Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More Secret Origins of 1965

It took a little while, and time for DC to publish a few annuals for characters like Superman, Batman and Flash, but DC established a line of 80 Page Giants starting in August, 1964, with the specific series lasting 15 issues on it's own, reprinting key stories from their heroes past...

...but half way through that, with 80 Page Giant #8 (March, 1965), under a cover by Murphy Anderson, readers were treated (by popular demand, yet again!) to More Secret Origins (following up from the 1961 Secret Origins reprint book), with stories on the Justice League of America, the Atom, Aquaman, Robin, Flash and Superman!

Justice League of America

"The Origin of the Justice League" first appeared in Justice League of America #9 (February, 1962) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, and featured the tale of how the original JLA formed, with Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman each fighting a menace spawned from a meteor from Appellax), uniting at the site of a sixth meteor....and the team watching the team of Superman and Batman beat the seventh meteor!  Flash suggested they become a League, and later, the team added honorary member, Snapper Carr (in the JLA's first appearance in Brave and the Bold #28), as well as Green Arrow (joined in Justice League of America #4).....who had this tale told to them!  Of course, the Justice League would add more members...

The Atom

Such as physicist Ray Palmer, who in Showcase #34 (September-October, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson was there for the "Birth Of The Atom".  Well, more accurately, became the Atom, as Ray had been experimenting with white dwarf star fragments, and found a way to minaturize objects with that material made into a reducing lens....except the items would explode soon after reaching small size.  Ray's fiancee, lawyer Jean Loring, took Ray out for a field trip with a group of kids to study a cave, but the group got trapped with a cave in, and only a small opening that no regular sized person could get out of.  Ray used the reducing lens to shrink himself down, enlarging the hole, and, thanks to some cave water that dripped on the lens, enlarged back to normal size when stepping under its beam.  The group was able to escape, and Ray later designed a suit that allowed him to shrink, being a small hero who was larger than life!


Charter member of the JLA, Aquaman, was born as Arthur Curry, with "How Aquaman Got His Powers" being revealed in Adventure Comics #260 (May, 1959) by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon (though Aquaman wasn't a cover feature of Adventure at the time).  Arthur was the son of a lighthouse keeper, Tom Curry, and an Atlantean queen, Atlanna, who met when she washed up near Tom's lighthouse.  The two married, and produced a son, Arthur, who could breathe underwater, and mentally speak to fish.  Aquaman relayed this story to a Navy sub commander who was about to perform atomic tests at the site of Atlantis.


We deal with the past of Robin in Batman #129 (February, 1960), and "The Man From Robin's Past" by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris.  Dick Grayson was the son of the Flying Graysons, an aerialist act at a circus targeted by racketeers, who sabotaged Dick's parents wires, so they would plummet to their deaths (as the Flying Graysons performed without a net).  This led to the acrobatic Dick to becoming a ward of Batman, and his partner, Robin.  Dick encountered Sando, the circus strongman at the time, and Batman and Robin helped him to get out of a jam as well (all as one of three stories in the original issue, including the cover featured tale of Batman, Robin and Batwoman facing off against the Spinner!).


The second story of Flash #128 (May, 1962) featured "The Origin of Flash's Masked Identity" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.  Barry Allen pondered the idea of if he could be the Flash without a mask (like his comic book hero, Jay Garrick).  But, in thinking it through, decided it would be better if the Flash kept his identity concealed, for the safety of those around him (but readers were subject to a little slight of hand, seeing Barry's daydream presented as a real story that happened between the pages of his full origin in Showcase #4....appropriate for an issue that also saw the debut of Flash's 64th Century magician foe, Abra Kadabra, where only Flash's costume appears on the cover!).


Young Kal-El was sent to Earth from dying Krypton by his parents, Jor-El and Lara, where he was found by the Kents in Smallville, raised as their own, finding his super powers as Superbaby, then using those powers to protect Smallville as Superboy, until his parents died, and Superboy grew up to be Superman, moving to Metropolis as mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, working for the Daily Planet with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, while fighting for truth, justice and the American Way as Superman!  "The Story of Superman's Life" was told in Superman #146 (July, 1961) by Otto Bender and Al Plastino, adding details added later, such as his time as Superbaby (starting in Superboy #8), Superboy (starting with More Fun Comics #101), Krypto the Super-Dog (who first appeared in Adventure Comics #210), Lana Lang (who first appeared in Superboy #10) and Kryptonite.  This story with a cover by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff also showed (unknowingly) the biggest difference between the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Supermen, that on Earth-1, Clark had been Superboy before becoming Superman (making More Fun Comics #101 the first appearance of Earth-1, retroactively....but worry about that later, and just enjoy the origin!).

Superman was the feature of 80 Page Giant's #1, #6 and #11, Jimmy Olsen the feature of #2 and #13, Lois Lane headlined #3 and #14, Flash ran with #4 and #9, Batman swung in with #5 and #12, Sgt. Rock led with his prize battle tales in #7, Superboy flew into issue #10, and it was the world's finest team of Superman and Batman in #15...

...before the 80 Page Giants moved to take over issues of character's regular titles, lasting through 1969 (and 56 total issues at the end, eventually leading back to Annuals), all starting with the joy of the first Secret Origins stand alone reprint book, which this 80 Page Giant was reprinted along with, in DC Universe: Secret Origins in 2012, as well as having its own reprint with the More Secret Origins Replica Edition of 1999.

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