Secret Origins #33: Mr. Miracle, Green Flame, and Icemaiden

Ryan Daly and guest David Ace Gutierrez review the origin of Mister Miracle and Oberon from Secret Origins #33. Then, Tim Wallace joins Ryan to cover the origin of Green Flame. Finally, Paul Hix helps tackle the origin of Icemaiden.

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“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music: “I’ve Got to Break Free” by Queen, “Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” by Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee & Katie Lopez, “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner, “Helena (So Long and Goodnight)” by My Chemical Romance.

Thanks for listening!

30 responses to “Secret Origins #33: Mr. Miracle, Green Flame, and Icemaiden

  1. Good episode Ryan!

    I knew DAG wouldn’t be able to resist the Hymon joke. It’s like Shag was back on again! I liked Klaus Janson’s inks over Heck’s pencils, but I’ll be damned if I can spot Art Adams in there.

    I can’t ever look at Chuck Beckham/Austen’s artwork and not think of the porno stuff he did. I kept waiting for something really interesting to happen during the Fire story, but it never quite got there.

    1. As thrilled as I was to appear on this show, I was horrified that David Ace Gutierrez is spending his time flagrantly not recording Ultraverse podcasts. I discovered those shows just in time for him to give up. I even wrote a very personal and touching email to his show which will now never be shared. You got red in your ledger Gutierrez!!!

  2. Shagg and I ended the show because that’s how punk rock we are — we quit on the verge of global popularity

  3. Another great ep Ryan. It was great hearing Paul Hix from the @WFDpod. Your musical choice rant in light of the recently announced Doom Patrol book was pure gold!! Kelly Clarkson doing Powergirl bwhahahaha. And I guess the secret is out. All you guys from The Fire and Water Podcast Network, The Lantern Cast guys along with Paul and Mike from Waiting For Doom have kept me company on those long, cold and lonely crime scene guards….

  4. Have to agree with Shag that the best days of the Secret Origins Podcast are behind it. The JSA issue marked the premature climax of Roy Thomas’ editorial regime and focus on revisiting Golden Age characters. The JLA issue marked the beginning of Mark Waid’s regime and an emphasis on the Silver Age characters I’m far less intrigued in. At least Thomas made an effort at outreach through ties to current events, but after this three issue visit with the mostly lame JLI heroes, Waid is all about wallowing in pure baby boomer Big Chill Stand By Me B.S. The main thing I had to look forward to was the Martian Manhunter segment, which we recorded last month, so the rest of the run looks like the Wasteland Podcast. My sympathies for Ryan on this project only deepened with time and all-ape issues.

    I’m part of the generation that grew up ridiculing Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko as weird, out of touch has-beens. Kirby’s ’70s work especially was the stuff you got stuck with and couldn’t get rid of when trading comics with your friends. You hear the stories about how staffers in the Marvel Bullpen would put up defamatory gags about Kirby in the offices. Things didn’t really start to change until around the time of his death in the early ’90s, and even then I think it took some time for Bronze Age babies like me to give the guy a fair shake. I’m still not that big a Kirby fan, but at least I’ve found a few projects like OMAC and New Gods that won me over, plus I like some of his DC creations as interpreted by others.

    I either first came across Mr. Miracle in house ads or through Super Powers, and he was not my bag. He was a gaudy eyesore who wasn’t heavily involved in anything I was reading, plus he felt to me like Kirby trying to do his own ill-fitting Spider-Man. Even in JLI, he was simply one of many, and I skipped all of his spotlight stories there in first run. I turned my nose up at the various Miracle specials and series. Even when there was a big event involving Darkseid, he seemed to be on the periphery.

    Mr. Miracle had a short enough run that I would read it on an online subscription service or check a collected edition out of the library, but neither of those opportunities have presented themselves. I don’t find the premise appealing enough to pay money for. It’s nifty that Miracle was based on Jim Steranko and that Big Barda was Roz Kirby and super escape artist isn’t a bad angle. On the other hand, that visual takes a lot of getting used to, and Mr. Miracle seems very slight for someone with such a significant role in the Fourth World Saga. New Gods is this huge story that boils down to Orion wanting to murder his father and Darkseid wanting to mold the universe and Kalibak never measuring up to his brother and Lightray fighting to keep Orion from succumbing to darkness and Mr. Miracle… pulls a David Blaine act at a circus.

