Secret Identity #1
writer: Kurt Busiek
artist: Stuart Immonen
go through a phase when we consider ourselves different. Possibly
in our youth, we figured we were indestructible. And definitely,
one main appeal to superheroes is that we all have had fantasies
of having power. The Kinks touched a chord when they sang,
"…wish I could fly like Superman."
Secret Identity, though, that fantasy has long burned
out for a kid saddled with the name Clark Kent. Everyone around
him, especially his parents, think the name is funny, and
Busiek opens on a birthday party with every gift having a
Superman theme. (Later, that will come in handy.) Clark has
tried to protest, and now just accepts the joke with a numb
graciousness, carrying the gifts up to a room filled with
anything and everything Superman-related that the underrated
Immonen can imagine.
first half of the book, Clark's story is an interesting slice
of life, though the lengths his peers go to torment him may
be a stretch. Not in the random meanness of it, but in how
much Superman trivia even the dumb jocks seem to know. Chalk
it up to being written by a guy who, along with Mark Waid,
stands as being one of the most knowledgeable of comics history.
Busiek may have lost touch with just what characters are obscure
to the general public, especially in a book that seems to
have been set a few years in the past. (Clark fantasizes about
meeting Rebecca DeMornay - probably not in the top five fantasies
of a modern-day teen.)
mind that, though, because the characterizations are otherwise
Clark Kent realizes that in his regular real-world existence,
he actually has all the powers of Superman. If you must, Superboy.
Even more so than in Astro City, Busiek really takes
apart the drawbacks that must come with such a discovery,
because this Superman (if he grows into that role throughout
the series) has no real role models.
Clark knows about his powers comes from comic books. To answer
your question, yes, x-ray vision works in the girls' locker
room, but Clark abstains not out of moral purity but for fear
that it could physically harm people in long-term ways. He
has no one to commiserate with, to perhaps compare notes with.
If he's adopted, his parents aren't willing to share that
truth. This Clark Kent's actual origins are a mystery, but
Busiek and Immonen tell the story so well, it almost doesn't
matter at all.
taken an idea that DC toyed with a couple of decades ago,
just pre-Crisis. Back then, they had an Earth called
Earth-Prime, that was supposed to be ours, where a young boy
named Clark Kent knew the legends, knew the stories, and discovered
his powers. He pretty much took it all for granted, adopting
the costume and using his abilities in secret for a couple
of random appearances before disappearing into the bowels
of Alexander Luthor in Crisis On Infinite Earths #12.
(No, really.) The concept was good; just nobody ever did much
with it. Until now.
from Smallville in that this Clark Kent has the burden
of knowing everybody's pre-conceived notions upfront. At least,
he thinks he does. Like a lot of teens, he approaches the
real world fairly naively. In the clutch, he does the right
thing, but it's not always so easy to do in a fame and media
issue is 48 pages, and despite spreading the layouts out a
bit, none of them feel wasted. Rather, Immonen has done a
tremendous job of peppering this superhuman story with little
human moments. Even the splash pages with Clark flying serve
a purpose other than just cool art; we really feel the freedom
Identity shouldn't remain a secret. It's a fun take on
a story we all thought we knew.