Monday, August 10, 2015

Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1


Story – D. Curtis Johnson
Pencils – Angel Unzueta
Inks – Jaime Mendoza
Colors – Joe Rosas
Letters – Clem Robins
Cover by Jeff Matsuda & Jon Sibal with cover color by Richard and Tanya Horie
Edited by Eddie Berganza with Maureen McTigue

Former Impulse cover artist Jeff Matsuda returns for another fun Impulse-related cover. I think he does a great job with all the main characters here, which only makes me sadder that Matsuda never drew any inside pages. But, as we'll soon see, Matsuda isn't the only familiar name to return for this 80-page special that's really 71 pages.

Our first story is actually a framing device that loosely connects all the other stories. It begins with Secret visiting the underground headquarters of Young Justice, still bearing Impulse's blue graffiti self portraits. Secret is soon approached by Red Tornado, who tells her the boys aren't in, and asks her what she's doing here. Secret says she's sort of a friend of Robin, Superboy and Impulse, but Red Tornado says they've never mentioned her. The android senses Secret has something she wants to talk about, so he offers his services as an advice vending machine, which he's been doing a lot lately. So Secret briefly recaps the story of how the boys found her and helped her fake her death to escape the Department of Extra-normal Operations.

Secret reveals that she's spent most of her time since then secretly following the boys around to try to understand how to live in the outside world. Red Tornado tells Secret she definitely picked the wrong role models in terms of finding normal, well-adjusted teenagers. Secret admits she was beginning to suspect that might be the case, as they often create more trouble for themselves than they actually solve, especially Impulse. Secret says she's surprised he even has time to acquire enemies since he's so busy getting himself in trouble. And that leads us into The Secret Origin of Impulse.

Actual Reality

Mark Waid Writer
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Jason Wright Colorist
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

In Manchester, Alabama, Bart is rushing Carol away from some bullies he antagonized by calling one of them a big gorilla. But Bart is running too quickly and not paying attention to where he's going. Carol tries to warn him, but he ends up running down a road that's being re-paved, and crashes into a barrel of tar. Bart tries to spin away from the tar, but he only makes it worse, somehow ending up with both arms stuck in the barrel.

Carol tries to help him out, telling him to hurry before the road crew comes back from their lunch break. Bart tells her to relax, saying the bullies will catch up before then, but that only makes Carol panic more. Bart reminds her that he was just trying to help, but Carol says he thinks with his feet. She then demands to know why he acts like he's from another planet, and Bart realizes he's never properly told her his origin story.

Bart says he's not from another planet, just the 30th century. The grandson of the old Flash, Barry Allen, Bart was born with uncontrollable super speed, and had the body of a 12-year-old when he was only 2 years old. So now he's either 15 or 3, depending on how you count. Bart explains that he was raised in a virtual reality world that could keep up with him, and for the first time ever, he mentions having a friend in that world named Dox. Carol now understands why Bart treats life like a video game, and she reminds him that some activities, such as this one, do not come with a reset button.

Bart continues his story, explaining how his grandma, Iris, took him back to the 1990s so his cousin and current Flash, Wally West, could help stabilize his rapid aging. Carol sarcastically remarks on how stable Bart is, but he says it's true. After Wally helped push Bart past his limits, he could run at whatever speed he wanted and even vibrate through objects. At this, Carol encourages him to vibrate through the tar. But when he tries, he only ends up heating the tar and burning himself. And it takes a few tries for Carol to get him to stop.

We then have a very weird panel, continuity-wise. Carol asks Bart who named him Impulse, and he said it was Batman. I say this is very weird because that simply did not happen. If you go back and read the first comics, you'll see Bart named himself Impulse based on Wally's comments. In Zero Hour, Batman was the first to call him Impulse, but that was only after Bart introduced himself to Superman as Impulse. So I'm not sure why Mark Waid wrote that Batman came up with the name. Perhaps he incorrectly remembered how that scene in Zero Hour played out, or maybe he always wanted to have Batman play a key role in Impulse's origin. Whatever the case is, this one line leads to a shift in continuity, which will be prominently displayed in Impulse #50. I guess I can pretend that the continuity-altering event Genesis changed this minor detail.

