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CSBG Archive

I Can’t Cover What I Am – Superman’s Secret Identity…Revealed?!?

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In this feature, I spotlight comic book covers that follow a specific theme. Here is an archive of all the cover themes we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today we look at examples of Superman’s secret identity about to be revealed, actually being revealed or at least SEEMINGLY being revealed!

Enjoy!

NOTE: This is not EVERY cover that fits this theme. But still, it’s FORTY covers, so be happy with that rather than complain that some cover wasn’t featured.

Thanks, as always, to the Grand Comics Database for the covers!

Here we go!

1951’s Action Comics #163 has a Win Mortimer cover with a woman threatening to use her mental powers to reveal Superman’s identity…

The very next issue of Action Comics has another Mortimer cover showing one of Superman’s trophies threatening to reveal his identity…

In 1952’s Action Comics #171, Mortimer draws a cover of a recording Superman made that was designed to be viewed after his death but might be viewed too soon and ruin his secret identity!

1955’s Action Comics #202 has Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye showing Lois Lane’s temporary X-ray vision revealing an interesting secret…

Al Plastino drew 1955’s Superman #98, which has a movie based on Superman possibly revealing his secret identity!

Does the Great Cosmo really know Superman’s identity? Al Plastino suggests he does on the 1955 cover of Superman #103…

Five issues later, Plastino has Superman stuck in a sticky situation on the cover of Superman #108…

1956’s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #17 has the first of a couple of Jimmy Olsen cover where Jimmy uses his seeming death to get Superman to tell him his secret identity on this Curt Swan and Ray Burnley cover…

On the 1957 cover of Superman #119, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye show the problems that arise when Superman switches places with a hero on another planet for a day….

1959’s Action Comics #250 has Clark Kent tied to a lie detector and asked if he is Superman (art by Curt Swan and Al Plastino)…

Curt Swan and Stan Kaye show black magic revealing Superman’s secret identity on the cover to 1960’s Action Comics #269…

Later in 1960, Swan and Kaye show us the second appearance of Lois Lane’s X-ray vision with this cover to Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #22…

That very same month in Superman #142, Swan and Kaye show Clark’s identity seemingly revealed by a common event…a Kryptonian Flame Dragon blasting his clothes off. Sounds like the plot of a DCU porn film. “Oh no, this Kryptonian Flame Dragon has burned our clothes off! I guess there’s nothing we can do but get freaky!”

In Action Comics #282, Swan and Kaye draw ANOTHER common occurrence, plastic solvent has dissolved the fingers of the Clark Kent robot Superman was using to trick Lois Lane into thinking Superman isn’t Clark. Sounds like every other Monday in Metropolis!

The very next issue has Swan and Kaye showing Clark, Lois and Jimmy encountering a statue made of red kryptonite. Isn’t that just Clark’s luck?

On the cover of Action Comics #288, Swan and George Klein show a real jerk trying to expose Superman’s secret identity. Just let him blow up, Superman!

Later that year, on the cover of Action Comics #297, it is Perry White of all people who screw Superman’s pooch on this Swan and Klein cover…

On 1963’s Action Comics #301, Swan and Klein put Superman in a tough spot having to prove his innocence of murdering Clark Kent without, you know, revealing that he is Clark Kent…

A few months later, Swan and Klein show WHY Superman needs a secret identity on the cover of Action Comics #305…

On 1964’s Swan and Klein cover of Action Comics #313, it is Supergirl’s turn to be the one who reveals Superman’s secret identity!

Go to the next page for the NEXT twenty covers in this theme!

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24 Comments

One of my favorite covers was one where this other journalist jumps off of the top of the building and Clark and Lois are looking out of the window to see this man falling to his doom. As the man is plummeting, he screams something about only Superman can save him, but that would prove once and for all that Clark is Superman. It was a silly issue with a silly cover, but a damn good one.

“The Girl of Tomorrow” looks remarkably like Anne Francis in “Forbidden Planet.” But the cover predates the movie by about five years. I guess she really was from tomorrow.

Not the one where Superman reveals his identity to Lois and Lana and tells them he’ll never marry them because they’re too stupid to figure it out themselves?

I’m guessing that “tell the court your real name” thing ended with Superman writing “Kal-El” on the chalkboard.

Omar: It would be funnier he had continued to write “…none of your damned business”

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about his revealing his real name being Kal-El.

Death of Clark Kent, probably my favorite Superman arc ever.

How many of these books are resolved by either lateral thinking, comic book science and plain old deus ex machinas? I’m sure they’re fun reads in any case.

Seems like a challenge for Mark Waid. Or something Mark Waid would cook up. “GUESS HOW SUPERMAN GOT AWAY WITH HIS SECRET IDENTITY!! WINNER GETS AN HOUR TOUR OF MY COMIC WAREHOUSE WONDERLAND AND LISTEN TO ME AND KURT BUSIEK TALK COMICS OVER LUNCH!!!!!”

