Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Secret Origins 4 and 5 of 1973

This time, it is a few weird Secret Origins for you...

...with tales of revenge, and the dead.  These dead didn't stay that way, instead returning to life to mete out justice, with the origins of the western Vigilante, Kid Eternity and the Spectre, all under covers by Nick Cardy, from the fourth and fifth issues from September-October and November-Decemeber of the 1973 Secret Origins series edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.


"The Origin Of The Vigilante" was the first story in issue #4, which was originally presented in Action Comics #42 (November, 1941) by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin, but that really wasn't the focus of the first tale of the prairie troubadour.  Greg Sanders was the son of a sheriff, who took to the ways of the law, becoming a masked Vigilante who used old western tricks to beat modern criminals, while hiding behind a mask, allowing him to make money as a country singer by day.

The origin was only a few panels, but the majority of the story started with Vigilante already established as hero, witnessing the execution of Killer Kelly, a noted notorious criminal, in prison (except that Kelly planned ahead, and faked his death, so he could  go on a crime spree).  Killer Kelly took blues singer (and friend of Greg's), Betty Stuart, and even captured Vigilante, but old fashioned horse sense and cowboy ways got him free.

Vigilante continued on as a back up feature in Action Comics until #198 (though he only made one cover), opened the first few issues of Western Comics, and even joined the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics...and at the time of the issue of Secret Origins, had just completed being a backup feature in Adventure Comics (which would soon feature an untold tale from the Golden Age, featuring the Seven Soldiers, including Vigilante).

Kid Eternity

Next up was "The Kid Who Died Too Soon" from Hit Comics #25 (December, 1942) by Otto Binder and Sheldon Moldoff, with a real origin, that of Kid Eternity.  The kid was on a boat with his grandpa, which was sunk by a Nazi torpedo, and survivors shot in the water.  Mr. Keeper took the boy to the heavenly gates, but the bearded man at the door said it was not yet the boy's time.  So, Mr. Keeper took the kid's spirit back, to reunite it with his body, and using the word "Eternity" the lad would be able to call upon the greatest figures in history, possessing them to fight evil in their forms (which later changed to just being able to summon them to help), as well as being able to become invisible and intangible....all of which, as long as Mr. Keeper was around.

Kid Eternity (and Mr. Keeper) fought evil through Hit Comics #60, including foes such as Master Man, Silk and Her Highness, as well as 18 issues of his own magazine, before disappearing for a while, even after this issue of Secret Origins came out, until E. Nelson Bridwell revived him in the Shazam! series in the 1970s, finally giving the lad a name and a tie to the Marvel Family in World's Finest Comics #280.

The letters' page of the issue was mostly praise for issue #1, as well as requests for other characters, including villains, which never really showed up here, but instead were in the nine issues of Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains, which included Master Man and the Vigilante's foe, the Dummy, as the series was also edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.

One other request was for the following issue's hero....


The fifth issue of Secret Origins was unique, as it featured the origin of only one hero, the Spectre (which fell over two issues from the Golden Age), starting with More Fun Comics #52 (February, 1940) by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily with police detective Jim Corrigan planning to attend a ball with his girlfriend, Clarice Winston, but instead, being late as he followed a tip from stoolie Louis Snipe, so Corrigan could chase mobster "Gat" Benson's men...eventually, Jim caught up with Clarice, but so did Benson, who took Corrigan, put him in a cement filled barrel, and dumped him off the dock into the water.

This wasn't the end of the story, as a voice revived Corrigan and sent him back to Earth to battle evil, as he planned to do after rising out of the water...using his powers as a ghost (to become invisible, intangible and fly).

Then, to end his battle with "Gat" Benson, Jim Corrigan had his second story in More Fun Comics #53 (March, 1940) by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, taking on his thugs, and even showing off some additional supernatural powers, torturing the thugs with eerie visions and changes, even saving Clarice from a fatal bullet wound (as they shot her as he came into the warehouse).  But, Jim realized he had to end his relationship with her (as while she came back to life, he was still dead).  Jim fashioned a cape and costume, and planned to continue to fight evil as...the Spectre, with this origin being timed to lead into his new series in Adventure Comics, that lasted in the 430s to 440.  Spectre's original run went to issue #101 of More Fun Comics (many, but not all reprinted), then after 3 issues in Showcase in the 1960s, he had a ten issue run of his own, until this 1970s Adventure Comics run, which was reprinted in the Wrath Of The Spectre.

The issue also had a letters' page, with requests, including hope for a Wildcat series after seeing his origin here, by letter writer and future Answer Man, Bob Rozakis, and for more origins, including Blackhawk and the Legion of Super-Heroes...who would feature in the next issue.

This issue also featured a page long article on the Legion of Super-Heroes by Paul Levitz (who would take the LSH to new heights!).

More on the Legion of Super-Heroes (and Secret Origins) to come....

1 comment:

  1. Intriguing to note that the Spectre wore blue, rather than green, on that first cover, just as Dr. Fate later wore purple rather than blue on some early covers.