Secret Origins #1: Golden Age Superman

Ryan Daly and guest host Chris Franklin review the first issue of Secret Origins, which tells the story of the Golden Age Superman.

Listen to Episode 1!

Subscribe to the Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #1, written by Roy Thomas with art by Wayne Boring and Jerry Ordway.

#1cover #1page1 #1page6 #1page8 #1page22 #1page23

Chris Franklin is co-host of the SuperMates Podcast

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “Theme from Superman” by John Williams.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

11 thoughts on “Secret Origins #1: Golden Age Superman

  1. Well, you can’t go wrong with Chris if you’re going to talk about the Golden Age Superman.

    There would be an Earth-2/Legion connection much later of course. The main continuity of the Legion (through the Baxter series, then picking up from the Retroboot) has now been revealed to be the future of Earth-2, not the main Earth (because Justice League 3000).

    Chris, Russell Crowe’s Jor-El is awesome, but you make an excellent point re:the script. But since the movie tends to stop for me AFTER the Jor-El sequence, I guess I don’t care.

    Triangle era of Superman – YES, the very best era of Superman for me too. I’d even include Reign of the Supermen, that whole storyline, but not what happened after.

    New52 is definitely the homogenous, but I think we’re finally starting to see some different tones with the comics coming out after Convergence (a trend that started with the Batman family of books, of all things, over the last few months). Looks like I’ll be reading all the comedies and ignoring all the dark gritty dramas…


  2. John and Mary, Jonathan and Martha…to add to the confusion they were Eban and Sarah on the George Reeves TV series!

    This was a lot of fun! Makes me want to reread more than just my Blue Beetle issue! And to be fair, while Aquaman never got his solo origin told, he did make a few appearances in “Secret Origins”…like the JLA issue.


  3. A podcast too long in coming! Thanks for this great idea!
    And this was such a great conversation, a sort of review of Secret Origins #1, what works with Superman, what doesn’t work in Man of Steel, and what hasn’t worked in the New 52.

    I have read the original Action #1 and Superman #1 in reprints everywhere, so I agree that maybe this was a bit too slavish of a redo of the original. Still, it reads as a meaty story. There are so many small panels and plot turns that this was a long read. So many of these panels are burned into my brain – the graveyard scene, the doctor snapping the hypodermic, the car smash. But for some reason, that picture of him running up the stairs holding the Governor’s bodyguard over his head is one of my favorites.

    I have piled on with hatred about Man of Steel almost everywhere. I did not like that movie … at all. From Pa telling Clark that maybe the bus should have sank killing those kids, to Clark letting his dad die, to Jor-El (genetically built to be a scientist) beating up Zod (genetically build to be the ultimate military man), to the destruction of Metropolis, all the way to the execution of Zod … almost nothing works. Surprisingly, one thing that does work is Lois Lane in that movie, willing to do everything to get the truth out.

    As for the New 52, I buy and review them … begrudgingly. The Pak/Kuder stuff is okay. But the shabby treatment of Lois, Superman being aloof, everyone being jerks permeates. The comparison to the 90s Marvel strikes true considering that Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco are driving the DC bus just as they were at the forefront of Marvel 20 years ago. It is sad.

    Lastly, a quick personal story. I met Jerry Ordway in 2012 at a convention and got this issue signed by him. I asked him what he thought of the issue. He said he felt honored to ink Boring’s stuff. But he also said it was difficult to do because Boring drew with a ‘heavy pencil’ such that it was difficult to erase the pencils once the inks were down. Still, he said it was a great time to do the issue and it shows. This is a love letter to the original.

    Thanks again! Hope to be part of this series!


  4. Damn, I gotta learn to stop commenting before I listen to the whole episode. I paused the podcast, went to work, posted my note about Eban and Sarah, only to leave that night, pick up the show where I left off and hear you guys mention the same thing!

    Really a great episode, perfect way to start the series…and the podcast! If ever you need a guest, (I’m definitely one of those Fire&Water fans that always wished I could be a part of the show…and the reason I started my blog too!) shine the Beetle signal in the air…and I’ll be there!


  5. Enjoyed the broadcast, though I should have pulled out my scans of the issue. I agree that Thomas was too slavish to the original. In my opinion, that was a trait that marred much of his DC work. he’d start out well, then go off on tangents that were related to old JSA stories. It ruined Infinity, Inc for me, at the tail end of the book. He kept it mostly in check in All-Star Squadron. i haven’t read the Secret Origin books for a while, so I can’t remember if he loosened up after a while. I do feel for him though, when DC decided to put the JSA on ice. It was a dumb move, which the recanted fairly quickly; but, Thomas had long since parted ways with DC.