    More than anything, my main problem with Mr. Miracle is that it feels like his entire story is in the origin. Sacrificed by Highfather, raised on Apokolips, suffering under Granny Goodness, his light never extinguishing and drawing in Barda, they escape the evil empire, and Scott Free chooses to forego major involvement in the eternal conflict in favor of domesticity on a backwater world. Nothing the character has done since has made a lasting impact. Even in the Fourth World, where he’s the son of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the captive disciple of Darth Vader, he only ever amounts to… I don’t know… Wedge Antilles? Scott does some stuff and people know who he is, but he’s no Chewbacca. Lightray is Chewbacca.

    It doesn’t help that Scott Free is as close as there comes to being an “iconic” Mr. Miracle, but he isn’t the first or the last in that role (even if Morrison did that thing where Shilo Norman was embed with the essence of Scott, or whatever.) Once again, the New 52 needed to address things like why Mr. Miracle even exists, and for my money, you can magnify the character extraordinarily by simply making Scott Free (and Highfather, and probably Barda) black. Something as simple as a shift in coloring of skin not even visible in costume would imbue Mr. Miracle with enormous meaning and relevance. Suddenly, the whole story is given the subtext of liberation from real world human bondage. Ideally, Scott Free would also make a point of trying to help others escape from Apokolips instead of doing Houdini tricks in tiny flyover state venues, but if not I’d still cut him more slack if he were black rather than another in the multitudes of whitebread DC heroes with an increasingly distance relation to early 20th century European immigrants.

    As for the actual Secret Origin story, I didn’t hate it, but it sure failed enough to deserve being hated. Bifurcated parallel narratives rarely work in the best of hands because it goes against the basic mechanics of this medium. Mike Carlin is not the best of hands, and in fact I find him an outrageously overrated and under-condemned group editor whose tyrannical reign of mediocrity is directly responsible for divorcing Superman from modern culture. Everyone remembers when Superman died, but has he ever truly lived again? Anyway, Carlin’s exactly the sort of guy who’d push for a writing assignment from a green editor and then produce a story in dire need of a not-present strong editor to massage or outright reject it. Further, I can see Waid wanting to give an over the hill veteran artist some work with the intention of having strong inkers “fix” the story for modern audiences, but Art Adams was clearly too reverent of the original pencils, so that trick was a bust. There are huge problems with functionality in the story and art, so it’s a credit to Kirby’s concept that the results were still readable.

  5. Another good episode Ryan.

    Mr. Miracle was a character that I discovered through the early JLI episodes. I enjoyed his adventures when they were based in the JLI or on his home life with Barda. Unfortunately, when the New Gods stuff came around, I became less interested. I could never get a handle on the New Gods stuff. When Kevin Dooley began the short-lived Mr. Miracle series in the 1990s, it concentrated heavily on the New Gods part of his life and was very dense and unreadable for me; same with Starlin’s work on the “Death of the New Gods”. The main problem with these stories is that it had Scott Free as a brooding, morose character which to me is the antithesis of what Scott should be. He has appeared in the New 52; first in the Earth 2 series and currently is part of Geoff Johns’ Darkseid War in Justice League. At least in Johns’ run he is much more likeable that in previous runs.

    The Mr. Miracle story that I liked the most didn’t even feature Scott! It was the JLI run where Mr. Miracle had to do an intergalactic tour promoted by Magna Khan and a replacement Mr. Miracle robot was put in place, just as Despero came into town. The robot was killed by Despero by exploding the JLI shuttle and the issue that featured “Miracle”‘s funeral was a moving piece of work by Giffen, DeMatteis and Hughes as the team came to grips with what they thought was Scott’s demise.

    Fire and Ice I also met through the JLI. I think they really developed for me as characters when Adam Hughes took over the art and gave them a much needed wardrobe makeover. Ice’s death, as mentioned in the podcast, was a very big mistake. Indeed, the events leading up to it were a mistake for Ice as under Dan Vado, she began to become more powerful and regal, which did not suited her character at all as developed by Giffen/deMatteis, and Jurgens. After her death, Fire did not go so well either, as under Gerard Jones, she came slightly obsessed with the original Icemaiden that came in to replace Ice.

