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Maybe I had a 'secret identity,' but then when you think about it, don't we all? A part of ourselves very few people ever get to see. The part we think of as 'me.' The part that deals with the big stuff. Makes the real choices. The part everything else is a reflection of.—Clark Kent
Superman: Secret Identity is an 2004 Elseworld story based on the idea behind Superboy-Prime from Crisis on Infinite Earths, but executed as a standalone non-canonical story without ties to the larger DC universe.
On an Earth much like our own, where superheroes don't exist but Superman comics do, Mr. and Mrs. Kent decide to name their newborn boy Clark, as a homage to the fictional superhero. He is frequently bullied in school (and later in his life, at work) for his non-existent powers, and people try to jokingly hook him up with girls named Lois. One day on a weekend trip, however, the teenage Clark discovers that, seemingly out of nowhere, he has acquired real superpowers that seem to match Superman's in all aspects.From that point onwards, he decides to secretly use his powers for public good, adopting a Superboy and later Superman costume. Later, as an adult, he starts collaborating with the US government agent Malloy and settles down with one of the former joke-hook-ups, Lois Chaudhari, whom he develops genuine feelings for. The story ends in Clark's elderly years, when he looks in satisfaction at his past life, in a society that has accepted the existence of superhumans (including Clark and his children) and benefited from it.
- Adult Fear: When he escaped government captivity, Clark saw that the lab had no issue cutting up babies. As a result, he's terrified of what they'd do if they discover his girls.
- Ascended Fanboy: Well sort of; Clark isn't a fanboy - in fact, the constant teasing has pretty much put him off comics.
- Cassandra Truth: Yes. All those witnesses really did see Superman.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Clark, much like his namesake. Lois even notes that when Clark theorizes that he can just hide, he'll bolt out at the first cry for help.
- Clark Kenting: Averted, and as such, Clark has to take care to hide his face when in the costume.
- Da Chief: Subverted with Mittlemark. She's firm but she offers constructive criticism and support.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Even after The Unmasqued World in the Distant Finale, Clark states that he is keeping superpowers secret, along with the rest of his family, apparently just because he likes having a quiet life.
- Hand Wave: This is how the presented explanation for Clark's powers can be described; although it's only hypothesized by Clark himself based on available information about his place of birth, and never confirmed definitely to be the real cause.
- For those curious, Earth was struck by a meteor shower circa 1988, with the rocks releasing unknown chemical compounds and radiation into the water supply. Some of those rocks landed in Kansas with Clark theorizing that the radiation mutated him and he subconsciously shaped his powers into those of Superman.
- Happily Ever After
- Happily Married: Clark's parents, later Clark and Lois.
- It Got Worse: Averted. You expect it to, but it never does. If anything, the opposite!
- Lampshade Hanging: Clark constantly notes how implausible his powers are.
- Never Heard That One Before: "It's not funny. It never was."
- Painting the Fourth Wall: The narration is printed on Clark's typewriter; in the final part, he switches to a computer, and the appearance of the "bubbles" changes accordingly.
- Power Perversion Potential: Clark confirms that x-ray vision does work on the girls' locker room but he never does it again, given that he has no idea if it means actually bombarding the girls with radiation.
- The Power of the Sun: Subverted. When Clark's powers start to wane at middle age, he flies up to the Sun to try and recharge himself but all it does is give him a nice tan.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Malloy.
- Reconstruction: Of the superhero genre and Superman in particular.
- Rousseau Was Right
- Sanity Slippage: Wendy Case.
- Scrapbook Story: Presented in first-person perspective, as Clark's unpublished autobiography.
- Secret Identity: Well it's right there in the title isn't it? Clark comes to very much appreciate it and the anonymity it brings him, specifically that he can peacefully retire.
- Secret Keeper: Lois.
- Secret Secret Keeper: Mallow also found out "Superman"'s real identity years ago, but didn't tell him or anyone else.
- Shout-Out: The art shifts at the end, including one in the style of Bruce Timm.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Clark is explicitly named after the fictional Superman's public identity. Guess what powers he ends up with.
- Semi-Justified/Handwaved: Clark mentions something about how he may have subconsciously molded his latent powers to fit his moniker.
- Super Registration Act: Clark mentions that some superhumans in the Distant Finale work for the government. Others work personal couriers.
- They Would Cut You Up: And they actually try to. (His relationship with the government gets better eventually.)
- This Is Reality: Just about throughout the whole thing. To further drive the point home, each issue opens with a page from an old Superman comic, contrasting with the "realistic" collage-like art of the main comic.
- Time Skip: The first issue is set while Clark is a teen, probably around 15 or so. The second and third are both set while he is in his mid-twenties to early thirties. The fourth starts when he is probably in his early fifties, and fades out with him being so old he can't fly unassisted.
- The Unmasqued World: The finale.