The record was previously held by Action Comics Weekly. The story was originally conceived as being a chronicle of what happened in the "missing year" between the end of Infinite Crisis and the beginning of One Year Later. It would especially focus on how the world dealt with the disappearance of the "big three" heroes in the DCU, Superman , Batman , and Wonder Woman.
As the series went on, it became more of a platform for which to set the stage for upcoming storylines in the DC Universe. In the final chapter, both the device and a Monitor inform Donna Troy that she was supposed to have died instead of Jade. Weeks 12 through 51 feature Secret Origins , written by Mark Waid with a rotating team of artists. In the aftermath of Infinite Crisis , Superman , Batman , and Wonder Woman have temporarily retired their costumed identities, and the remaining heroes attend a memorial for Superboy in Metropolis.
Time traveler Booster Gold attends the memorial, but when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do not arrive as he expects, he suspects his robot sidekick Skeets is malfunctioning. After Skeets reports other incorrect historical data, Booster searches fellow time traveler Rip Hunter 's desert bunker for answers, but finds it littered with enigmatic scrawled notes and photos of himself and Skeets surrounded by the words "his fault" with arrows pointing toward them. Booster's reputation is ruined by his unscrupulous attempts to maintain his corporate sponsorships, as well as the arrival of a mysterious new superhero named Supernova.
Booster tries to regain the spotlight by containing an exploding nuclear submarine , but is seemingly killed in the attempt. Skeets uses Booster's ancestor Daniel Carter to regain access to Hunter's lab, where he sees the photos and arrows pointing at Skeets himself. Realizing that Hunter is aware of his plan, Skeets traps Carter in a time loop in the bunker and sets out to locate Hunter himself.
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He eventually corners Hunter and Supernova in the bottle-city of Kandor , where Supernova reveals himself to be Booster Gold, having faked his death with the help of Hunter to uncover Skeets' true intentions. Hunter and Booster attempt to trap Skeets in the Phantom Zone , but Skeets appears to consume the sub-dimension and pursues his two adversaries through time. Ralph Dibny , the Elongated Man, is told that the gravestone of his dead wife Sue has been vandalized with an inverted version of Superman's "S" symbol, the Kryptonian symbol for resurrection.
He confronts Cassandra Sandsmark , and she tells Dibny that she is in a cult which believes that Superboy can be resurrected, but they would like to try it first with Sue.
Despite his initial consent, Dibny and his friends disrupt the ceremony, and the effigy of Sue crawls to Dibny, calling out to him as it burns; Dibny suffers a nervous breakdown as a result. Ralph seeks out the helmet of Doctor Fate , which promises to revive Sue if he makes certain sacrifices. With unwilling assistance of a demon he tied into knots using Gingold, Dibny journeys with the helmet through the afterlives of several cultures, where he is cautioned about the use of magic for personal gain. After several failed attempts to resurrect his wife, Dibny prepares a spell in Doctor Fate 's home, the Tower of Nabu.
Dibny puts the helmet on, points the gun at his temple, then shoots the helmet to reveal it is actually the sorcerer Felix Faust. Faust was posing as Nabu to give Dibny's soul to the demon Neron in exchange for his freedom. Neron kills Dibny, but realizes too late that Dibny's spell has trapped him and Faust inside a circle of binding that can only be undone by the person who originally created it.
With Ralph's death, Neron and Faust are seemingly trapped together in the tower for all eternity.
Action Figures, Issue One: Secret Origins by Michael Bailey | A Simple Taste for Reading
Ralph and Sue Dibny are reunited in death as ghost detectives. Lex Luthor announces the Everyman Project, a program designed to give ordinary people superpowers. John Henry Irons deactivates his niece Natasha 's Steel armor after an argument about responsibility, then denies her pleas to be allowed to join the Everyman project.
Following an encounter with Luthor, Irons' skin transforms into stainless steel , causing Natasha to accuse him of hypocrisy. Out of spite, she enrolls in the Everyman Project and becomes a member of Luthor's superhero team Infinity, Inc. Irons learns that Luthor can deactivate Everyman Project-given abilities and that they expire naturally after approximately six months. Luthor negates the powers of one of Natasha's teammates during a battle with fatal results, and Irons uses the death of her friend to convince Natasha to question Luthor's motives.
After Luthor, angered by reports that he is incompatible with the treatment, deactivates the powers of the majority of the Everyman subjects on New Year's Eve, resulting in many of them falling from the sky to their deaths, Natasha works undercover to expose Luthor. Luthor eventually learns the reports were falsified by employees out of fear for what he might do with genuine superpowers, and gives himself the powers of Superman.