    Fire’s stories in Checkmate were good but were a complete 180 degree from how she was portrayed in the Secrets Origin story! Under her revised history under Checkmate, she was a super-efficient, super-deadly spy, with a right-wing father who killed a number of people as part of a right-wing dictatorship. Amanda Waller used this information to blackmail Fire to carry out covert assassinations without the knowledge of Checkmate.

    The most moving part during Ice’s death was in the second Super-Buddies story by Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire when the team was in hell and they believed they had found Ice’s spirit. They were told they could escape with Ice if the team did not check to see she was with them, like the old Greek myth. However, Fire looked back and Ice was lost – the silent anguish on Fire and Guy’s faces at the end was stunning and a testament to the storytelling of Giffen/deMatteis and Maguire.

    I would recommend the JLI:Generation Lost maxi series – it is a great spotlight for Fire and Ice and while there was some major changes in Ice’s backstory, it was a good redemption story for Fire, Ice, Booster and Captain Atom. I would have loved to seen the JLI emerge from that, as was hinted at the end, but the New 52 came on to dash that.

    There is probably more I could mention but probably rambled on enough. Thanks for the podcast Ryan and look forward to the next one!

    1. Further on Fire not doing well after Ice’s death, John Ostrander featured her in an issue of his Martian Manhunter run. The set up was J’onn has been using his shapechanging to hold many international super heroic identities and he is beloved in Brazil. Bea resents his fame and the public acclaim he attracts and comes across as a despicably shallow character, filled with bitterness. I think it had a hopeful ending about dealing with her grief, but it really struck me as the writer going out of his way to point out and exagerrate everything bad trait of her character.

      1. Hi Paul, I was going to mention that story too but figured my comment was getting too long :). The way Ostrander had Fire acting in that story put me in mind of Sophia Vergara’s character in Modern Family when she gets over-emotional!

        The other major element of Fire not dealing with Ice’s death very well was when she slept with Guy Gardner at a Warriors’ Christmas party bash. What made it worst was that Guy was after receiving a statuette of Ice from Ice’s mother a few minutes beforehand, and he is still holding onto it as they kiss!

  6. Ta muchly for another hugely entertaining show. I like that cover, no way is it a five-minute rush job. Mind, Fire should have been manifesting her powers, one way or the other.

    I’m with Frank in believing that dual narratives tend to become duelling narratives; they rarely work – one will always be more compelling than the other, with the remaining one defusing the tension, mitigating the enjoyment, of the first.

    Was there much call for Oberon to get the origin treatment? OK, he considered himself a member of the League, but he wasn’t a superhero, he was the manager. We don’t need anything beyond ‘one day Scott met Oberon’.

    I’ve always gotten really bored by stories set on Apokolips and New Genesis. The only Mr Miracle stories I’ve liked were earth-set, with the Englehart/Gerber/Rogers/Golden run being my favourite.

    I’ve loads of affection for Don Heck, especially when paired with someone with a lush line like Coletta. The art here was a bit harder-edged, but I liked it anyway.

    I’m not so keen on Chuck Austen’s work for Fire though, the woman has a haystack head. And she’s seriously unsexy in these pages. I do commend you lads for not adding a comedic pause between ‘me’ and ‘up’ in the story title…

    How about Green Flamethrower as an alternate name? And I agree, she’s more interesting as a lower-powered character than a green Frankie Raye. Make her work for her wins.

    I have no problem with the stories ending before she and Ice join JLI – we saw that in the comic only recently, when this comic appeared, and their arrivals weren’t dramatic enough to warrant a recap.

    Checkmate, I tried, and while I could appreciate the craft – Rucka’s plotting and character work are excellent – I couldn’t get beyond the interminable spy-speak, the constant codewords and the like. Plus, I hated the idea Bea had been an assassin.

    Ryan, Paul, it’s true some of the relationships in the JLI in New 52 were unearned, but did you read it? Dan Jurgens worked really hard to make things work, Aaron Lopresti’s art is always worth a look and it was pretty good.

