WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #1009 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve Epting, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
We all know Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent. Despite his status as the most powerful being on the planet, the Man of Steel still needs to get away and live something of a normal life. Kent is the mild-mannered reporter from Smallville who, when the need arises, becomes Superman, but over the years, it's not the only name he's used.
In the seminal story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow," Superman was secretly living his life as Jordan Elliot after it was believed he had died. During the New 52, he briefly lived as Archie Clayton following the outing of his secret identity. In the lead up to Rebirth, it was revealed that Superman had been living in secret with his family under the name Clark White. Now, Action Comics #1009 introduces a new ID.
When all of the DCU's spy organizations are attacked by Leviathan, Superman finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy. It forces the Man of Steel to adopt a new identity in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. And in a world filled with spies and covert agencies, the Man of Steel is forced to become a secret agent himself. Enter: Agent Superman.
The State of Espionage in the World
As a lead-in to Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's upcoming Leviathan event, "Leviathan Rising" in Action Comics tells the story of Leviathan's rise to power. The terrorist organization has systematically taken out every other group that could potentially be a threat. By the events of Action Comics #1009, Kobra has been eliminated, D.E.O. headquarters are destroyed, A.R.G.U.S. was attacked and Task Force X is missing.
The attacks have put General Sam Lane in the hospital and brought Amanda Waller to Clark Kent's doorstep. She has always known Superman's secret identity, and now she's forced to work with him in order to solve this new threat. An assembled group including the Man of Steel, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Waller have put their heads together on how best to deal with Leviathan, and a plan has been put into play.
The one thing all these organizations have in common is a relationship with the international spy group Spyral. It seems that, while the rest of the espionage community has been under attack, Spyral has gone dark and no one has heard from them. The group wonders if this could be the key to fixing this whole mess. Could Spyral be involved? Could they know something? It's time for Superman to find out.
Superman, Agent of Spyral?
Seemingly left with no other option, Lois decides this is the perfect time to bring Chaz and Andi Donen into the picture. It seems that the Man of Steel has another secret identity we've never heard about before. On top of being Clark Kent, Superman is also Chaz Donen, Agent 4565 of Spyral. The weird thing is how he goes about transforming into this person.
Lois pulls out a gold amulet that she refers to as some kind of "Kryptonite technology," and upon exposure to the device, Superman transforms into his alter ego. His hair and beard grow, and he's suddenly speaking with a British accent. Unfortunately, it seems that this new identity only lasts for one hour at a time. It's all very bizarre and completely unexplained by the time the issue comes to an end.
But where do Chaz and Andi Donen come from? Neither name has been used in the comics before, but that doesn't mean Bendis pulled this all out of thin air. Upon his activation, Chaz uses the the code "Hamilton Bartholomew Entourage Genosworld." Apparently, Bendis has been watching some old films because there's a hidden reference in there.
The name Hamilton Bartholomew is a reference to the 1963 film Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and directed by Stanley Donen. The film revolves around multiple people using different identities to recover a missing fortune. Clearly, Superman will be adopting this new identity to find out what has happened to Spyral, and if it has anything to do with Leviathan.