Tag Archives: Batman

Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever

Superman

You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.

It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.

From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.

In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.

I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.

This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.

Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.

While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.

What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.

There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?

That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.

Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.

Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.

The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.

It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.

In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.

That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.

That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?

For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.

In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.

To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.

For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.

The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Marvel, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies

New Comic Book Day July 28, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’ve always been an early riser. Going all the way back to high school, I’m often up before the crack of dawn, even when I don’t want to be. It can be annoying, at times. I honestly would like to be able to sleep in to a meaningful degree. I still can, but by and large, I’m wired to get up early. That’s just how I am.

That certainly has its share of benefits. It has served me well in some capacities, especially when I need to catch a flight. However, one of the best benefits from being an early riser often plays out on New Comic Book Day. Thanks to the wonders of Comixology and day-and-date releases, I can take full advantage of my propensity to be up early. Before the crack of dawn, I can have a fresh stack of comics on my iPad ready to go before my coffee is done brewing.

I can’t tell you how great it is to wake up to that, no matter the hour. Waking up that early on a Wednesday didn’t used to be so enjoyable. In the days before digital comics, I still had to wait for the afternoon mail or until a comic shop opened. I do not miss those days.

I may one day not have a reason to get up so early every morning. I may even one day condition myself to actually be able to sleep in every once in a while. However, even when that day comes, I’m still going to prefer waking up extra early on New Comic Book Day to enjoy a stack of new comics. There’s just no better way to start my morning. I hope other fellow early risers appreciate that too.

If not, now is as good a week as any to start. Here is my pull list and pick of the week to help. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1033

Amazing Spider-Man #71

Avengers Mech Strike #5

Batman/Superman #20

Beta Ray Bill #5

Black Cat #8

Black Widow #9

BRZRKR #4

Daredevil #32

Detective Comics #1040

Eternals #6

Fantastic Four #34

Harley Quinn #5

The Mighty Valkyries #4

S.W.O.R.D. #7

Shang-Chi #3

Star Wars #15

Star Wars: The High Republic #7

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1

Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads #1

The United States Of Captain America #2

Wolverine #14

Wonder Woman #776


My Pick Of The Week
S.W.O.R.D. #7

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day July 21, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

It’s New Comic Book Day and it’s the middle of summer. I may not be in school anymore, but that doesn’t make me any less fond of this time of year. As a kid, the middle of summer was a magical time. Being out of school and having plenty of time to just lounge about and read comics made for some of the most enjoyable times of the year. While it sucked that I often had to wait for the mail to get my comics, I always found ways to enjoy myself.

These days, I may not enjoy the same summer break I got while I was in school, but being able to enjoy New Comic Book Day at the crack of dawn every week definitely makes up for. As I write this, the morning is clear and crisp. The sky is clear and the sun is rising. All I need to make it better is a cup of coffee and an iPad loaded with new comics, courtesy of Comixology.

It’s one of the best parts of my week. Being able to enjoy it on a nice summer morning, knowing the pools are open and I can lounge about in my underwear, just makes it even better. I can only imagine how my summers would’ve been growing up if I could access new comics like this. I might very well have overdosed on joy.

I hope kids and comic fans alike appreciate how great it is enjoy comics these days. It has never been easier and cheaper to get into. It being the middle of summer only makes New Comic Book Day that much sweeter. If you’re still new to it, I assure you that it gets better. Here is my pull list and pick of the week to help in that process. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Captain Marvel #30

Catwoman #33

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1

The Flash #772

Gamma Flight #2

Grimm Fairy Tales #50

Guardians Of The Galaxy #16

Justice League #65

Marauders #22

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #28

Moon Knight #1

New Mutants #20

Nightwing #82

Power Rangers #9

Savage Avengers #22

Shazam! #1

Star Wars: Darth Vader #14

Superman and the Authority #1

Thor Annual #1

X-Men Legends #5


My Pick Of The Week
Superman And The Authority #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

Thought Experiment: What Makes An Effective Superhero?

