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CSBG Archive

Lorendiac’s Lists: Temporary Disguises That Took On Lives Of Their Own

Here is the archive of the lists Lorendiac posts here, and here is his latest piece! Remember, again, this list is written by Lorendiac, not Brian Cronin. – BC.

When what looks like a brand new character turns out to be someone else’s Temporary Disguise, and then later the disguise “really becomes” a new character concept in its own right, who’s fooling whom?

This list is not an April Fool’s prank, but if you happen to see it posted on the first of April (which is what I’m hoping for [Sorry, Larry! – BC]), then feel free to tell yourself it’s kinda relevant because it lists times when people at Marvel or DC have appeared to be playing a shell game with the long-suffering readers. There is an odd sequence of events which I have observed several times in my years as a diehard fan of superhero comic books. It runs as follows:

A new costumed character debuts. Then it turns out it’s an old character with a new paint job; he just felt the need for a Temporary Disguise! Then it turns out that someone else entirely, probably an honest-to-goodness new character, is now using the same colorful combination of alias-and-costume with the intention of making it a more permanent thing than the role’s inventor ever did. It often seems that something originally conceived as a “Temporary Disguise” became so popular that it finally took on a life of its own!

Years ago, I became interested in this phenomenon and solicited help from my fellow fans in finding out how often it had happened this way. I had to work out some rules of thumb for what belonged on this list and what didn’t. Please remember that the key words are Temporary Disguise. I have no interest in trying to list every possible instance in which a hero or villain has created a certain role, intending to use it for a long, long time – and then the first user eventually died or retired or mysteriously vanished or otherwise abandoned the role, leaving the field clear for someone else to come along and revive the old role, costume and all!

With that understood, here are some rules I used to narrow the field:

1. The first user of a certain combination of name and costume must turn out to be someone who was already known by another name. It should become pretty clear that the first user only adopted this “new role” as a Temporary Disguise, rather than intending to stick to it for the next ten or twenty years as a “permanent” condition. Sometimes the reader knows from the start exactly what’s going on here; sometimes the “new character’s” secret identity and backstory remain a mystery for awhile; either way is fine with me for this list!

2. After the first user is no longer actively using that Temporary Disguise, someone else (usually a brand new character) has to take it over, with or without the first user’s knowledge and consent, and apparently with more serious intentions of sticking to this new role for the long haul.

3. However, I’m not interested in cases where a “previous temporary user” is only retconned in long after the audience has become accustomed to the idea that a certain person was the first user of a certain role.

For instance, Dick Grayson had been “the first Robin” in DC’s continuity for many years before a story was published which suddenly “revealed” that many years earlier, long before Bruce Wayne ever became “Batman,” he had been the first user of the name and distinctive costume of “Robin.” Bruce created that role as a disguise to use when asking Harvey Harris, a brilliant police detective, to give him some special training in the fine art of detection; he didn’t want Harris or anyone else to realize that Bruce Wayne intended to grow up to fight crime as skillfully as possible. For my purposes, that belated retcon is irrelevant to this list. All I care about is the chronological sequence of publishing dates in the real world. Dick Grayson was the first person to call himself “Robin” while wearing that red-and-yellow-and-green costume in a published story; there was no suggestion at the time that he was just dusting off Bruce’s hand-me-downs; therefore Dick Grayson was “the first Robin” to appear in print, and he stuck with that role for a long time rather than regarding it from the start as a Temporary Disguise.

4. I’m also not interested in cases where just the alias has been used at various times in a comic book universe, but usually by people who made little or no effort to recreate a certain eye-catching costume, and often did not even acknowledge that the same alias had been used by someone else.

For instance, I have read that Maxwell Dillon, the Spider-Man foe known as “Electro,” was preceded by various other users of the same colorful alias — but as far as I know, neither Dillon nor any of his predecessors had been working hard to imitate any other “Electro” character’s distinctive look.

5. The role in question must have been used in superhero comic book stories at some point, regardless of whether or not it was originally developed in another medium.

Now for my list!

Temporary Disguises Which Took on Lives of Their Own

Batgirl. In this context, I’m not interested in the first “Bat-Girl” (Betty Kane), nor in the first “Batgirl” (Barbara Gordon). They each wore unique costumes, quite different from each other’s and from the later design which was used successively by two different Batgirls who each debuted in that role during the year-long “No Man’s Land” event. The different costume strikes me as qualifying as a different “role.”

The first Batgirl to debut in “No Man’s Land” initially called herself “The Bat” because she was trying to maintain the illusion that Batman was back in action. (In truth, Bruce Wayne was far away from Gotham, indulging in a months-long childish sulk.) However, once Batman had belatedly remembered his duty, this mysterious character was called “Batgirl” for awhile. Eventually it was revealed that she was Helena Bertinelli, usually known as “Huntress,” and she had actually continued using that old role part of the time when she wasn’t being “Batgirl,” so I doubt she ever intended to keep wearing the new Batgirl costume for the next several years.

However, Helena was soon replaced in that same role (the combo of name and costume) by Cassandra Cain, newly created during No Man’s Land for that purpose. Cassandra ended up wearing that same costume, off and on, for about a decade (our time) before relinquishing the Batgirl role to Stephanie Brown last year.

Bloodwynd. In the early 1990s a new character called Bloodwynd—who appeared to be African-American and claimed his powers were magical in nature—joined the Justice League. He participated in the fight against Doomsday (shortly before Doomsday killed Superman). Later, he was discovered to actually be J’onn J’onnz, The Martian Manhunter, in a new role. Then it was “revealed” that J’onn had not invented the Bloodwynd role out of whole cloth, but rather had been impersonating an African-American hero of that name whom nobody had ever heard of before!

