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Off My Mind: Why Superheroes Should Use Multiple Secret Identities

It might be hard to maintain one secret identity but there are definite benefits to having multiple secret identities.

We have now looked at both sides of the argument over whether superheroes should have a secret identity or a public persona. There are definitely advantages to both. Some can be beneficial but there are also disadvantages that can be problematic or deadly.

Deciding whether or not to have and maintain a secret identity could be the biggest decision a superhero can make. Depending on the choice, it can begin to define who a superhero is and how they operate. It can also play a factor in what type of costume the hero has, if they even bother to have one.

There have been some exceptions but, for the most part, once an identity is revealed, there's no turning back.

There is another option besides having a secret identity or not having a secret identity. If a superhero was creative enough, they could consider the possibility of having more than one secret identity.

== TEASER ==

It might sound crazy. Trying to balance a regular identity along with a superhero one could be more than most people could handle. Having different identities could have many benefits.

The first that comes to mind is Moon Knight. Marc Spector was a former U.S. Marine-turned-mercenary that was reborn by the Egyptian God of Vengeance, Khonshu. Marc Spector was who his true identity but it might've been hard for a former merc to find a place and normal life in New York City. With the identity of billionaire Steven Grant, Moon Knight had access to high profile individuals as well as a way to invest and generate money in order to fund his crusade against crime.

It's possible he could gain information at high society parties but he also had another identity that gave him access to street level information. As Jake Lockley, the cab driver, he was out there and built a trust among different individuals. Now Moon Knight is using his Marc Spector identity to act as a Hollywood producer.

With essentially three civilian identities, it would be hard to pin down who Moon Knight really was. If his enemies ever unmasked him or discovered one of his identities, he could sacrifice one and keep the others. When he was being hunted down by Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts and the Commission on Superhuman Activities, 'Marc Spector' was killed off when Moon Knight faked his death (he later turned up in Mexico with the Jake Lockley identity as his main one.

The idea can also be flipped around. A superhero could benefit from having more than one superhero identity. How many times has someone like Spider-Man or Daredevil been noted as patrolling the same area? If a hero had different costumes and names, it wouldn't feel like the hero seen all the time must live in that area.

During the Identity Crisis storyline (in 1998), Spider-Man actually created FOUR other costumed personas. The reason Spider-Man created new identities wasn't because he was actually having an identity crisis. He was framed by Norman Osborn and Trapster for killing a thug named Joey Z. There was a five million dollar bounty placed on his head.

Spider-Man couldn't fight crime without everyone gunning for him, trying to claim the bounty. His solution was to create the other identities (which would later be used by others as members of Slingers).

This does give a hero some flexibility. Too often when a villain sees the familiar hero coming along, they know how to prepare for their attack. If they know all of Spider-Man's abilities, they could have a plan on how to avoid being defeated right away (similar to how Batman has a plan to take on everyone).

A superhero with multiple identities could patrol their neighborhood without giving away that they live nearby. They could even change up their fighting tactics.

Continuing to use Spider-Man as an example, when Aunt May was shot, Spidey was extremely ticked off. Instead of putting on his red and blue suit, he put his black suit on to show he was dark and angry. If a hero wanted to, they could create a more violent persona that could have more extreme fighting techniques for those really scummy villains that need more than just being captured and delivered to the police. This way, it doesn't tarnish their wholesome image, if they have one.

Even Batman has used more than one identity. For years Batman has used the Matches Malone identity to gather intel among the criminal and low-life. Taking the guise of a small time criminal, Batman had access to places he couldn't exactly go dressed as the Dark Knight. He could uncover information about the bigger criminals in town without tipping them off.

Batman recently created another superhero-type persona as well. When he returned from the dead after his confrontation with Darkseid, he wasn't quite sure where he fit in and wanted to know how the others in the Bat-family were doing without him. Using a new tech-based suit, as the Insider, he confronted each of his former sidekicks and apprentices to test how far they've come.

This was something he could have done as Batman but with a different identity, he could attack and confront them with a level of anonymity he wouldn't be allowed otherwise.

It might be hard enough for a hero to juggle their superhero identity and civilian one. For a superhero to even consider trying to maintain several identities to could enough to drive them insane (cough, Moon Knight, cough). Keeping a secret identity is almost like a challenging game and having multiple ones will give heroes an edge, regardless if they're civilian or superhero ones.

39 Comments
Posted by Miss_Garrick

Having multiple identities is a sure way to the nut house. I'm looking at you, Hank Pym.

Posted by jhazzroucher

So they'd remain unknown.

Edited by Donovan Montgomery

Daredevil has done this on occasion (Mike Murdock) to throw suspicion away.  He's also done the multiple costume trick (not to mention the insane  route).  Personally, I like the multiple costume trick.  [Back to DD] I truly think he would benefit having his armored outfit back.     

