Thursday, July 24, 2014

Secret Origins #4 Review

Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Jeff Lemire and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Stephane Roux, Denys Cowan and Ian Bertram
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: July 23, 2014

New or Knew?

The idea that any of the stories in this series are "secret" is pretty laughable.  This book serves best as a primer for new fans wanting to know the origins of DC's most popular characters.  Learned fans will find slight (and I mean slight) variations to the origin stories they have read over and over again.  Because of that, the only reason to pick up this book is if you truly love some or all of the characters featured and/or you've been living under a rock and don't know their origins.  Personally, this month I'm in the first category.  I have read (and seen) the three origins, but I love Harley, Ollie and Damian, but is that enough to enjoy this issue?  Let's find out.

Harley Quinn

This story is told by Harley herself to a very captive audience.  It's a back story filled with actions and consequences.  Her first crush lead her to be more interested in the criminal mind which lead her to Gotham University which lead her to Arkham...  Almost every reader is waiting for the Joker and he does appear (of course), but he's not as important as you'd think.  In fact, in a bit of a change, this story is a tale of empowerment for Ms. Quinzel.  It's probably Harley revisionist history, but I liked it.

Overall, however, I was a bit disappointed.  Palmiotti and Connor have made the Harley monthly one of the funniest reads in all of comics and this story just wasn't fun.  I'm not saying it was bad, just not as fun as I expected.

Stephane Roux's art was pretty good.  It had a nice clean style that fit the character and the story.  Plus, any artist that throws Teen Wolf into a book is okay with me!

Green Arrow

If you are already reading Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow run, watch Arrow or know a little about Oliver Queen, nothing here will surprise you.  This is the tried and true story of Oliver and the Island.  Jeff Lemire is a hell of a writer, but even he seems bored doing this. Playboy rich kid screws up, ends up on the Island, fights to escape and comes home a man with a crime fighting plan.  Done and done.

It's a shame that Lemire's partner, Andrea Sorrentino is not on this book.  Denys Cowan fills in and does a pretty good job combining his art style with Sorrentino's even if it's a bit pencil heavy for my tastes.

Damian Wayne/Robin

I wasn't sure what we'd get in this one.  Damian's origin has been told a couple times in the New 52 already so I was glad that this was more of Damian becoming Robin with Dick Grayson's Batman.  It may not be necessary, but it's nice to see it in the New 52 and I dare say that I loved their version of Batman and Robin the best.  However, some of the dialogue seemed a bit off and out of character.  Dick is the worst offender.  The story itself may have action and cool cameos, but in the end was pretty boring.  Like this series in general, nothing new to see here.

Ian Bertram does the art and after his work on Batman: Eternal, I vowed never to read another book with him involved.  Well, I guess I'm eating crow for dinner tonight.  Not only did I read it, I enjoyed his art.  It's a bit like Chris Burnham's art in Batman, Incorporated which fits a Damian story so well.  I don't know if I'd like it on any other book on the planet, but here it's fine.

Bits and Pieces:

Secret origins #4 is another unnecessary walk down memory lane.  If you don't know the origins of any of these characters, go for it. All the writers and artists are good enough to make it worth your while.  If you know the stories already, there is not enough new bits for me to recommend this book to you.  It's all pretty much what you remember.


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