In Action Comics #375 (Apr. 1969), Superman ends his four-month
quest to rediscover his secret identity, lost to him after
accidental exposure to a mysterious ray emitted by an alien
Writer Otto Binder teams once more with artists Curt Swan
and Jack Abel to brings us "The Big Forget," which
actually turns out to be the Big Remember.
Having already made three incorrect guesses at his secret
identity -- President of the United States, professional
wrestler and super-thief -- Superman decides to throw in
the towel and simply invent a new identity. (Interestingly,
no consideration is given to simply living without one,
possible because Superman has also managed to forget the
location of his Fortress of Solitude, which makes it necessary
to find a place to live, and a job to pay the rent. Unless
of course he simply carves out a new Fortress somewhere
else, or makes diamonds out of coal as a source of wealth,
Influenced by subconscious memory, Superman decides to
apply for a job as a reporter. Donning a blue suit and red
tie and adding a pair of glasses (to "give me the look
of a writer"), he sets out to visit the two major papers
in town, the Daily Planet and the Metropolis Eagle. With
no particular attachment to either publication, he tosses
a coin to see which one to apply to first, and the Eagle
wins the toss.
In his disguise, Superman approaches the Eagle's personnel
manager, figuring he'll need to make a strong pitch to convince
the man he has a future in journalism. As it turns out,
the guy has no trouble at all seeing him as a reporter,
or more precisely as the star reporter for the competition.
Tossed out of the Eagle's offices, Superman decides to
see what reception he gets at the Daily Planet. If you've
been following this series, you'll recall Superman has met
"Clark Kent" several times in his amnesiac state,
but never noticed his powerful resemblance to the reporter
(apparently those magical glasses fool even him!). What
Superman doesn't know is that the "Clark" he's
met is actually a foreign spy, the same one responsible
for his amnesia. Now he's beginning to suspect that maybe
he's the real Clark Kent after all, so to test his theory
he presents himself to Lois Lane and Perry White, who recognize
"They couldn't be fooled by a superficial resemblance!"
he thinks. After all, these are perceptive people. Nobody
could just put on a pair of non-prescription glasses and
a blue suit and just fool these bright individuals into
thinking he's a whole different person, right? Oh, wait.
Clark -- as he now knows himself to be -- realizes that
if he's the genuine article, then there's an imposter on
the loose. Going through his desk, he finds a set of keys
labeled with his home address (so now he knows where it
is!), and goes to investigate. A quick scan of the apartment
with his x-ray vision reveals a secret closet containing
Superman robots and souvenirs, confirming he's at last stumbled
upon the right identity. In the fridge, he finds more secrets;
microfilm, codes and a radio transmitter, indicating the
fake Clark is a spy.
As he works on deciphering the secret codes, he's suprised
by the fake Clark, aka Agent Zero-Zero, who suddenly enters
the apartment and pulls a gun. When the spy calls for his
cohorts, Clark quickly kayoes him and decides to take his
From the roof of the apartment building, Clark and his
"fellow spies" are picked up by a blimp and meet
the chief of the spy ring, an unnamed brunette female with
a Princess Leia hairstyle and, since she's a spy, a "Dragon
Lady" dress and cigarette holder. Locating "a
trunkload of stolen secrets" with his x-ray vision,
Superman summons the FBI with super-ventriloquism and tells
them to send an armed ship out to see to capture the blimp.
The spy chief berates "Agent Zero-Zero" for not
killing Kent, and to buy some time Clark strips off his
suit, revealing his Superman costume beneath.
So now Superman is pretending to be Zero-Zero pretending
to be Superman. Still with us? He performs a series of "super-feats"
to convince "Kent" (the still-disoriented Zero-Zero)
he's the real deal. For his first astonishing display of
super-powers, he uses "x-ray vision" to pick the
four aces out of a turned-over deck of cards (Seriously.
The "Dragon Lady" thinks he's using the sleight-of-hand
tricks taught to all her spies, but he really is using x-ray
vision). Next, he blows out of a window as if to propel
the blimp by "super-breath". Dragon Lady thinks
he's simply taken advantage of a natural gust, but in fact
he really has used super lung power, and in doing so, forced
the blimp back into U.S. waters, where a Coast Guard cutter
A surreptitious blast of heat vision puts a hole in the
blimp and sends it floating down to the federal authorities.
Dragon Lady orders the evidence thrown overboard, but Superman
With the spies in custody, Superman seeks assistance in
recovering his Clark Kent memories. Locating the Batcave,
he appeals to Batman for help and notices among the Caped
Crusader's trophies a mixed-up calendar from the Bizarro
World. This sparks an idea, and using directions provided
by Batman, he flies to the Fortress of Solitude.
Among his trophies is a metal called Amnesium, which wipes
out the memories of non-super beings. But also in his possession
is Bizarro Amnesium, and on a hunch he exposes himself to
it. As hoped, when used on non-Bizarros it has the effect
of restoring memories, not taking them, and Superman's Clark
Kent memories come flooding back.
And so after four long months things are at last back to
I'm not sure what I can say at this point that you're not
already thinking yourself. This four-parter was totally
daft, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's also
a painfully thin premise to be stretched out over a whopping
four months. One might reasonably ask why Superman doesn't
do in Chapter One what he finally gets around to doing here;
seeking out Batman (or another Justice Leaguer) and simply
asking, "What's my secret identity, and where's my
Under other circumstances, it would be natural to feel
some resentment at having the whole thing wrapped up by
a plot device as ridiculous as "Bizarro Amnesium"
(and I thought I was a pack rat -- this guy keeps everything!),
but honestly after all we've been through, I'm not about
to look a gift horse in the mouth. Anything that gets us
out of this mess is welcome.
Historically, we're creeping ever closer to the arrival
of editor Julius Schwartz and a major revamp of the super-mythos
that will take us into the Bronze Age. As such, this is
one of the last gasps of the Silver Age style of storytelling,
and so far as I know one of the last entries by veteran
writer Otto Binder. Too bad it's ultimately quite...well,