Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Secret Origins 6 and 7 of 1974

Want even more Secret Origins?

Fulfilling your wish, pulling stories from the far future, to the past of World War II, from the joys of the circus to the depths of the oceans, it is the last of the run of the 1970s Secret Origins issues, with the sixth and seventh issues of that series from January-February and March-April 1974 with covers by Nick Cardy and edited by E. Nelson Bridwell, and the origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Blackhawk, Robin and Aquaman.

Legion of Super-Heroes

Starting off issue #6. was "The Origin Of The Legion" from Superboy #147 (May-June, 1968) by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza, where three youths (Rokk Krinn, Imra Ardeen and Garth Ranzz) from other planets (a little earlier than 1000 years from now), used their diverse powers to stop an attack on a wealthy financier, R. J. Brande, who then gathered these kids together as a force to fight evil and unify the galaxy as the Legion of Super-Heroes (giving them their uniforms, headquarters, and code names of Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad), with new recruits Triplicate Girl (Luornu Durgo) and Phantom Girl (Tinya Wazzo) joining very soon after.  Whereas the original story had a final panel with the original Invisible Kid entreating readers to read more of the important stories presented in that 80 Page Giant, the Secret Origins reprint wanted readers to follow the current Legion's adventures in the Superboy magazine.

The Legion would quickly add many members after that, including one of their inspirations, Superboy, the story of which happened in Adventure Comics #247 (which was the Legion's first appearance, where the Legion founders traveled back in time to get Superboy, then put him through tests to join their team).


The second reprint from that issue was the origin of Blackhawk from Quality Comics' Military Comics #1 (August, 1941) by Will Eisner, Bob Powell and Chuck Cuidera, detailing how Blackhawk first took flight to fight the Nazi menace (and since it was before Pearl Harbor, he was a Polish citizen at the time, since the United States had yet to enter the war).  While Blackhawk was a menace to the Nazis, his fight with Captain Von Tepp leading back to the farmhouse where Blackhawk lived with his brother Jack and sister Connie, with Von Tepp bombing the farmhouse.  Blackhawk pledged to find Von Tepp, tracked him down, saving a nurse from his clutches, and taking the Nazi Captain back to Blackhawk Island (where the aerial ace had a headquarters so he and his fellow pilots could fight the Nazi forces).  Blackhawk and Von Tepp had a duel in the air, with Blackhawk eventually winning, but also vowing to continue the fight.

In the letters' page, E. Nelson Bridwell told of how he wrote the Legion's origin, taking a few facts gathered over the years and integrating the different versions of Lightning Lad's origin (one having his brother, another his sister), and talking about how Blackhawk's origin changed as well (with a text page origin in DC Comics' Blackhawk #164, with American citizen Blackhawk living in Poland, and sidekick Stanislaus, trying to join the Royal Air Force to fight the Nazis, but being unable to because they weren't British, so they formed the Blackhawks; then another origin from Blackhawk #242, where Blackhawk had a name...that of Bart Hawk, and his brother didn't die in a Nazi attack, but later joined their forces! 

Letters from readers also covered the Kid Eternity and Vigilante origins from issue #4, noting that Vigilante later had a page long origin in Action Comics #52.


Starting off issue #7, was "the sensational character find of 1940"..."Robin the Boy Wonder", with his first appearance and origin from Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940), by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.  Young acrobat Dick Grayson of Haly Circus overhears thugs threaten the owner of the circus, who then carry out a threat for not getting payment, by killing his acrobat parents, John and Mary, by sabotaging their trapeze.  Bruce Wayne was witness to this, changes to Batman, and takes the boy to Wayne Manor to keep him safe, saying that he also lost his family to criminals, then offered to train Dick to fight crime, with the lad taking on the identity of Robin, the Boy Wonder.  After much training, Batman and Robin go out to bring down Boss Zucco, who orchestrated the death of Grayson's parents, bringing him to justice after a battle on a skyscraper.


Last, but not least, was the first appearance of Aquaman from More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941) by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, wherein the submarine strikes.  The majority of this tale was Aquaman fighting against a Nazi submarine and its crew, but there were a few panels of Aquaman relating his origin, how his father was an undersea explorer, who found Atlantis, and used documents he found there to turn his son into a water breather...who grew up to be Aquaman.  This issue also advertised how Aquaman was soon to have a series of his own again in the current Adventure Comics (and did not quite reprint the story as originally presented....for his early days, Aquaman had yellow, not green gloves, a later idea used by Roy Thomas in All-Star Squadron to differentiate between the Earth-2 and Earth-1 Aquaman; though you could never tell by the covers, poor Aquaman never made it onto the early More Fun Comics or Adventure Comics' covers.).

The seventh issue of Secret Origins was its last, and it's letters' page detailed a little of the changes in Robin's origin, including how E. Nelson Bridwell wrote an origin for Robin for Batman #213, which included many facts from Robin origins over the years, as well as Batman's time as Robin.  

Aquaman got a little more detail as well, as his origin had been updated as well, with Adventure Comics #260 explaining how Aquaman had been born of a lighthouse keeper and a lady from Atlantis (more details from the origin reprinted in the More Secret Origins' 80 Page Giant, but...

....more improved Secret Origins would follow!

1 comment:

  1. The Blackhawk origin story printed in 1961's BLACKHAWK #164 was actually an unchanged reprint from Quality's BLACKHAWK #93 (October 1955), albeit re-typeset and with updated pictures of the team. The #242 origin's use of the name "Bart Hawk" didn't originate there either; earlier, he'd been referred to as "Bart Hawks," though I'm forgetting exactly when that was (I believe it was late in the Quality run, though it may have been during Jack Schiff's editorship at DC). (Whichever the case, it's still a preferable name to that given to him by Howard Chaykin in the '80s, as "Janos Prohaska" was a well-known real-life Hollywood stuntman who played all of the spinach monsters on STAR TREK and Irwin Allen's LOST IN SPACE, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and LAND OF THE GIANTS, and more usually, gorillas on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, THE LUCY SHOW, HERE'S LUCY, et al., as well as being a billed regular on the ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW from 1969-71 as The Cookie-Eating Bear. I'm not sure why Chaykin considered that an in-joke, but it seems more like a desperate attempt to grab the nearest Polish name he could find.)