Superman: Secret Identity
Superman: Secret Identity is a four-issue mini-series of 48 pages each in prestige format, written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Stuart Immonen. It was first published monthly, starting January 2004. The title was not released under the Elseworlds banner, but is regarded as a non-canonical story. The story describes the life of Clark Kent, a man in a world in which superheroes exist only as characters in comics, who suddenly gains the powers of Superman and embarks on a super-heroic career, but keeps his existence secret from the world at large.
|Superman: Secret Identity|
Cover of Superman: Secret Identity #1, art by Stuart Immonen.
|Publication date||January - April 2004|
|No. of issues||4|
|Written by||Kurt Busiek|
Writer Kurt Busiek stated in the introduction to the collected volume of the series that his inspiration for this story was the original appearances of Superboy-Prime in DC Comics Presents during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
David and Laura Kent, a farm couple living in a small town called Picketsville, Kansas, name their child Clark, after the fictional character, Superman. He grows up resenting the joke, accepting the inevitable Superman-related gifts with a smile, and endures being the butt of jokes and bullying at school. He retreats to his "Fortress of Solitude," a broken-down farm tractor, where he writes using an old typewriter. For recreation he often escapes on overnight hiking trips. One night on such a trip, he wakes to find himself floating in mid-air, and discovers that he now has the powers of Superman. He uses the powers at first to avoid his tormentors, then begins to secretly use them to rescue people in danger. The incidents of heroism prompt inquiries from journalists and government agents, putting him under pressure to preserve his secret or to reveal his powers to the public.
He makes a deal with Wendy Case, the reporter who first wrote about him, for her to handle his publicity to explore the nature of his powers together. But when he discovers her secretly video-recording him, he destroys the camera and resolves to go public with his powers on his own. Clark wears a Superboy costume to the town's Halloween carnival, where an explosion at the carnival puts people's lives in danger, and he rescues them. Reporters (including Wendy, who set up the explosion to reveal "Superboy") come upon him as he is rescuing his longtime crush Cassie. Clark pretends that the rescue was not super-powered, becoming a local hero, earning the respect of his former tormentors, and the affection of Cassie. However, several people are killed as a result of the bombing incident, and Clark resolves to keep his powers hidden, performing lifesaving feats only in secret.
Years later, Clark has moved to Manhattan, where he writes for The New Yorker and begins working on a book. He continues saving lives dressed as Superman, but keeps his actual existence secret (counting on reports by people being saved by the supposedly-fictional Superman to be dismissed as internet legends), as government agents continue to investigate his activities. His coworkers set him up with a woman named Lois Chaudhari as a joke, but they hit it off and start a relationship.
Clark is lured into a trap, knocked out by a powerful electrical-blast weapon, and taken to a government facility, where they attempt to extract tissue samples. He escapes, evacuating the other test subjects and destroying the building.
He begins wearing glasses to make himself less easily recognized, and continues performing rescues, but is more cautious. Meanwhile, his writing career takes off and he embarks on life as a major book author. Clark reveals his secret to Lois, and no longer alone, is ready to face whatever lies ahead.
Years later, Clark continues his successful career while continuing his secret exploits, still evading the government. Concerned about the possible effects of his powers on his and Lois' unborn twins, he approaches the government to make a deal. After an abortive first contact with Agent Malloy, they come to terms: Clark will take non-political missions for the government; in return, the government will leave Clark and his family alone. He is called on a mission to rescue some hostages just as Lois goes into labor, which he grudgingly accepts as the way it will have to be. Returning to the hospital to see his wife and newborn daughters, he swears that he will keep them safe, no matter what it takes.
Many years later, Clark has become an accomplished writer, and Lois a famous designer. Their daughters Carol and Jane have come home for the holidays, bearing Superman-related gifts to tease their middle-aged father. Clark and Lois have noticed that his powers are fading, but he continues his government missions, becoming friendly with Malloy while still protecting his identity. He uncovers records of government research into super-powered people, and concludes that his powers are the result of a meteor shower exposing him to unknown agents, and his subconscious shaping his powers to match the Superman archetype.
Clark and Lois suspect their daughters might develop powers, but leave them to explore this possibility on their own. They eventually reveal themselves to their father, admitting that their powers manifested in their teens. When Agent Malloy retires, he reveals that he had uncovered Clark's identity long ago, but never reported it and has since destroyed any evidence that might reveal it to others. With his daughters carrying on his superheroics, Clark retires as well.
Many years later, Clark lives in a world that accepts the superhumans amongst them, resulting in advancements in every area of science. Jane has sons whom she has jokingly named Perry, Jimmy, and Clark. Clark publishes his book of research on his origins, though he keeps his family out of it. Retired and content, he still flies with his daughters, as well as Perry at times, who has since also discovered his powers.