Fire & Water #211 – JLMay: Silver Age Secret Files & Origins

The massive JLMay podcast crossover continues! Shag and Rob look at SILVER AGE: SECRET FILES & ORIGINS #1, featuring the JLA, Metal Men, Metamorpho, Hawk & Dove, The Creeper, Dial H For Hero, Super-Turtle, and more!

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13 responses to “Fire & Water #211 – JLMay: Silver Age Secret Files & Origins

  1. I am definitely a big fan of the Secret Files and Origins format, getting all the Superman ones off the rack and buying everyone I come across in the cheap bins. Love the Who’s Who style pages, etc.

    Rob was right by the way. My ears perked up when I heard about a Silver Age Supergirl appearance in a post-Crisis book. That was verboten! So, of course, I ran to the gallery post to see the page. A post-Crisis Kara sighting! How exciting! Surely you would post that!


    Anyways, I grew up on those factoid pages and it certainly helped me convince my parents that they should continue to allow me to read comics. After all, I knew that gold was ductile, that is, it could be easily drawn into a wire. And I learned that from comics!

  2. You know, after I called Silver Age a Fifth Week event on our show, I began to question that, because then I realized the ads for other issues in the crossover said “On sale in two weeks”, which kind of makes it more than a Fifth Week event. But by that point, I couldn’t be bothered to re-record or edit that out.

    There’s some fun stuff in this issue, and you guys pointed all of it out. I think SA was a good effort at capturing some of that old-school DC magic. It didn’t quite work, but I appreciated the attempt, nonetheless.


    1. The promo lyrics said 5th week at time of distribution, but I realised that was incorrect and sang an alternate line in my contribution, telling Mike to use that over all the others. Par for the course with getting things wrong in the JLMay promos!

  3. Hey guys, FYI: Super Turtle, Casey the Cop, and Hobby Hints were done by HENRY Boltinoff, not Murray Boltinoff.

  4. I never read this, but it’s a joy to hear all the podcasts about it. There’s a certain distance from both of you, of knowing what you liked back then and what you like now, that lends to a lot of insights (in addition to the detail and trivia that we’ve come to expect from the Fire & Water podcasts).

    Thanks for all the hard work, guys. Can’t wait for the next one. (don’t make it too long)

  5. New Challengers #1 debuted May 2018 and was written by Scott Snyder and Aaron Gillespie with art by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson. I just read and enjoyed it, and am excited to see where it goes! It appears they are dead? but also alive while at Challengers Mountain. They have hourglass tattoos, and as soon as they leave, they are on borrowed time. The tattoo tracks this. When the hourglass runs out, so do they.

    This was my first JLMay 2018 episode to listen to, and I enjoyed your coverage!

  6. I liked this series. I don’t know why, as a lot of it’s parts weren’t that great.

    I have wondered if you planned on doing the Secret Files after you are done with Who’s Who. It’s a logical extension. But I have a feeling that it would be more of a chore than a labor of love. Is there enough Who’s Who DNA left in the Secret Files to continue on for another 69 episodes?

    The Cover – I don’t like it. It’s some nice character studies from a sketchbook, but there is no cohesion to it.

    Main Story – It’s interesting that Superman and Batman feature so prominently in this event. Up to this point, DC had gone to such lengths to say that in post-Crisis continuity, Batman and Superman were only reserve Leaguers up until “present day.” So a bit of reconning there.

    Secret Sanctuary – I love that this drawing is updated while still being faithful to the original blueprints. Its not like the Batcave or Fortress of Solitude where every artist redesigned it’s layout.

    Challengers – Shag is right: no one gets them like Kessel & Grummett. There was issue #508 of Adventures of Superman where the Challengers guest star (by Kessel and Kitson & McCarthy) that was great. Not dissing the art, but I wonder what it would have looked like by Grummett instead.

    Dial “H” for Hero – Shag, did you read H-E-R-O from the early 2000’s? That was a take on the concept that I remember liking (though I’ve not reread that book since it came out).

    Seven Soldiers – This is the second of four teams to use this name. There was the original team with Crimson Avenger, et al; this one; The team from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers #0 that all died on their first mission; The Seven Soldiers who never really met and weren’t really a team but were anyway. My biggest problem with all of these versions is there is little to no connective tissue to the original Seven Soldiers. Sadly up until New 52, they could have done a modern day 7S, as there were active versions of all of them (Green Arrow, Red Arrow, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., Crimson Avenger, Vigilante, Shining Knight). Maybe after Doomsday Clock is done and the Golden Age is restored…

    Agamemno – The plot device of the series. That is really all he is. He is a generic alien, with a generic plan, with generic motivation. There is nothing at all exciting about him.

