinner and comes off totally unlikeable and mean with the Farmboy and Smallville nicknames on the other hand office banter at the Daily Planet where she calls him the same can be totally fine.

    Context is everything and sometimes shows/movies have shown Lois from a side where you ask yourself why would Clark like her? For my personally Margot Kidder Lois is tbasically perfect while Teri Hatcher Lois is just unbearable on every level. Lois like every comicbook character has thousands of different versions in various media and some are just bad and those bad ones color peoples opinions often more than the good ones.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    Superhero comics have moved away from the secret identity, as the audience has moved away from consisting of children. With that change, I'm not sure if writers see the utility of the Lois relationship that they once did. Instead, I think they're after the Power Couple concept, which is a more fabulous image for people to fantasize about in today's Look-At-Me-All-The-Time era than the idea of a secret existence. I don't like it for Superman, but I can see why they're trying it.
    As with the Dynamic Duo--and with apologies to all robins--it was probably a case of killing two birds with one stone. They removed Robin and his associations with the TV show from the comic and at the same time they were able to set up Bruce/Batman in new digs, with a new sense of mission and a return to the lone dark knight of 1939.

    The Superman-Wonder Woman romance has been simmering ever since John Byrne took over. Yet the marriage made that very problematic. Superman can't lust after Wonder Woman (let alone act on those feelings) without being untrue to Lois. Readers have put up with a lot of moral changes in Superman--but him as a two-timing cad might be a bridge too far. They could have turned Lois Lane evil (and sometimes they seemed to be going in that direction) which would make it relatively okay for Superman to leave her for WW. But they weren't ready to go all the way down that dark path. Now, getting rid of the marriage removes any impediment to why Superman and Wonder Woman should not be joined in a comic book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The first story where it dawned on Lois that Superman must be Clark Kent was "Man or Superman?" in SUPERMAN NO. 17 (July-August '42). It's a great little story, you should all read it. It's been reprinted a few times.
    Note--story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster and John Sikela; 13 pages.

    One of the many nice features of this story is when Lois takes out her photo album and recalls several past adventures of Superman since he first arrived in Metropolis. We don't usually think of early 1940s Superman having a lot of continuity, but this story establishes that there is a continuity. Moreover, Lois doesn't just recall stories in the comic books, she also recalls adventures from the syndicated newspaper comic strip.

    In particular, she recalls Superman's strip adventure with Eustace Watson--episode nineteen: "The Meekest Man in the World"; December 2, 1940 - March 8 1941; reprinted in SUPERMAN: THE DAILIES 1939 - 1942.

    If you think Clark is meek, then you haven't met Eustace. Compared to him, Clark seems quite heroic. To help out this milk toast, Superman assumes his identity--"The Man of Tomorrow twists his flexible features . . . into a startling transformation." Having set a positive example, Superman makes a man out of Eustace and helps him win the heart of the fair June.

    Eustace Watson in appearance and behaviour is very much like Cecil Vyse in A ROOM WITH A VIEW--played by Daniel Day-Lewis in the 1985 movie. In the '80s/'90s, Daniel Day-Lewis kept showing up in different movies and every time that he appeared, he was unrecognizable. Yes, he looked like the same guy--but each of these characters were so clearly drawn that you never thought it was the same person. Cecil Vyse, Johnny (MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE, 1985), Tomas (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, 1988), Christy Brown (MY LEFT FOOT, 1989), Hawkeye (THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, 1992).

    Had Daniel Day-Lewis played Superman back then, I think he could have made very adult people who have no trace of kid left in them believe that Superman and Clark Kent are so different in the minds of the people they meet that no one would ever think they are one and the same. And he could probably do that without twisting his flexible features too much.
    Last edited by Jim Kelly; 08-08-2015 at 12:16 PM.
    You can't jump a jet plane like you can a freight train,
    So I'd best be on my way in the early morning rain.

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