Off My Mind: Why Don't Heroes Leave Behind Revealing Evidence?

Posted by G-Man (29415 posts) - - Show Bio
One of the most important things to a hero is protecting their secret identity. The reason is to protect their loved ones from their evil enemies and also to allow them some downtime when they're not on duty. With all the different "Crime Scene Investigation" TV shows, you would think that any CSI would be able to figure out the identities of superheroes at a crime scene.
 
This idea thought came up again after reading Black Cat #1. (To the right) you can see Spider-Man touching some stolen rings without his glove and he mentions returning them. Sure they may be small but what about the possibility of leaving behind a partial fingerprint?
 
What about hair? Most female characters and male characters not wearing masks would be likely to leave behind at least one strand of hair. With all their fighting and jumping around, you would think they'd leave some hair behind for investigators to find (although the one time I tried watching CSI: New York, I laughed that the "investigator" was examining evidence while her full head of hair was just flowing freely around the lab).
 == TEASER ==
Hair (or bits of her costume) is something that also pops up in the issue of Black Cat when she's framed for a crime. Crime Scene Investigators do exist in the Marvel Universe. That's what Peter's friend Carlie Cooper does. Are they just trained to ignore this evidence? Can they not do anything with it if the hero's fingerprints or DNA aren't in the system and won't bring up a match? It must be pretty annoying investigating a scene and finding a bunch of extra evidence that will just take up police time and resources. Maybe heroes need to start wearing hairnets when fighting crime.
 
Speaking of wearing hairnets, perhaps that's something Superman should do as well. (Believe it or not) I haven't seen Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. It's my understanding that in the movie, Lex creates a clone of Superman using the DNA from a strand of his hair. I seem to recall this happening in an actual comic issue as well except the strand of hair was donated to a charity by Superman and later stolen by Lex.
 
What is the answer? How come we haven't seen any heroes' identity revealed due to trace evidence? Do heroes go around cleaning up after themselves off panel? Is there a big cover up going on within the police departments? Would it be best for all superheroes to wear masks or hairnets when fighting crime? Let's hope it doesn't ever come to that.
Staff
#1 Posted by Icemizer (181 posts) - - Show Bio

If there is no data on the secret identity say Peter Parker on file then all the evidence you collect on Spiderman is useless as there is nothing to compare it to. I am sure there are terabytes of info on all superheroes but without the ability to compare it to something its all pretty useless. 
 
Now in some instances someone like Oracle may have a worm program running that deletes all computer references to certain superheros as soon as it is entered. Deleteing the actual physical evidence would be harder but how many people today look beyond the computer to see if somethng is there.

#2 Posted by cold_fuzion (167 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sorry, I was thrown off the Black Cat's undies, but yeah this always kinda bothered me too.

#3 Posted by dondasch (925 posts) - - Show Bio

Ugh.  You mentioned possibly the worst Superman movie ever.  The hair was cut by scissors, for crying out loud LOL.  I do find this an interesting idea though.  I think that the investigators have a good understanding of the benefits of having superheroes and may tend to look the other way.  Besides, though, even with all that evidence, would there necessarily be a database to compare against if the heroes had no criminal records ?  I can feel the paranoia rising up here

#4 Posted by cosmic master (18 posts) - - Show Bio

I've always wondered about this myself. I mean in most superhero comics after a particularly violent battle (spider-man for example) the heroes usually left bloody with their costume in shreds. Surely a half CSI would have no problem finding blood or whatever at the scene and figuring it out.
I know Icemizer mentioned they may not have data on the hero's secret identity but that would just mean one small slip up with the law and their whole identity is compromised, and lets face it Marvel heroes secret identities have a knack of getting framed for things...