Citizen V. There was a Golden Age hero in the MU who called himself this, but he is not the one I’m interested in now. When Kurt Busiek started writing stories about the Thunderbolts in the 1990s, the leader of that mysterious new group of superheroes was wearing a whole new costume design which had nothing in common with that of the Golden Age character. Thus, I count that as the “first user” of that distinctive role (a combo of costume and alias). The new Citizen V coyly refused to comment on whether or not he was a descendant of the guy from the WWII era. Eventually it turned out that this role was just a Temporary Disguise for the evil Baron Zemo (the son of the one who used to fight Captain America in stories set in WWII). However, after Zemo had been exposed as himself, Busiek introduced us to a new Citizen V who was wearing the exact same costume with more serious intentions of keeping the role for a long time to come.

The Crimson Cowl. This was originally a Temporary Disguise used by Ultron. Long after that, Kurt Busiek had a mysterious new villain use the same identity for a much longer period.

Domino. Shortly before the original “New Mutants” title was cancelled, with much of that team’s roster then being relaunched as “X-Force,” a woman called Domino suddenly popped up out of nowhere, claiming she was here at the request of her old buddy Cable (who had recently become the new mentor to the teenagers on the team). Months later, it was revealed that this “Domino” role was actually just the Temporary Disguise of a woman also known as Copycat, who had taken the opportunity to replace the “original Domino” (who only had her first appearance onstage long after the false Domino debuted).

Dusk. This identity was briefly used by Peter Parker during a crossover called “Identity Crisis” in the 1990s (no connection to the later DC miniseries with the same title) when being “Spider-Man” was out of the question because of a million-dollar bounty on Spidey’s head. The identity was later used by Cassie St. Commons of the Slingers.

Erik the Red. This identity was briefly used by Cyclops in a Silver Age X-Men story. It was later used by a Shi’ar villain, and even later the role was revived again, but turned out to be a Temporary Disguise for Magneto.

Golden Archer. This identity was briefly used by Hawkeye in a story by Steve Englehart in the 1970s. It later turned out that on the parallel Earth of the Squadron Supreme (the mainstream version, not the later JMS version) there was a hero with this same name and costume who was the Squadron’s analog of DC’s Green Arrow.

Hornet. This identity was briefly used by Peter Parker during a crossover called “Identity Crisis” in the 1990s (no connection to the later DC miniseries with the same title) when being “Spider-Man” was out of the question because of a million-dollar bounty on Spidey’s head. The identity was later used by Eddie McDonough of the Slingers.

Nomad. During Steve Englehart’s run on “Captain America” in the 1970s, he had Steve Rogers go through a phase where he was feeling so disillusioned that he no longer wanted to be Captain America. But he was still willing to risk his neck fighting evil, so he invented a new costume and called himself “Nomad.” However, it wasn’t long before he was back in harness as Captain America all over again. Much later, that costumed role was revived by a new character, a man named Edward Ferbel, who turned out to be a villain working for The Red Skull. Later yet, the role was revived by Jack Monroe (formerly the Bucky of the 1950s according to a retcon in the 1970s – it’s a long story).

Phantasm. During the “Titans Hunt” stories of the early 1990s, a mysterious new figure, apparently a brand new character if you took him at face value, started helping Nightwing and other allies in the search for the abducted Titans. The guy appeared to be ghostly in nature inside his hooded brown cloak, but was eventually revealed as Danny Chase, a telekinetic who had previously been rejected for Titans membership because he was so young. Danny died around the same time his identity was finally revealed to the readers. But then the Phantasm role was revived by the spirits of many of the inhabitants of Azarath who had previously been slaughtered by Trigon. (The new “Phantasm” still included the spirit of Danny, but I believe he had become a very small portion of the greater whole in the new arrangement).

Prodigy. This identity was briefly used by Peter Parker during a crossover called “Identity Crisis” in the 1990s (no connection to the later DC miniseries with the same title) when being “Spider-Man” was out of the question because of a million-dollar bounty on Spidey’s head. The identity was later used by Ritchie Gilmore of the Slingers.

Red X. This one squeaks through on a technicality. In the continuity of the Teen Titans animated series, Robin (probably Dick Grayson, although the show never said that was his real name) briefly posed as a new villain called “Red X” in an attempt to win the trust of his nemesis Slade (the only name ever used by the TV show’s version of “Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke the Terminator”). Much later on, a new “Red X” popped up who really was a shameless thief and who had somehow stolen the same high-tech Red X suit which Robin had previously developed and then had locked away when he didn’t need it any more. Since “Red X” has also appeared in the comic books based on the TV show, he manages to qualify as a comic book character even though I believe no analog of him has been established in the “mainstream continuity” of the modern DCU.

Ricochet. This identity was briefly used by Peter Parker during a crossover called “Identity Crisis” in the 1990s (no connection to the later DC miniseries with the same title) when being “Spider-Man” was out of the question because of a million-dollar bounty on Spidey’s head. The identity was later used by Johnny Gallo of the Slingers.

Starfinger. This was originally a Temporary Disguise for Lightning Lad when he’d been brainwashed into acting as a villain in a Silver Age story. The role has been used on a more permanent basis by more than one genuine villain since that time.

Xorn. Now this one gets messy! I’ll try to summarize like crazy.

In the beginning, there was a Xorn who debuted during Grant Morrison’s run on the X-Men. Xorn had a star for a brain, wore a metal mask most of the time, had remarkable healing abilities and a gentle, philosophical nature, etc. He became a regular inhabitant of the X-Mansion.

Then it turned out that Xorn was really Magneto in disguise, as part of a fiendish plot. Some call this character “Xorneto.” Then he got killed by Wolverine.