    I don’t think the best days of the podcast are behind it, there are plenty of great stories to come. And even when the stories aren’t the best, the host/guest dynamic is there to be enjoyed.

    1. Would agree with you Martin on the JLI in the New 52 – it was a decent enough series, and I believe it was cancelled, not because of bad sales, but because they wanted to make room for the new Justice League of America title. There was potential there, and I felt that there was a lot of plot lines left dangling at the end, particularly with the death of Rocket Red. They also developed some good new characters, like Godiva and August General in Iron, and gave Booster Gold a good leadership role. However, as Ryan said, some of the appeal was in the interlocking histories of a few of the characters that no longer existed as part of the new timeline. Still, it was a good series.

  7. Another great episode!

    Like you all, I found the dual stories of Scott/Oberon a bit too clunky to make it seem necessary. I would have rather heard all about Scott. Maybe give Oberon a one or two page origin like Mazing Man or Ma Hunkle? There did seem to be huge gaps in the Scott story, things I knew as a fan that I thought should be told here that weren’t.

    My first encounter with Mr. Miracle was in the Englehart/Rogers re-do in the late 70s. I somehow got the first issue which dove right into New Gods mythos. As a kid I could see the art was crazy good but the story made little sense as I didn’t know who anyone was or why they were doing what they were doing. Now, I recommend those handful of issues highly. Like their work on Batman, the Englehart/Rogers Mr Miracle was brief and fantastic.

    The Fire story read to me more like a Tex Avery cartoon. So the cartoon-like art and violence and cheesecake all seemed like they meshed together well. She is spilling out of her clothes so much, I expected the men to turn into wolves like Jim Carrey did in the Mask. But the guy not dying but flying into a tree, her constant job changing, her power of sneezing fire … that’s looney tunes stuff. It isn’t great. But it was fun. The Bierbaums broke up the heaviness of the 5YL Legion with the occasional humor issue (usually with Matter Eater Lad), so not surprising to see them writing this.

    Both Fire and Ice have survived the millenia and are in JLA 3001. Ice was a true goddess who basically lived in an castle and brooded. Fire became Etrigan’s consort and ruled in Hell beside him. That book is gold and hopefully will get some coverage on Bwa-Ha-Ha.

  8. I bet Kelly Clarkson could write the hell out of a Power Girl comic!

    I get Paul’s comment on the Colorforms-like nature of this cover. Oddly enough, these covers are more KAPOW and super heroic than the JLI’s Who’s Who entry from the 88 Update Rob and Shag just covered. I remember putting these issues in bags, and hanging them up on my wall to make a mini-poster. I did that alot with images that spread over multiple covers.

    I liked Don Heck’s early Marvel stuff, but man, this looks rough. I remember thinking this Mister Miracle origin retelling was quite a mess. It actually confuses more than it educates. I’m with David on the incongruous scene of Mister Miracle with a machine gun in Vietnam! That image has always stuck out to me. And yes, the Super Powers figure looked like he’d hit the Big Belly Burger a few too many times. I still have my childhood copy of that figure. I first met Mister Miracle in the JLA/JSA/New Gods crossover by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin (who passed away between the first and second issues) and George Perez.

    I met the Green Fury/Flame/Fire and Ice Maiden/Ice in the pages of Super Friends. And Ryan, you just sent E. Nelson Bridwell spinning in his grave by saying that book WASN’T in continuity. He tried his damnedest to make sure it did fit into the Earth-One tapestry, even if every other writer and editor completely ignored it!

    The Fire origin was…interesting. Chuck Austen drew the Midnight entry in that same Who’s Who issue Rob and Shag covered this week, and that I mentioned before. The girl in the surprint could very well have been Bea.
    I didn’t know about Cherry Poptart, but given what we knew of Austen later, it makes sense. 🙂

    I can’t see Jim Valentino at all in the art in the Ice story. I forgot he was even involved, thinking it was just Baretto. Loved the musical choice for the intro!

    Thanks for ending with some Queen. I wish Freddie was around to write the Doom Patrol!!!


