Inspired by this question. The “Superboy” in that question not only isn’t the “original”, his origin story even as the “new” Superboy has apparently changed multiple times.

There was a time when comic character bios were seemingly set in stone. Sure, we’d have the occasional “imaginary tale,” but in general the modern practice of constantly reinventing origin stories and renaming secret identities was unheard of. I’m interested to learn who first decided that this was a thing. What was the first time in comics that a superhero got a completely rewritten origin story?

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    I have my doubts that it's the first one, but in the 1960s, Superman's powers were retconned from being the product of good genetics and originating from a high-gravity world to being empowered by Earth's yellow sun.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 6, 2019 at 21:38
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    @FuzzyBoots It wouldn't surprise me if it was the first after all. Continuity was not an important principle in the superhero genre at that time.
    – Spencer
    Nov 6, 2019 at 22:35
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    I sure wish I could call Sherlock Holmes a "superhero": merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/retcon-history-and-meaning
    – Spencer
    Nov 6, 2019 at 22:39
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    @Ernest Then you're going to have to provide a concrete example (I.e. an actual superhero retcon) that meets your criteria. Retconning is more for "oops we screwed up, now we have to make the story consistent" than it is "let's make up something entirely different just for the heck of it".
    – Spencer
    Nov 6, 2019 at 22:48
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    @ErnestFriedman-Hill But that's not an example of a hero who "got a completely rewritten origin story", it's a completely different hero who just happens to share the same name because the second character had read about the first in comic books. Nov 7, 2019 at 18:44

3 Answers 3


Since the OP indicated in comments that this was what he had in mind, I'm giving it as an actual answer. Possibly the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen)who premiered in Showcase #4 (October 1956). The "original" Flash was the "Golden Age" Flash (Jay Garrick).


Probably 1939, when "a passing motorist" http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?c=18225&unnamed_orphanage_attendants became "Mary Kent" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_and_Martha_Kent


When The Shadow debuted in pulp magazines in 1931, he was aviator Kent Allard, and he blackmailed Lamont Cranston into allowing Kent to assume his legal identity. When the radio series debuted in 1937, The Shadow was Lamont Cranston with no separate original identity.

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