Then it turned out that the Xorn who died hadn’t been the real Magneto.

And it turned out that the Xorn who died hadn’t exactly been the same Xorn he pretended to be, either.

Eventually the official version seemed to go along these general lines: Once upon a time there were two incredibly powerful brothers, Kuan-Yin Xorn and Shen Xorn. Kuan-Yin was the Evil Xorn. Shen was the Good Xorn. Kuan-Yin decided it would be a hoot to pretend to be Magneto pretending to be Good Xorn, and to keep up that double-layered masquerade for awhile before peeling off the outer layer of the disguise to “reveal” himself as Magneto. Later on, the X-Men came to realize that both Magneto and Good Xorn were still alive and well as separate people after Evil Xorn (or “Xorneto”) got himself killed.

This way Marvel could have it both ways at once! “Xorn died, except Xorn is still alive. Magneto died, except Magneto is still alive. Xorn the Healer was just a Temporary Disguise for Magneto — except he wasn’t — and now you are supposed to meekly swallow the proposition that Magneto and Xorn the Healer are two different guys, neither of whom was that nasty ‘Xorneto’ fellow who committed genocidal atrocities in the later issues of Morrison’s run! That ‘salvages’ Xorn, ‘salvages’ Magneto, and leaves us the option of throwing in further nonsensical complications regarding the Xorn family whenever we’re in the mood to stir things up again!”

And they have, in fact, stirred things up with such suggestions as “Xorneto was an evil duplicate of Magneto, probably created by the Scarlet Witch when she was going nuts,” and other complications. But since Morrison’s original intention, as demonstrated in the stories he scripted and in subsequent interviews after the retcons were imposed by other people, was “Xorn is a Temporary Disguise of Magneto, plain and simple,” I’m taking that as the “original version” of a concept which later took on a life (or two lives?) of its own!

Anyway, that’s the list of names I found (with help from other fans) which met my criteria for “Temporary Disguises” which later developed into separate character concepts. I suspect I’ve missed some. If, after studying my rules listed above, you think you know what I missed, please say so! I don’t know how often I will update this, but I’ll consider your feedback before I do!

68 Comments

John Trumbull

April 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm

What about Booster Gold as Supernova in 52?

I don’t think Starfinger qualifies. Lightning Lad was brainwashed and disguised as Starfinger, BY the real Starfinger, who appeared in the same story.

That fact would seem to violate condition #2, since the “someone else” already had adopted the identity before the replacement took effect, even though the readers didn’t learn of it until later in the same story.

I thought about Sueprnova as well.

What about Ronin?

Before I go too far down, once I got halfway through Shell Game paragraph, I ran down here to yell

BLOODWYND / MARTIAN MANHUNTER

And now I will go back to reading the article.

Ronin? I know that Clint Barton who was the second Ronin was not a new character, but I felt like Echo as Ronin was always temporary.

NoVas Unfinest

April 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

does Nomad work in your rules? originally worn by steve rodgers, picked up by jack monroe and now in use by rikki barnes

Good, it got addressed.

As others have said, Booster Gold / Supernova is probably a good example.

No Red Hood?

I can’t believe you didn’t list the first one that came to MY mind: Yellowjacket.

Red Hood qualifies as a temporary disguise, not Temporary Disguise, since no one else has permanently picked up the mantle, I believe.

Penance seems like he/she/it should be in there too, but I’m not sure since I haven’t followed the character much since early Gen X.

Gangbuster probably fits, too. And a case can be made for Nightwing and Flamebird at this point, I think.

I’m surprised that Booster Gold/Supernova didn’t pop up here, actually.

Near as I can recall, I rejected “Red Hood” when I was first making notes for this list (years ago!) because, as per a retcon published long after the Joker’s debut, the first “Red Hood” of Batman continuity, who clashed with Batman early in his crimefighting career, was not, at the time he first wore that hood, “Batman’s old foe Joker who has now covered up his normal clownish appearance with a Temporary Disguise for a couple of days to keep Batman guessing.” Instead, it was: “A retconned statement about what a certain nameless man’s criminal identity used to be for quite a while . . . until his plans were unexpectedly derailed when he dove into a vat of acid to get away from Batman, saying optimistically to himself, “My hood has its own air supply, so what can go wrong?”, and thus he ended up being transformed, physically and mentally, into . . . The Joker.

Golden Archer is actually more complicated than what you have. The following’s a rough chronological history of the two universes’ archer names:

1) On Marvel-616, Hawkeye appears and joins the Avengers.
2) In Avengers #63, Hawkeye takes on the Goliath id.
3) In Avengers #85, four Avengers, including Goliath (Clint Barton), get transported to the Squadron Supreme universe, which we see for the first time. Their membership includes a British archer who goes by Hawkeye.
4) In order to make Captain America realize that while he didn’t want to be CA anymore, he did want to keep being a hero, Clint, who is now back to Hawkeye, disguises himself as the Golden Archer.
5) Around Avengers #148, we get another look at the Squadron Supreme universe…whose archer now goes by Golden Archer. Note that both this story and the “first” Golden Archer story were both written by Steve Englehart. The SS GA mentions Hawkeye’s disguise as GA as the reason he’d adopted the name.

Of course, this is somewhat complicated by “Golden Archer” being meant as a Green Arrow doppleganger; similar styled outfit, facial hair, “GA” initials with a color, etc. with perhaps a small tip of the hat towards McDonald’s Golden Arches.

To actually complete the Booster Gold/Supernova discussion, the identity has been used twice since then, both by relatives of Booster in his series (Supernova II is Daniel Carter, who granted isn’t much of a superhero, but still wears the suit, Supernova III is a villainous identity used by Booster Gold’s father Jonar Carter; all three Supernova’s used a similar model suit for their powers.)

