Comic Book Review – Superman: Secret Identity

What would you do if you woke up with the Man of Steel’s powers?

“Maybe I had a “secret identity”, but then when you think about it, don’t we all? A part of ourselves very few people ever get to see. The part we think of as “me”. The part that deals with the big stuff. Makes the real choices. The part everything else is a reflection of.”

Clark Kent

Meet Clark Kent, but not the one you’re thinking of. The son of David and Laura Kent, this shy, quiet farm boy (named after the much more heroic character who only exists in comic books) spends most of his time typing on his typewriter, going for private walks in the forest at the edge of town and avoiding bullies who use his name as bully ammunition which apparently never gets old.

After another uneventful day of attending school and receiving the day’s obligatory Superman themed taunts, Clark walks out into the woods to be alone with his thoughts, stopping at a clearing to lie on his back and look up at the stars. He falls asleep under the clear, bright sky but soon awakes to find himself no longer lying on the hard ground but floating in the air…just like Superman. Eventually, after some experimentation, Clark discovers he has all the powers of Superman, a seemingly comical and ironic twist of fate.

During a Halloween carnival in which Clark is dressed up as Superman, an explosion is set off putting civilians in danger; he leaps into action, lifting a steel beam and saving his friends but quickly falls into a media trap and finds himself face-to-face with dozens of reporters, cameras flashing. Faced with a sudden identity crisis, Clark pretends to stumble and drops the beam, claiming his strength to be an adrenaline-fueled fluke. He decides that while saving people in secret is a good use of his powers, the world isn’t yet ready for the emergence of a real-life Superman, and neither is he…

Superman Secret Identity

On the face of it, Superman: Secret Identity has a fairly simple premise; a boy mocked for having Superman’s name end up with Superman’s powers and tries his best to be a hero in a world where superpowers shouldn’t even exist, but it is so much more than that. Superman: Secret Identity works as a narrative describing the life and troubles of a teenage boy coming to terms with himself and his forward leap into adulthood all the way through to his old aged years. Each issue explores another stage in his life, profiling his powers, relationships and insecurities both human and super, be it finding a relationship, finding a job he can enjoy or finding the strength to put his personal life at risk to save others.

Kurt Busiek, who has written for characters from nearly all major comic book publishers, does an amazing job of creating characters who are not only believable but also feel relatable in their normality, while the artist Stuart Immonen (who has drawn major characters for both DC and Marvel) has a bold and realistic style which helps to ground the series.

Pros/Cons! Pros: original story, great script, nice pacing, realistic artwork. Cons: some plot holes.

One thing that needs to be said for this story is that you need to have a reasonably open mind when it comes to plot conclusions, as it seems quite a few people aren’t entirely happy with the whole “is it a coincidence or not that he has the same powers as Superman?” explanation (which I won’t spoil here). That being said, I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone and everyone who has the time to spare.

All in all, for anyone who has never read a Superman story, this is a great place to start as long as you know the rough origin story and powers of the Man of Steel, and for those who have had the pleasure of reading Superman comics, this will be a fresh look at the life of a Clark Kent outside the usual scope of the DC Universe (without being just another retelling through the Elseworld’s imprint).

Superman Secret Identity Cover

Issues:(also available as a Graphic Novel)

Genre: Superhero / Drama / Slice of Life

Age Rating: Teen (13+ )

Publisher: DC Comics

So what do you think? Have a think and let us know in the comments section below.

– Isaac




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