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J writes...

a while ago I asked how Superman kept his identity as Clark Kent a secret if the only "disguise" is a pair of glasses, to which you conceeded did in fact provide the minor disguise of subduing his eye color, but your main reasoning was that few people know both Superman and Clark Kent, so that there was little chance of the general public realizing they look identical...but, to me, and maby I am way over-thinking this, there seems to be a flaw in this logic.
Ill explain...youve said before that superheroes were Earth-16's version of super-star celebrities...now, im not a fan of Tom Cruise in thr least, but ive seen his face enough to recognize him at the local store if the only thing he did to disguse himself was put on glasses and slick his hair back. Addionaly, since Clark Kent is (im assuming) well known journalist, whose pictures regularly appear next to articals, at least in a lot of newspapers ive read, it seems to me there is a HUGE portion of Metropolis, if not all America, that could put 2 & 2 together at any time without ever having met either Superman or Clark Kent.
I appologize if Im being nit-pickey, but this has always kind of bugged me about Superman (and I hate explainations like "super hypnotism") so sinve you tend to write stories with a sence of realism, I was just wondering if you have any further thoughts on this.

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

Four points:

1. I'll grant that Superman's face is famous, but not Clark's. (Not all papers use pictures of their reporters.) I don't know where you live or what the policies of your local newspaper are, but I'd still lay odds you wouldn't recognize 98% of its reporters, even if you saw them face to face.

2. Plus, you're assuming anyone thinks Superman HAS a secret identity. Everyone knows Batman has one, because, well, he wears a mask. But Superman is an alien from another world who seems to fly all over the place, saving space shuttles and kittens, etc. And he wears no mask. So no one thinks he has another identity. Thus it's not like folks are walking around trying to figure out who Superman REALLY is. If it doesn't occur to you that Superman has another identity, your mind isn't even going to go there when you see Clark.

3. I think Christopher Reeve proved that Clark and Superman can look dramatically different in one specific scene of the 1978 film Superman. Watch it (again or for the first time). You can't miss it. Clark is about to reveal his identity to Lois but chickens out. I clearly remember seeing that scene for the first time - and for the first time truly believing that folks wouldn't realize that Clark and Superman were the same person.

4. Finally, you need to suspend some disbelief here, my friend. I like some realism injected into my stories too. But ultimately, I'm not sure if I met Spider-Man in real life, full mask and all that I wouldn't recognize him as Peter Parker, if I already knew Pete. I REALLY doubt Batman would fool anyone who truly knew Bruce Wayne. But the fictional conceit is that a mask works. If you buy that. Then it's not that large a leap, given all the above, that Clark's identity is largely under the radar.

5. No Super-Hypnotism on Earth-16.

Response recorded on February 07, 2014