    1. Of course, Scott Free’s favorite song is Rupert Holmes’ “Escape”, though he is also known to listen to Saga’s “Tonight We’re on the Loose.”

      1. I think if Scott put out a personal ad like the guy in the song, Barda would kill him!

        Seriously, that’s the worst romantic song ever, if you really listen to the lyrics.


        1. Holmes later wrote a couple of novels, one of which I came across when I worked at Barnes & Noble. I wondered why the name Rupert Holmes sounded familiar, then looked at the author bio.

  9. Ryan, in your history of Mister Miracle, you are too early for the DC Implosion. That was in 1978. The 4th World books were killed by Carmine Infantino, and the Implosion was after Jenette Kahn had taken over and replaced Carmine. The series were in revival when the Implosion came about. In fact, the ad for the DC Explosion featured Big Barda as one of the characters standing in a group. The revived series were cancelled around the time of the Implosion, but had already been planned, with New Gods finishing up in Adventure Comics and in JLA, with “Crisis on Apokalips.”

    I first encountered Mister Miracle in a house ad, for the revived series. I may have seen something for the original series; but, I was pretty young and the memory is hazy. I do know that the Mister Miracle ad had a ring of familiarity about it. My first issue was #21, the third Engelhart/Rogers issue, where Scott goes back to Apokalips to challenege Darkseid, to try to revive a comatose Barda. He has to escape from a massive death machine, in the story. Marshall Rogers’ art just wowed me and I fell in love with the character. The costume was awesomely flamboyant and the abilities lent themselves well to visual storytelling, and Rogers drew the heck out of it. Rogers left, but was followed by Michael Golden, who was equally excellent, then the series was cancelled. Miracle was always my favorite of the 4th World books and the original series holds up the best, to my reading. It really lets Kirby go nuts, with the visuals and it was filled with great characters.

    You mention that, physically, Barda was inspired by a Playboy layout of Lainie Kazan; but, her personality was based on Roz Kirby, Jack’s wife. The banter between Scott Free and Barda was very much inspired by Jack and Roz.

    This story is okay, and it gives us more of Thaddeus Brown, the original Mister Miracle; but, Don Heck was well past his prime. Heck is a much maligned artist who was great on non-superhero comics; but, still produced some excellent superhero stories, in the 60s. I thought he did some fine work on Avengers. By the time he was working at DC, his hand wasn’t as steady and he had vision problems.

    The other stories are okay, for what they are. I’m not a fan of Chuck Beckum/Austen but this is serviceable. I do have to say, I’ve been to Brazil and this is a very filtered idea of it; but, that’s comics. I prefer Valentino’s art on the Ice story; but, the Tom & Mary Bierbaum’s Fire story is more engaging. Actually, based on his work on normalman (always lower case), Valentino would have been a good fit for the Fire story. I do think that Bea is the least convincing secret agent, ever, and that includes Austin Powers. i did see her in her debut, in Super Friends, though I didn’t encounter Ice (apart from group drawings) until Justice League.

    The Bierbaum’s were good writers and Legionnaires was my favorite of the two Legion books, helped by the Chris Sprouse art. Chuck Austen had the dubious distinction of following Alan Davis on Miracleman, lasting one whole issue. He tells his story in the Twomorrow’s book Kimota, the Miracleman Companion. he had issues with editor cat yronwode and was replaced by Rick Veitch in the next issue, which was followed by John Totleben. His style on Miracleman was an attempt at something like Davis. he did a house ad, for Eclipse subscription service, which was better than the actual comic he drew.

    Valentino had made a name on normalman, at Aardvark-Vanaheim (back when Dave Sim was publishing stuff besides Cerebus, along with wife Deni), before this. I don’t remember him doing a lot at DC, before working on Guardians of the Galaxy, at Marvel. I’m sure he did stuff I probably just missed. He went just by the name Valentino, on normalman, so that is the reason for the credit.

    I’m kind of with Frank (I can’t believe I said that) about this segment of Secret Origins. I always dabbled with the series, rather than collected it; but, my interest dropped significantly, by this point. I picked up a few more (Green Arrow & Speedy, Blackhawk); but, not many. To be fair, I was pretty busy with my naval service and I tended to pick up a lot of books on gut feeling and was branching out into more independent stuff.