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another thought experiment about superheroes and what makes them effective. It was an extension of sorts of an article I wrote years ago on how to be an effective superhero. However, this video is a bit more open ended in that it takes a big picture approach to heroics. To all that check it out, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's World, superhero comics, superhero movies, Thought Experiment, YouTube

New Comic Book Day May 12, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I don’t claim to know more than your typical comic book fan. Hell, I don’t claim to know more than any average person with an internet connection. I just know what I like, what makes me happy, and how I prefer to go about life. Reading new comics on Wednesday mornings is just one of those things I know will make every week feel complete and fulfilled.

It also helps that this is the time of year when many major publishers are gearing up for their big summer events. Around this time last year, evens like “X Of Swords” was just starting and, given the circumstances of last year, it really helped boost my spirits.

This year being less dire, the major summer comic events are back on schedule. Marvel and DC Comics have both teased and hinted at what’s to come over the next couple of months. Marvel has it’s big “Heroes Reborn” event that just started and DC Comics has it’s big Justice League: Last Ride event beginning this week.

Now, some fans see these summer events as gimmicks. In many cases, that’s exactly what they are. They’re the big budget blockbuster movies meant to cause a lot of noise and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re still fun. They’re still enjoyable. Some may see them as a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt in enjoying these events, nor should you.

These are exciting times for the world of comics. As the real world nears the end of the pandemic that upended so many lives last year, now is as good a time as any to dive head-first into big, fun mindless spectacles. If you want, it can start to today. Here’s my pull list and pick to guide you. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Batman: The Detective #2

Batman: Urban Legends #3

Black Cat #6

Children Of The Atom #3

Fantastic Four #32

Giant Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom #1

Grimm Fairy Tales #48

Guardians Of The Galaxy #14

Heroes Reborn #2

Heroes Reborn: Peter Parker, The Amazing Shutterbug #1

Justice League: Last Ride #1

Mighty Morphin #7

Silk #3

Spider-Man: The Spider’s Shadow #2

Spider-Woman #12

Superman #31

X-Corp #1


My Pick Of The Week
Justice League: Last Ride #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

Wonder Woman Earth One Volume 3: Triumph Of A (Loving) Philosophy

Whenever there’s an alternate version of an iconic character, writers often try to give them their own unique twist. Most of the time, it’s distinct, but still subtle. They try not to veer too far from the established canon of the character. Unless they’re writing weird fan fiction, writers stick to whatever is most prominent version of the character within the cultural zeitgeist.

However, Grant Morrison is not like most writers.

He doesn’t follow along with the cultural zeitgeist. Instead, he reverses it. When he writes iconic characters, he reshapes and reimagines them in big ways. All the cultural zeitgeist can do is try and keep up.

He did it for Superman in his critically acclaimed run on “All-Star Superman.”

He did it again with “Wonder Woman: Earth One.”

These stories didn’t simply tell new stories with DC Comics’ most iconic characters. They channeled every element from every era to mold a unique narrative. That’s difficult enough for Superman, given his 80-year history. With Wonder Woman, the challenge is even greater.

Before I get too heavy into spoiler territory, I’ll just say this. Morrison successfully rose to the challenge when reimagining Wonder Woman in the first volume of “Wonder Woman: Earth One.” He succeeds even more in completing that story in “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 3.”

It’s challenging because most Wonder Woman fans, including older fans more familiar with her lengthy history, know her mostly as a proud warrior woman. They think Wonder Woman and they see Lynda Carter in the classic 70s show, Gal Gadot in the recent movies, and even the animated version in “Justice League Unlimited” that was voiced by Susan Eisenberg.

These are all great versions of this iconic character. That warrior spirit that makes her one of the fiercest fighters in the DC Universe is a major part of her persona. However, there are other aspects of that persona that have been either retconned or ignored. Morrison makes it a point to embrace those aspects in “Wonder Woman: Earth One.”

Yes, that does include some of the kinkier aspects of Wonder Woman’s origins, which I’ve highlighted before. Namely, it embraces some of the BDSM elements that were woven into the early lore of Wonder Woman by her creator, William Marston.

However, it would be wrong, shallow, and short-sighted to call this aspect of Wonder Woman’s character too crude for modern tastes. These elements aren’t just for sex appeal and titillation. They reflect an important element to Wonder Woman’s philosophy, as defined by Marston.

To use power to dominate over others is inherently cruel and repressive.

To willingly submit with love and compassion is the truth path to peace and justice.

