Thursday, December 29, 2016

Secret Origins of 1961

Technically, the secret origins reprinted in the Secret Origins collection of Summer, 1961 happened before that date.

It was a super collection of the most soft after stories ever published.....the issue even tells you that, as you can see on this incredible cover with figures of the heroes taken from the interior stories.

It was also right!

Take a look at what was reprinted here.....

Superman-Batman Team

Superman and Batman had been working together regularly since World's Finest Comics #71, but the start of their regular team-ups came with World's Finest Comics #94 (May-June, 1958), and "The Origin of the Superman-Batman Team" by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye (with Robin being there as well...).  Superman brings in Powerman to replace Batman and Robin in a hunt for Lex Luthor...causing the dynamic duo to reflect on their first meeting, when Batman and Robin had to work to save Superman from Kryptonite wielding gangsters (and Superman was concerned for the safety of the all too human Batman and Robin).  Of course....why wasn't Superman worried about the safety of his new partner, Powerman?

Adam Strange

Adam Strange was an archeologist, escaping some angry Incas in the Peruvian Plateau, when he was hit by a Zeta Beam from the planet Rann, teleported 25 trillion miles to that planet, where he met the lovely Alanna, and her father, Sardath (who invented the Zeta Beam).  Along the way, Adam and Alanna had to solve the "Secret Of The Eternal City" in the first story of Showcase #17 (November-December, 1958) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Frank Giacoia.  Alanna taught Adam the Rannian language with a Menticizer, and the duo was able to outfit their foes with some human common sense.  Adam went back to Earth as his Zeta Beam charge faded, but he kept looking for more Zeta Beams to get back to his beloved Alanna (getting a red spacesuit, jet pack and raygun soon to help in his adventures on other worlds!).

Green Lantern

Though Hal Jordan first appeared in Showcase #22 as Green Lantern, his origin (with alien Abin Sur passing on his Power Ring and Battery) was recapped in Green Lantern #1 (July-August, 1960) in "The Planet Of The Doomed Men" by John Broome, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.  This issue also introduced the Guardians of the Universe, the little blue men in charge of the Green Lantern Corps (a group of interstellar police that maintained order in 3600 sectors of the galaxy, using their green Power Rings and the force of their will to prevent evil from becoming a dominating force....).  This story also featured Hal's battle against the Dryg, a giant, ape-like alien, and how he had to use his will and a little science to defeat the creature.

Challengers Of The Unknown

Four men (pilot Ace Morgan, boxer Rocky Davis, scuba diver Prof. Haley and acrobat Red Ryan) were on plane flight to a TV Show called "Heroes" that mysteriously crashed, with the four men surviving, deciding to use their borrowed time (and combined skills) to become the Challengers of the Unknown in a flashback in Showcase #6 (January-February, 1957) by Dave Wood and Jack Kirby.  Sadly, only the first 6 pages of this story are reprinted here, but at least it gives readers the idea of the start of the Challs; you see only the beginnings of their meeting with the mysterious Mr. Morelian, but don't feel lost....they did deal with his magic and open the hatch to his box!

Green Arrow and Speedy

Green Arrow and Speedy got even less than the Challs, getting a text page to summarize their origins, with Oliver Queen's time on the island from Adventure Comics #256 (January, 1959) by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby, and Roy Harper becoming Green Arrow's ward as his guardian, Brave Bow, prepared for his end in Adventure Comics #262 (July, 1959) by Robert Bernstein and Lee EliasGreen Arrow's full origin of "The Green Arrow's First Case" has been reprinted a few times (in the Secret Origins of the Super DC Heroes of 1976 and in the Green Arrow by Jack Kirby collection of 2002), but poor Roy has only seen his origin ("The World's Worst Archer") reprinted once in color and in full size, in World's Finest Comics #188 (October-November, 1969).

Wonder Woman

The "Secret Origin Of Wonder Woman" came from Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959) by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, dealing the days of Diana's youth, how she got the powers of the gods (beauty from Aphrodite, wisdom from Athena, speed from Mercury, and strength from Hercules) , growing up from being Wonder Girl and the foundation of Paradise Island.  This was the origin of the Earth-1 Wonder Woman (the Wonder Woman who joined the Justice League of America, along with many of the other heroes whose origins are featured here...though it took a while for the concept of Earth-1 to be introduced; Wonder Woman got her origin retold often, with small details regularly added into the basic story; the adventures of Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman as a girl, is one of the things that spun out of this story).

Martian Manhunter

"The Strange Experiment Of Dr. Erdel", a robot brain that accidentally worked as a teleportation machine, bringing a Manhunter from Mars, J'onn J'onzz, to Earth in Detective Comics #225 (November, 1955) by Joe Samachson and Joe Certa.  Sadly, the scientist said it would take years to reprogram the machine to teleport him back, and died of an apparent heart attack at meeting the large, green man with the ability to change his looks (among other powers like invisibility, telepathy, flight, strength....and a terrible weakness to fire).  J'onn kept his Martian abilities a secret for a long time, working to solve crimes disguised as a human detective, John Jones, before events conspired to put his Martian side in full view of humans (and the lonely alien to help found the Justice League of America).


With a shock from the sky, readers were drawn in to the "Mystery Of The Human Thunderbolt" in Showcase #4 (September-October, 1956 by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert), watching police scientist, Barry Allen, getting hit by a bolt of lightning in his lab, being doused in the electrified chemicals, and gaining super-speed, which he used to become a living version of his comic book hero, the Flash!  Barry used his speed to save the life of his friend, reporter Iris West, and defeat the Turtle...showing that the Fastest Man Alive can beat the Slowest Man Alive.  Barry's appearance helped to kick off the Silver Age, which eventually led to the formation of the Justice League of America (and the concepts of Earth-1 and Earth-2, where the Flash, Jay Garrick, that Barry read about in comics was a real hero, working with the Justice Society of America).

Best of all, there is a reprint of this entire special issue that was issued in a replica edition in 1998, then collected with other DC Universe Secret Origins (which we'll delve into later, including Superman, Aquaman, Atom, Hawkman, Kid Flash, Enchantress, Spectre and more) into a hardcover in 2012, and a softcover in 2013, with the classic cover using images from the stories above touched up by Jerry Ordway... you plenty of opportunities to read these beginnings of your favorite heroes!


  1. I was 14 when this appeared, and it was a tremendous thrill to have it. As best I recall, the only stories in it which I'd already read were the GL and Adam Strange tales. All else was new to me.

  2. More great stuff, Dave! I sadly only have the reprint edition but it's better than nothin'!

    One question, though, as I just read the World's Finest Archives volume 1. The blog states, "Superman and Batman had been working together regularly since World's Finest Comics #71, but the start of their regular team-ups came with World's Finest Comics #94."

    If they'd been teaming up regularly since 71, how could they start regular team-ups in a later issue? Was there a difference?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  3. It should say the origin of the start of their team-ups.....was thinking of it this way, since DC is putting out a World's Finest: The Silver Age Volume 1 TPB, which features the Superman #76 story (the first Earth-1 Superman/Batman team-up), as well as the Superman/Batman (and Robin) team-ups of World's Finest Comics #71 to #94. So, the collection ends, with the beginning (in a flashback tale...perhaps I needed that word in there!).