Secret Origins #4
By Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jeff Lemire, Peter J. Tomasi, Stephane Roux, Denys Cowan, Ian Bertram, Brett Smith, Marcelo Maiolo & Dave Stewart
Secret Origins has been exploring the backstories of various popular DC heroes, and in this issue, villains, but most origins have been too familiar, and while these stories here were certainly familiar to veteran readers, they were also very entertaining. Regardless of any lacking in originality these stories may have, Secret Origins is the perfect ongoing series for relatively new readers who want to become well-versed in multiple characters. This series offers a lot of variety in each issue examining three characters per issue so even if one part lacks in quality, the others can potentially make up for it.
Harley’s story begins earlier in her life than we are used to seeing which was a surprising twist. Not that it was overly interesting or grasping, but different nonetheless. Harley being the narrator of her own backstory connects the reader to her story and feels much more personal than a nameless third-person narrator. The art, by Roux and Smith, was exciting and, in some panels, eccentric and over-exaggerated which fits perfectly into Harley’s crazy world.
Seems like an odd time to be reading yet another Green Arrow origin, having been explored in his own series, as well as being the main focus on the show Arrow, but it was an entertaining read. This origin delves into Oliver Queen more so than his alter-ego, as he struggles to live with the family name and being the prince of Queens (…no?). This section does feel pretty rushed, but Queen is a complex character and again, the writers have a very limited number of pages to tell years of story, so this one’s more for the newbies. Cowan’s art is rough and edgy; perfectly personifying Green Arrow.
Damian is an interesting character to say the least, making it surprising to see him in the final section of this issue and not, you know, on the cover or anything. Maybe its because his origin has been seen too many times. The central story takes place in an interesting time in the Batman mythos. The origin flows pretty well, capitalizing on all the major points in his early history and does well to introduce new readers to this fan favorite. Ian Bertram’s art is reminiscent of Frank Quitely (the artist who worked with Grant Morrison on the pre-New 52 Batman & Robin series) which fits perfectly with these characters and acts as a great nod to those great stories.
Secret Origins is certainly a series that is geared towards new readers or readers who just want to expand their knowledge of the characters, but whether your reading them for the first time, or refreshing your memory of why Harley’s skin is also bleached, or how Damian came to be, Secret Origins is, at its core, entertaining. The collection of varying art keeps the book looking fresh and captures a lot of different readers who like different styles. All in all, this series is worth picking up, even if you’re an expert on all things DC, and is a must have for new readers.