JLA: Secret Origins
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Alex Ross
By Doran Murphy
For fans of single characters in the DC Universe, like Batman or Superman, it must be difficult to understand the origins of the other Justice Leaguers. I mean, Superman and Batman have been the bread and butter of DC for over 65 years now. They're damned near venerable, and everyone knows their origins. But does everyone know how Hawkman came to be? Captain Marvel? Green Lantern? J'onn J'onzz? To much of the world, their origins are rather elusive, as most people don't want to go out and buy a book about a comic character just to find out their origins — especially when they could just read a group book they're a participant in.
That's where JLA: Secret Origins is handy. It basically summarizes the origin of each character in the JLA in two pages. Each story is told from a different perspective. For instance, Superman's story is retold by Superman himself, but Green Lantern's is narrated by Abin Sur. Captain Marvel's origin is told by a god, Wonder Woman's by her mother, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Not surprisingly, it sticks to the historical origins that diehard comic fans recall as the origins of the original JLA. So, it tells the story of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern; not his successor Kyle Rayner. Same goes for Wonder Woman and the Flash. Overall, the book covers 12 different origins, those being Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onnz, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, The Atom, Hawkman and girl, and Captain Marvel.
The artwork here is decent. Each origin is produced in a different monochrome. (For example, the Green Lantern's is on green and white, while Aquaman's is blue and white). The first three pages of the book features each of the main players of the JLA in some sort of rescue, and those frames are well done — pretty. While the artwork of each origin is well done, the monochrome idea just didn't catch my eye — like a lot of Alex Ross' work has.
The artwork, while very good, isn't very eye-catching; the origins are nothing new; and the interviews with Alex Ross and Paul Dini are pretty boring. Overall, this book serves as a great background for casual JLA fans, but if you're a hardcore fan and already know the origins, don't waste your money here. (Especially considering the $8 cover price, and the fact that its huge format won't fit nicely in your stack of comic books.)
[Editor's Note: This book is not to be confused with Secret Origins: Featuring the JLA by Grant Morrison, Dan Jurgens and others.]