Top 5: Worst Secret Identities

Harley Quinn

5. Harley Quinn

The villainous Harley Quinn’s ‘real name is Harleen Quinzel. Say that aloud. Names aside, having a previous career as a psychiatrist for DC’s #1 prison for villains, Arkham Asylum, pretty much makes you friends and acquantances with  many of the people you’d later want to hide your identity from. But Harley Quinn’s never quite been all there in the brains category, so she might have an excuse for it all.

The Flash

4. Jay Garrick, the original Flash

Whether it’s his original incarnation or his “New 52” Earth 2 persona, Jay Garrick doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to covering up his face. Back in the Silver Age Garrick attempted to disguise his identity by constantly vibrating using his super speed, but even he later said it was foolish after his girlfriend figured it out. Next time at least try a full face mask like your later namesakes.


Green Arrow

3. Green Arrow

In the “New 52” era of DC Comics, Ollie continues to be the public face of company while traipsing around the globe as the costumed crime-fighter Green Arrow. In this case he’s given up his throw-back Robin Hood garb but his attempt to mask his identity is limited to some green-tinted glass even U2’s Bono would be afraid to wear. Even without his Van Dyke goatee, he’s hard to miss. How would you know Green Arrow is Ollie Queen if comparing them side-by-side? How could you not!



2. Daredevil

It’s one of the worst secrets in Marvel’s superhero community. Even as far back as 1966 Daredevil’s been trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, even going so far at one point to create a fake twin brother named Mike Murdock to hide behind. But that didn’t help keep the secret, as numerous people from ex girlfriends to intrepid reporters all put the pieces together over the years. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev outed Matt Murdock as Daredevil once and for all, and now subsequent writers like Ed Brubaker, Andy Diggle and Mark Waid have turned it into a staple of the series of Murdock’s attempts to un-break that window.


1. Superman / Clark Kent

They might say you don’t pee on Superman’s cape, but as far as his secret identity? It’s fair game. Using glasses and sometimes a slight hairstyle change to cover up your identity as the world’s most popular superhero (and one who does so completely unmasked) is laughable. In some cases, creators and actors have tried to make more of it by having Kal-El play up frailness and bumbling in order to differentiate himself more from the proud and heroic Superman, but really it seems like a flaw that others are trying to cover up with subterfuge. Come on Clark, try a little harder!


  1. I would have thought Cyclops would have made the list too. A dude constantly wearing ruby red sunglasses…even at night? Unless you’re Correy Hart, it’s suspicious.

    • I’ve always thought the X-Men had the worst collective secret identities. None of them really do anything to hide their identities. That being said, I think it’s part of the reason I like a lot of those characters.

    • I LOLed! 😛

    • Well being mutants, it’s who they really are (most of them) so why would they hide that? Magneto, in X-Men First Class (the movie) made a good argument about it with Mystique constantly trying to look normal and hide her true self.

    • True enough that as mutants, they are who they are.

      But I can’t help thinking of the original X Factor, when the team posed as “normal” humans who hunted mutants. Nobody said, “Hey, guy in the ruby red glasses! Aren’t you Cyclops from the X-Men?”

    • I didn’t mean hide that they’re a mutant, but more hide their identity while they’re out superheroing.

  2. Superman’s secret identity works because people believe that he couldn’t possibly live a normal life.

  3. Clark and Ollie are the same in my book. Eye glasses are not a disguise. I’ve never seen someone take off a pair of glasses and go, “Oh, hey, it you!”

  4. Frank Quitley is one of the few artists who really sells Clark’s disguise. There’s such a change in posture and character between Clark and Superman in All-Star that you can actually see how someone might be thrown by it. That, and Morrison writes Clark as so ineffective and bumbling that there’s no way you’d ever think that guy was Superman. I love that Lois doesn’t buy it when he first changes into his costume. She just figures it’s a joke that Superman and Clark are playing on her. It’s just so great.

  5. I don’t know who “they” are, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about peeing on Superman’s cape.

  6. I’ve been following her career since her first appearence on a certain cartoon and I’m pretty sure Harley Quinn is not trying to keep a “secret identity”

    • That was my first thought too. She’s a little too far gone for that. Much like the X-Men, villains don’t really have a reason to to keep their identities hidden, just their actions. They are who they are.

      In fact, that argument could be made for a few people on this list. I’ve been in and out of the JSA stuff over the years, but I’ve never seen anything that includes Jay actively trying to maintain any kind of secret identity. Hell, even Murdock isn’t really making an effort anymore.

      Don’t mean to shit on your list, Chris. I’m with you on Ollie and Clark 100%.

  7. there’s actually an issue of Action from the 70s that “explains” that Clark’s glasses project a suggestion of what he WANTS people to see when they look at him. It’s classic comic book science, but it still is more of an explanation than the rest of the list.

  8. You don’t pee on anyone’s anything! Even in a consenting adult manner, peeing on someone’s things is still disgusting. Yeah, I’m judging you. Gross.

    • I could be mistaken, but the saying “peeing on someone’s leg or on Superman’s cape” is a figure of speech. Just sayin’.

    • It is a figure of speech but I think (And here is where I could be wrong) the writer was trying to allude to the Jim Croce song “You dont mess around with Jim” where the lyrics say: “You dont tug on Superman’s cape. You dont spit into the wind. You dont pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim.” At any rate, not only is it gross but peeing on Superman is just begging for a stern talking to.

    • it’s good to see peoples private bedroom practices getting some airplay.

  9. Funny I was just having a conversation on another site about this….

    “I’ve always maintained that the DC Universe is one in which people lack the necessary facial recognition ability to distinguish Clark from Superman. Kinda like when my buddy shaved his dreads and took off his glasses and his young daughter freaked out at the stranger in the house. My buddy, there was not an actual stranger. I suspect old TV Hulk existed in a similarly lacking universe… random thought of the night complete…”

    Which would explain why on those rare occasion Clark reveals he is Superman or vice versa people have that “ah ha” moment. At least it makes sense to me. Now if we can just get Ollie to wear some semblance of a mask on Arrow I will stop SMH every time he confronts someone he knows in real life. At least on Smallville he has some cool high tech shades. Mascara is not a mask…

  10. One of the best moments on the “Lois & Clark” TV show was when Tempus, a character from the future reveals, Clark’s dual identity Lois. He mocks how silly it is and tells her she’s the most “galactically stupid woman who ever lived.” (
    #2-18: “Tempus Fugitive”)

  11. I don’t know where the screencap for the article is from that’s on the main page of this site but….That is so damn funny to me.

    Lex Luthor is REALLY stupid not to see the similarities there.

    • It’s from Superman Vol. 2 #2 from 1987. In it, Luthor is obsessed with finding out more about Superman and inputs all known knowledge on the hero into a computer, who immediately realizes that Clark Kent is Superman. Luthor rejects that answer, saying that no man with Superman’s abilities would pretend to be a normal human 90% of the time. It’s a humorous little story that actually got revisited a few years later in a longer followup.

  12. If I were to do a list of the top 5 Best Secret Identities, I think Superman/Clark Kent would be number one on the list.
    Who expects the man who does nothing to hide his face, and tells people that he is an alien from the planet Krypton named Kal-El to be also masquerading around as anyone else?

    • It would be sort of like people meeting Jesus Christ and thinking “I bet this guy wears a disguise and trounces around like a schmuck every day”.

  13. Harley Quinn doesn’t have a secret identity. Her real name is public knowledge.