Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Monday, July 24, 2006

When the Wheel Turns

So...Spider-Man revealed his secret identity to the world in a press conference.

From what I can recall, the current Marvel regime doesn't like secret identities, and has been getting rid of them over time. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any major Marvel characters whose IDs haven't been blown in current continuity. (Then again, there weren't that many who bothered to keep it secret.)

That being said, the genie will go back in the bottle someday. Probably someday soon. Why? Because (a) Spider-Man's essence is tied to his secret ID as a regular guy and (b) hey, it's comics--everything significant that happens un-happens sooner or later.

The comicbook wheel of samsara ever turneth.

That raises the question of how will it be done? What particular broom handle will be used to cram the genie back into the bottle?

Some classic techniques of the past include:

"Alfred in the Batsuit." Peter Parker makes a public appearance, and Spider-Man joins him. "Spider-Man" explains that Parker pretended to be him for some reason or other. Like when Alfred pretended to be Batman back on the old Adam West/Burt Ward teevee show. Not long ago, Daredevil did this very trick using Peter Parker. With his secret ID blown, Matt Murdock shows up in court and in swings...Spider-Man disguised as Daredevil. It's a classic bit.

"Who Is Steve Rogers?" Early in the days of Captain America's revival, he publicly outed himself as Steve Rogers. Doing so made him a constant target for bad guys, so he pulled off one of my favorite stupid ID-salvaging tricks: he got into a brawl with an army of HYDRA goons, then sped away on his motorcycle. He then put a "Steve Rogers" rubber mask on a mannequin, dressed it in a Captain America suit, and threw it into a crossfire of HYDRA bad guys. The "body" is discovered, riddled with bullets. And is wearing a "Steve Rogers" mask. The press lept to the conclusion that Rogers was a fake-out identity, and the status quo was restored.

"Lois Loves Robots." How many times did Superman recover his blown ID by having a robot duplicate of himself show up and confuse Lois? An old Marvel prop is the "Life Model Duplicate," or LMD, a lifelike robot. All it'd take is one LMD and it's all over. This is "Alfred in the Batsuit" with the additional radness of robots.

"Dammit, Hal!" A genie-stuffing operation recently completed in DC Comics for the Flash. The Flash's ID had been public for nigh on twenty years. In the end it led to the deaths of his unborn twins and estrangement from his wife. Enter Hal Jordan, now the Spectre. With a magic whammy from Hal, everybody forgot who the Flash was. This included the Flash himself. This in-story retcon included a back door: anybody who saw the Flash take off his mask would suddenly "remember" everything. So the superhero community knows, but the general public doesn't anymore. And, oddly, they now "never did." Ahem. I'm almost positive this was done for Iron Man not long ago, using some satellite or some such. Anyway, this could be adapted to Spider-Man without too much difficulty through two words: "Doctor" and "Strange."

But why delve into the old toy chest? A few slightly-fresher ideas:

"No, you're not." Parker comes out as Spider-Man. Nobody believes him. They accuse him of trickery and attention-seeking, and write him off as a crank.

"I'm Spartacus!" Parker comes out as Spider-Man. So does a guy named Aundrae in Brooklyn. So does a guy named Jorge in Staten Island. So does a guy named John in Hoboken. So does...

There’s the variant "Live from New York!" Captain America comes to a press conference podium. He pulls off his mask…and he’s Peter Parker! The whole thing is a publicity stunt for Stark Enterprises. Several superheroes "reveal their identities," each one being Parker, who then pitches Stark’s latest robot vacuum cleaner. "Picks up dirt like a superhero!" He’d then be forgotten as just another pitchman jerkass.

"Get me a tinfoil hat!" Parker later calls another press conference. "I’m not really Spider-Man. A villain controlled my mind and made me say it. Uh…I was being controlled by the…uh…Puppet Master. I had, um, cut him off in traffic, and he wanted revenge." Considering the nature of everyday life in Marvel World, that’d be a perfectly acceptable excuse.

I wonder which tool they’ll use. Consulting the massive oeuvre of "Superman fooling Lois" should provide a healthy selection of identity-preserving nonsense. ("Super-hypnotism and a rock slide? Or maybe an inflatable duplicate of Spider-Man and an alien hologram?")

Any suggestions from the internets?


  • Two words.

    "Ben" "Reilly"

    < ducks >

    By Blogger Steven, at 12:32 PM  

  • Superboy punches the universe!

    By Blogger Your Obedient Serpent, at 5:05 PM  

  • I like your "I'm Spartacus" idea but in this case I think you should rename it "I'm Starkapus".

    By Anonymous spiralsheep, at 11:05 AM  

  • "I'm Spartacus!" Parker comes out as Spider-Man. So does a guy named Aundrae in Brooklyn. So does a guy named Jorge in Staten Island. So does a guy named John in Hoboken. So does...

    Um, this actually happened in the recent Spider-Man: Black, Blue and Read all over one-shot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 AM  

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