As everyone who's ever read a Silver Age Superman comic knows, if his identity was ever revealed to the public, or even to the slightly obsessive girl who was crazy about him, his effectiveness as a crimefighter would be ruined. Why? Well, that's not really explained, but we've learned that if something is repeated often enough in a caption box, it's probably best to just accept it and move on.
The flipside to this is that almost everyone with a secret identity has had it revealed, usually to signal the end of an ill-fated romance.Who's Done It:
Pretty much everyone, but the most notable include Daredevil
, whose identity has been common knowledge to the Kingpin since the mid-80s, which has led to more dead girlfriends and blown-up apartments than we can count without an abacus; Batman
, whose careful protection of his secret tends to fall apart at the first sign of an attractive woman, as Julie Madison, Silver St. Cloud, Vicki Vale, Vesper Fairchild and Jezebel Jet can attest; and Invincible
(seen above), who flipped the script by revealing his secret to his girlfriend with no ill effects, even once they'd broken up.Who Took It to the Extreme:
For a guy with a mask that covers his entire head, Spider-Man
sure doesn't mind taking it off. At one time, his identity was known to Aunt May, the Avengers, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, the Green Goblin, Venom, and wife Mary Jane (among others), but after he revealed it to the entire world during the "Civil War" crossover, he decided he'd taken things a bit too far and literally made a deal with the devil to make everyone forget.
And then he promptly told the Avengers and the FF, because hey: why not?
#6: Non Compos Mentis
Being a prosecutor in Gotham City has got to be one of hte most frustrating jobs known to man. You can have all the evidence in the world, up to and including signed notes with riddles ont hem that were sent to police headquarters announcing plans to rob the diamond exchange, and the perp still
gets off on an insanity plea. No wonder Harvey Dent went insane.
Who's Done It:
Most of Batman's villains, and although it's rarer in the Marvel Universe, Carnage
managed to get dumped in an asylum rather than prison too.Who Took It to the Extreme:
wants to see the Joker
get sentenced to the chair--well, Batman might--because that would theoretically mean there wouldn't be more stories about him. Still, once you get to the point where the guy's attempting to blow up the United Nations, you'd think somebody
would throw the book at him. Of course, he actually had diplomatic immunity as the ambassador from Iran when he pulled that one. Yes, really.
#7: All The Best Heroes Are Orphans
: Having a happy family life usually means that you're missing out on fun stuff like the all-consuming anger that leads to an interest in vigilante justice, and nobody wants to read a comic called "The Adventures of Frank Castle: A Pretty Happy Dude."Who's Done It:
Batman (parents), Spider-Man (parents and uncle), the Punisher (wife and kids), Daredevil (father), Ghost Rider (parents and stepfather), Green Lantern (father), Robin (parents, parents and parents), and so on.Who Took It to the Extreme:
Not only did Superman
's parents die, but his entire planet
blew up, and then--at least in the Silver Age -- his adoptive parents died of Pirate Filth
. As such, he is utterly alone in the universe, although that's sort of undercut by the fact that his cousin, his dog, his dad's pet monkey, and a hundred thousand other Kryptonians managed to get through it okay as well.
#8: The Plural of Ninja is Ninja
Ah, the ninja! Deadly, highly trained, semi-mystical assassins who are utterly ruthless and completely unstoppable...Who's Done It:
...unless you happen to be Wolverine, Daredevil, Batman, Snake-Eyes, Hawkeye or Kitty Pryde, all of whom are ninjas themselves
.Who Took It to the Extreme:
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
. Why? It's pretty much in the name.
#9: Radiation? More Like RadiAWESOME!
: In the 1940s, it was chemicals that gave characters like the Golden Age Flash and Hourman their super-powers, but by the '60s, comic book science had shifted to something that was atomic. Very
atomic.Who's Done It:
Spider-Man, the Hulk, Dr. Phosphorus, Reactron, and others.Who Took It to the Extreme:
We're going to go with DC's Firestorm
, Ronnie Raymond, who not only got his powers when a nuclear power plant melted down around him, but also took the whole idea of "nuclear fusion" literally and could only turn into his super-powered alter ego when he "fused" with another character, most notably Professor Martin Stein.
Plus, his head was on fire all the time, and that is awesome.
#10: Why Must We Fight When We Could... Love?
The Deal: The idea of the villainess whose evil deeds were merely the result of misplaced affection for the hero have been a staple of genre fiction for as long as there's been genre fiction, and comics, with their emphasis on the visual, are certainly no exception. After all, as any look through Fanfiction.net'll show you, there's no villainess, no matter how ruthlessly evil, whose wicked ways could not be cured with a well-placed seduction.
Who's Done It: Catwoman, Maxima, Viper, Typhoid Mary, Elektra, the Black Cat, and Talia. And while this is normally a cliche for female villains, it's also worth noting that there are three "X-Men" stories in the span of two years from the early '80s where the team is spared from certain defeat because Magneto, Dr. Doom and Dracula all had a crush on Storm.
Who Took It to the Extreme: While we're awfully fond of the Black Cat and the hook to her relationship with Spider-Man (she loved Spidey but couldn't stand to see him without his mask on), we'll always have a soft spot for Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the 1966 "Batman" TV show, if only for the matter-of-fact way that she told Batman that they could both be happy if he'd just let her kill Robin.
These are just a few of our favorite cliches, but we know you've got yours too. Got a favorite clone? How about a particular instance of a character doing something horrible that was somehow Not Their Fault? Let us know in the comments section!