Anyway, Carol suggests they ask Max Mercury for help, but Bart staunchly protests. He tells Carol that Max doesn't understand him, referencing a moment when Max wouldn't let him dry his hair in the microwave. Bart then tries to escape by spinning around again, but this time somehow ends up trapping himself and Carol in the barrel even worse than before. Carol tries to think of a way out, but the bullies soon arrive.

The big, gorilla-like bully is excited to have a custom-made punching bag in front of him, and he asks Bart if he still looks like a monkey. But Bart only makes matters worse by saying gorillas are apes, not monkeys. Luckily, Carol comes up with an idea in the nick of time, and pull a Br'er Rabbit on the bullies by begging them to punch Bart all they want as long as they don't push the barrel down the hillside.

The bullies take the bait, and toss the barrel down the hill. And just as Carol hoped, by bouncing and rolling down the hill, the barrel is torn apart, freeing her and Bart. The teen speedster quickly throws on his Impulse uniform to exact some vengeance on the bullies, which he accomplishes by sticking tar-coated construction cones on their head. Bart is quite pleased with himself, but Carol is still mad, and jumps into the steamroller to teach Impulse a lesson.

Back at the Secret Sanctuary cave, Red Tornado admits Impulse's faults, but points out that he always keeps trying until he gets it right. Secret says that a trait shared by Superboy and Robin, and she wishes she could be that strong. That leads us into Superboy's story, which does not include Impulse. So quickly, I'll just say that Superboy was clone created after Superman was killed by Doomsday, but he was an imperfect and rushed clone, hence his different and weaker powers. Also, Superboy's body can't age, leaving him stuck as a 16-year-old forever.

Secret and Red Tornado talk about how tough it is for Superboy to live up to the standard of Superman, and Secret points out that Robin also has to live up to the standards set by both Batman and Nightwing. Robin's origin story also omits Impulse, so I'll just mention how Tim Drake used his budding detective skills to determine the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and that he convinced Batman to take him on as a replacement for the late Jason Todd. This story also says Tim is almost 15 years old, which makes him the youngest member of Young Justice (if you don't count the true ages of Impulse and Superboy).

Secret still doubts whether she can be as great a hero as the three boys, but when she hears a girl calling for help outside the cave, Secret immediately rushes to her aid. The girl was climbing a tree, gotten tangled up, and was about to fall a fairly big distance. Secret is able to catch her, and the girl is thrilled to be rescued by a real superhero.

We then get the origin story of the Spoiler. Stephanie Brown's father was the villain Cluemaster, and she became a vigilante to help take him down. But Stephanie is now pregnant, putting her Spoiler days on hold, as well making it pretty much impossible to join Young Justice. A fun detail from her story are the posters on her wall of Jay and Silent Bob and Superboy.

Secret and Red Tornado's conversation turns toward the topic of role models, which leads into Wonder Girl's story (drawn by Ethan Van Sciver). Cassandra Sandsmark, wearing a Flash T-shirt, notes a boy in school drawing pictures of superheroes. So she tells him the story of Wonder Girl (herself) and how she became friends with Wonder Woman and was endowed with superpowers from Zeus himself. This story is immediately followed by The Secret Origin of Arrowette, which does include Impulse.


Tom Peyer Writer
Marty Egeland Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Scott Bauman Colorist
Kurt Hathaway Letterer

Cissie King-Jones is meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. Marcy Money, who wants to know why she became the masked crimefighter Arrowette. So Cissie starts the story right from the very beginning, when her mom, Bonnie, was just a little kid. Cissie's chain-smoking grandma, Millis, forced Bonnie to practice archery every minute of the day. Bonnie eventually made it to the Olympics, but Millie was furious when her daughter only won a bronze medal. So Bonnie gave up archery and never spoke to her mother again.