#5 Posted by G-Man (29415 posts) - - Show Bio
@dondasch: Hence the reason I've managed to avoid it all these years. Let's hope my luck holds out.
Staff
#6 Posted by ComicMan24 (147021 posts) - - Show Bio

I haven't thought of that, you are right. I guess it's something the writers never thought of. In the real world, the identities wouldn't be so secret after a while.
#7 Edited by EdwardWindsor (14026 posts) - - Show Bio

 @G-Man: As a forensic scientist i can tell you that i agree they would have  millions of potentially tell tale evidence laying around from all there heroic exploits, but much of it would be made useless by the fact they cant tie the evidence to the person since a very high percentage of superheroes dont have criminal records. For the people who have ex military history and criminal records they could be indetified easy if evidence is weatheed or contaminated before testing thou.
 
Always suprises me that batman hasnt been id'd since he often leaves blood samples from various cuts and wounds he has.  I'am sure Bruce would have had medical files from when he was injured as kid ,not to even mention if blood was  tested would show simularties to the his parents blood which is probably saved on file as evidence somewhere from their shooting.
 
Also in terms of  removing potential evidence by altering costume you would need to consider so many aspects since can even gather some pyschical aspects of a suspect  from a simple shoe print , hair  uniform fibres skin flakes etc are all again very hard to 100% nulify thats why  people say there is no perfect crime its near impossible to remove 100% of trace evidence.
 
Finally CSI is so floored in term os actual practise its brilliant , my first year of uni we had a lecture titled (why csi is wrong about nearly everything)  

#8 Posted by Cosmic Sentinel (3749 posts) - - Show Bio

Mr. Kent's DNA should raise a few eyebrows if it's ever tested. Mr. Parker's wouldn't exactly be text book either with all the arachnid in there. 

#9 Edited by EdwardWindsor (14026 posts) - - Show Bio
@Cosmic Sentinel:  to answer that to some point i can tell you people would have no idea what to do with DNA evidence from either of thoose two, would literally baffle the testers. Samples would probs be annyalzied to the 10th degree in order to try replicate them since would be  considered a huge scientifc break through for either sample to be found with all there differences to standard DNA structure.
#10 Posted by xerox_kitty (15760 posts) - - Show Bio

They're just lucky they don't live around here... Imagine trying to keep your secret identity a secret, when there's a CCTV camera on every street corner, following you around, watching you change costumes & then trailing you back home...    

Moderator
#11 Posted by LP (671 posts) - - Show Bio

What would be the point in investigating superheroes in the first place? They haven't done anything wrong.

#12 Posted by sora_thekey (8107 posts) - - Show Bio

I would expect the heroes to be careful for that but you're right they're not exactly being careful if you are leaving fingerprints on rings...

Moderator
#13 Posted by RedGhostman (104 posts) - - Show Bio

I've noticed this as well, but in case you haven't noticed, cops in the "comic" world aren't always depicted as superior in intelligence. Which is why they need heroes in the first place. 

#14 Posted by goldenkey (2927 posts) - - Show Bio
@xerox-kitty said:
"They're just lucky they don't live around here... Imagine trying to keep your secret identity a secret, when there's a CCTV camera on every street corner, following you around, watching you change costumes & then trailing you back home...     "

where do you live 
#15 Posted by EdwardWindsor (14026 posts) - - Show Bio
@xerox-kitty said:
" They're just lucky they don't live around here... Imagine trying to keep your secret identity a secret, when there's a CCTV camera on every street corner, following you around, watching you change costumes & then trailing you back home...     "
lol england the original big brother nation lol
#16 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

A topic I thought about a long time ago but dimissed because heck, this is the world of comics, and things in "our" world don't necessarily apply. 
 
However, you'd think a villain would be the one scouring for some type of "CSI' material in an effort to discover their respective adversary's identity.  
 
Methinks you think too much about this G.  Yet I did the same thing, so Ha! 
#17 Edited by LT1085 (3658 posts) - - Show Bio

You have to be in the system for prints or dna to mean anything. What are they going to match it up with?  All of these forensics shows are pure bullshit and nobody seems to realize that.

#18 Posted by Son_of_Magnus (15258 posts) - - Show Bio

I know Bruce has set up tampered files for the Bat Family and most of the JLA to protect them 

#19 Posted by Chaos Burn (1755 posts) - - Show Bio

speaking of hair.... how does Superman get his hair cut if he is invulnerable? And how does Wolverine too? does his hair have a healing factor?

