Like most American homes, ours has a bathroom well furnished with reading material. And for the last few months, every time I've gone in there, I've seen this comics collection cover:
It's one of the DC Showcase volumes of Silver Age superhero comics. This one is the third volume of World's Finest stories -- World's Finest being the series that teamed up Superman and Batman.
I looked at that cover over and over for weeks. And then I began to idly wonder who the heroes were punching out. What was the context for this moment of triumphant mayhem? Was this just a generic image, or did it have a story?
One day I realized the truth. They are punching out their non-super alter egos. It's a little hard to tell, but the signifiers are there: Note the glasses flying from Clark Kent's face, Robin's youthful (and vaguely swarthy) opponent, and ... Bruce Wayne's shoes look expensive, sorta, don't they?
I assume there's a sensational issue from which this splash page was taken, in which some sort of ginned-up appearance of conflict between the costumed versions and the secret identities. What's interesting to me, though, is that every time I see the cover now, I go through a ten-second version of the realization that took me weeks the first time: Oh, that comic book again, hm, who are they punching, oh yeah, it's themselves!
How long would it have taken you to figure it out? Or did you know right away?