  10. ps I’m betting Freddie Mercury would have written some awesome comics; probably about a superhero who calls everyone “darling.” I mean, come on, he did face down the Highlander!

  11. Great episode Ryan! All three characters well explored by you and your guests.
    When I got to the Ice Maiden section I was horrified to hear you use the “Do you Want to Build a Snowman” song from Frozen and I shouted at my car stereo, something to the effect of “what a terrible waste of an opportunity to play “Cold As Ice” by Foreigner!” and then just as I finished speaking those words the radio dial tuning transition happened and Foreigner blasted through my speakers and I burst out laughing. Well met, good sir!!!
    I jumped on to listening to your Secret Origins show when you came to the F&W Network and I’ve been enjoying listening to your reviews of the past issues/episodes. Also really enjoying the “Give Me Those Star Wars” podcast!
    Thanks for your hard work on your shows and several others on the Fire and Water Network help me get through the day as I toil as a Graphic Artist at the Sur La Table corporate HQ in Seattle, WA.

  12. Oh say Martin, just to clarify, the Secret Origins Podcast should be just fine right up to the end. Ryan’s still digging up new and entertaining guests after something like 40-50 individual segments. They’re just going to have to read worse origins featuring lesser characters, which should provide fodder for fun bitch fests! Negativity makes better radio.

    I don’t care for elemental heroes, going back to at least the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon. Here’s one of the greatest super-heroes of all time, with an original intricate costume, an enviable origin story, and enough powers and abilities to fill a paragraph… and he gives up a hunk of time in every episode to also-rans born with their powers in largely featureless and mostly monochromatic costumes who only control extremes in temperature (plus flight and ice sleds, one for each.) Not only didn’t Fire or Ice do anything visually that wasn’t common in comics, but they specifically stole manifestations from better known characters.

    Like many folks, my first exposure to any of the Global Guardians was in JLI. I love international representation for super-heroes, even when they’re treated as substandard subjects in a b-plot. After being introduced to JLI in “Moving Day,” I expected every issue to be highly comedic, so the reintroduction of Green Flame & Icemaiden in a somewhat grim seriocomic wind-up drawn by not-Kevin Maguire served as my jumping off point on the title for most of the teens. DC didn’t have many heroines left after the Crisis that weren’t dead or in a transitional phase that rendered them unavailable, and those who were left seemed to be refused to JLI by the talent/editorial handling them. Fire & Ice were fair game in desperate times, and while the individual components didn’t do much for me, in retrospect I preferred them as a comedy duo over Blue Beetle & Booster Gold. Bea and Tora were always well intentioned and never stopped being heroic in their pursuit of yucks, plus they had a richer and more complex relationship with the ultimate spoiler, Guy Gardner.

    The rebranded Fire & Ice had lazy costumes in the beginning, but then Adam Hughes updated them with stylish fashions that almost immediately dated them, going into the 1990s looking like a “Physical” jazzercise instructor and a hair metal band groupie. I was fine with this heroine duo in their place and time, but once Dan Jurgens took over Justice League America and inherited something like five members from Giffen & DeMatteis, I could tell immediately that they were a poor fit for his storytelling. Ice threw off Guy for a schoolgirl infatuation with Superman, while Fire became a Valley Girl. Somebody decided Ice couldn’t be the naive, innocent, ignorant foreign exchange heroine forever, so suddenly we got the Blueberry Icicle Saga and an overcompensating course correction where she died specifically because creative/editorial wanted readers to feel a loss. If there’s a parity between the Flash and Supergirl in iconic heroic deaths, I guess Ice was equal to Blue Beetle, in the sense of a small but moderately vocal niche fandom never quite accepting the death until a motivated creator finally relents and gives them a mulligan. Personally, I think death lent Ice meaning and her character trajectory was inevitably going to become problematic, which can be seen in her lack of significant use since her resurrection something like a decade ago.