@Greg Geren — Offhand, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a reprint of the original Starfinger story. If I did, I’ve forgotten. I believe his entry was based on something another fan told me years ago, which seemed plausible at the time.

@John Trumbull — I still haven’t even bothered to read “52.” I did hear that a mysterious “Supernova” figure had turned out to be a Temporary Disguise of Booster Gold, but either I did not hear, or else I heard and forgot, that the same role had later been dusted off by another character entirely! I had to check Wikipedia just now to learn what you were alluding to!

@NoVas Unfinest — I think one reason Nomad does work in my rules is that a brand new character was created to play that role, after Steve Rogers had invented and abandoned it, and before Jack Monroe took it over, as I noted in that entry. I’m not sure what I would have done if the progression had simply gone “First Steve used it briefly, than Jack (a former Bucky) took it over for an extended period.”

P.S. As I recall, I did look that one up on Wikipedia when I was doing the final draft of this piece, and that was when I learned Rikki Barnes had also taken over the role. I meant to run a search for online scans of her — comic book covers or whatever — so I could confirm that she did (or didn’t) wear essentially the same costume as her masculine predecessors had successively used. Then I forgot about that before I sent this to Brian Cronin. Then I knew it was too late — he doesn’t seem to like it when I try to send him slightly-amended versions of a piece I already submitted to him.

Supernova’s also got a small complication no one’s mentioned yet. The id was taken (I’m guessing by a certain Mr. Waid) from an old World’s Finest imaginary tale, where a depowered Superman took on the Supernova id. Not the same costume, but a fair number of similarities (particularly since the in-continuity Supernova id first appeared when Superman was (temporarily) depowered).

Scott Lang as Ant-Man and Rita Demaris as Yellowjacket. Both stole their respective costumes from Hank Pym.

Scott kept the classic look for many years, only updating during his time with the FF and later when he finally joined the Avengers.

After stealing the Yellowjacket costume, Rita then joined the Masters of Evil, helped with the Siege of Avengers Mansion, captured and went to jail, busted out by the Fixer, decided to change her ways, joined another variation of the Masters of Evil with the intention to betray them to the Avengers, and then joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.

@Jeff R. — Gangbuster was nominated for this list years ago, on another site where I was requesting help. I rejected him at the time (as I found when I was refreshing my memory of that thread recently) because that name-and-costume combo started as a role of Jose Delgado, who had just recently been invented for the occasion (rather than already being a well-known figure in DC’s continuity under one name or another). And Jose didn’t abandon the role after a short time because he had always intended it as a Temporary Disguise; he only abandoned it because he suffered a bad spinal injury.

If “Gangbuster” had started out as a Temporary Disguise of Superman when in a fugue state, and if Jose Delgado had only put on that costume for the first time after Superman had come to his senses, then I do believe it would qualify for this list! :)

@rwe1138 — to tell the simple truth, I don’t like what little I’ve read of Bendis’s work on “Avengers” and “New Avengers,” so I’m not familiar with the nitpicking details of how “Ronin” has been handled, although I did hear about Clint Barton having that role for awhile and another Ronin coming along later.

@Mark Waid — I have a confession to make. It’s been a long time since I found Hank Pym very interesting. I guess I’ve basically given up trying to keep track, in my head, of exactly when he invented each heroic role he has played, and how long it lasted, and whether or not he went back to it later, and so on and so forth.

I do remember, vaguely, that years ago I read the sequence in an “Essential Avengers” TPB in which Wasp was talking about marrying Yellowjacket, and the other Avengers of that era were very confused about this because Yellowjacket was saying that he had forcibly shrunk their buddy Hank down microscopic size and then left him to be eaten by a spider or something . . . and of course it turned out that Yellowjacket was really Hank inside that costume, as Jan had realized right after he aggressively kissed her . . . so she decided that getting him to marry her while he was still thinking of himself as “Big tough fearless Yellowjacket, who isn’t all hung up over his dead first wife the way the spineless wimp known as Hank Pym is!” was her best shot at ever getting Hank to tie the knot, and psychotherapy could wait until after the honeymoon if necessary! (What a marvelous way to start a married relationship . . .)

But I couldn’t remember what role Hank used in stories over the next few years after that (if any). I think I assumed — without really giving it much thought — that he stuck with the name and costume of Yellowjacket for quite awhile after the wedding, even though he realized who he really was during the wedding when it got invaded by some supervillain or other. I may well be missing something important about what he was doing with himself through the 1970s; I know he was Yellowjacket around the early 1980s, when he went nuts and got drummed out of the Avengers in stories written by Jim Shooter.

The wedding was in Avengers #60. A few issues later, Hank came back from his honeymoon and announced he was keeping the Yellowjacket id (leading to Hawkeye taking on the Goliath id). He stays in that id through Avengers #74, at which point he and Jan leave the Avengers. He shows up at YJ again in #90, albeit spending most of the issue in a devolved to caveman status. In Avengers #93, he makes a one-shot appearance as Ant-Man, then readopts the Ant-Man id when he gets a 10 issue or so series in Marvel Feature. I believe his Defenders appearance several years later (first in one of the annuals, then around the mid-#20s of the title) was when he first returned to the YJ identity.

John Trumbull

April 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Man, Hank Pym never met a secret identity he didn’t want to adopt. :)

John Trumbull

April 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I think there was also a Legion of Super Heroes tale where Superboy was disguised as Reflecto, but I can’t recall if that was the very first time Reflecto was featured (I’m thinking no, but I’m not positive).