Later, though, Bonnie learned about Green Arrow and Speedy, and was inspired to see people put archery to a practical use instead of just chasing medals. So Bonnie picked up her bow again and became Miss Arrowette. But without any actual crimefighter training, Bonnie was easily defeated by the Loaded Dice gang. Luckily, Green Arrow and Speedy were able to save her.

Bonnie began dating Bernell Jones of the Star City Post-Herald, whom she nicknamed Bowstring for his thin frame. When Bonnie developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, she gave up archery and settled down with Bowstring. A year later, Cissie was born. When Cissie was five, her dad died after eating some bad shellfish. But Bonnie didn't seem too broken up, since she received a fat life insurance check (hand-delivered by Hal Jordan).

With the money from the life insurance, Bonnie heavily invested in training Cissie to be everything she couldn't be. So from the age of 5, Cissie's life became an endless string of lessons in archery, judo, kick-boxing, gymnastics, ballet, drama, voice and beauty pageants. Just as Cissie became her mother, Bonnie became hers, an obsessive chain-smoker living through her daughter.

Finally, Cissie was ready to become the new Arrowette. However, her first case was overshadowed by the death of Superman. So Bonnie spent months developing a big case to put Arrowette in the headlines. They tracked down the monster boy Spazz to Manchester, where Arrowette was aided by Impulse and Max Mercury.

But Max was disgusted by Bonnie's behavior and reported her to child welfare. Bonnie hired the best superhero lawyer out there, Jean Loring, but she still lost the case and was put under psychiatric observation, while Cissie was sent to the Elias boarding school in Pennsylvania. Cissie tells Dr. Money she wants to take her story public to punish her mother for humiliating her. But Dr. Money says her case is sealed to protect her from the criminals she put away.

The psychiatrist tells Cissie her feelings are perfectly normal, including any desires to stop being Arrowette, break off contact with her mother, or even try to get back at her mom by being a better Arrowette in her absence. To Dr. Money's dismay, Cissie perks up at that scenario. Later, Dr. Money sees Arrowette on TV, having foiled a bank robbery in a new (and better) costume. Dr. Money feels responsible for inspiring Cissie to put herself in more danger, but her code of ethics prevents her from interfering.

We come back to Secret and Red Tornado at the end, and Secret is beginning to obtain a better grasp on the concept of heroes and her place in the world. Secret reveals she initially visited the Young Justice headquarters to ask the boys to help her save some other kids being experimented on by the DEO. Red Tornado is sure they'll agree to help her, and he tells Secret she's welcome to stay and wait for them to show up. But Secret says she needs to check on a few things first, and flies away with a newfound optimism.

So much fun. I really am loving these 80-page giants, even if they're only 70 pages. Each story was solid and informative, and the framework story mostly did a great job of leading into each individual origin. It was great to see some more of Ethan Van Sciver's artwork, and it was very nice to have the creator of Arrowette, Tom Peyer, return to flesh out her background. But the real treat for me was the reunion of the original Impulse creative team. Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and Chris Eliopoulos were all there on Impulse #1. The colorist for that issue was Tom McCraw, who did color the Superboy story inside this issue. I wish he would have traded duties with Jason Wright, but it's alright. Waid and Ramos slipped right back into the world of Impulse as if they never left, and put together a wonderful little story. Ramos' facial expressions were magnificent as always, and Waid gave Max one of the best lines ever: "We do not dry our hair in the microwave, Bart."

Next time, we finally wrap up the monumental year of 1998 with the beginning of a three-part epic, JLA/The Titans #1.


  1. Sorry but, where i can download this comic? Thanks

    1. Sadly, it looks like DC hasn't digitized this comic yet. You can buy a physical copy of it from