Old Stories Still Carry Mystique in DC's Secret Origins

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DC Comics Secret Origins Critical Blast

If the first volume of SECRET ORIGINS makes anything else clearer about the continuity of the New 52, it is this: It's a Batman world, and we're all just living in it.

This set kicks off just the way it should for a new series of origins of DC characters -- with Superman, whose origin comes courtesy of Greg Paks and Lee Weeks. It's a unique way to tell the age-old story, as Paks chooses to come at it from the point of two mothers, each carrying the same message despite being galaxies apart. Tony Bedard and Paulo Siqueira deliver the origin of the other Kryptonian sporting the crest of the House of El, Supergirl. This provides a detailed look into her family history, including the military and scientific roles played by her parents, and how those roles conflicted.

Starfire, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Green Arrow also have their tales told herein, each providing a solid backstory (although I was a little unsure about Green Arrow's natural prowess with archery vs. having to learn it to survive). All told, that's six stories featuring non-Batman characters.

So, to balance that out, we get the origins of Nightwing, Batman, Red Robin, Batwoman, Harley Quinn and Robin. That's a lot of Batman to take in at a single time. Which isn't to say that the stories weren't good -- they were all top notch. I particularly liked the conceit of Harley telling her own story to a captive audience through a stand-up routine (as done by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Stephane Roux). Damian's origin, while well drawn and written, didn't offer anything new in the way of insights, and Red Robin's tale makes the hero something more of an obsessive/compulsive perfectionist who puts his family at risk to prove a point. Batman's origin remained the same as ever, except that the flashbacks have been more focused on history according to the New 52, and Batwoman's story also is also unsurprising but still a bit more revealing as to how she made her decision to become a costumed crimefighter.

I've always enjoyed the concept of the origin story, as far back as DC's original SECRET ORIGINS comic book series. It doesn't matter if you know the story by heart; seeing it again in a different way, even if it adds nothing new at all, still carries with it the magic of the idea of someone becoming more than normal. This first volume of DC's newer SECRET ORIGINS retains that magic. The only thing I could truly be critical about of this book is the mention of Cyborg on the cover, as his story doesn't seem to appear in the volume at all.

4.0 / 5.0