He discovers Natasha's spying and beats her violently using his newfound powers. Beast Boy offers Natasha, in her rebuilt Steel armor, membership in the Teen Titans, but she declines in favor of forming a new team with her uncle. They are pursued through space by agents of Lady Styx , whose forces are conquering and overrunning planets on a path of destruction toward Earth. They are rescued and joined by Lobo , who possesses the Emerald Eye of Ekron and claims he has found religion and turned his back on violence for the sake of his beloved Space Dolphins.
Lady Styx hired Lobo to capture the heroes, but he instead delivers them to her so they can fight her. The heroes triumph, but not before encountering the Emerald Head of Ekron, a Green Lantern who fights alongside them to reobtain his eye which is, in fact, a supercharged power ring. During the fight, Animal Man is injected with a toxin and dies. After Starfire and Strange lay his body to rest and leave, Animal Man awakens to find the aliens who gave him his powers standing over him, upgrading his powers to allow him to gain powers from any sentient being in the universe.
Animal Man acquires the powers of Sun-Eaters , which he uses to return to Earth. He is pursued by Lady Styx's assassins, who are killed by Starfire just as they arrive at his home. Black Adam , the superhuman leader of Kahndaq , forges a coalition with several other countries against the United States ' superhuman supremacy under the Freedom of Power Treaty until Adrianna Tomaz , a former slave, shows Adam how he can use his abilities more peacefully to help his country. Following a lead, the Question and Montoya fly to Kahndaq, where they prevent a suicide bombing at Black Adam and Isis' wedding, for which Adam awards them one of Kahndaq's highest honors.
The four uncover Intergang, which is inducting children into a religion of crime based on its Crime Bible. Black Adam finds Isis' crippled brother Amon among the children and shares his power with him, and Amon is reborn as Osiris. Osiris befriends a seemingly timid anthropomorphic crocodile named Sobek , who joins Black Adam's Black Marvel Family. Adam and Isis inform the Freedom of Power Treaty member nations that Kahndaq is no longer interested in consolidating power or in executing superhumans. Will Magnus , creator of the Metal Men , is abducted to Oolong Island, where Intergang and Chang Tzu are forcing kidnapped scientists to develop new weapons for them.
Magnus' anti-depressants are confiscated and he is ordered to build a Plutonium Man robot, but Magnus also secretly rebuilds miniature versions of the Metal Men. Suspicious of Black Adam, Amanda Waller destroys Osiris' reputation by maneuvering him into killing the Persuader and leaking footage of the incident to the media.
Osiris retires from the public eye as a result, and acid rain ravages Kahndaq. Osiris, convinced that he is the cause of Kahndaq's new miseries, asks Captain Marvel to remove his powers, but he is confronted by Isis and Black Adam and returns to Kahndaq. Sobek tricks Osiris into turning back into Amon and devours him, revealing himself to be the fourth Horseman, Famine. The other Horsemen battle Black Adam and Isis. Isis is poisoned by Pestilence and dies while asking Adam to avenge her and Osiris' deaths. Grief-stricken and enraged to the point of madness, Black Adam destroys the country of Bialya , base of the Four Horsemen, and murders the country's entire population before killing the last of the Horsemen.
He attacks Oolong Island, but the scientists capture and imprison him. The Justice Society of America invade the island to arrest Adam and subdue the scientists, but Adam escapes and embarks on a week-long rampage across the globe , during which he kills several superhumans. During an enormous battle between many superhumans and Black Adam, Captain Marvel is unable to convince the Egyptian pantheon to remove Adam's powers, so he instead reverts him to Teth-Adam and changes Adam's magic word from "Shazam" to a new phrase.
Teth-Adam goes missing in the resulting explosion and wanders the Earth powerlessly as he tries to guess the new magic word. He is seen wearing boots made from Sobek's skin. The Question and Montoya train with Richard Dragon in Nanda Parbat , where Montoya learns that the Question is dying from lung cancer and wants her to replace him. After they discover a prophecy in the Crime Bible about Batwoman 's death, the two join her fight against Intergang in Gotham City. When the Question's condition worsens, Montoya journeys back to Nanda Parbat in a failed attempt to save his life.
Shortly after they leave Gotham, Intergang discovers Batwoman's identity and attempts to sacrifice her to fulfill the prophecy. Montoya, as the new Question, joins Nightwing and former Intergang member Kyle Abbot in trying to save Batwoman, but they are unable to prevent Mannheim from stabbing her with a ceremonial dagger.
Batwoman fatally wounds Mannheim and survives. Eve's hair, most notably, is very Liefeldian, with the middle part and poofy wings, while we get a somewhat severe tapering of the face down to the chin, eyes set a bit wide, and slightly fuller lips than we might expect. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this facial structure, but it does become a bit of a trademark with Liefeld. You'll also notice that Eve is a perfectly normal woman - her body is proportioned perfectly well, and her breasts, waist, hips, and legs all "fit" together pretty well.
He does a good job with body language in the final few panels - in Panel 6, Eve is slinking around the prison, so Liefeld draws her with legs bent, and when she hears the Incubus, she turns somewhat awkwardly. It's an odd pose, but it works for the scene.
Panel 7, where we see the Incubus, is well done - even early on in his career, Liefeld obviously had a flair for exaggeration, so we get highly arched eyebrows and the big toothy smile of the demon. Carl Gafford, who colored this issue, uses a nice touch of blue to highlight the eyebrows, and of course the red eyes stand out pretty well. Liefeld splits the panel well, so that the contrast between the Incubus smiling evilly and Eve looking shocked is nicely done.
This is a lot smaller in the original comic than it is on the screen, which is why Nightshade in Panel 1, for instance, isn't quite as detailed as you might expect. This story doesn't have a ton of superhero action, but Liefeld isn't great at it, although he's not bad, either. In Hawk and Dove , which we'll see below, he's much better at it.
One problem he seems to have in this sequence is some perspective issues - in Panel 1, Nightshade attacks the Image, and Faraday is far away, coming up the stairs, which have no depth to them. In Panel 2, while we can tell that we're closer to them because the columns in the back are larger, it still seems weird that the characters are so much bigger. The lack of depth in the staircase doesn't help. This seems like something Lewis could have helped with, but neither artist makes much of an effort here. In the second row, Eve beats up the Black Spider, and Panel 5 is a bit odd, as she punches the air as Black Spider dives into the water.
Are we supposed to read that as his reaction being struck? If so, we need to see more impact lines and the Black Spider really ought to be oriented differently. Plus, the moon is really rocky, isn't it? As I noted, this is much smaller in the comic, so it's not as obvious, but it's still a bit bizarre. Liefeld, it seems, is much more confident with his pencils, and Kesel's inks are bolder, too, which makes the art more polished than in Secret Origins.
Again, I don't know how much later Liefeld drew this or even if he drew it later, but it's an interesting change. Kestrel is a bit of a lunatic, as he's looking for Hank Hall Hawk , and he gets a bit vicious just because that guy's not Hank Hall, even though he already knows he's not? Beats me - the Kesels seem to just want to show Kestrel as crazy as possible. This is a nice page - Liefeld's Kestrel is a solid supervillain, and while his pose in Panel 5 is a bit weird, he fits in perfectly with the way superpowered people were being drawn in the late s.
Liefeld has no problems with composition, as it's perfectly clear what Kestrel is doing, and Kesel's strong inks certainly add some heft to his pencils. Like the Incubus above, Liefeld gives Kestrel those crooked "eyebrows" in Panel 3, but that's a fairly standard villain trope, and Glenn Whitmore's colors help highlight it well.
This is somewhat of a McFarlane page, as Kestrel in Panel 4, where he slaps his victim, and especially in the final panel, where he kills him, definitely have a McFarlane vibe to them.
Action Figures : Issue 1 - Secret Origins
In Panel 4, Kestrel's face is a bit rounder than we usually see from Liefeld, and I wonder if that's Kesel's influence. The large spots of blood in Panel 7 are definitely McFarlane-esque. Notice the arc on Kestrel's forehead - you can see it most clearly in Panels 1 and 7. The arc and the hatching across it, like the hatching on the noses that we saw with Larsen on Ditko yesterday, is a hallmark of this time period, and it would only become more prominent as we enter the "Image Age" of artwork. Liefeld gets to do a bit more action than he did on Secret Origins , and he handles it pretty well.
Hawk is fairly fluid as he moves around the sequence, and Liefeld does well with the actual placement of the characters within the fight. He switches the point of view between Panels 3 and 4 so that we're looking at Hawk when he gets the rifle butt in the face but then we're looking at the punk who did it in Panel 4. The transition is smooth, probably because we go from a close-up to a middle view.
I doubt that the guy's baseball cap would fly off when Hawk kicks him in the midsection, but the cap is an important clue about what's going on, so it has to fall off somehow. Once again, Liefeld conforms to the standards of the time pretty well - in Panel 2, Hawk is a but weird anatomically, but not to the point of insanity - Liefeld makes his thighs huge, especially as his waist is a bit more narrow than we might expect, but he is crouching, which highlights the thighs, and it's still not a silly proportion. He also gets a good expression on Hawk in Panel 3 - we believe that it's a guy who just took a rifle butt to the jaw.