No mention of the Invincible Man yet? I’m shocked! :)

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/invincmn.htm

@Luis Dantas I initially thought of the Invincible Man as well, but then thought since no one had adopted the Invincible Man identity permanently it didn’t count for the list. Then again it does fit the criteria as the original Invincible Man appeared to be Franklin Storm and then turned out to be a Skrull.

That must count, right?

Nightwing qualifies? Superman used him as a Temporary Identity along with Jimmy Olsen as Flamebird, and now Dick Grayson has the mantle. Or isn’t there another Nightwing and Flamebird now either way?

Reflecto first “appeared” in a story set even farther in the future than the standard legion book, as a statue commemorating a dead legionairre. He then actually showed up as a Temporary Disguise for…well, that’s complicated. I’m not sure if there’s been a permanent adopter of the name since then..is there one in the Johnsverse Legion?.

Reflecto, IIRC, first appeared as one of the statues of fallen Legionnaires in the classic first adult Legion story.

I must agree with Mark Waid; my old Silver Age brain brought Yellowjacket to mind immediately, along with a pair from DC: the original pre-Crisis Nightwing and Flamebird (Superman and Jimmy Olsen, in a deliberate in-story homage to Batman and Robin). Late in the Silver Age when they were too busy to patrol Kandor personally, Kal-El’s cousin Van-Zee and his assistant Ak-Var took over the roles.

But since COIE the names and who uses them are all mixed up.

Willie Everstop

April 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm

How about Scourge? It was used as a Temporary Disguise by a brainwashed Nomad in Thunderbolts. Now it is the new permanent identity of Flag-Smasher.

The name originally comes from the Scourge of the Underworld who gunned down all the villains in that bar.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Stuff not on your list:

Mister Fear – Established supervillain Starr Saxon stole this identity from its one-shot villain originator and used it as a temporary disguise in a revenge scheme against Daredevil; he died, and eventually returned as the android Machinesmith. However, two others, Larry Cranston and his nephew Alan Fagan, took up the Mister Fear identity on a permanent basis. Both continue appearing as Mister Fear today, though they aren’t in partnership.

Riddler’s Daughter – This was originally one in a series of one-off identities used by Duela Dent, who eventually settled on calling herself the Joker’s Daughter, aka the Harlequin. Later, another woman calling herself the Riddler’s Daughter, aka Enigma, turned up as a member of the Ten Titans and then the villainous Titans East alongside Deula Dent.

The Star-Man of 1951- A double entry. Originally, this Starman was a temporary7 identity assumed by Batman after Professor Milo chemically induced a fear of bats in him. Many decades later, James Robinson made the character a mysterious part of the Starman legacy in Opal City. Turns out Dr. Mid-Nite temporarily used the guise to try and draw his pal Ted “Starman” Knight out of a funk, and then the time-traveling David Knight (Ted’s son, killed shortly after takingup the Starman codename on a permanent basis) replaced Mid-Nite so that he could have a year as a superhero career before returning to the future and his waiting death. Both in publishing and character chronology, it’s a temporary disguise that took on a life of its own.

Star-Tsar – This was originally a temporary disguise shared by Snapper Carr and Mark “Manhunter/Privateer” Shaw in a scheme of conquest. After they were defeated and exposed, though, the Justice League clashed with another Star Tsar, an aspiring supervillain using the costume and weaponry with an apparent eye towards the long haul.

Stuff already on your list:

Dusk – As with Bloodwynd and J’onn, Spider-Man got the Dusk identity from a previously-existing guy named Dusk, a hero either from or stranded in the Negative Zone. This original, male Dusk even appeared again after Spidey stopped using his costume and codename on Earth and Cassie St. Commons had picked up her version of it, IIRC.

Bloodwynd – J’onn wasn’t “impersonating” Bloodwynd, he was actually psychically merged with the “real” Bloodwynd, which is why he used the guy’s identity. IIRC, J’onn even thought he was the real Bloodwynd at the time, and in some sense he was.

I wonder if it might be worth constructing a secondary list of especially prominent retcon versions, if only to include:

Batman – Depending on how you look at Thomas Wayne’s Halloween costume from “The First Bat-Man” and its post-Crisis and other reiterated versions, Bruce Wayne may have been doing this for his entire career.

Oooo yeah, the Kandorian Nightwing and Flamebird would be perfect.

christopher Lawson

April 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm

“strange visitor” who took the powers and costume of electric blue superman may qualify if you overlook the fact she was a woman.

And about the Crimson Cowl: he was originally Jarvis the butler, but only because he was being controlled by Ultron, who then used the identity until he dramatically revealed his true nature.

christopher Lawson

April 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm

hate to direct to another site but if anyone’s interested : http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheRealRemingtonSteele has a pretty comprehensive list of this phenomenon.

Okay, this is confusing, and I’ve only read parts of the story, but Monet St Croix (or M) should qualify. When she first appeared she seemed to be a normal young mutant (albeit one with very strange behaviour at times), but then it was revealed that she didn’t really exist– she was just a fake identity created by the merger of two young twin sisters. From what I read once, this was what Lobdell had intended from the beginning, but the series was written by Larry Hama by this point, and a few issues later, it was revealed that the twins had an older sister, the REAL Monet, whom it soon turned out had been in disguise as Penance (the one mentioned by Joshschr above).
Maybe she doesn’t count because the twins were not known before Monet first appeared, but I think it is clear that Lobdell did see Monet as being a disguise of the twins.

I keep thinking that I’ve seen several temporary disguises of villains over the years that later were adopted by other people, but I’m having trouble thinking of who any of them were.

What about Red Tornado?

