Related: Who was the first publicly recognized Super Hero before the advent of comic books? (but, it doesn't deal with costumes and dual identities)

Batman is grey area. This question hasn't been answered properly: Why are heroes without supernatural powers considered “super” heroes?
So, I am kicking him out of the league. So, no Robin Hood.

Who are the first Superhero and Supervillain with costume and dual identities?

  • Good question, maybe you can know that by the date of creation of the characters?
    – Gawey
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 7:13
  • 2
    Tricky.... The thing is you have The Shadow, who had a costume of sorts and fought crime, but his supernatural powers didn’t come until after Superman. Doctor Occult always had supernatural powers, but no costume initially. The Phantom always had a costume and a secret identity, but at least initially no powers.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 7:19
  • Does being able to jump over a 9ft fence count?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 7:22
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    @Edlothiad - Spring-Heel Jack? I’ll go with “not fiction” (that is to say, in terms of people actually believing in him). As an aside, that’s why I think these types of questions should ask about “inspiration.” An inspiration can be real or fictional.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 7:24
  • 1
    @Edlothiad - Basically, because real-life people aren’t superheroes. ;) But more generally, this was discussed in the context of religion some time back (people giving the Bible, say, as an example of “first book that”), and it seemed like that was the general consensus. It seems like an implication of this answer to me (if the work was not intended as fiction, don’t count it). On the other hand, perhaps there are some penny dreadfuls about Spring-heeled Jack that could fit the bill for obviously fictional.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 7:30

1 Answer 1


Griffin (H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, 1897) kept his civillian and powered criminal identities separate by way of clothing choice.

  • 1
    Wasn’t he invisible, though? Does that count?
    – Adamant
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 17:18

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