This is the core philosophy that Grant Morrison spends the first two volumes of “Wonder Woman: Earth One” exploring. That philosophy faces its ultimate test in “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 3.” I’ll spoil another detail here. It passes with flying colors and in a way that makes for a satisfying conclusion to such a uniquely wonderful story.

The story isn’t just about Wonder Woman facing the worst elements of domination at the hands of arrogant men and powerful gods. It’s about how this unique philosophy ultimately wins.

Now, contrary to what a bunch of whiny trolls may say, this effort is not about “smashing the patriarchy.” Seriously, don’t give these trolls any attention. They’ll say that about any comic that doesn’t cater exclusively to their narrow tastes, which usually involve Wonder Woman being a glorified warrior/stripper.

The story in “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 3” is more ambitious. It also has an unusual structure, although not too unusual for Morrison. His writing style often takes advantage of different time periods, using future events to give context to the past. It’s what he did in the first volume of “Wonder Woman: Earth One.” He uses it again, but to tell a very different story.

In the past, Wonder Woman is still sharing her philosophy with man’s world. She continues her fight against what she sees as an endless cycle of domination by the powerful. To her, it’s no different than how the old Greek Gods attempted to dominate the Amazons. It just leads to more conflict and suffering for men and women alike.

This ideology of power domination isn’t exclusive to men, either. Early in the story, it’s established there are women who still fall into this trap, namely Artemis. She doesn’t care for Wonder Woman’s more compassionate approach to dealing with men. She sees them as extensions of Hercules, the man who once brutalized her sisters.

It’s a not-so-subtle nod to the more radical elements of feminism that tend to espouse the same hatred as their anti-feminist counterparts. It’s ironic, but one that Wonder Woman confronts with a unique blend of love, understanding, and warrior spirit.

That’s a potent, but critical combination. It’s very much in line with the persona that William Marston created for her in the early years of her story. While she is certainly capable of fighting with the tenacity of an Amazon warrior, she doesn’t approach conflict the same way as her male counterparts.

For her, fighting isn’t about dominating or subduing an opponent. It’s a way of countering and subsequently tempering their misguided passions. Whether it’s Artemis or Ares, she doesn’t win the battle by knocking them out. She wins it by convincing them to willingly submit. When they do, she embraces them with love and compassion.

This works well for Artemis, but the men outside her homeland are a lot harder to persuade. In both the past and the future, we see male characters trying to cling to or re-establish the domination that they once enjoyed.

In the past, it’s Ares trying to continue his war machine with help from the American military. In the future, it’s a member of an extremist faction of angry men who long for the days when they could dominate women. Given the atrocities committed by angry, misguided men in the real world, this struggle is more relevant now than ever before.

I won’t spoil all the details of how that conflict is confronted and resolved. Those simply looking for Wonder Woman to fight her way through the conflict are only going to get half of what they seek. There is plenty of fighting, courtesy of Ares, but the way those fights end don’t follow the same script as your standard superhero slugfest.

There’s always a larger conversation at play.

There’s always an effort by Wonder Woman and those who support her to confront these misguided passions.

It’s never with force, contempt, or scorn. They all listen with compassion, even to those who spew hate. They let angry men and angry gods voice their grievances, even while fighting back. However, they always counter with love. They understand that you can’t counter anger with more anger or hate with more hate.

Again, that’s a very relevant principle. Anyone who has visited 4chan or a Reddit comments thread understands that.

There’s also a larger story about this world’s version of Steve Trevor. He may not look like Chris Pine from the “Wonder Woman” movie, but the role he plays is just as critical. What he does and what he chooses is instrumental in helping Wonder Woman win the day.

Again, winning in this world doesn’t mean blowing up the bad guys or their weapons. It means winning the argument about which philosophy is more just. More than anything else, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 3” makes the case that a philosophy of loving submission is more palatable than one of angry domination.

Morrison even refines some of Marston ideas from the early Wonder Woman comics. In this world, it’s not men or masculinity that’s the problem. It’s the domineering ideology they’ve embraced and relied on for so long. Letting it go isn’t easy, but convincing men to do so cannot be done with force. That realization must come from within.

