Another big Treasury Edition was the next book I brought home, from my favorite 7-11 outlet. This SECRET ORIGINS SUPER VILLAINS (no of) contained five stories starring a number of favorite characters of mine, including the oldest Silver Age Flash story I had read up until this time.

The first story up was “The Man Behind The Red Hood.” It’s a story with a great surprise ending, one that’s completely undone by revealing upfront that it features the origin of the Joker. In it, Batman and Robin teach a course in criminology to a class at Gotham U, and in the course of it, we hear the story of how the mysterious Red Hood eluded Batman when he was first beginning his crime-fighting carer–by diving into a tank of waste chemicals. Turns out those chemicals turned his skin white, his hair green, and made him the Joker. Batman gets to deduce this all for the first time by the end of this rematch.

The second story was the origin of Lex Luthor, a Superboy tale illustrated by Al Plastino. I was never a great fan of Plastino’s work–his characters seemed stiff and unappealing to me. But this story, in which we see the early friendship between Lex and Superboy sour when the Boy of Steel accidentally causes Lex to go bald while saving his life, would soon after be of greater relevance to me.

The big attraction to me, of course, was the first battle between the Flash and Captain Cold, a story that originally saw print in the Scarlet Speedster’s second appearance in SHOWCASE #8.  I already considered Captain Cold the Flash’s number one enemy, based on the stories I’d previously read, so this was a cool read. Strangely, Cold uses his cold gun to mostly create illusions in a doesn’t-really-work-just-go-with-it quasi-scientific manner, rather than doing actual freezing stuff. 

This was followed up by a very early Captain Marvel tale, in which the Big Red Cheese learned the origins of his recurring foe, Dr. Sivana. The truth is that, as a young man, he tried to create devices that would improve humanity, but he was persecuted by big business interests who didn’t want their wars improved so dramatically. Snapping, Sivana took his family to Venus, including daughter Beautia and son Magnificus (who was almost as strong as Marvel himself) where he conquered the indigenous life-forms and dedicated himself to conquering all of the universe. This early story was a bit more dramatic than the feature eventually became.

The final entry was a short story illustrated by Dick Dillin and Neal Adams detailing the beginnings of Superman’s enemy Terra-Man. A literal space cowboy, Terra-Man is a pretty ridiculous figure, but I took him absolutely seriously as a kid. Here, we learn that he was adopted and trained by an alien outlaw who accidentally killed Terra’s father in the old west. Terra pays his benefactor back by gunning him down in revenge.

And in an attempt to justify some of the other characters showcased on the cover, the inside back cover gave short text write-ups on a number of other DC bad guys, a few of whom would be featured in a follow-up not long afterwards.


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