DD's new look circa DD Vol.1 #321

Armored Daredevil
Posted by NightFang

@Miss_Garrick said:

Having multiple identities is a sure way to the nut house. I'm looking at you, Hank Pym.

Moon Knight is more likely.

Online
Edited by kiss_lamia

                  The answer is simple you should all take lessons from this lovely yet evil Woman

Posted by obscurefan

Sigh, after looking at this article all I can think about are The Slingers and Mike Weiringo, and I miss both of them.

Posted by saoakden

Dude I would lose track of my idenities & have to make sure I use the right equipment but have to change the color scheme of my outfit or whatever. PLUS some people would get curious why this guy or girl showed up instead of this person. They could asume that hero died if they don't show their face from time to time. Plus you can't really be a hero on a particular day cause once they catch you on one day being a different hero, they realize your all the other heroes. For example, It be like Dick Grayson went back & forth between being Nightwing or Batman & someone like Two-Face caught on & caught one of them after studying his routine.

Posted by SuperDoahBoy

Bruce wasn't very creative when he created that Insider costume. He seems to be using the same belt and gloves from the bat suit.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

You having an identity crisis Tony? I've noticed a theme this week.

Edited by VioletPhoenix

Shapeshifting is a cop-out lol. Aren't heroes too busy being heroes and confronting their enemies (the marvel events) to worry about maintaining multiple identities?

Posted by Eyz

I think it's a pretty clever and good idea. I mean, it sort of makes sense, if you wanna keep your enemies at distance and the upper hand in the end :P

(like a Joker card in your sleeves if you get the idea)

Posted by Rell127

Doesn't Bats have atleast 4 tho?

Yea Spidey does have quite a bit. I wished they were to talk about Ultimate MoonKnight now that's a crazy man.

Posted by Grim

The insider should have been a DLC costume...

Posted by MetropolisKid41

I agree that multiple secret identities would be the way to go, but to me the people that would need it most would be the average joe with a family who may not have the money to ensure their saftey if their identity was ever discovered. And I don't think that realistically with social security #'s being used for everything, that they could pull that off and fullfil the requirements of one job while being a vigilante let alone multiple for each alias. I think that the one civilian identity with multiple superhero identities such as DD, Spidey, Pym, and Batman would be the way to go.

Posted by Kairan1979

Having different identities can be useful. You can use them and discard. The trick is to make the ruse work.
Let's not forget that Spider-Man was caught.
I liked the similar idea used in Checkmate volume 1. Kinghts used similar armors while on mission, so the enemies were confused - is it the same guy? Can he be in two places at once?

Posted by The Impersonator

@kiss_lamia said:

The answer is simple you should all take lessons from this lovely yet evil Woman

Posted by jubilee042

@kiss_lamia said:

The answer is simple you should all take lessons from this lovely yet evil Woman
Posted by Doctor!!!!!

it keeps things fresh, and I would do that... 'm that nuts!

Posted by JonesDeini

@NightFang said:

@Miss_Garrick said:

Having multiple identities is a sure way to the nut house. I'm looking at you, Hank Pym.

Moon Knight is more likely.

LOL Marc's condition, imo, is far more responsible for his many lives than his super heroics.

Posted by Decoy Elite

I admit I like the idea of a character having multiple super identities, but  I don't think having multiple civilian identities would  work unless the hero had lots of spare time(more so than the average hero that is)

Edited by Or35ti

Sounds like a really expensive and time consuming idea. Unless you were unhealthily obsessed and had completely devoted all of your personal time to crime fighting, this would be extremely difficult to pull off. But a third identity like Matches Malone to gather more information or like Symbiote Spider-Man to express a different side of emotion is a really great piece of a hero's character. I just think having 4 different identities like Spidey did in Identity Crisis is a bit much but I haven't read the story so I don't know much about the reason he created 4 and not just one.

Posted by frogjitsu

@VioletPhoenix said:

Shapeshifting is a cop-out lol. Aren't heroes too busy being heroes and confronting their enemies (the marvel events) to worry about maintaining multiple identities?

Ha ha, that's funny, Marvel Events being the enemies of the supers.

If I were a super, I would have multiple identities, each for a different mood, and with their own themes.

Posted by danhimself

man I loved the Identity Crisis arc and the Slingers!

Posted by Joe Venom

If you ever want my attention just slap a image of Ricochet and/or Prodigy on it and I'm there

R.I.P. Mike Wieringo

Posted by mrmisanthrope

Wasn't this Martian Manhunter's thing for a while? I'm sure I read a comic where he went through some of his human identities, all of which had names that were variations on John. I think there's been a couple of occasions where he's created alternate super hero identities as well.

