It's funny how, sometimes, you can accidentally come across the answer to a question that's been bothering you for some time.
Take the whole Superman secret identity thing. Given that the guy doesn't wear a mask, I've long wondered why anyone ever thought he had a secret identity at all! Even John Byrne questioned this, and made it the basis of one of his stories when he and Marv Wolfman reworked Superman in the 1980s.
Well, thanks to Superman: The Action Archives Vol. 1 (checked out from my local library), I finally have the answer!
In some ways, the story begins in the Superman feature in Action Comics #8, in which Superman destroys a slum area to force the government to rebuild new, modern buildings in their place (as Mark Waid points out in the intro, the early Superman stories featured a Man of Steel who behaved very different than he did later on... no Big Blue Boy Scout here!).
In Action #9, the chief of police is still hacked off at Superman'd destruction of public property, and he's brought in Detective Captain Reilly, nicknamed 100% Reilly, because he's had a 100% success rate with his convictions. Reilly brags he'll arrest Superman in two days!
Later, at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent learns that Lois Lane is in love with his alter ego, which causes him to turn into an empty office so he can laugh out loud at hte idea. Back at police HQ, Reilly calls the newspapers to announce a $5000 reward to the person causing the capture and arrest of Superman -- but he plans to collect that reward himself. Mortimer Snoop, and ameteur detective, reads the article and plans to collect himself!
At that instant, nearby, a mental patient tries to jump out a window. Clark Kent learns of this, and rushes to the scene to cover the story...
Snoop calls Reilly, and tells him what he knows...
So, with both trying to collect the reward by waiting for Superman's return... the mental patient does jump, and Superman leaps to save his life. After returning the patient to the hospital...
Later, Reilly and Snoop run into each other where the clothes were left, but Superman's already been by and collected them! However, Snoop had found a paper in the pocket of Clark's suit saying he was going to attend the Duncan reception that evening. That night, Snoop tries to get into the party, but is turned away. He calls the Planet to talk to the society editor, figuring she'd get him in, but Lois Lane is working late, and takes the call, and learns that Superman will be at the party!
Lois meets Snoop there, but when she's admitted into the party, she tells the butler she doesn't know Snoop! Snoop then calls Reilly, who heads to the party. Lois runs into Clark, and tells him someone's learned Superman will be at the party. Just then, Reilly and Snoop enter, and decide to search every man at the party, figuring the Superman costume would be worn under the suit (as Clark is, indeed, doing). However, just before Clark is searched, Snoop demands to know if he'll get the reward. Reilly tells him to beat it!
Yep, Snoop's got a mad-on, and he turns out the lights! In the darkness, Clark switches to Superman, and Reilly and Snoop both try to tackle him...
Strangely enough, the story ends there, with Reilly re-nicknamed "99% Reilly"... and so far as I know, Reilly never reappeared (at least he doesn't reappear in the remainder of the stories in this Archive!).
Even more strangely, as happy as Lois was to see Clark at the party, apparently she doesn't question that once Superman's appeared, Clark is no longer on the scene... and I'm guessing he was the only man at the party who was gone from that point!
So this, then, solves the mystery of why anyone would think Superman had a secret identity!
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