BHOC: SECRET ORIGINS #7

I don’t have a clear memory as to where this issue of SECRET ORIGINS came from. I don’t think I bought it myself, but I don’t clearly recall it being given to me either. Which is not surprising, as i think I traded it away before too long, so it doesn’t loom large in my memory.

SECRET ORIGINS was a series that had been cancelled months previously, with its last remaining issue never printed. This happened with a bunch of DC books at around that time. Then at some point in 1974, the decision was made to pull the trigger on them and get them out of inventory and limbo. Being a reprint title, this didn’t impact on SECRET ORIGINS much, but the final issues of LOIS LANE and SUPERGIRL, for example, seemed just a shade out of touch.

The most amazing thing to me about this issue, looking back at it, is that Bill Finger was credited for this Robin introductory story. I’m assuming that E. Nelson Bridwell was responsible for that credit–I wonder if he got in hot water because of it. This was still during the period when, contractually, everything done on the early Batman stories was said to be the work of Bob Kane.

This first story is the introduction of Robin, and, indeed, the introduction of the concept of the costumed kid sidekick. And Finger wastes no time. We get Dick Grayson trained and into the Robin costume, ready to go to work, by the bottom of Page 3.

Batman is still depicted as a dark and menacing figure throughout most of this story–but already the cracks in his facade are starting to show. On Page 6, he’s absolutely grinning as he busts up an underground gambling parlor. With the introduction of Robin, he’s immediately having more fun.

It’s a very well-told story, and it looks good, too, despite being a trifle cramped in many panels (and that’s despite the work that had to be done to make the pages taller, so that they would fit the aspect ratio of modern comics) You can see why Robin was such an immediate hit.

The second tale reprinted in this issue is the first appearance of Aquaman. It’s a dull and forgettable story, and so I forgot it–I don’t have any memory of ever having read it. The last page did include a stripped-in plug for the SUPER-FRIENDS cartoon which was then running on ABC (Channel 7 in my area) That was a can’t-miss series in my household for that first season. I was especially delighted when guest-stars such as the Flash, Green Arrow or Plastic Man would show up. (Though I resented Plastic Man’s appearance–he wasn’t a member of the Justice League. I felt that they should have used the Elongated Man.)

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