It wasn’t too far back that Lois Lane finally put the pieces together and realized that Superman and her fellow reporter Clark Kent were one and the same. And what did she do with that information? She printed it on the front page of the Daily Planet for the entire world to see.
That has caused some major problems for Superman recently. It’s hard to get around in public, and now that he’s lost many of his powers, he can’t simply fly away from all the attention.
It’s for that reason, in Action Comics #45, that Superman at long last adopts a new secret identity in the form of everyman Archie Clayton. Clayton works as a truck driver for what appears to a laundry delivery service.
Wearing blue jeans, a red polo and a baseball cap, Superman is once again invisible as always without the giant S emblazoned on his chest — only this time, no glasses are required. Superman offers up a pop culture adage to rationalize how people don’t recognize him as the world’s most iconic superhero.
“There’s an old story about Norma Jean Mortensen,” he muses. “She was walking down the street in New York City, no one noticed her. Then she turned to her friend and said ‘Do you want to see her?’ And she flashed that smile, straightened her back… and suddenly everyone recognized Marilyn Monroe.”
It’s impressive what a new outfit can do for you. So far, nobody has caught on — and that lets Superman operate unseen as to piece together recent events. Superman has gone through plenty of changes over the years, but dropping his Clark Kent persona is a bold move on DC’s part — just one of the many risks the comic publisher has recently taken with the character. This new, more down-to-earth Superman seems to have breathed new life into DC’s posterchild.
That said, these are still comics we are talking about. It seems unlikely that Archie Clayton will be around for the long term, and you can place your bets now as to when Clark Kent will return. Such is the nature of comic books, but as long as it’s a fun ride, we don’t mind. Whether it is Archie Clayton or Clark Kent — as long as interesting new stories are being told, count us in.