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Secret Origins #1

 

“Superman”

Written by Greg Pak

Pencils by Lee Weeks

Color by Dave McCaig

Letters by John J. Hill

Bermejo FTW!

Bermejo FTW!

 

“The Long Year”

Writer – Kyle Higgins

Art – Doug Mahnke

Inks – Keith Champagne & Christian Alamy

Colors – John Kalisz

Letters – Carlos M. Mangual

 

“Daughter of the House of El”

Writer: Tony Benard

Pencils: Paulo Siqueira

Inks/Colors: HI-FI

Letters: Travis Lanham

Review by Joey Braccino

Nearly three years into the New 52, DC has “finally” released the latest volume Secret Origins in an effort to “reveal” the “revamped” origin stories of its biggest heroes! I use those quotes facetiously of course, because, after reading Secret Origins #1, I can’t really tell just how ground-breaking and universe-shattering these revelations are supposed to be…

The debut issue is broken up into three separate stories, each featuring one of DC’s biggest superheroes: Superman, Dick “Robin” Grayson, and Supergirl. Now, I’m no expert on DC continuity (I distinctly picked up Secret Origins #1 as an effort to “crossover” as it were), but even I am familiar with the old school origins of Superman and Robin. Not much is changed here in terms of the story beats and key moments in these two stories: Krypton still explodes, the Grayson’s are still murdered, Kal-El is still raised by the Kents, Dick is still trained to focus his vengeance, etc. Some key changes I’m sure will rile long-term readers, particularly the ultimate fate of the Kents and the sequencing of Dick’s realization regarding Batman’s identity, but cursory research into these two retcons reveal that they have already been presented in Grant Morrison’s Action Comics and Scott Snyder’s Batman: Zero Year. So why go back over this material?

I will say, though, that Greg Pak and Kyle Higgins imbue as much heart into their respective stories as they can. Pak particularly tells Superman’s all-too-familiar origin through the interesting lens of his two mothers’ perspectives. The story is narrated by Lara and Martha, providing unique insights into the maternal responses to the end of Krypton and the discovery of something new respectively.

The most interesting elements of the issue then are those featuring Supergirl. Tony Benard emphasizes Supergirl’s warrior status and the complex morality that juxtaposes her with her do-right cousin. Unlike Superman or Robin, Supergirl’s story is much more gray in terms of its handling of heroism and “good,” making for a more engaging and fresh narrative.

The artwork for the issue, despite being handled by three more-than-capable artists, seems to follow a certain house style that diminishes any substantial stylistic differences between the three stories. For some, the consistency is probably welcome, but I personally would have liked some more differentiation between the three stories to signify the three different tones. Of course, the Bermejo cover is absolutely gorgeous as well, which makes the neutrality of the interiors all the more underwhelming.

Verdict

Unless you’re absolutely in need of reading the origins of Superman, Robin, and Supergirl again, this might be a skip. Perhaps the series will delve into lesser-known or more substantially different origins in the future, but this debut issue of Secret Origins just doesn’t do much. This, along with a $4.99 price tag, makes it a bit difficult to recommend.

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