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Superman Confirms Why His Glasses Are Key To His Secret Identity

Spoilers ahead for "Action Comics #1052" by DC Comics.

Superman's glasses have long been a crucial part of his iconic secret identity as Clark Kent. However, with his family getting bigger in the pages of DC Comics, and his new kids asking questions (as children do), the Man of Steel is forced to once again confirm the reason why he wears a pair of spectacles when he's not saving the world as an alien hero living on Earth. This occurs in "Action Comics #1052," where Kent explains that while other heroes wear masks solely to protect those most important to them, he sports his glasses for a dual purpose — being both a mild-mannered reporter, as well as a godlike hero — as well as hinting that there's more complexity to his conflicting identities than can be easily explained.

For a hero whose double life as Clark Kent was previously exposed to the public — a now-retconned comic book story the DCU should avoid at all costs — his renewed secret identity, created by the glasses, represent an integral part of who he's become. Clark Kent is just as important to him as Kal-El, and the Kryptonian powerhouse emphasizes that it's a crucial part of his existence on Earth.

Superman explains why he wears his glasses

The Superman family recently grew by two, as Kal-El and Lois Lane decided to adopt two young refugees. 

After Superman returned to Earth following his battles with Mongul on Warworld, he brought Otho-Ra and Osul-Ra back with him, and the Phaelosian twins were welcomed with open arms by the Superman Family. In "Action Comics 1052" by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Rafa Sandoval, Matt Herms, and Dave Sharpe from DC Comics, Superman reveals to these children why he wears glasses. This occurs in a heartwarming scene where Clark and Lois show Otho-Ra and Osul-Ra how to brush their teeth. While doing so, they see a pair of glasses and ask why Superman wears them when he isn't saving worlds. 

Superman tells them that many of Earth's heroes — including his fellow Justice League heroes — wear masks to protect their loved ones from those who want to hurt them the most. When asked whether Clark is his mask, Kal-El shares with the inquisitive youngsters that, "Actually, it's the name that feels truest to me. But I've had to learn to keep Clark and Superman separate. 'Superman' was the name that Lois gave me." 

Now, as we know, the hero intentionally makes sure his secret identity isn't exposed with the help of his glasses. Who would ever expect a loafish, mild-mannered reporter secretly being the most powerful hero in the universe? But a key thing here, is that the glasses are the disguise, but Clark is not, and this taps into why Superman's dual identity is more complicated than most heroes. 

Superman's true mask has long been debated

Whether it's the comics, where artists like Frank Quietly have brilliantly drawn Superman and Clark Kent with different postures and physicality to fully showcase the hero's secret identity, or in live-action, where Christopher Reeves brilliantly transformed in 1978's "Superman" when portraying the mild-mannered hero vs. the Man of Tomorrow, Clark Kent and Superman are two distinctly different characters, but both are important parts of the same man. There is no false identity, no mask, no cover.  

This was best explained by classic Superman writer Marv Wolfman in an interview with Google. "I think they're the same. Superman, or rather Kal-El, came to Earth as an infant. All of his morality, all of his viewpoints, come from the Kents. Therefore he's the right person, he's the real person." He added, "Superman doesn't talk about it, but he goes out and implements what the Kents taught him, to be right, to be good, to try your best. I don't see much of a difference. Clark is just the character who isn't flashy, but they're both always trying to do their best." 

Clark Kent isn't just a disguise for Superman, but an integral part of his life. Taking off the cape and becoming a reporter and family man means he can escape from the world of superheroics when needed. The glasses might be his mask as Clark, but as he said in the recent issue, its a vital part of keeping his loved ones safe as he feels "truest" when donning his specs. In a strange but fitting way, Clark Kent and Superman will always be tied together while only a select few are aware of who he really is. 

"Action Comics #1052" from DC Comics is in stores now.