Also, man I loved the Slingers.

Posted by wdchefdave

The Punisher, Moon Knight, and Henry Pym are mentally ill.  But, they can still go out and play hero.  Multiple identities vs multiple personalities are two different things.
Personally, as a kid... I thought that it must be hard for Superman to remember who he is in public.  Clark or Kal-El!?!  
I see no obvious advantage to multiple secret identities... But, THE SHADOW KNOWS!  And, so does Sherlock Holmes for that matter!
They tried it first.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

The grandfather of multiple identities...

His example is probably the best to go by when making the case for why multiple secret identities are the best. After all, so many people erroneously believe his alter ego is Lamont Cranston when in fact that was one of the personas he set up. The Shadow knows!

Posted by difficlus

@jubilee042 said:

@kiss_lamia said:

The answer is simple you should all take lessons from this lovely yet evil Woman

true

Posted by KidSupreme

Hell i have multiple identities, lol everyone should try it :D

Posted by homeslice

I was thinking about this with regards to Steve Rogers where at the end of spider island he showed up in his super soldier uniform. Ironman asked him why he didn't wear his Captain America uniform when he said that he needed to do that job as super soldier while noting he had another thing to do later on which required him to be Cap (or something to that extent.)

Posted by Sammo21

Clint Barton is also guilty of doing this, lol. How many times has he changed identities?

Posted by KEROGA

WE ALL KNOW SOMEONE ELSE BESIDE BRUCE IS GONNA BE THE NEW " INSIDER"

Posted by TheWitchingHour

I'm sensing a theme with the Off My Mind bits lately.....

But the multiple identities route seems the best way to go. You always have something to fall back on. Or you could be the Beyonder and just go without any identity. That's cool too.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham

SPOILER!

When Crackerjack, of Astro City, saved an old man from a burning building it was discovered that he was actually one of the tenants. A young muscular actor with a mullet. But later the firemen found several fake IDs, passports, wigs, and stuff like that hinting at the idea that this young mullet man wasn't the real identity. Furthermore his mustache is probably fake, along with his egotistical jerky hero persona, so no one really knows who he is. He had multiple secret identities.

Great article. So many different things spring to mind. The whole, which is the real person Batman or Bruce Wayne. In terms of this topic, makes me wonder if a person's real persona could get lost in their secret identities. If Peter is actually this funny guy, brave and confident, but he hides all that when he is Peter so that no one thinks he is Spider-Man, but then as Spider-Man hides other traits so no one connect him to Parker. That alone is hard, you could end up hiding your true self all together not being Peter and not being Spider-Man, but a third persona that no one gets to see. And if you add more identities to that, another civilian or another superhero, that could really make things hard.

Too many lives to keep straight I would imagine, too many lies to keep track of. You tell one person you are going to the gym, you tell another person you were at the library, and another person a different place, you have to keep track of all the lies and deception. And what if you get attached to the fake persona and his/her life? Even if you are totally dedicated to the mission, like Batman, where you don't use your secret identities for anything but work, people you interact with are real and bonds might get formed and stuff. Its not so easy to just abandon that. So a dual identity is confusing and can create complications that comes with a double life.

I like the idea of a superhero with multiple hero identities all at once. I liked it when Spider-Man did it, fun. And I liked it when Robin, on the Teen Titans cartoon, was Red X. I think it creates less problems than having multiple civilian identities. Also, didn't Nightwing get created when Dick's real identity was uncovered? I guess it all goes back to which is the real person and what is their primary focus. Are they completely committed to the point where their civilian life is a mask and they are always the hero at all times? I have lots of random ideas, and it seems its all flooding out of my mouth... er, keyboard.

Oh, also Thunderbolts, the original series, where super villains (who had a civilian identity and a super villain identity) created superhero identities for themselves.

When Hank Pym comes up with a new superhero identity, like Goliath, Giant Man, Wasp, Ant Man, Yellowjacket, etc, do people (the public, heroes, villains) think he is a new superhero?

Posted by Maki_P

Naw, I think having multiple identities is just a one way ticket to the nuthouse

Posted by _Jabieko_

I think its a superheros choice

Posted by ProfessorQQ

You would think it's common sense and more superheroes would do it but apparently in their universe there is no such thing as common sense.

Posted by VioletPhoenix

@frogjitsu said:

@VioletPhoenix said:

Shapeshifting is a cop-out lol. Aren't heroes too busy being heroes and confronting their enemies (the marvel events) to worry about maintaining multiple identities?

Ha ha, that's funny, Marvel Events being the enemies of the supers.

If I were a super, I would have multiple identities, each for a different mood, and with their own themes.

haha ask Legion and Typhoid it doesn't really ever work out in their favor :P

Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever

No, then you lose the symbolism of being a well established hero.