    In the case of Fire, she came off as a superficial sexpot, but never an outright bimbo like Starfire. Bea is largely defined by Tora, as Guy Gardner was, so I found those two characters more interesting when they had to deal with the void of her absence. That’s also why I prefer the Sigrid Nanssen Icemaiden, with her doctorate and fluid sexuality and well-intended but deeply inappropriate social experiments. Sigrid was a better developed character in a handful of comics than Tora ever was, and she forced Bea to confront her own lack of progression. At the same time, Bea didn’t handle mournful and guilt-ridden well, so while I wanted her to show more dimensions and could appreciate the reasoning behind her inclusion in Checkmate, the execution left her a different and even less appealing character. There has to be a middle ground between the Marys, and Beatriz should probably skew toward Matt Helm over Jason Bourne anyway.

    As for the Secret Origins stories, I’m glad other folks covered the bibliographies. Mark Waid came to DC from editing Amazing Heroes magazine, and he was clearly trying out newer left of mainstream talents at the start of his gig. Heck, last issue had a struggling former Marvel marketer and a dude best known from First Comics, and this issue featured Sidney Mellon from The Trouble With Girls and the Bierbaums from the Lightning strip in Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. By the way, while some name creators worked on the Cherry’s Jubilee anthology, Chuck Austen had already built a adult oriented name for himself with his female-friendly story-oriented porn mini-series Strips and Hardball, which was also where his career ended until the early ’00s on U.S. War Machine for Marvel. Everything about the Fire story reeks of small press. It’s a cute, passable effort for the black & white boom that somehow snuck into a DC title. I want to say the story was an attempt to do Andy Sidaris from the point of view of his eye candy, which makes it seem much weirder divorced from the context of the hookers & blow VHS box cover ’80s. It was a mostly inoffensive, amateurish diversion.

    I had more problems with the Ice story, since it’s basically Wonder Woman’s origin without any of the good/empowered parts and an extra piggish Steve Trevor. Gerard Jones should have been better than this, and I really like Ed Barreto’s embellishments, but the cheesecake would have been better employed on Fire. Playing up Ice as a sexual object skeeves me out because she’s so out of touch with reality outside her winter wonderland that she comes off as childlike. I also really missed Roy Thomas’ story behind the stories in the letter column. It’s absence magnifies my feeling that these characters from the second half of the run aren’t worth the effort.

  13. Cheers Frank, it seems we disagree opinion terms of which characters are worthwhile, my here are loads I really enjoy in the Waid run; certainly there are more stories I recall fondly.

  14. Yeah, I’m not big on the Silver Age in general, but especially DC’s, with aspects that extend into the ’70s & early ’80s. But hey, I’m doing a Bloodlines podcast focusing on DC’s most obvious attempts at Chromium EXTREMEness, so my taste is obviously in question.

  15. Your enthusiasm over the Green Flame story was refreshing. I remember being completely unimpressed with this entire issue. Time to dig mine out and give it another read.

  16. Siskoid, I believe that you undervalue Orion. Also, Darkseid may objectively be the best New God, but I’m tired of him.

    I stopped reading the Englehart/Staton run of Green Lantern Corps before the Rocket Red story, so I know them near entirely from Justice League International. They serve a function in their comic book universe that I understand. Rocket Red #4 occasionally offers a decent joke or a character moment that I can appreciate. He has a family and a beard and dentures, as I recall. This Secret Origins story was okay.

    I have read more G’nort stories than I care to reflect upon, and this was one more that I have read that I had not read before and probably will not ever read again without provocation. G’nort was essential to Justice League Antarctica and “Aliens Night Out,” two of the funniest and best later run JLI stories. I read “A Guy and His G’Nort,” but I do not remember anything about it, because it wasn’t very funny, and there’s no other point in having G’nort in a story. G’nort is not very much at all like Ambush Bug, but Deadpool is very much like Ambush Bug, and Harley Quinn is very much like Deadpool, and only three of the four are Bugs Bunny riffs. J.M. DeMatteis is by far G’nort’s biggest fan, and I believe I have unbidden audio recorded of him discussing G’nort that I will release someday. I can’t believe no one mentioned that he is Ed Norton from The Honeymooners in dog form, just as Barney Rubble is Ed Norton in caveman form, and that’s also how we know the “g” in G’nort is silent, because Norton.

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