    Enjoyed the mention of DC Comics Presents Annual #1. I loved that comic, as it was my first time with Earth 3 and it was such a great story. I did not read the Superman Family issues that Chris brings up. I know that book wasn’t selling huge numbers, so perhaps he was the only person who saw it. I think I only read 3 or 4 issues of that book, in my time.

    I really enjoyed the discussion about the maturity of the DC books pre-Crisis. As a Bronze Age reader, I find myself agreeing, in that they were mature; but not adult. One of the joys of the Earth-2 stories was seeing the married, older heroes and their children. Part of what drew me to Infinity, Inc was the legacy aspect. DC kind of lost that for a long time, until Starman. I love the post-Crisis DC line, as they were really producing great books across the company and seemed to have really found a new drive; but, I do think they could have had the same without Crisis. It was more the new blood, with backing from Jeanette Kahn, Paul Levitz and Dck Giordano, who revitalized things, not the Crisis event. The got people from First, like John Ostrander (as well as the returning Mike Grell, Mike Gold, and Joe Staton), they got young talent, and they benefitted from the exodus from Marvel. There was still some teething trouble in that 10 years, from the mid 70s to mid-80s; but, they were growing, especially once Kahn started improving the compensation and provided incentives to be creative. If nothing else, it would have avoided some of those messy retcons. Besides, the parallel worlds concept wasn’t that hard to understand. It could usually be explained in a few sentences, at the beginning. I think it had less to do with fans than it did with the ex-Marvel guys and neophyte editors.

    I look forward to more, especially my favorite issue, the Manhunter one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll tell you what puts the lie to the idea that parallel Earths was too confusing and an obstacle to the new reader: They kicked off a new era by launching a mega-crossover event about… parallel Earths.


      1. With stories that seemed a heck of a lot more interesting than what they were regularly publishing.


  6. I’m so glad you decided to go with a WordPress blog for Secret Origins! I’ve been slow to comment in the past because I do most of my podcast listening and comment drafting on my tablet, which does not interact well at all with Blogger forums. I kept waiting until I had free time on my PC or laptop, which is much less common than on my travel device.

    I’m going on about my commenting habits like this because you spent almost two hours talking about the origin of Pecan Flavor Superman, and even one slice of pecan pie is about nineteen times as much tolerance as I normally have for Superman originingation. I own a fair few issues of this series, and have never hesitated to not buy a copy of the debut edition. I don’t think I’ve ever even bothered to flip through a copy, so I think the scans here sum up my entire exposure, and I don’t want more. I still have the remains of my Superman #1 Treasury Edition, and I vastly prefer the coarse but frenetic original material to the slavish anemic recreation seen here.

    The Legend of Aquaman is the Sea King’s issue of Secret Origins in all but name and overall superior quality.

    I don’t have any issues with pulp science super-hero Jor-El, and I accept the green outfit more readily than that stupid lazy thing John Byrne threw him in.

    I do believe Ed McGuinness is my favorite Superman artist, as I have to actively resist buying items with his Man of Steel on them. Gloriously super-sized interpretation. I’m also fond of Jon Bogdanove and Joe Shuster, among many others. I very much like JLGLPBHN, but he’s part of the trend toward the smaller, sleeker, more Chris Reeve SuperMAN, which in retrospect I see as diminishing of the character. I like Jerry Ordway’s Man of Steel okay, but he’s also part of that trend.

    General Zod wasn’t a major physical threat in most of his incarnations, which is why Faora was the real “muscle” in Man of Steel as Ursa was in Superman II. It’s both progressive and canonical.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, adding to the Secret Origins theme,my first encounter with Superman? The New Adventures of Superman, from Filmation. I was watching it and Batman, via the Superman/Batman hour, well before reading comics. Well, that and Sesame Street. I can’t remember what my first Superman comic was. I did read one of the issues with the sand doppelganger, that a friend had (#240). The story was good; but, I enjoyed the World of Krypton back-up story, from Mike Kaluta, even more.. That would have been around 1972. I probably read an earlier one; but, that is the issue that stands out the most.

    I always enjoyed when DC would trot out the Earth-2 Superman. There was just something cool about seeing him with the greying temples and the funky S-shield. It was even cooler after he married Lois and had the Mr and Mrs Superman adventures, as it lent a bit of maturity to the concept.


  8. When I came into comics, just after Crisis on Infinite Earths, I was always confused by references to other versions of Superman. As a kid, I thought the idea of alternate realities was cool and had no idea I was born 50 years too late to appreciate it. It took me several years to fully understand what the Crisis was and what it meant to long-lasting heroes like Superman. I never read this issue of Secret Origins but I plan to seek it out and give it a good look. Great episode and great podcast, man!

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