Does USAgent count? I know Captain America never became USAgent, but he did become “The Captain” when John Walker became Captain America. After Steve Rogers gave up “The Captain” identity, John Walker became USAgent by taking the costume of “The Captain”.

John Trumbull

April 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

hate to direct to another site but if anyone’s interested : http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheRealRemingtonSteele has a pretty comprehensive list of this phenomenon.

Hmmm. They include Wonder Girl on the list, who I suppose could qualify if we’re interpreting it broadly.

Les Fontenelle

April 5, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Ronin should probably count… when Ronin first appeared nobody knew who he/she was, then it was revealed that it was a disguised Echo (a character that had been previously introduced in Daredevil’s series), and later Clint Barton took up the Ronin identity and has been using it since then (Clint will probably return to the Hawkeye identity eventually, but the last time I checked Clint was still using the Ronin identity). So it was a previously-existing character using a temporary disguise that was later adopted by another previously-existing character… if Clint isn’t disqualified for already existing before taking up the Ronin identity, he fits the profile.

‘Eventually the official version seemed to go along these general lines: Once upon a time there were two incredibly powerful brothers, Kuan-Yin Xorn and Shen Xorn. Kuan-Yin was the Evil Xorn. Shen was the Good Xorn. Kuan-Yin decided it would be a hoot to pretend to be Magneto pretending to be Good Xorn, and to keep up that double-layered masquerade for awhile before peeling off the outer layer of the disguise to “reveal” himself as Magneto. Later on, the X-Men came to realize that both Magneto and Good Xorn were still alive and well as separate people after Evil Xorn (or “Xorneto”) got himself killed.

This way Marvel could have it both ways at once! “Xorn died, except Xorn is still alive. Magneto died, except Magneto is still alive. Xorn the Healer was just a Temporary Disguise for Magneto — except he wasn’t — and now you are supposed to meekly swallow the proposition that Magneto and Xorn the Healer are two different guys, neither of whom was that nasty ‘Xorneto’ fellow who committed genocidal atrocities in the later issues of Morrison’s run! That ‘salvages’ Xorn, ‘salvages’ Magneto, and leaves us the option of throwing in further nonsensical complications regarding the Xorn family whenever we’re in the mood to stir things up again!”

And they have, in fact, stirred things up with such suggestions as “Xorneto was an evil duplicate of Magneto, probably created by the Scarlet Witch when she was going nuts,” and other complications. But since Morrison’s original intention, as demonstrated in the stories he scripted and in subsequent interviews after the retcons were imposed by other people, was “Xorn is a Temporary Disguise of Magneto, plain and simple,” I’m taking that as the “original version” of a concept which later took on a life (or two lives?) of its own!’
So Magneto had been where exactly since X Men V2 issue 116?

What, so Flag-Smasher is the current Scourge?!? And they are making freaking USAgent of all people look good while fighting him?!?

Gosh. I am now suddenly so happy that I don’t read current Thunderbolts. Or, for that matter, Hank’s Mighty Avengers.

Doug Atkinson

April 6, 2010 at 5:32 am

He’s not Flag-Smasher, he’s Nuke.

The Crazed Spruce

April 6, 2010 at 5:52 am

Would “Matches” Malone count, or was his original identity a retcon?

How about Goldstar, from the original “Booster Gold” series? She was originally Booster’s assistant Trixie, but she abandoned the identity after one mission, and Booster’s twin sister stole it, and was killed in action.

There was another Reflecto after the Superboy/Ultra Boy use of his identity (and he does seem to be the guy whose statue appeared in the Adult Legion story; his real name was Stig Ah and he was from Rimbor), but his tenure as a Legionnaire occurred entirely offscreen during the Five Year Gap, which isn’t in continuity anymore anyway.

I think Superman was Gangbuster, and then someone else became Gangbuster.

Mary has a good point–Monet’s situation is essentially identical to Bloodwynd’s.

Ok, I think I have one:

Vindicator (Heather Hudson). I’m not an Alpha Flight fan, so here’s what I’m seeing it from.

According to the official handbook of the Marvel Universe (circa the ’80’s) James Hudson was first Weapon Alpha, then Vindicator, and finally Guardian. Heather Hudson assumed the Vindicator identity and the battlesuit after James’ death.

Does it fit?

Would the Blaze count? In his first appearance he was Johnny Storm in disguise as part of a practical joke, and then a bit later a real criminal showed up using the name and costume. (However, before the Torch played him, but in the same issue, he was the creation of a couple of college students. And the later Blaze was killed in the same issue he debuted in.)

(The initial Blaze story is still one of the best single issues ever. It was also Peter David’s very first story as far as I’m aware. He started out with a bang.)

wouldn’t war machine be an obvious choice? i’m pretty sure war machine started out as just a different suit of armor for tony stark to use, and then it became the name of the james rhodes character.

Whoops, I meant Nuke is Scourge.
After thinking about for a little while I didn’t come up with many possibilities.

Black Queen – Temporary disguise of a brainwashed Jean Grey. Later used by Selene

Box – the original Box armor was stolen and used by Vindicator’s old foe Jerome Jaxson in the original
Omega Flight. Madison Jeffries and the original inventor helped make the newer heroic armor.

Meteorite – temporary disguise of Moonstone in the Thunderbolts. Used again by a member of the gov’t sponsored team the Redeemers. The new Meteorite was the daughter of the super villain Cardinal and didn’t last very long against Graviton.

Scorpio – Jake Fury in disguise. Many replacements including human, android, and cosmic clone.

Malice – Originally an insane Invisible Woman. Eventually given her own corporeal form. (Does Onslaught count?)

