DC Is Revealing Superman's Not-So-Secret Identity (Again)

Holy cow, those glasses really do work.
Image: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado (DC Comics)

Can you imagine? Turn’s out he’s not a bird. Or even a plane. Up there, it’s mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent!

Yes, DC Comics is pulling a 2015 (or a 1990, or perhaps even a 1978, depending on how you judge your levels of Superman secret identity outing). In this December’s Superman #18, Clark Kent will reveal to the world that his glasses are indeed the universe’s most effective perception-distortion field.

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And that he’s also the Man of Steel. That too, I guess.

DC Comics already softly revealed the news in solicitations for December comics earlier this week, but in a newly launched interview with the New York Times today, Brian Michael Bendis—who jumped ship from his longstanding position at Marvel Comics a few years ago to take over DC’s primary Superman titles, among other things—lifted the lid on his plans to put Clark Kent into the spotlight.

As noted above, this is far from the first time this has happened. In his long comics career, Superman has revealed his alter ego to many people in his lives in fits and starts—like his allies in the Justice League, or the people closest to him like Lois Lane. But this newest storyline will see Clark’s identity become known publicly to the world, heroes, villains, and civilians alike, and draws most comparisons to the 2015 storyline that saw the same thing happen when, to counter the threat of a blackmailing hacker threatening to expose Superman, Lois outed Clark’s secret online. He even got a “new” secret identity out of it that lasted for approximately three seconds!

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Anyway, all that has now been retconned out of continuity, because, y’know, comics—so the pathway is clear for Bendis to tell this story all over again. Or, as he mostly focuses on in this new interview, attempting to convince rightly skeptical comic book fans that no, for real, this will matter and have ramifications.

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“Let me lean into this a little bit because I’m with you on that,” Bendis told the Times when specifically asked about fans being wary that this wasn’t just some shock tactic to grab a headline. “I don’t do fake-out stories. I did a story where Daredevil was outed—a different kind of outing—but that was his reality for 15 years,” he continued. “We wanted to do this because behind it is 1,000 brand-new Superman stories that have never been told.”

Nothing will ever be the same, you see.

Those “brand-new Superman stories” will kick off in earnest with the January release of two special one-shot issues—one of which is titled Superman: Heroes—that will examine the international and interpersonal reactions across the DC universe to Clark’s identity reveal, among heroes and villains alike. Although details are being kept under wraps at the moment, Bendis teased collaborations with writers Matt Fraction and Greg Rucka on the issues, which will examine concepts like how Clark can conceivably continue to be an ethical journalist in the wake of the reveal, and will also apparently see one teased villain of the DC universe switch to the side of heroes after learning the news.

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For now, we’ll have to take Bendis’ word for just how all this will play out in the years to come. Superman #18, by Bendis, Joe Prado, and Ivan Reis, will hit shelves December 11.

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About the author

James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!