    Flash Facts, Metal Men Facts & Fancies, Super-Turtle, Metamorpho’s Chemical Curiosities – Agreed that these four pages are the stars of the book. They capture the whimsy of Silver Age DC distilled through the 2000’s DC lens better than the rest of the series.

    Having said that, I’m looking forward to digging into the rest of the JLMay series. Thanks for the intro to it!

  7. I got terribly burnt out on the Silver Age (event and time period) while working in my episodes (more yet to come,) so I neglected addressing this quasi-Who’s Who in appropriate fashion until now…

    A) I already tend to like the ’60s stylings of John (GLOAT) Workman but I especially groove to his Sekowsky riff on the J. L. of A. Black Canary is actually a better fit than Wonder Woman for this vibe, but I still miss the Amazing Amazon.

    B) Excellent Secret Sanctuary schematic, but I never realized they take up the entire inside of the hill. Always figured it was all on one story. Looks more like Challengers Mountain. Shame there’s no Invisible Jet.

    C) Hal Jordan remains punchable, but it’s a solid profile, although I prefer Claude St. Aubin’s regular style over the sort of “animated series” thing going on here.

    D) Ty Templeton feels especially at home on the Metal Men, and going for retro chic works way better than whatever was happening with the in the ’90s.

    E) You know I love Tom Grummett, but those Challengers costumes are such eyesores they make the contemporaneous Blackhawks look like the classic Blackhawks. Also, as much as I dig Karl Kesel inking Byrne, I don’t dig him over Grummett. Also #ChallsSoWhite

    F) One of my great regrets about finally skim/reading the original Dial H For Hero run is I now recognize most of those stupid H-Dial heroes. Radar-Sonar Man rightly takes center stage behind Robby as the “star” (kill me– no, wait, him) although I’m more partial to (drinking ipecac over bleach) The Mole (only because he looked like Batman in the face.) Sigh– ignorance was blissful. Some dials can never be undialed. Jim Mooney’s stuff was a lot better in the ’60s, too. Robby looks more like the perverted creep he devolved into during his ’70s/80s guest spots than the clean cut Goldwater voter from the strip.

    G) Kevin Maguire’s work took on a somewhat rubbery, inflatable look around the time of Strikeback! that got concealed in extra detailing there, but it felt like he lost a step for a few years after his creator-owned failure, and it was more apparent here. I don’t think having him do another Justice League #1 cover swipe with a somewhat lackluster collection of period villains does them any favors in the fierceness department.

    H) I really like the combination of Ramona Fradon and Dave Gibbons, who when combined appear to become Russ Heath. I had no use for the Doom Patrol for years, but ever since the Giffen/Clarke series I have had a hankering to try the Drake/Arnold material. Totally get the appeal of the original 3 now (screw The Chief.)

    I) I kinda dig the idea of retroactively forming a super-team out of leftover period properties (ahem) but not that into this Seven Soldiers line-up. Blackhawk already had a team and dumb DCCP Gardner Grayle (also on his own team) retcon is not welcome. Why not Mera or Zatanna for a better gender balance? Dick Giordano was not in his best form, either.

    J) Dig Nick Cardy’s Teen Titans layout, except maybe young Donna “Put ‘Em On The Glass” Troy. Speedy looks like he mixed some steroids in with his heroin, and I’m (disturbingly) down for that.

    K) I appreciate that they tried to give Agamemno an authentic Silver Age look, but I don’t feel it’s particularly distinct or imaginative. Sort of jaundiced manga Popeye meets Amazo (so much Amazo.) The origin feels try-hard Poochie to a Mort-y degree. Not keen on Terry Dodson’s rendition here or elsewhere. I found the cover to this one particularly lame in comparison to the novel one-shots. It looks like a con commission collection of pin-ups more than a cohesive piece.

    L) I am insufficiently sold on the technical veracity of the Cosmic Treadmill.

    1) Even if you guys never formally continue Who’s Who with Secret Files & Origins, you should still cover one-off editions now and again.

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