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Comics Representing Masked Identities

Comic literature has recurrently harped on masked identities recalling Carl Jung’s famous classification
of an individual’s progression through four stages of development. The first stage is known as persona
which revolves around the concept of pretending who we are till we encounter the shadow or the
darker sides of our personalities till we reach a reconciliation which leads us to a more sharper and
insightful perception of our own selves thereby accomplishing the stage of wise old man. However, the
metro hero especially hailing from the Golden Age predominantly focuses on two kinds of masks. One is
a social facet performing the roles of an ordinary man and the other is a hidden mask of that of a
superhero who is talented, endowed with supernatural powers, courageous and selfless. The heroic side
is deliberately shrouded with anonymity so that they can avoid being unveiled by their enemies and also
in order to live a normal life when they are not fighting crime. This obscurity also helps them to gain
information from his friends and surroundings without raising a hue and cry about it.
Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker are few of the famed masquerades of Superman, Batman and
Spiderman respectively who have resorted to secret identities for being able to balance both the lives
for their advantage. Both the sides of their persona are opposites as well as complementary to one
another. The aggressive, courageous and introvert side of their ego is inevitably paired by mild and
submissive temperament which help them to façade their heroic personas from public exposure and
scrutiny. The constant tug of war between these two alter egos enhances the drama of the comic books
and keeps the audience hooked for the hope of discovering the prevailing persona. It is ironical that in
the real world we invert this rule of the superheroes and prefer to hide our darker and weaker side
while preserving the superior and the tougher side for public representation. We gladly accept this
inversion since we realize that the heroes are extraordinary beings and definitely different from us. The
comic art beautifully highlights this transcendental quality in the heroes to inspire and awaken the
hidden heroes within us.