secret originsSecret Origins #1, DC Comics,  June 1961

We’re going to the bullpen and calling in the trusty right hander Mike Huddleston to post this week’s Spotlight pick. Mike is known for his sliders but can throw you a good curve now and again. Check out Mike’s Arcs and Runs column, you might end up like me and learn something.

OK lets turn this thing over to Mike:  

There it is again. “The Cool kids are reading”… Undervalued Spotlight #74. This was one of my favourite spotlights featuring an all-time favourite comic of mine Marvel Tales #1. It was written for Walt by CBD stalwart Dave (where are you Dave?) and prompted my first response to a post at CBD.  Marvel Tales is a wonderful book re-presenting some of the first issues in the new wave of Marvel Super-Heroes that some fans missed when they were initially launched.

I am an unapologetic full-time Marvel Zombie but I do know DC comics have always done a fantastic job of reprinting their history in comic books, and (cough, cough) Marvel can’t lay a hand them in terms of their giant size books (80 pagers!). It is time to give the DC equivalent of Marvel Tales #1 some love and much deserved recognition.

Secret Origins #1 is DC’s first giant size compilation book of super-heroes of the sixties. It was a one-shot comic that was later followed up with another book of additional Secret Origins in the Eighty Page Giant (1965) series issue #8. There were two follow-up series and variations of the title have been used since.  The Secret Origins title is one of the best ever. Everyone loves a secret, and who doesn’t like an origin story.  The cover of the book presents a lot like Marvel Tales #1 (from the house of borrowed ideas – nuff said).  DC comics have always used a more diverse and brighter colour palette than Marvel books. This book is no exception with a beautiful faded pink background the like I have never seen in a Marvel super-hero book.

The content in the book is mostly stellar. It features the origins of most of the individual members of the Justice League and the first Batman/Superman team-up. Let’s take a look inside the book.

  • Reprint of Worlds Finest #94 – featuring the first ever team-up of Super-man and Batman. Dastardly Lex Luthor is also in the mix. It is pretty special when you have the continuity of these two characters that goes back to the 40’s.
  • Reprint Showcase #17 Secret of the Eternal City – featuring the origin of Adam Strange
  • Reprint Green Lantern #1 Planet of doomed Men –featuring the origin of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.
  • Reprint Showcase #6 Secret of the Sorcerers – featuring Jack Kirby and the Challengers of the Unknown.
  • Reprint Wonder Woman #105 – The secret origin of Wonder Woman (my favourite Amazon – Diana Prince).
  • Reprint story from Detective #225 –  The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel  which features an origin story of Martian Manhunter.
  • Reprint Showcase # 4 – Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt. This story reprints the origin of the Barry Allen Flash. Showcase #4 is at the top or near the top of most people’s list as the book that started the Silver age of comics. The Flash has also just been launched as a new TV series. There is still plenty of interest in this character nearly 60 years on.
  • The origin of the Green Arrow and Speedy. This is the only blemish on the book for me. The origin provided is one page of text with two small panels of art included. I think this was a bad idea and if they didn’t have room for the story told with comic art, they should have just skipped it altogether.

Tracking down a high grade copy of Secret Origins #1 will be no picnic. The latest CGC census data (provided by Walt) shows a total of 98 unrestored books. Only 8 are in the mint – near mint range. 2 (9.4), 2 (9.2), and 4 (9.0).  That is not a lot of high grade books. As the granddaddy of the 80 Page Giant series this book is sought after now. If additional interest is created for the characters/origin stories in this book via TV and movie exposure, supply will tighten further. If you want to own the book I would recommend buying a nice 7.0- 8.5 book now, and pounce on a high grade copy when and if it becomes available. Like many DC comic books, this book has not grown in value as much over the last ten years as its Marvel counterparts. It looks like a bargain to me.

44th Overstreet Price Guide Values: 6.0 $123, 8.0 $303, 9.0 $689, 9.2 $1075.

Strengths that make this book a good investment

  •  Granddaddy of the very popular 80 page Giant series of comics.
  •  Features origins of key DC super-heroes tied to movie and TV projects.
  •  Tough book to find in grade. Demand outstrips supply in high grade.
  •  Has the power to change a Marvel zombie in to a potential DC collector, at least for one book!