Picking up random issues of Secret Origins between winding my way through entire runs of comics seems to have been a good idea, as long as this series remains as good as it has when it comes to the one-and-done type of story. In this one, there’s Hourman by Roy Thomas and Michael Bair along with Warlord by Michael Fleischer and Adam Kubert (and a quick, very cute ‘Mazing Man origin).
I was actually surprised by how good the Warlord origin story was, especially considering it wasn’t written by Mike Grell, whom I associate with Travis Morgan. What we get here, though, is actually not the story of the Warlord, but the story of Travis Morgan as told through the lens of a guy named Danny Maddox, who was a schoolyard bully that Morgan put down at one point and who basically became one of those guys you keep coming across in life–and I think he may be an important person in the Warlord story because he has other appearances besides this. But he also has a direct tie into the plane crash that brought Travis to Skartaris. It’s a unique perspective on the origin and it’s aided very well by Adam Kubert’s art. Kubert, who would obviously go on to greater fame at both Marvel and DC, was drawing Sgt. Rock, is a great choice for this story because Maddox’s motivation to take down Travis Morgan is compounded by his time in a Soviet prison camp. The entire story is steeped in a realism that contrasts with the otherworldly sword and sorcery I usually expect from Warlord).
The Hourman origin is once again Roy Thomas taking a classic Golden Age origin and adapting it for this era of comics, which means expanding it and giving it more depth. Bair’s art combines a then-modern touch with the much-needed detail that you need for a dense Roy Thomas story; in fact, many of the pages have so many panels that you wind up finding yourself reading them very deliberately. Bair’s art makes it worth it because it is dynamic and the story of Rex Tyler–a superhero who gets powers for an hour by taking a pill–is one of those great, action-packed “mystery men” stories that Thomas (and this series) excels at.
I’m honestly not sure when this format stops, but so far it has been great, and the remaining issues are still on my want list.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?