"And who, disguised as Clark Kent ... "

 

 

It might seem strange to comic book fans who are only familiar with the current Superman history, or to fans of Lois and Clark The New Adventures of Superman, that Clark would be the disguise and Superman the real person, but as indicated by the narrative from Action #1 (1938), Superman's debut, Clark Kent was clearly a "role" he played, and the role of a "weakling" at that.

 

The following is a brief look at the tradition of "disguised" heroes, and those that might have influenced the Superman creators.

 

 

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the oldest stories of a hero who hid behind the facade of a weakling.

He even hid the truth from his wife. Also, he wasn't a hero of the "common man" so much as rescuer of ousted nobility.

 

 


 

  Zorro, the fighter for truth and justice in old California, started out as a pulp fiction hero who quickly found his way into silent films.

When not dressed as the dashing Zorro, Diego de la Vega played the role of a foppish dandy who much preferred reading poetry to the rigors of exhausting heroism.

 


 

The Shadow fits into the category of "it takes one to know one". This avenger knew what "evil lurks in the hearts of men," because he himself had a very checkered past.

Arguably, "The Shadow", a character so dark and vengeful, would seem much more likely an influence on Batman's creator rather than Superman's, but he is included here because of his dual identity as Lamont Cranston.

 

 


 

  The Phantom, AKA "the ghost who walks" differed slightly from the rest. As Kit Walker, his other identity, he didn't really play the part of a dandy or coward.

This may be due to the fact that "The Phantom" was a persona he "inherited" rather than one he invented. Also, like "The Shadow", his imagery was much more in the tradition of Batman rather than Superman.


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