It used to be that the civilian identities of our favorite superheroes were secrets to be guarded more closely than the combination to the safes at Fort Knox. But nowadays it seems like plenty of superheroes are going public - especially in the Marvel Universe. Daredevil, Iron Man and Captain America are among the super-powered champions whose real identities have become common knowledge in recent months.
And that's just fine, insists Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada.
"Since Sept. 11, you've seen a lot of heroes - the heroes at Ground Zero - and they don't wear masks," Quesada said Friday during a panel discussion about the Marvel Knights and MAX imprints at the Wizard World: Chicago convention. "I think a couple of our heroes can live without their masks. They'll be fine."
Quesada was particularly proud of the way writer John Ney Rieber and artist John Cassaday have outed Steve Rogers as Captain America. To Quesada's way of thinking, the star-spangled hero is better off without the burden of a dual identity.
"It always seems cheesy and fake," Quesada said, referring to Rogers' previous civilian jobs as a police officer and cartoonist. "Cap doesn't work well with a secret identity. I think it's a better way to play him."
Revealing that Tony Stark is the guy in Iron Man's armor was an easy decision for the Marvel brass, too. In fact, Quesada said he was hoping to be the one who unmasked Stark back when he was writing the series in 2000 - before he was named editor in chief. Quesada said it's just silly for Stark to pretend that Iron Man is his bodyguard, just to protect the people close to him.
"He's already a gazillionaire - everyone in his life is in danger," Quesada said.
As for Daredevil, Quesada had high praise for writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev's work on Ol' Hornhead's current storyline, in which an FBI agent has sold the hero's identity to a New York City tabloid newspaper. The revelation has turned Matt Murdock's life upside down - again - but also has provided readers with a very different view of life in Marvel's version of the Big Apple.
"This is one of those runs that's going to be classic," Quesada gushed. "Every day it's a joy when those pages come in. These guys are firing on all pistons."
Secret identities weren't the only topic of discussion during the panel, which also featured Maleev, Cassaday, editor Axel Alonso and artist Jae Lee. The Marvelites promoted a "Spider-Man and Daredevil" one-shot that's due in stores Aug. 7. Written by Brett Mathews and drawn by Vatche Mavilan, the story will focus on a single night in the lives of the two heroes and compare how they each do their jobs.
The Men from Marvel also revealed that Lee soon will be working on a four-issue "Captain America" arc. "A lot of attention is being paid to Cap," Quesada said.