Okay, so maybe what Paul Dini and Alex Ross have been doing amounts to over-hyped fan-fiction. But I like the early '70's they've recreated. It took me a while to put together all four of their over-sized graphic novels; Peace on Earth, War on Crime, Power of Hope and Spirit of Truth. Once I had them all, I was hooked. Like reading Marvels and Kingdom Come. Kurt Busiek. Mark Waid. Paul Dini. Ross keeps some good company!
JLA: Secret Origins could be nothing more that an over-sized Who's Who, or Secret Files and Origins, DC's certainly published plenty of those. It could just be a reprint, a comic book version of a rerun. Except for the extra due diligence and the bonus features at the end.
"They are heroes who act during life's darkest moments. Sometimes unseen...Sometimes coloring the skies with their amazing feats.
"Warriors, protectors, guardian angels.
"They are beings of great power and greater commitment, working miracles for all mankind.
"And sheltering us when the sky is falling."
~ From pages three and four.
What sets JLA: Secret Origins apart and above a simple, basic Who's Who or Secret Files and Origins, is the humanity that comes across in these iconic characters. The secret origins from Peace on Earth, War on Crime, Spirit of Truth and Power of Hope are reprinted here. Where this really takes off is with Barry Allen's secret origin, as told by his wife, Iris West Allen. Hal Jordan's secret origin is told by Abin Sur. Arthur Curry's story is told by Arthur, Jr. J'onn J'onzz tells his own tale. Most of the origins unfold the same way, in first person. Oliver Queen's is unpretentious. Eel O'Brian's is a rip-roarin' hoot. What's interesting is that DC's Captain Marvel and Plastic Man are elevated along with The Atom, Hawkman, Green Arrow and Black Canary. Latter members such as Adam Strange, Zatanna, Metamorpho, Elongated Man and red Tornado only get a nodding mention under the banner of the classic Justice League team origin.
Dini and Ross get to the point with their scripts for each character. It's the perfect blend of just the right captions with fantastic art. Ross really is the Norman Rockwell of comics.
What is unique and singular about the Justice League is that they are all these Olympic, iconic figures that step down among us to work out miracles. Unlike other teams, like say The Avengers, who are all - mostly - human, climbing and reaching up to the stars. That comes across here.
It's interesting in the end notes that the conscious choice was made to stop before Firestorm joined. Enjoying this over and over again, I've come to the conclusion that it is a shame that Tony Isabella's Black Lightning was never a member. That's a shame.
For both words and pictures, I give this a full five out of five stars.