Willie Everstop

April 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

that’s me ^

a note about the Magneto-Xorn thing. If Morrison wanted that to be his plan all along, then i still don’t entirely get what the point of 127 was. It had the inner reflections of a character that was not thinking “Boy i can’t wait to betray the X-Men once they gain my trust.” If it was Magneto wearing a mask, then why would he be thinking about his chinese uncle and searching for that nonexistant uncle’s old friend to eat food with him? Not saying Xorn doesn’t qualify on your list, but i just don’t buy Morrison’s explanation. I think there’s more to it than what he says.

Black Queen doesn’t really count, as that’s not so much an identity as an officer/role/position in the Hellfire Club. It’s like saying that George Washington adopted the Presidency as a temporary identity and has since been followed by 42 other people in it (counting Cleveland only once).

Also, btw, Booster Gold’s sister Michelle aka Goldstar was discovered not to be dead after all.

Willie Everstop

April 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

If George Washington was secretly a brainwashed British Loyalist then it might be considered a temporary disguise. I guess it all depends on how much brainwashing or mental breakdowns matter to the list.

The Inner Circle is not official within the Hellfire Club. It is a secret organization founded by Sebastian Shaw’s predecessor. Jean Grey was the first Black Queen.

Would the Phoenix be a temporary disguise or an official position?

The problem with a lot of these suggestions like Vindicator-Heather McNeil/Hudson, War Machine-James Rhodes, is that the character who later adopted the temporary identity was a pre-existing not a new character. James Rhodes existed as a character on his own before adopting the War Machine identity, same goes with Heather McNeil/Hudson and Vindicator.

Maybe I’m wrong about the list’s criteria

[b]War Machine[/b] – It was just the name of the armor model. Iron Man did not adopt it as a distinct identity. When Tony was believed dead, Rhodey then operated as Iron Man using this armor. He did not officially become War Machine until after Tony returned. Therefore War Machine wouldn’t count.

[b]Vindicator/Guardian[/b] – Both Jame and Heather Hudson have gone by both identities. At no point was it evident that either intended them to be temporary. Therefore, neither ID would count.

[b]Matches Malone[/b] – Doesn’t count because there was no temporary predecessor. It was the guy’s name and he was killed. Batman then covered up the death and uses the identity to gather information.

[b]USAgent[/b] – Doesn’t count because he was the first to use that ID. It has to be both ID and costume. Also, Steve Rogers believed he would be The Captain permanently. Loriendac already stated that Nomad only counts because there was a temporary Nomad between Steve and Jack.

Superman never went by the name Supernova. In one alternate universe/imaginary story, he adopted the identity of Nova after losing his powers and becoming a non-powered crimefighter like Batman

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

If it was Magneto wearing a mask, then why would he be thinking about his chinese uncle and searching for that nonexistant uncle’s old friend to eat food with him?

The narration in X-Men #127 issue isn’t Xorn’s thoughts, it’s a letter he writes to Xavier. Thus Magneto would perpetuate the deception by writing the letter in character as Xorn.

Don’t believe me? Page #8 of the story has Xorn remark that an old man in Chinatown gives him “the tools I need to set down my thoughts and freeze them in the form of these symbols,” that is, to write his thoughts down. And on page #21, it’s confirmed that the writing is to Xavier: “You wished to see my thoughts and were blinded by the sun beneath my mask, Professor Xavier.” also explains that Xorn is blocking Xavier’s telepathy. Xorn continues on that page: “…So I have tried to capture my feelings for you [Xavier], in the form os symbols here on this book of paper leaves. But these lines and cursives are not much like thoughts or feelings, at all.”

Well, they’re certainly not like Magneto’s actual thoughts and feelings, eh? The issue tells you it’s a letter to Xavier, and keeps hinting that the letter and the mask are hiding what “Xorn” really thinks and feels.

Here’s a quick volley of responses to some of the new comments that accumulated over the last 24 hours or so.

Unless I’ve made a mistake, Dick Grayson’s costume as Nightwing was substantially different from what Earth-One Kal-El had previously worn as Nightwing, and Bette Kane’s costume as Flamebird was substantially different from what Earth-One Jimmy Olsen had worn as Flamebird. As I believe I mentioned in my rules at the beginning, I want cases where both the name and the costume were recycled by a new user after the previous “temporary user” was no longer interested in that particular “role.”

On a similar note: As Carl pointed out, when Steve ended his late-80s time as “The Captain” and John Walker ended his simultaneous tenure as “Captain America,” they basically switched costumes. But since Walker never called himself “The Captain” as a new alias while wearing Steve’s heavy-on-the-black costume design, preferring instead to invent a brand new alias for himself when he moved out west to join the West Coast Avengers for awhile, he was not qualifying as a new user of Steve’s previous “The Captain” role.

I’m trying to remember something about Karla Sofen. Didn’t she keep the “Meteorite” costume for awhile after the fact that the original T-Bolts were veteran villains running a scam had been publicly exposed? So that the new look, at least, became a part of her lifestyle for longer than a mere “Temporary Disguise” would have required?

I’m trying to remember if the Nick Fury reprint TPBs in my collection include the first appearance of Jake Fury as Scorpio. It’s been so long since I bought the silly things that I’m just not sure. I think I’ve assumed that he intended to stay as “Scorpio of Zodiac” for a long, long time — if only he hadn’t died first.

As far as I know, Tony Stark never went through a phase, not even for a day or two, where he was actually flying around in that black-and-white armor, fighting bad guys, and saying to civilians: “Just call me . . . War Machine!” If I’m right about that, then “War Machine” was never his “Temporary Disguise” for my purposes, even though he built the suit.

