With a few exceptions, Secret Origins is a one-and-done series, so I don’t have to read every issue I own in order (and some I have read in the past, so I don’t have to read them for this project at all). It’s kind of nice because after working my way through The Huntress and knowing that I have a full run of Hawkworld on deck along with, at some point, most of Suicide Squad, I like the idea of flitting in and out of a series that, as far as I can remember, is consistently solid.
This issue is an example of one that is the very definition of solid. I don’t think I’d put it up there with some of my favorite issues (two of which will be coming soon), but I enjoyed it. The two origins explored are Skyman, the Infinity, Inc. member formerly known as The Star-Spangled Kid; and Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. Both are written by Roy Thomas.
Skyman’s origin is drawn by Tom Grindberg with inks by Mike Gustovich. I’m familiar with some of Grindberg’s work from the early 1990s as he drew the Armageddon 2001 crossovers for both Detective Comics and The New Titans. His work on the Titans annual was not my favorite, but I really loved his Detective Comics annual as well as his art on the graphic novel Bride of the Demon. Inkers might have been a factor there as did the coloring and the paper. Yes, I’m serious. I’m not trying to take anything away from legendary colorists like Adrienne Roy, Tom Zuiko, or Carl Gafford (who did this issue), but as the paper stock for comics improved quite a bit between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, coloring took a while to really catch up and that resulted in a number of artists’ work looking better on the crappy pulp that comics had been printed on since the Golden Age than Baxter paper.
Grindberg is a prime example of this. He takes a lot of cues from Neal Adams and other Bronze Age artists and the work on this book settles in nicely. I wasn’t as interested in the story as I probably should have been–it’s a pretty good yarn about the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey earning their … uh, stripes … fighting Nazi spies in the days right at the start of World War II.
The other story–The Golden Age Flash–is more interesting. I saw a little bit of Barry Allen and the John Byrne-era Clark Kent in his story about a lab accident that gives him powers that he first uses on the football field. George Tuska and Jerry Acerno are on the art chores here and while it’s not as dynamic as Grindberg and Gustovich in the first story, they take advantage of the fun that Thomas is having telling the story as well as with the 1940s-era setting.
I was engaged enough in both, though, to read Roy Thomas’ text piece about these characters and picked up another, wanting more.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?