Thursday, May 10, 2007

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 - Dec. 1980

sgOne of the classic motifs of comic book collections was "Secret Origins", where you could basically slap any disparate group of reprints together, and as long as they were origin stories you had a theme! I don't know who first thought of adding the word "Secret" to the concept of the Origin story, but it helped make the reader feel like they were getting inside information, which is always exciting.

For the first time, a DC digest book features a new story, this being "The Secret Spell!" by Gerry Conway, Romeo Tanghal, and Vince Colletta, which is the origin of Zatanna and Zatara. I think it's a safe beat this was an inventory story lying around and DC thought why not put it in a digest? Zatanna had a brief solo run in Adventure Comics, maybe this was originally intended for that.

The other Secret Origins are:
"The Origin of the Justice League" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs (a classic!)
The Demon in "Unleash The One Who Waits" by Jack Kirby (definitely an off-beat choice!)
"Earth's First Green Lantern" by Fox, Gil Kane, and Murphy Anderson
Deadman in "Who Has Been Lying In My Grave?" by the late, great Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, and George Roussos
"The Origin of Wonder Girl" by Marv Wolfman and the unusual art team of Gil Kane and Nick Cardy
...along with a text-piece all about the Zatanna origin and the storyline starring her that ran across several titles in the mid-60s, culminating in Justice League of America #51.

You can see by running Demon, Deadman, and Zatanna tales, there was a definite mystical bent to this collection. Maybe DC thought they couldn't sell it without the bigger name superheroes in there as well, but it might've been neat if they had added Swamp Thing, The Phantom Stranger*, or The Spectre origin stories to have an all-supernatural collection.

*Though of course, The Phantom Stranger has never had a "Secret Origin."


BobH said...

I think this was the very first of the DC digests I got, brand new off the racks, when I was 10 years old. And probably the second or third Jack Kirby comic I remember reading. I must have read this thing a few dozen times, and it shows. Lots of classic stuff in there. It was also nice to finally get a collection of the original Zatanna story recently (I'm surprised they never did a digest of that).

Earth 2 Chris said...

This was definitely my introduction to Martian Manhunter, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Speedy. I may have actually got this one before the Superman below, since they have the same cover date.

Just like bobh said, this Zatanna story piqued my interest to read the stories of her search for her father. I finally got to...25 years later!


wich2 said...

Actually, I have a - shhhh! - sorta secret memory of a comic where SEVERAL possible origins of Phantom Stranger were offered...
I think one was a varition on the old "Wandering Jew" myth.

rob! said...

yep, i have that one! Secret Origins #10--pretty cool issue, from what i remember.

but its like the Killing Joke--you're not really sure any of them are actually the "origin."

dan said...

Again what's up with the Vin-hate, Rob? The dude rocked on almost everything he inked. Colletta's work is my favorite stuff. Just one guy's opinion.