#20 Posted by leokearon (1707 posts) - - Show Bio

Spell of Ignorance
#21 Posted by dondasch (925 posts) - - Show Bio
@G-Man: I am definitely pulling for you to avoid that movie at all costs. LOL
#22 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29330 posts) - - Show Bio

The reason CSI has never found any evidence?
 
Comic book logic.

#23 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2157 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe its like Gaticca (spelling?) we just don't see the hours that the heroes spend cleaning up any traces of their hair, skin cells, and fingerprints.  We also don't see them use the restroom either.
I think that to connect someone with the hero identity you need to have both DNA samples.  If the character has a record I think they already have the sample.  But then I think you have to think of that person too.  (I am not a CSI or a scientist of any sort so I could be completely wrong).
But I think if no one thinks of the other person, they wont get the DNA to match the hero's DNA to.  They can't run it through a computer and have it pop up, "This is Peter Parker's DNA."  (I don't think).  They have to compare it to another DNA sample to see if its a match, and maybe there isn't enough of a match to make a case or something.  (again, still not a CSI person).
Also some comics have brought up the fact that the hero has sometimes gotten in the way of the investigation.
Some criminals get out on technicalities because the hero beat them up, and I am sure because other evidence left by the hero tampered with the evidence that would have lead to the bad guy being convicted.
 Also, maybe sometimes the cops look the other way or throw out the evidence the hero has left or something.

#24 Posted by rlmay3 (256 posts) - - Show Bio

Actually on the converse of this, it's always amusing that there's a multitude of clues villains leave behind that police investigators miss, but even after massive brawls there's rarely anything left behind that police or villains find of the heroes.

#25 Posted by MrCipher (276 posts) - - Show Bio

Probably because comics have been around since the 30s and CSI (the genetics aspects at least) is relatively new. No writer would muddy up a perfectly good comic story by bringing SO much realism into the mix. 
I prefer it that way too - add too much reality and you destroy the beauty of comics. I guess it's a Zen thing.
#26 Posted by spiderpigbart (2651 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, Spider-Man has a physic blindspot.  But I can't say for the others.

#27 Posted by SwingsetTragedy (92 posts) - - Show Bio

yea not only that....But even if they did have Info on the people to expose them they would probably just become criminals for technically being Vigilante's b/c they are not Certified Police Officers and I don't think they would arrest a the only group of People able to stop the overwhelming Group of Supervillans that Come out of nowhere  for ex. They see proffesor X  take down a Bad Guy....But they aren't gonna Arrest him and Take hold of his property B/c he is the only guy who can handle the evil mutants and not too mention then they would have to find some where to place the School full of mutants 

#28 Posted by SuperGamera (565 posts) - - Show Bio

couldn't all the smart villains use heroes' dna to find their secret identities
#29 Edited by Blackestnight (640 posts) - - Show Bio

A lot of what is on CSI is bull sugar  Finger prints from people not in the system would be useless and finger prints are very much exaggerated in Hollywood they rarely get a good print unless it's on glass or something and that's if they even bother. DNA from a super hero would just mean that a super hero had been there. They'd have no idea which one or where they were. 
 
Superman's hair is too strong to just fall off. That's not ad hoc, I am basing that on his wind speeds and how dense the rest of his body is. It won't even burn from fire. It would also be hard to tell it was superman's hair unless you pulled on ever hair you happened to find. Superman 4 had a strand of his hair (freely given by superman) in a museum holding up a 1,000 lbs weight or something. Luther went there and stole it. It never made sense to me how he cut it with scissors I guess they had kryptonite on them. 
 
I wonder why more bad guys don't just follow them home. That's how the Green Goblin figured out Spider-man's identity and how Ana K. deduced it to either Parker or his roommate. 
 
You'd figure a guy like Bataman who is 6'4 and must be or be connected to a billionaire who lives in the Gotham area couldn't be that hard to deduce but they never get him. 
 
