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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Secret Origins #32 - Nov. 1988

Comics Weekend "All Together Now" by Keith Giffen, Peter David, and Eric Shanower.

Since the Shrine profiled the classic Justice League of America #200--which featured a recap and quasi-sequel to the also-classic JLA origin story--last Sunday, I thought it'd be fun to spend this last Comics Weekend segment of 2010 to look back at alternate take on the story, this time from Secret Origins #32.

Like JLA #200, this book even opens with a sort of three-page prologue:

The first hero to meet an Apellax alien is the new-to-this-world Martian Manhunter:
After seeing the residents of his adopted town have been turned to stone, Manhunter fights the giant Stone Creature. Using a combination of powers, Manhunter shatters the alien, rendering all the townspeople back to normal.

Having probed the giant's mind, Manhunter learned that other Apellax aliens are landing. He takes off to see if he can stop them before they "hatch."

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away:
Now in liquid form, Aquaman feels helpless, but quickly figures out that a nearby whirlpool might be of assistance.

With great effort--and annoyance--Aquaman commands some of his finny friends to lure the Mercury alien towards the whirlpool, where its great force tears it apart, returning Aquaman to normal:

Simultaneously, the second generation hero Black Canary is on patrol:
She takes on the Glass Creature, and a well-place Sonic Cry reduces him to bits. A local cop tells her of news reports about other aliens--but not before trying to pick her up. Unfortunately for him, Canary is all business.

Soon, Canary makes it to Florida, and find a giant glowing meteor. When she gets close to it, she realizes she's now paralyzed, along with some others...

At the same time, in outer space:
Lantern follows a nearby meteor to Earth, where it gives birth to the Golden Roc (of course its yellow!). With his power ring and some quick thinking, he defeats it, and then heads to Florida. He gets too close before he can be told to stay away, so...

Meanwhile, in England:
He meets and fights the Fire Creature, defeats him, and likewise heads to Florida. But, like the rest, he finds himself at the mercy of the glowing meteor, and begins a strange transformation:
This is the work of the Wood Creature, who commands the quintet to follow him to the final competitor, who is in Antarctica. Besides the obvious crisis, Aquaman is also upset that he and his fellow superheroes will now have to walk from Florida to Antarctica.

On the way, he gets an idea: knocking into Martian Manhunter, it causes him to scrape against Green Lantern, exposing GL's power ring from its wood cover. In turn, Lantern shoots a beam at Black Canary's head, restoring her voice back to normal. Using her Canary Cry, she aims at Flash, shattering his wood shell!

Now free, Flash uses his super-speed vibratory powers to reduce the Wood Creature to splinters, leaving the alien destroyed and his hands cut to ribbons. After some brief intros, they all decide to head to Antarctica to combat the last Apellax alien. Great plan, except:
Superman, concerned with other things, takes off before the other heroes can talk to him. Despite this anti-climactic end, Flash gets an idea in regards to combating menaces like the Apellax aliens: form a team!

Surprisingly, the rest of the group don't initially go for it, but Flash's charm and enthusiasm wins them over. After considering some team names like the Justice Society II and The Avengers (nice), they settle on the Justice League of America:
...the beginning!

Despite my general apathy--if not distaste--for ret-cons in general, I thought this was one great story. Totally removed from the doom-and-gloom aesthetic that would soon take over mainstream superhero comics, this story is as light as air (undoubtedly helped by the unusual choice of Eric Shanower on the art, who does a superb job here) yet still retains the beats of the classic original origin story.

Having Black Canary as an original member of the JLA never really sat well with me (she joined in JLA #75, dammit!), but it made sense at the time. Ultimately I'm glad DC ret-conned the ret-con, but even with that this issue remains a lot of fun, and its great to see Aquaman get so much to do!


Kevin Joly said...

Happy holidays, notice the yellow glove in the first panel for Aquaman? :)

Matthew Turnage said...

I love this issue. I thought the humorous approach to dialogue that had become a staple of JLI at the time worked well with the original JLA for this story.

Was this Peter David's first time to write Aquaman?

Earth 2 Chris said...

One of my all-time favorite comic moments comes from this issue.

GL proudly proclaims "My Power Ring will get us there!"

And Black Canary has this thought balloon: "My, aren't we full of ourself!"

Great stuff! I never liked the post-Crisis retcons much, but this one worked out very well. Plus Shannower drew one of the best Canaries ever!