Expected Publication: February 17th, 2015
Secret Origins Vol. 1 (The New 52)
By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Greg Pak, Tony Bedard & Various
At last, the SECRET ORIGINS of the World's Greatest Heroes in The New 52 can be revealed! The beginnings of the most popular characters in the DC Universe are finally told here, in stories that fans have been clamoring for since September 2011. Included here are the origins of The Last Son of Krypton and Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, plus the first Robin, Dick Grayson.
Written by a host of the industry's brightest talent including Jeff Lemire (Justice League: United), Greg Pak (Batman/Superman), and Tony Bedard (Green Lantern Corps) and painted covers by Lee Bermejo (Joker), this new series is a fantastic way to jump on with the DC Universe! Collects issues #1-4.
Major disappointment is all I was really feeling when I finished reading this volume. You'd think that as someone still slightly overwhelmed about where to start in a vast universe like DC Comics, I'd be grateful for a volume of origin stories. You'd think that, wouldn't you? Well, I did too goddammitt and boy, oh boy, was I WRONG. Because it turns out, I pretty much knew everything these guys had to tell me. I can point to maybe 2 or 3 of the stories total that gave me anything new that made it worth my while, even a little bit. There is almost nothing in this book, even as someone pretty much brand new to comics, that I hadn't already gleaned from the USA's pop culture collective/episodes of Smallville/episodes of the Justice League cartoon. I can honestly say that for a reboot, they sure played it safe. And the things that were different were just dumb or confusing!
Let me break it down for you a little further. There were origins in this book for: Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Dick Grayson/Robin #1/Nightwing, Aquaman, Starfire, Batwoman, Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Tim Drake/Red Robin, Harley Quinn, Green Arrow, Damian Wayne/Robin #5. That is a lot of ground to cover in just one volume! I was kind of excited for this, because I'm unfamiliar with Red Robin, Starfire, Green Lantern and iffy on Harley Quinn. What I got was shitty artwork, origins mainly regurgitated from past runs (from what other people have said it seems that way, anyhow) and stories that were just boring or made the heroes unsympathetic to me, as a reader.
Superman: One of the few I actually DID end up liking. You can tell that even though it wasn't anything really new, the author(s) at least tried with it. The dual narrative from both of Clark/Kal's mothers was touching and it was a nice little piece, if a bit sappy.
Batman: Really??? This is what you do with the Dark Knight? Show some dumb training montages and "over the years" panels, before actually having him don the cowl. He only gets the idea after seeing a bat fly in front of his Dad's statue. "Yes father. I shall become a bat." He has to be scarier, see, cause the criminals don't fear him. *Scoffs*
Supergirl: Okay, blah blah, incident with Kryptonian-a-saurus Rex, parental expectations, time in stasis, etc. Then when she becomes Supergirl, she saves North Korean astronauts! Yeah, suuurrreeee. Talk about freaking random and unnecessary adjustments.
Dick Grayson/Robin #1/Nightwing: Very slight, but I didn't mind this really as I didn't know much about him beforehand. I would've liked something more interesting, but it wasn't a detriment to the character. I had just read Nightwing Vol. 1 though, and this was a nice sidenote to it. Practically obsolete though, after the 0 issue.
Aquaman: Once again, 'A' for effort, but obsolete after the 0 issue I just had the pleasure of reading. They are really similar, in a way that does nothing to recommend this one. Just go read the Aquaman volumes instead, you really can get by without the origin.
Starfire: A character I knew nothing about, other than her Teen Titans membership, and I feel like I still know nothing about her. For instance, was she the big sister or the little sister? This was really confusing and she came across a bit stupid as well. Whatever.
Batwoman: Nothing against Kate Kane, this was just something to get through for me. I wasn't really all that interested in it, as I didn't care for Batwoman Vol. 1 when I read it. I did like seeing how she met her police officer girlfriend though.
Green Lantern/Hal Jordan: This I actually liked. Probably because I was confused as Hell when I read the Vol. 1 of his New 52 story arc. I went in knowing nothing about Hal or the Lantern Corps, and they didn't even pretend to reboot that one - they just continued straight from a past run. This actually gave me his background, some motivation and showed me his Lantern training. One of very few reasons I'm glad I read this.
Tim Drake/Red Robin: What. A. Little. Bastard. He goes out of his way to find out who Batman is, baits him using Penguin, gets his parents in witness protection and all he can think about is how great he'll be as Robin! It's not like he had any real reason to want to be a crime-fighter either, other than a young boy's fascination. Came across as a selfish prick.
Harley Quinn: It was interesting to get a look into Harley's demented mind and see how she got so immersed into the Arkham side of Gotham. I liked the artwork in this one too, and it's one of two (the other being Aquaman) that I can genuinely say that for. Plus, telling your story to a captive audience that you blow up afterwards is such a Harley maneuver! :D
Green Arrow: Really? Now they're putting Diggle in the comics? Talk about a desperate bid to cash in on the CW's tv show. Mostly just boring though. I'd have liked to see a more focused story, with it choosing either the island or just after, with more detailed flashbacks used to good effect. Nothing I haven't seen before and they might as well have just called Naomi Singh by her real name, Felicity Smoak. Seriously, why even try to hide it at that point?
Damian Wayne/Robin #5: I don't know why they even bothered with this one. This isn't even canon to the current run of Batman for the New 52, at least with how Damian becomes Robin. In this, Dick is taking over for Bruce, who just died, as Batman. Damian is just becoming Robin, and never even worked with Bruce. This is confusing, because there is a WHOLE comic dedicated to the two of them as Batman and Robin for the New 52!!! It makes no damn sense in the context of their 'rebooted' universe.
Overall, I don't know why I even bothered. If I didn't know better, I'd probably let this talk me out of reading any of these characters' individual comics. I do know it for sure hasn't made me want to read Red Robin or Starfire, who came across the worst in my opinion. Also, this doesn't make me hopeful for Green Arrow, who I love. I will be picking up Harley Quinn though, so there's that. I also feel a bit more prepared to read more Green Lantern comics, without reading the last five to ten years worth of stuff to catch up. I would NOT recommend this particular volume, except as a curiosity maybe. Check it out of the library though, for the love of God. Don't pay for the boring stories/shitty artwork contained herein. You have been warned.
VERDICT: 2/5 Stars
*I received this book from DC Comics, on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book was published on February 17th, 2015.*