In many respects, the philosophy in “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 3” transcends gender. Whether you’re a warrior woman or just some normal man with a family, there’s something to be gained by these insights. Loving submission offers something that angry domination does not. Embracing it comes with sacrifices, but Wonder Woman demonstrates that they’re worth making.

It makes for a powerful combination to a power story. Morrison really makes the extra effort to flesh out these ideas that Marston first established while artist, Yanick Paquette, crafts a beautifully colorful world that does justice to all its wonders.

It’ll challenge you perceptions while providing plenty of classic Wonder Woman type entertainment. It’ll also present a different kind of Wonder Woman, one that embraces both her modern iterations and the those of her past. The end result is a true wonder that does justice to this iconic character in a very unique way. If, by the end, you aren’t willing to submit to the loving authority of Wonder Woman, then you’re missing the point.

Leave a comment

Filed under comic book reviews, DC Comics, superhero comics, Wonder Woman

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Celebrating An (Overdue) Vision

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I never thought I’d get to make. In it, I review Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” a movie that legions of fans, as well as the cast, fought for. I didn’t think it would succeed, but after years of advocacy, it came out on HBO Max. I made it a point to build my Saturday night around watching it and I’m glad I did. Watch this video to see why. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube

New Comic Book Day March 10, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Even in a year not heavily impacted by a global pandemic, this time of year tends to be a real drag. It’s a time devoid of major holidays for which you can get a day off work or school. The weather isn’t always nice. Depending on where you live, it can still be cold, dreary, and miserable for weeks on end. It’s just not an eventful time of year for anyone.

However, if you’re a lifelong comic book fan like me, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is. You’re only ever a week away from New Comic Book Day, a weekly holiday that all comic fans cherish. Thanks to the wonders of Comixology, it doesn’t matter how bad the weather is. You’re never more than a few clicks away from new comics. It’s a beautiful thing.

I like to think it has also helped me endure this time of year better than most. For weeks on end, there just seems to be no relief or distraction from the drudgery. A fresh stock of comics gives me something to look forward to every week.

This is also usually the time of year when major publishing companies start teasing their major summer events. It’s like a preview for summer Hollywood blockbusters and it’s often the most exciting time for fans of major crossover events. This year has more than its share and those first steps towards those events are starting now.

March often feels like the longest month of the year. With new comics, it’s that much easier to endure. To help in that effort, here’s my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy and endure, my fellow comic fans! Enjoy and endure!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #61

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Children Of The Atom #1

Daredevil #28

Deadpool Nerdy 30 #1

Eternals #3

Grimm Fairy Tales #46

Immortal Hulk #44

The Joker #1

Star Wars #12

Superman #29

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #4

Wonder Woman #770

X-Factor #8


My Pick Of The Week
Joker #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

Jack’s Comic Gems: Batman White Knight

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another entry into my Jack’s Comic Gems series, in which I highlight uniquely awesome gems from the world of comics. This time, I single out Sean Murphy’s brilliant series, “Batman White Knight.” If you’re a Batman fan, I think you’ll love this. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Comic Gems, YouTube

New Comic Book Day January 13, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

We all have our things that put us in this special zen-like state. One of my old college friends got into that state by listening to heavy metal music at nearly full volume. I don’t know why that relaxed him as much as it did, but it worked. I’m not sure how good it was for his ears, but I don’t aruge with results.

For me, comics are that special thing that puts me in that special state of serenity. I download all my new books onto my iPad. I put my feet up and then I proceed to partake in the weekly joy that is New Comic Book Day. I challenge anyone to find someone as content and focused.

It’s a great feeling. No matter how my week is going, reading new comics puts me in that special state where everything seems balanced. It’s my shortcut to inner peace and contentment within a world that has been increasingly stressful over the past year.

Since that world doesn’t seem to want to settle, my weekly trips to comic book Zen will be all the more important. Even in the middle of winter, it’s easy to find something from the vast library that is Comixology that will warm your body and soul. This week is no exception.

Here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #57

Chris Claremont Anniversary Special #1

Future State: Justice League #1

Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1

Immortal Hulk #42

King In Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage #1

Marauders #17

Mighty Morphin #3

S.W.O.R.D #2

Star Wars: Darth Vader #9


My Pick Of The Week
Future State: Justice League #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic