We all know that Clark Kent is Superman, Bruce Wayne is Batman, and Peter Parker swings around New York City as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but for all the thousands of superheroes out there, sometimes their so-called secret identities fall through the cracks. You may not realize it, but some of the biggest names in comics have touted different identities at times and while they didn’t fool anyone reading the books, the folks they interacted with may just have been duped.
Then we have those superheroes who we think of only as their superhero identity. Many people may have forgotten that Thor was originally tied to Dr. Donald Blake, as well as a few others over the years. For all of the Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman-types, there are hundreds of other people who put on the cape every day to fight evil but go home and do menial jobs the rest of the time. In case you forgot some of those, we got together and came up with these 15 Superheroes You Forgot Had Secret Identities.
15. Hercules – Mr. Powers
Hercules is one of those characters who you just know his identity when you look at him. He wears very little clothing and has muscles so toned that they have their own muscles. It’s Hercules, for crying out loud! You would never expect him to be anything else but in Avengers #29 ‘ole Herc dons a finely tailored suit and hits the clubs for a night on the town.
He first hits up the Happy Islands nightclub, where he is a natural attraction for the lucky ladies inside. Herc even grabs a guitar and serenades an adoring crowd with tales of his many adventures. The handsome hero can’t help but be the main attraction to the ladies in the club– and they have no idea who he really is.
Thanks to the Wasp, his comrade in the Avengers, he dons the nickname Mr. Powers – because nobody could think of anything better to describe a man like Hercules. It’s not a secret identity the demi-god has embraced often in the comics, but this brief encounter at the club earned him the name Mr. Powers and it’s definitely one the fans may have forgotten.
14. Doctor Octopus – Peter Parker
What? Doc Oc? He’s a villain! Well, that may be true, but at one time he not only took over the body and life of Peter Parker, but he also donned his threads and reformed himself as the Superior Spider-Man! We all know that Doc Oc began his life of crime soon after his four octopus-like appendages were fused to his body in a laboratory accident. He would go on to battle Spider-Man on numerous occasions and was one of Spidey’s principal antagonists for decades.
Shortly before his death, Octavius was able to transfer his consciousness into Peter Parker’s body, leaving Peter to die in Octavius’ withering husk of a body. After taking over his body, Octavius learns of Peter’s motivations and decides to become Spider-Man in his place. Though he attempts to do good, his methods and brutal tactics separate him from the Spider-Man everyone knew and loved.
Eventually, Peter is able to reassert his consciousness back into his own mind and by the end of the ordeal, Octavius relinquishes control of Parker’s body while erasing his own consciousness from the world.
13. Plastic Man – Patrick O’Brian
Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was a small-time crook who nearly died in a vat of acid before the Caped Crusader could set him free. He acquired the ability to turn his body into pretty much any form imaginable. While the character is akin to Marvel’s Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Plastic Man is considerably more powerful (as is common in DC characters). He has even spanned more than 3,000 years through some time-travel trickery and is essentially immortal. He tends to act as the comic relief in a lot of situations and it an integral part of the Justice League.
His original identity of Patrick O’Brien is often lost on readers as he is most often only portrayed as Plastic Man. Through the Golden Age of comics to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, his backstory has changed a little here and there, but he remains a jokester who is mostly an eccentric and unpredictable superhero.
12. The Guardian – James Harper
Fans of the CW’s Supergirl know of the current story arc that has placed Jimmy “James” Olson as the Guardian, but in DC Comics, The Guardian was first and foremost a police officer named James Harper. Harper grew up in Suicide Slum, a derelict and rundown part of Metropolis. He began his life as a petty criminal but soon came under the wing of Joe Morgan, who trained him as a potential Olympian. When he returned to the slum as an adult and watched his childhood friend, Leo, get taken out by some gangsters, he joined the police force and was assigned as a rookie to his old neighborhood.
The gangsters didn’t take too kindly to Harper’s new job and they beat him nearly to death. When he recovered, he donned the costume and identity of the Guardian and fought to guard society against the evil dregs who had plagued his hometown since before he was born. The Guardian has appeared in comics since 1942 and has, for the most part, been played by the same person.
11. Animal Man – Buddy Baker
Bernard “Buddy” Baker started life out like everyone else– without superpowers. It wasn’t until a trip into the Adirondack Mountains that his life changed forever. While there, he encountered some escaped animals from a nearby zoo. When he was in close proximity to the animals, he found that he could absorb an animal’s abilities and make them his own. This isn’t to say he could grow fur like a chimpanzee, but he could acquire a chimp’s strength, a tiger’s spring, and a cheetah’s speed. In time, his powers developed and he would be able to manifest an animal’s abilities without coming into contact with them. He donned a costume and became the superhero, Animal Man.
Animal Man is another character whose regular identity has somewhat fallen through the cracks. Because he is so often associated with his superhero self, it’s easy to forget that it all started with a kid named Buddy. Animal Man has partnered with the major superhero teams of the DCU and has been involved in numerous story arcs across hundreds of comics over the years.
10. Etrigan The Demon – Jason Blood
Etrigan the Demon is one of Hell’s most notorious souls who was merged with the soul of a human, Jason Blood, so he could walk the Earth to fight evil. For fans who know the comics, it’s pretty clear that there would be no Etrigan without the help of Jason, but most people who have only a passing awareness of the demon know little to nothing of his human counterpart. The origin of both characters is somewhat muddled, but they were both introduced during the time of King Arthur and Camelot. Etrigan was a demon summoned by Merlin to help defend the city and Jason was either a druid or the “other half” of the demon. When Jason calls Etrigan forth, the demon manifests.
You wouldn’t think of a demon as being a hero in the DCU, but that’s what Etrigan tends to be. Emphasis on “tends” here, because he has been known to exercise his more sadistic qualities while mucking about on the Earth. Etrigan has been featured in numerous stories over the years and has much more of a presence in the DCU than his alter-ego/secret identity, Jason Blood. Because of this, Blood is usually sidelined in contrast to Etrigan, even though he is a major component of the character’s backstory and ongoing role in the DCU.
9. Mighty Mouse – Mike Mouse
Here he comes to save the day… but not before clocking in eight hours at Pearl Pureheart’s factory as the regular, not-so-mighty Mike Mouse! Mighty Mouse was always envisioned as an homage to DC Comic’s Superman character, but it wasn’t until the character was picked up by the brilliant animator Ralph Bakshi that a secret identity was introduced. When Bakshi took over the cartoon, he gave the world Mike Mouse; the mild-mannered factory worker by day, superhero and amazing Mighty Mouse by night– or whenever he was needed.
Now you might be asking yourself why we have a cartoon character featured on a list of superheroes from comics, but that may be because you never strolled past a copy of Mighty Mouse in the grocery store. That’s right, Mighty Mouse made his comic book debut in Terry-Toons Comics #38 published in 1945 and he has appeared in comics consistently since that time. His secret identity Mike Mouse has even made the appearance or two on the printed page after he was introduced by Bakshi in 1987’s Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.
8. Damage – Grant Emerson
The superhero who goes by the name Damage was known as Grant Emerson when he wasn’t sporting his cape and skin-tight costume. Emerson was only 16 years old when his powers began to manifest and it was at this time that he moved to Marietta, Georgia, a small suburb outside of Atlanta. His powers developed incrementally and, at first, he only showed an increase in endurance and speed, but it wasn’t long before he became stronger and battled Metallo, one of Superman’s greatest foes. During the fight, Emerson lost control of his powers and destroyed his high school.
It was at this time that he learned he was adopted and would later find out he was the son of the original Atom, a superhero from the Golden Age. Emerson joined the Teen Titans and became the superhero Damage. He would later go on to attempt entry into the Justice League and the newly formed Teen Titans before settling into the group known as the Freedom Fighters – but only for a short while. Damage was killed off in the Blackest Night storyline and hasn’t resurfaced (as comic book characters tend to do) since that time.
7. Firehawk – Lorraine Reilly
Firehawk, otherwise known as Lorraine Reilly, is the daughter of a Democratic Senator named Walter Reilly. She was kidnapped at an early age to see if she could be used to develop powers similar to Firestorm. She was placed into a sensory deprivation chamber and induced with nuclear radiation, which worked in activating her metagene and making her incredibly powerful. With her powers manifested, she was pitted against Firestorm, but the two ended up getting along instead of fighting one another to the death, and they teamed up against Tokamak.
It took her some time, but she fell into the role of the superheroine fairly easily with Firestorm alongside her. Over the years, she has participated in numerous team-ups and crossover events in the DCU and has become something of a veteran superheroine. She is most often referred to by her heroine name, which is why many people might have forgotten about her true identity as a Senator’s daughter. Firehawk made her debut appearance in The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #1 published in June of 1982.
6. Namor The Sub-Mariner – Namor McKenzie
We all know that Namor is the Sub-Mariner and the oldest character in Marvel Comics with more than 70 years under his belt, but given that the character was introduced so long ago, it’s easy to forget his origin story and associated name. Namor is the son of Leonard McKenzie, a human who was on a quest in the Antarctic when he came across Princess Fen of Atlantis. Being of two different worlds, they, of course, fell in love and the Princess became impregnated. Unfortunately, the Atlanteans attacked the crew of the ship when they went to retrieve their princess and she was returned to the sea to have her child.
Namor grew up in Atlantis, but his true name isn’t Mr. Sub-Mariner, it’s actually Namor McKenzie – and that’s a name he has held onto for more than seven decades. While everyone refers to him as Namor, and though few people actually know of his true origins and the name he holds, it is one he has never abandoned.
5. Superman – Jim White
Who are we trying to fool? Come on, Superman? We all know he is Clark Kent. But did you know that at one time, he walked the earth as a fellow named Jim White? It occurred all the way back in Superman #222, published in 1969. After Superman comes into contact with a strange red version of Kryptonite, he succumbs to amnesia! He wanders onto a farm and adopts the name Jim White. While there, he meets and courts a young lady named Sally Selwyn, but comes into conflict with another man who wants Sally all to himself, named Bart Benson.
Benson attempts to thwart the burgeoning romance between White and Selwyn and even goes so far as to knock him into a river. Throughout this bout with amnesia, Clark is without his powers, so the river is something of a threat to the Man of Steel. Aquaman finds him in the water and rescues him, but when he comes to, he has no memory of his time as Jim White. Okay, it’s not exactly a secret identity, but the Last Son of Krypton did have an alter-ego at one point and we bet it’s one you didn’t know about!
4. J’onn J’onzz – Marco Xavier
J’onn J’onzz is not shy when it comes to donning an alternate identity, but there is one most people may have forgotten and that’s the guise of one Marco Xavier. J’onzz adopted the name and identity of Xavier, a playboy with ties to the drug cartels in the French Riviera after he drives his car off a cliff. With the original man deceased, J’onzz takes on his form and identity to better investigate the drug cartel. It takes a little time, but slowly he works his way up the ranks of the organization with the intent of destroying it from within.
The investigation leads him to the top of the organization where he is intent on defeating the criminal known as Vulture, but before he can do so, a man named Faceless unmasks himself to reveal he is the real Xavier who faked his death to lure the Martian Manhunter into a trap! It’s one of those elaborate ways of explaining how they can throw an earlier villain back into the mix. He attempts to destroy J’onzz with an experimental gun that shoots fire (his only weakness), it backfires and consumes Xavier instead. Of course, his death is only assumed and neither he nor Vulture have ever been seen in the comics since.
3. Matches Malone – Bruce Wayne
Bruce Wayne is Batman. Everyone knows this (except his rogues’ gallery for the most part). We even mentioned it in the intro to this list so why would we bring him up again? It all has to do with the underworld gang boss of Gotham known as Matches Malone. Originally, Batman attempted to recruit Malone to his side so he could use him as an informant, but when Malone was killed, he instead decided to impersonate him. We aren’t saying he went around pretending to be Malone while wearing the Bat suit. No, he went out into Gotham as regular old Bruce Wayne in disguise!
While “wearing” the guise of Malone, Bruce was able to utilize his established contacts in the criminal underworld and fool Ra’s al Ghul. Bruce would continue to use the Matches identity for years and even came to realize that the man he was pretending to be wasn’t what he originally thought. Instead of being just another gang boss and thug, Malone was a man who wanted to atone for his sins but died before he had the chance. In a way, Bruce was honoring him by using his identity to help in his war on crime in Gotham city.
2. The Incredible Hulk – Joe Fixit
Bruce Banner and the Hulk are one and the same, but you may not recall that, at one point, that the Incredible Hulk donned another identity. When the Hulk was first introduced, Banner would change into a gray version of the monster at night. Eventually, he became the green guy we all know and fear– transforming when he became angry, but in The Incredible Hulk #324, published in 1986, the original “Turn gray and giant at night only” aspect of his transformations returned. Within only a few issues, a new Hulk persona known as Joe Fixit entered the Marvel universe.
Joe Fixit was essentially the Hulk. Well, the gray Hulk. He wasn’t a mindless brute anymore, but a morally ambiguous enforcer for the casinos of Las Vegas. With this new change, Fixit was able to repress Banner’s psyche for months and he lived as Joe Fixit in Vegas until issue #377 was published in 1991. The new story arc would see the three psyches of Banner, the Hulk, and Fixit merged into one. For much of the 1990s, Hulk was a giant, green superhero with the intelligence of Banner, but he would never have gotten to that point had it not been for Joe Fixit.
1. Wolverine – Patch
If there’s one superhero in the Marvel or DC universes whose origin and personalities were confusing for the majority of their existence, it was Wolverine. He is called Logan, James, and Wolverine, but did you know he also went under the so-called secret identity Patch? Wolverine takes on this new identity after the X-Men are presumed dead and he needs to go undercover. What is a diminutive Canadian with a recognizable hair style to do? Well, he puts on an eyepatch and tuxedo and calls himself Patch when he travels to the small island nation of Madripoor.
For all intents and purposes, Patch and Wolverine are one and the same. Anyone who faced Patch’s justce in the form of six giant blades that sprung from his hands probably figured out his ruse. Patch was the island’s protector and much of his time was spent fighting the corruption and injustice found throughout the island nation. With so many cinematic appearances over the years, it’s a wonder Hugh Jackman never grabbed an eyepatch for a nice Easter egg, but we can let that go since he gave us such an amazing performance.
Did you remember all these secret identities? Are there some forgotten secret identities that we… forgot? Let us know in the comments!