Kesel's solid inks give texture to the pole into which the car smashes it looks like a telephone pole, but it has street signs on it, which I suppose could be a thing , and while his inking of Hawk's muscles isn't terribly subtle, it's not bad. These days and even back during the height of Liefeld mania, it was pointed out that Liefeld's facial expressions weren't that great. This is an interesting sequence, because Liefeld does a good expression in Panel 1 and an odd but decent one in Panel 3.
In Panel 1, Hawk is being a douchebag, and Liefeld gives him thin, smug eyes, a shit-eating grin, and that hand pointing at himself. Kesel's inks are good, quirking the side of his mouth up a tad to make Hawk even douchier, while either Liefeld or Kesel gives him that big chin that makes him look more manly but in this context a bit more like a jerk. In Panel 3, the expression is fine, as Hawk realizes the bad guys he tied up have vanished it appears that they can turn into crows , but because we don't see the coils of rope until Panel 4, the Kesels' words don't match up perfectly with Liefeld's drawings.
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It makes me wonder what the script looked like and if Liefeld went "off-book" a bit. But the expression is pretty good - Liefeld widens Hawk's eyes, gives him a nice surprised mouth, but one that's not too ridiculous, and lengthens his face well. Again, Kesel does some good inking - he puts lines in between Hawk's eyes to pinch in his expression a bit, and the shading on the left side of Hawk's face is well done.
The asymmetry between the drawing and the script doesn't change the fact that Liefeld could draw expressive faces fairly well. Liefeld gives us some nice character work in this sequence, as Hank meets Ren right after he meets Kyle on the previous page , and Ren takes a picture of him, causing his eyes some discomfort. Ren is "ethnic" but not stereotypically so, and Liefeld draws her with good proportions and absolutely normal clothing. He gets across Hank's short temper well in Panel 1, as he thinks Ren is attacking him or something , but Liefeld doesn't go overboard with his facial expression, and his pinched look in Panels 2 and 3 are well done as Hank tries to get the spots out of his vision.
We can still see touches of more advanced Liefeld - Kyle and Hank's hair are templates for many of his male characters in the future - but this is a nice, restrained sequence. Kesel, we can see, uses thick black strokes in certain places to add some nuance to the clothing, while he continues to etch every muscle in Kyle and Hank's bodies.
It's not excessive, but it is a bit busy. Hawk daydreams about his brother, Don, who was the "Dove" part of the team before he was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is another nice sequence - Liefeld does a good job showing the difference between Hank and Don in their body sizes, as Hank is larger than his brother, while Don is sleeker than Hank. Hank is "watching" the events happen, so he's a bit more static than Don is, but Liefeld does a decent job showing Dove in action, as his body movement is pretty solid. Once again, Liefeld does a nice job with Hawk's face in Panels 5 and 6, as his wide-eyed, open-mouth look of fear in Panel 5 gives way to a pinched look as the rocks bash him on the head.
As usual, it's germane to wonder how much Kesel did on this page, as the inking is quite nice, and the thick blacks that make the rocks look more solid in the bottom row seem to be something an inker would do.
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Still, it's a nice layout, and Liefeld's figure work is quite good. Hank meets Kyle's girlfriend, Donna, and that mysterious woman, who doesn't get a name in this issue but whom I'm going to assume is Dawn Granger, the new Dove. As we've seen throughout this post, Liefeld can draw nice facial expressions and show good body language, as he does on this page. We can tell that Donna is one of those enthusiastic people that are nice to be around but can become taxing after too long, as Liefeld gives her thin, keen eyes and puts her hands under her chin, as if she's settling in for a long conversation.
Hank's reaction in Panel 2 is well done, too - Liefeld gives him slightly desperate eyes, and while the inking line along his chin and up his cheek is very odd, he looks both a bit upset and relieved that he won't have to talk about his brother. When "Dawn" bumps into Ren who works at the bar , we get a nice little sequence, although it's certainly not perfect. When she catches the pitcher in Panel 4, it seems that her momentum is taking her past Hank, but in Panel 5, she abruptly lands on the table in front of him. Still, Liefeld draws the characters in motion with fluidity, and none of them are too contorted, as we'll with some of his characters in the future.
Hank's stupefied look and "Dawn's" cheekiness in Panels 6 and 7 are nice, too. If this is Dawn Granger, did she plan this in order to meet Hank, and that's why this looks staged? I haven't read the mini-series I bought this issue recently solely because I knew I'd be featuring Liefeld , so I don't know the answer to that. If it's deliberate, it makes the scene work a bit better.