The death of the original Matches Malone can be seen in the reprint collection “Batman: Tales of the Demon.” He was a real hoodlum whom Batman, for reasons never made clear, felt would make a great recruit for a little band Batman was assembling to combat Ra’s al Ghul. Unfortunately, when Batman approached, Matches panicked instead of listening calmly to the sales pitch. After Matches cleverly managed to kill himself by shooting at Batman, missing, and dying from the ricochet, Batman realized this was a handy opportunity to have the man buried quietly and then start using that identity of a well-known gangster as an occasional disguise for Batman’s own bag of trips. But he didn’t invent the name, face, and mannerisms from scratch; he was just copying a “real person’s” look, voice, etc.!

Decades later, Brian Vaughan wrote a story arc which pointlessly retconned the details of how Batman came to take the role of Matches Malone, but even in his version, there had still been a real man of that name whom Batman chose to impersonate.

Tom Galloway’s comment about how Selene was basically replacing Jean (a brainwashed Jean, or a brainwashed alien entity impersonating Jean, or however you want to interpret the evidence) in a certain job slot in the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club is, I believe, similar to the reasoning that went through my mind some time ago when I was first working on this list. Maybe I also had trouble believing that a black corset and black boots really qualify as a costume, although I admit that would be arbitrary of me. The thought probably crossed my mind, though, that since the heads of the women were entirely bare in both cases, there wasn’t much chance of black-haired Selene being mistaken for red-haired Jean by anyone who had met both women during their respective tenures as Black Queen (Jean’s time in that role lasted what, a couple of hours?).

As to Steve Rogers’s time as Nomad — come to think of it, that’s a weak spot in my grasp of Captain America continuity. I have over a quarter-century of Captain America comics in unbroken sequence, but that sequence begins in the mid-70s, I believe just shortly after the issues in which Steve was calling himself Nomad for a bit. I DO have the issue from immediately before that, in which he chose to abandon the role of Captain America, but I’ve tended to assume that the Nomad thing was never what he seriously intended to do with himself for the next 10 or 20 years. It is very possible that I am wrong, and Steve may have stated or implied that he expected to be Nomad for years after he invented the role — although it obviously didn’t work out that way.

I was never a fan of “Generation X.” I remember virtually nothing of whatever I may have heard from secondhand sources about Monet’s history, so she didn’t even occur to me as a possibility. I’ll dig into it before I ever post an updated version of this list. (Which won’t be soon — I don’t like to bore people to death with new editions of an old list every few months, and my short-term plans involve updating a years-old list I called “The X-Men Fatality Timeline.” All the times when X-Men have died and/or returned from the dead . . . a few years ago that was already a ridiculously lengthy list!)

The people demand a ruling on the original Invincible Man

Or any version of the Invincible Man.

Obscure one: The Man in the Mystery Mask. Originally, in Strange Tales #127, he was Reed Richards, disguised to teach Ben & Johnny a lesson of some kind. Years later, in FF #154, Nick Fury attacked Reed, Ben, and Johnny in the same costume to test some new SHIELD weapons. As far as I know, there have been no other appearances.

‘Unless I’ve made a mistake, Dick Grayson’s costume as Nightwing was substantially different from what Earth-One Kal-El had previously worn as Nightwing, and Bette Kane’s costume as Flamebird was substantially different from what Earth-One Jimmy Olsen had worn as Flamebird. As I believe I mentioned in my rules at the beginning, I want cases where both the name and the costume were recycled by a new user after the previous “temporary user” was no longer interested in that particular “role.”‘

In my own nomination of Nightwing and Flamebird, I made no mention of Dick Grayson and specifically referred to Kandorians Van-Zee and Ak-Var, who did wear the same costume.

Did anyone say the Valkyrie yet? Started as a faux-identity for the Enchantress in Avengers #63 (I think). Later imposed by the Enchantress on Samantha Parrington to antagonize the Hulk. Later imposed on Barbara Norris. Last I checked, Parrington is the Valkyrie once again.

Again, I only have the Marvel Handbook to go on, but:

James Hudson is Vindicator, becomes Guardian. Dies. Delphine Courtney (a robot…Candian Ultron is what I got out of it) then assumes the Guardian identity for Omega Flight. She blows up apparently, then Heather Hudson gets the costume and assumes the identity of Vindicator.

Some of this has to fit this list somewhere, right?

As to Steve Rogers’s time as Nomad — come to think of it, that’s a weak spot in my grasp of Captain America continuity. I have over a quarter-century of Captain America comics in unbroken sequence, but that sequence begins in the mid-70s, I believe just shortly after the issues in which Steve was calling himself Nomad for a bit. I DO have the issue from immediately before that, in which he chose to abandon the role of Captain America, but I’ve tended to assume that the Nomad thing was never what he seriously intended to do with himself for the next 10 or 20 years.

I have read the early Nomad issues, and it was indeed his intent to go on indefinitely as Nomad.

It is very possible that I am wrong, and Steve may have stated or implied that he expected to be Nomad for years after he invented the role — although it obviously didn’t work out that way.

As it turns out, Steve eventually convinced himself that by refusing to be Captain America he would encourage copycats and put them in danger. It was the death of one such imitator, Roscoe, that prompted him to resume his Cap career.

Yeah, while Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing was a cute nod to the Kandorian Nightwing and Flamebird, that’s not what we’re talking about. After Superman and Jimmy Olsen adventured briefly as Nightwing and Flamebird in Kandor, the names and costumes were taken up by two actual Kandorians, who kept the roles for the rest of the Silver and Bronze ages. So they’re really exactly what you’re talking about. The recent Kryptonian Nightwing and Flamebird revived those same roles, but Dick and Bette are at best a footnote.

Thank you, Omar Karindu. It’s been a while since i read that issue, and i didn’t notice those things the first time, apparently. Thanks for pointing that out.

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