I’ve noticed that many fans will refer to superheroes by their “civilian” names (i.e. “When Clark fought Zod” or “When Peter battled Doc Ock”) even though they aren’t referring to them while in their civilian identities: For example, “Clark Kent ducks into the supply room at the Planet and changes into Superman.”
This strikes me as a distinct change from the way things were when I first started reading comics. As a kid, I always felt that Batman and Superman were *always* Batman and Superman — even when not in costume. I did usually think, “Superman disguised as Clark Kent.” Oddly enough, my father would do the same thing — something I’ve noticed most “civilians” do. For instance, when my non-comics reading coworker described the recent FF movie, she would say, “Mr. Fantastic did this, the Thing did that, and the Invisible Woman did this.” Conversely, comics fans would tend to say, “Reed did this, Ben did that, and Sue did this.” Even if the casual fan didn’t know their code names, he or she would more often than not refer to the character by his powers — “Stretchy Guy” or “Rock Guy” for instance.
I’m not sure what this means, but as I said, it’s something I’ve noticed. Do these fans feel somehow “closer” to the characters, which is why they refer to them by their “real” names? Or do the non-fans actually buy into the mythic nature of the characters more?
John Byrne, what do you think?
Nine times out of 10 I will call Superman “Superman” and Clark “Clark”. When Frank Miller and I were chatting about some of the ideas he had for the first DARK KNIGHT mini, one of the things I noticed was that he always refered to Batman as “Bruce” and Superman as “Clark”.
It has to do, I think, with the lessening of the awe factor that used to be so much a part of comicbook mythology. As more and more fans have turned pro, we have seen the introduction of such nicknames as “Supes” and “Bats”, which can only be described as irreverent, at best, and in parallel we have seen the arrival of “Clark” and “Bruce” and “Peter” instead of the superhero names. The latter is, at least, still mostly respectful. I dread the day when the next “generation” transforms these into “Clarkie” and “Brucie” and “Petey”.
Other things that John Byrne dreads: “That terrible racket those kids call music these days,” “What young girls are wearing today” and “Evil Teenage Robots Taking Over The World and Calling Me Johnnie As They Kick Sand In My Face”.