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The daily prompt a few days ago asked us to look at our stats – which posts are our most popular?  What connects those posts?

My top three posts of all time are:

The first one, technically, is a page, not a post.  I’ll ignore that.  The link between the second two is clear – posts which link to other people’s blogs, so that their followers come to see who is giving them an award.  There’s only so many times you can do that before other bloggers start getting annoyed at you, so I chose to look a little further down the list.

Again, the link here is clear.  I obviously need to talk about superheroes more!

I have no problem with that.  I’m a pretty big fan of superheroes.  Especially ones with secret identities, and today I’m going to talk a little about why.

Growing Up Super

I was brought up on a diet of Superman – specifically, Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman.  That’s the one with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, for those of you who don’t know all of the incarnations off the top of your head. I admit I became a little obsessed by it – I recorded every episode so that I could watch them again and again, and I was heavily into fanfiction from quite an early age.

Of course, there was also the fact that he was… quite pleasant on the eyes.

Later in life I discovered that Dean Cain caused a lot of controversy with the hard-core Super-fans, because (Shock! Horror!) he has brown eyes.  But growing up I have to admit that I didn’t even notice.  In fact, since it was the first version of the hero I had encountered, it seemed odd to me when I found out that all of the others have blue eyes.

What I loved about Dean Cain’s portrayal of Superman was that, primarily, he wasn’t Superman.  He was Clark Kent.  In fact, at the start of the first episode, Superman didn’t even exist.  He only came into existence because Lois spotted Clark just after he had rescued someone and told him he was dirty and should bring a change of clothes to work.

The show focused more on his daily life and his struggle to be both halves of his personality than it did on fighting super-villains (although there were a fair few of those).  Hiding often creates as many problems as it solves.

The point here, if I can drag myself back to it, is that Clark invented Superman as a way to hide who he was.  However, even before that he was hiding behind a pair of glasses and a loud tie, trying to pretend that he was normal.

It’s a great relief to a young girl to realise that even people who have the power to lift spaceships into orbit sometimes feel the need to hide.

Masks vs Hiding in Plain Sight

Later, I discovered other heroes.  Batman (Adam West version, of course!) was, in some ways, the complete opposite of Superman.  He spent more time as Batman than as Bruce Wayne – indeed it sometimes seemed that Bruce only existed to fund the fancy toys, and occasionally to be kidnapped.

Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.

And he hid behind a mask.  The mask made it obvious that he was someone else.  He had something to hide.

Clark got away with a simple pair of glasses because everyone thought “hey, he’s not hiding his face, he clearly isn’t hiding anything else; he must spend all of his time as Superman.”  Everyone knew that Batman was really someone else, and some of the best plots revolved around people who were determined to discover who he was.

Is it somehow more honest to hide behind a mask?

If people think they are getting to know the real you, when in fact they are learning the mask, is that more deceitful than openly acknowledging that you are holding people at arms’ length?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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