Comic Book Names: The mild-mannered alter egos

Comic Book Names: The mild-mannered alter egos

This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel looks at comic book names, stripping away the heroes’ superpowers to reveal their more human personae names.

Every superhero needs a couple of things: superhuman powers, a cape, and maybe a sidekick.  He also needs a regular Joe name to hide his higher calling.  Spider-Man fights crime, but Peter Parker dries the dinner dishes.

It’s been this way since Superman first appeared in a 1938 comic book.  Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent has been donning a cape and leaping tall buildings in a single bound for over eight decades.

Many of the best known comic book characters made their debuts before the 1960s, leaving some of their real life identities as dated as Gary or Wally.

Happily, comic book writers have an easy means to update any of their characters.  While a few famous figures – think Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman – never really ditch their human counterparts, in other cases, the superhero role is a title.  It can be passed on intentionally, or inherited unexpectedly.  For every Wally, there’s a Scott.  The updates keep on coming, too.  How else do you explain that the current Red Ranger in the Power Rangers franchise answers to Jayden?

You could name your son Blaze or Slade, and hope he has the confidence to pull off a larger-than-life appellation, but there are some true gems amongst our heroes’ workaday names.  They prove that popular and classic choices can be exciting.  While some of these are obscure, Hollywood has adapted plenty of superhero stories for the big screen in recent years: the X-Men, Green Lantern, and Captain America are all up this summer, with more in the works.

This list is all boys, but there are plenty of heroic choices for girls, too.  Tune in next week!

Anthony – Who’s cooler than Tony Stark?

Arthur – Aquaman was born Arthur Curry, before he discovered that he was descended from the lost tribe of Atlantis.


Bruce – Worn by Batman’s other half, Bruce Wayne, as well as scientist-turned-Hulk, Bruce Banner.








GraysonRobin, the Boy Wonder, was an orphan called Dick Grayson in the early versions of Batman



Hamilton – Along with Carter and Lincoln, worn by members of the Slade family, destined to be The Phantom Rider.



Jonathan – A very popular pick.  One of the X-Men spells it Jonothon and answers to Jono – when he isn’t being called Decibel.



Madison – Back in 1984, Madison Jeffries was introduced as a new member of the X-Men called Box.  And then along came that romantic comedy about a mermaid …

Magnus – Though he’s usually a villain

Noble The first Ghost Rider was an eighteenth century preacher’s son called Noble Kale

Parker – Spider-Man’s surname would wear just as well in the first spot






Rhodes – Ironman’s sidekick, also known as War Machine, is named James Rupert Rhodes, a,k.a. Rhodey

Samuel – Quite popular over the years.  My favorite figure is The Falcon, who answers to Snap in real life



About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.