In her years as a comic-book character, Princess Diana has had a number of origin stories, but we have yet to see how she came to be in the New 52… until now! Your Major Spoilers review of Secret Origins #6 awaits!
SECRET ORIGINS #6
Writer: Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang/JM DeMatteis/Cullen Bunn
Artist: Goran Sudzuka/Kevin Stokes/Igor Lima
Letterer: Jared Fletcher/Taylor Esposito/
Colorist: Matt Wilson/Chris Sotomayor/Tony Avina
Editor: Matt Idelson/Chris Conroy/Darren Shan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Secret Origins: In the late 1960s, comic-book fans became enamored with the idea of “continuity”, placing the multiple stories of their favorite heroes into a coherent (for some values of the word) whole (for some values of the world). To that end, DC Comics began reprinting some of their oldest titles, regaling new audiences with the origins of Superman, Batman and the rest, and providing more backstory for the world-building of the fans. Now, many of those fans became pros, and influenced even more fans, to the point where the heroes’ origins have gotten their own ongoing title, especially useful given the recent complete universal reboot…
WONDER WOMAN HAD A FATHER?
One of the biggest reveals of the New 52 has been giving Princess Diana an actual Olympian bloodline, rather than making her an enteirely magical creature brought to life out of base clay. This made me a little bit sad, as I greatly liked the revelation in the Gail Simone run of the book that Diana became as good a combatant and as faithful an Amazon as she did due to being teased about her strange origins. The Wonder Woman story in this issue gives that back to us, opening the issue with Diana play-sparring with one of her fellow Amazons, trying to articulate her desire to leave Paradise Island and venture into man’s world. It’s a very skillfully done sequence, with lovely art and even a quiet undertone that her sister Amazon may have more than just sisterly feelings for her, ending with the deadly insult hurled at Diana “You aren’t one of us! CLAY!” Of course, the truth is more complicated, and a visit from Athena to her unknowing half-sister helps to soothe Diana’s conscience. When Steve Trevor crashes on the island, Diana is there to save him, and the story ends with her pleased to have found her excuse to go out into the greater world…
Sadly, the other two stories in the issue aren’t quite as solid as the well-done Wonder Woman tale that opens the book. Deadman’s story (pretty much the save Deadman origin we’ve seen since 1968, with the addition of abusive parents) is well-written by JM DeMatteis, with an oddly bulbous and cartoony art style undermining DeMatteis usual skillful existentialism. It does end with a lovely moment, and a message on forgiveness that I truly appreciate, but the art just isn’t up to the task of delivering all the text and subtext of JM’s story. As for our final tale, it’s the origin of Thaal Sinestro, Interstellar Fascist, and it mirrors the classic Hal Jordan “alien-crashes-to-Earth” origin. The difference here is, Thaal takes the ring, defeats a weaponer of Qward, and then watches the Lantern die rather than return his ring and save him. We then see a condensed version of his history, leading up to the revelation that Sinestro is once again thinking about how best to make his empire the one that takes over the world. It’s an artistically impressive story, undermined somewhat by the creeping tendency to treat Sinestro as nothing more than a well-intentioned extremist, and this fact undermines the tale a little bit for me.
THE BOTTOM LINE: ONE GOOD, ONE OKAY, ONE URK
Still, given how charming the Wonder Woman origin is, I’m inclined to forgive this book for a number of its sins, and if we add in the nice Deadman moments (as well one of the better treatments of Nanda Parbat since Denny O’Neil), I think I can accept Sinestro’s story as the origin of a monstrous jerk and move on. Secret Origins #6 is interestingly timed, coming as this creative team leaves Wonder Woman’s book, but gives us a nice scope on three very different aspects of the New 52 DCU, earning a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. With character’s this old, it’s nice to see them able to modernize without completely destroying that which came before…