Superman, good grief is Clark even much of a disguise anyway? A pair of glasses. And he works with investigative journalist at least three of whom talk to both he and the Clark version up close pretty regularly enough to know what they look like.  Same height same face, both muscular as hell. How hard can that be to deduce? 
 
Understandably someone like Thor or Captain Marvel who completely change would be harder to deduce  But there are tons that would be easy to just follow home. Or figure out because they work with them.

#30 Posted by Walker696 (984 posts) - - Show Bio

Ok in situations like this I honestly think places like SHIELD come into play, that and the fact that I believe that some law enforcements places look after the hero community in this aspect. I mean honestly when Galactus comes down to earth do you think the cops want to rush out to fight him, nope they call out the heroes to do it, so why not help them out and lose some paperwork or drop  some evidence here and there.

#31 Posted by rasx (242 posts) - - Show Bio
@Cosmic Sentinel said:
"Mr. Kent's DNA should raise a few eyebrows if it's ever tested. Mr. Parker's wouldn't exactly be text book either with all the arachnid in there.  "

There was this old Spidey cartoon episode where Peter Parker was afraid to give blood because it might blow his secret ID. Do you guys remember it?
#32 Posted by lonefang6x6 (422 posts) - - Show Bio

maybe cuz they're lazy

#33 Posted by Nova`Prime` (4139 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually think in Superman 4 the hair was connected to wires itself and that's what Lex cut. To be honest its been so long since I've seen it, but for some reason when I think about it I see two thicker pieces at the ends of the strand of hair. I could be wrong though and he just cut the hair.

#34 Posted by Big (330 posts) - - Show Bio

I think you guys talked about this in a podcast. G-man, you mentioned that perhaps commisioner Gordon may suspect Batman's identity, but does not follow that trail to its logical conclusion, perhaps to let sleeping dogs lie and allow dark vigilantes to fight crime in that special way that they do. Perhaps there is a file, or even an investigative unit, that is responsible for collecting evidence regarding the secret identities of super-heroes. Maybe the CIA or FBI has said division in their organizations, and should any super-hero go rogue, then this unit is dispatched to hunt down the super-hero, using the information gathered, and chase the suspected alter-ego. Or maybe the cops are that dumb and that's why you can have costumed super-heroes flying around and swinging from rooftops taking the law into their own hands.
#35 Posted by DarkSyde79 (214 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sure the government knows who all the superheroes are. The cops obviously aren't up to snuff or just plain don't wanna know in most comic books. 

#36 Posted by Violet-Eyed Dragon (2271 posts) - - Show Bio

i think that the radioactivity in spiderman's blood kills all dna traces. 

#37 Posted by Violet-Eyed Dragon (2271 posts) - - Show Bio

but it doesn't make any sense at all.  they would all be cought really fast if there dna ever got in the system--which i guess it isn't 

#38 Posted by darkxman123 (198 posts) - - Show Bio

for dc im not too sure but for marveli always thought sheild had a clean up crew 

#39 Posted by Green ankh (997 posts) - - Show Bio

I have thought about it too for years. Mostly the number of heroes that dont have gloves. I think the Superman thing was explained once but there is long list of  people who's finger prints should have been found.
#40 Posted by G-Man (29415 posts) - - Show Bio
@Chaos Burn: 
I remember once Superman using his heat vision bounced off a piece of Kryptonian metal to shave. Might've been in an 80s comic.
Staff
#41 Posted by Chaos Burn (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@G-Man said:
" @Chaos Burn:  I remember once Superman using his heat vision bounced off a piece of Kryptonian metal to shave. Might've been in an 80s comic. "
sounds 80s....
#42 Posted by kareem (281 posts) - - Show Bio

i've always wondered how Clark(on Smallville) never got caught on camera by Lex. He is shown as having a bunch of cameras in his house for sequirity reasons and Clark seems to have this odd habit of super-speeding all the way to Lex's office door. So even if Clark is running to fast to be recorded, him suddenly apperaing outside Lex's door without appearing on any camera leading up to that should be suspect.

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.