Saturday, January 07, 2006

The book that made me a DC fan for life.



When I was a kid, I of course knew the 'big' superheroes.. You know, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and the Hulk, thanks to their (at the time, anyway) permeation of popular culture, heck my mom used to buy me Superman peanut butter! Anyway, the heroes who weren't top of the heap weren't as familiar to me, apart from who I saw on Super Friends, tho they didn't really you much about who they were, but one day in the late 80's my mother purchased for me a book that'd change my reading habits and open my eyes to the world's greatest superheroes, and it was only 4.95!

It wasn't fancy by any means, just newsprint and a cover, but what was contained within the cover was nothing short of amazing! Inside I learned all about Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter (who I previously had never heard of) , the Justice League of America, insights on Superman and Batman, but most important to me was the exploits of Barry Allen, otherwise known as The Flash.

The flash is really police scientist Barry Allen, who one day working in his lab, was struck by lightning, dousing himself in various unnamed chemicals, a bit woozy, he leaves for home, and unable to hail a taxicab he gives chase finding he can outrun the automobile. The story goes on to show off Flash's Rogues Gallery, one of the better ones in comicdom, and at the end of the tale, it shows Barry not only giving his life to save the multiverse during the Crisis, but actually traveling through time, to become the very lightning bolt that gave him his powers. At the time, I didn't understand that Barry was gone (hey, I was ten), so I went on assuming that Barry was and always had been the Flash. Of course when the TV Show started the next year, I was ecstatic, I did sort of wonder why this Barry wasn't blond with a buzzcut, but I also didn't care that much, I was in heaven. Imagine my surprise when I received the Flash action figure with the fact file saying that the Flash was Wally West and could only run 745 m.p.h. I thought that surely someone was mistaken, and it wasn't until I was deep into collecting comics that I realized who Wally was.

Anyway, that one little book told me everything I ever wanted to know about my favorite super-heroes and it started out on my journey as a life-long DC fan. I've never really been into the Avengers or the X-Men, but man, the JLA rocks.

Something that intrigues me is that a similar situation brought many current comics pros into their lifelong love of comics as well, it even has the same title, but this is the original Secret Origins book, published in 1961. I picked up DC's replica edition in 1998, and while I must say origins have always been relatively the same, I just don't enjoy this book as much, I don't know if it's because it was written with a relatively different style, or if I was and am too enamored with my own entry into the comic world outside of mass media coverage, but the fact that it brought people like John Byrne into the fray is enough for me. Hopefully my continued diligence writing here will one day let me name be said in the same breath as the greats (I really, really doubt it), but even if it doesn't I feel like I have a shared experience with them nonetheless.

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