Omar . . . no, the “solution” was crazier . . . Supes wrote “Clark Kent,” but he managed to destroy the chalkboard in the process. It was a “Day of Truth” thing from Krypton . . . he told the truth all day, but wound up ducking the obvious questions. I remember reading that from “Unca Cheeks'” old site. I also know how he dodged Alan Friggin’ Funt. Friggin’ insane dodge there.

David Fullam . . . really? I mean, I collected the arc when it came out (I was more of a “collector” then), and it was pretty good. I just figured nobody would remember it after DC buried it under two tons of lead. Crap, Conduit was one of the bodies sprung from the Watchtower during Blackest Night, but we never got a Black Lantern Conduit.

Travis Stephens

April 20, 2013 at 10:44 am

I thought the Amazing Superman Newsreel had to do with an imprisoned Lex Luthor creating a phony video camera that was actually a ray gun that siphoned off Superman’s strength. Lucellmate who was getting out on parole- but the guy took off on his own. The guy pretended to be recording the Big S do amazing feats for charity while stealing his energy. Any way in some horrible, convoluted plot involving time travel Superman gets knocked back to the moment when they guy is discussing his plan. Silver Age shenanigans ensue and Superman wins by picking up fake rocks and doing things that do not involve super strength. But this newsreel story is a different one. What’s the deal?

Jason, I ditched DC when they did that mini series where Hal Jordan became the Spectre. I’m glad because developments since then might have made me go mental. My Superman will always be post Crisis on Infinite Earths, with the post Zero Hour stuff being my all time favorite.

Awesome stuff.

Travis,
I’d guess Superman has pressed his fingerprints into the rock while squeezing it, and they’re on record as being Clark Kent’s.

amazing how many people suspected clark kent to be superman.

also, jimmy olsen is worst best friend. ever.

Come to think of it, Daredevil has it easy in maintaining a secret identity compared to Superman.

Supes might as well write a book (a large book) explaining why he is not Clark Kent despite having been “mistaken” for him about twice a month… for decades!

Zor-El of Argo

April 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Hey Brian, I know it’s just a tad off topic, but I remember a cover from I think the early 80’s on which Superman stood in both costume and glasses, and he is trying to convince either Lois or Lana that he is Clark Kent but she insisted on not believing him. You think you can put that up as an honorable mention?

Ah, the whole Superdickery Family. ;-)

Now they just need a cover where Clark Kent is going through an airport scanner and the TSA learns he’s really Superman. ;-)

Travis Stephens

April 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

1). Trying to do the physics for the “Friggin’ Jumper” based on the height of the DP and the height of the office based on the vehicles and sign. That’s an awful lot to say during the 1.5seconds he is actually in front of the window.
2). The rate of attempted suicide must be very high in Metropolis. Is this ever addressed vis-a-vis Gotham, Central City, et. al.
3). Jimmy Olsen’s comic book run must have ended after the death hoax. Can’t imagine them being pals after that.
4). How does Superman get put on trial
without being arraigned and booked or posting bail?

This is a great assortment! I’m surprised at how many of these I’ve read. Jimmy Olsen has seriously got to be the worst “pal” ever.
Rather odd pose Supes has on the cover of Action Comics #171… looks like he’s tugging on a Super-wedgie.

Too bad that this is only a cover list. There’s got to be any number of in-story instances where someone attempted to expose Superman’s identity, only to fail. Three come to mind for me:

– During the “Millennium” crossover, a Manhunter-controlled Lana Lang publicly rips open Clark’s shirt. Fortunately, Clark wasn’t wearing his super-suit, so all she did was expose his chest.
– Sometime during the Loeb/Kelly years, I remember one where Lois ripped open Clark’s shirt, exposing his super-suit. However, Clark fell back on the excuse that it was just a t-shirt. (I don’t remember exactly why this happened–this might have been the time when the Parasite turned himself into a duplicate of Lois and impliedly slept with Lex Luthor. Yes, DC went there.)
– Finally, there was the “Dominus” Saga–a great story which sadly hasn’t been reprinted yet–where Lois threw a lead basketball at Clark, who caught it–inadvertently revealing his super-strength. Then it turned out that an accident gave everyone in Metropolis super-powers, so nothing was “revealed”–everyone just assumed that Clark had powers like the rest of them.

Apparently it was mandatory (up to the 90s) to always show Superman with his costume and/or emblem on the cover, as if to say “yes, Supes DOES appear in this ish”. A simple Clark Kent clearly didn’t do the job.

The cardboard figure workaround in Action #288 is almost pitiful!! :-)

I like it when there’s a fake-Clark, but then Superman is just hanging out watching the fake-Clark with Lois. Seems like he was just using fake-Clark to not have to hang out with Lois, instead of because he was actually busy.

Clark could save himself a lot of trouble by not wearing his Superman costume under his civvies. He needs one of the Flash’s costume rings.

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