Secret Origins Redux 1: Doctor Fate, Lightray, and Black Canary

A bold new era for Secret Origins Podcast begins. Ryan Daly welcomes three brand new guests to review the stories from DC Special Series #10. First, Sean Ross joins Ryan to discuss the first origin of the immortal Doctor Fate. Then Ryan and Terry O'Malley take the boom tube to New Genesis to learn the story of Lightray of the New Gods. Then Ryan and Donovan Morgan Grant break down the pre-Crisis/pre-Roy Thomas origin of Black Canary, and examine her live action appearance in that Birds of Prey Harley Quinn movie. Finally, Ryan explains the return of this once dead podcast and reveals the untold Secret Origin of Rhys Daly.

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

Additional music: "Magic Man" by Heart; "Life During Wartime" by Talking Heads; "The Man" by Taylor Swift; "My First Child" by Nil Lara.

Thanks for listening!

40 responses to “Secret Origins Redux 1: Doctor Fate, Lightray, and Black Canary

  1. Ryan and company, this was glorious.

    And Ryan, that last half hour made me feel. I hate that. I’m glad Rhys is doing so much better.

  2. I’ve never heard this podcast before.

    Seriously, welcome back to your Origins story. I had this issue off the stands when I was about 14, so it was a great call back, since I was reading all of the titles that Dr. Fate, Lightray and Black Canary were appearing in. I no longer have it, so I loved the walk down memory lane.

    Here’s a suggestion that I made early in your old cast. There were a number of “Secret Origins” issues done during All-Star Squadron – #61-66 – late in the run. They were of Squadron characters that weren’t scheduled to appear until much later in Roy Thomas’ plans – Liberty Belle, Shining Knight, Robotman, Johnny Quick and Tarantula. And as we know, All-Star Squadron disappeared shortly after that, and the 1940s portion of the S/O title disappeared anyway, before they got to these 1941 origins. You mentioned that you didn’t want to step on Bailey and Gardner’s Tales of the JSA podcast. Also, as we know, that podcast is somewhat dormant. Perhaps a re-visit to those, as I always felt that these were unofficial companions to Secret Origins.

    Great show, and my best to you and your family.

      1. What’s that mean? Is that some kind of secret Canadian code?

        Ryan, our “neighbors from the North” are talking amongst themselves. I think it’s a plot!

        1. Oh, yeah, eh?

          Slipped ol’ Siskoid a sackfull of Twonies, some Timmy’s and a half sack of Pil, an’ we’re ready to give ‘er, eh?

          Salute, Captain. Or, shall I say “Warrant Officer”.

          Roll up the rim to win.
          Later, eh?

          1. Okay, I want credit for following some of that, but only because I learned about Tim Horton’s in Afghanistan, and Google is my friend.

            Are you the man I talk to about getting Roughriders tickets?

          2. Don’t worry, Siskoid, I’ve heard you both speak quite articulately and yet still differently, given that there’s most of a very large country between you. I don’t talk like I grew up in the rural Deep South anymore, either, but I dearly love some who do.

            Gord, I know only about the CFL team, but what started out as a jab across borders has turned into a cross-cultural education for me. Thanks!

  3. I hope we get a DigestCast crossover in this series. The first of the four Secret Origins digests in Blue Ribbon looks quite good, with a rare non-reprint story and an origin story for the biggest omission in the main series…

  4. I have long had this issue, so I pretty much committed it to memory. Great coverage from all involved. As far as the Vosburg art goes, I always thought his figure work during this period looked like a Cinemascope film crammed into old school square TV ratio, resulting in stretched people.

    The ending of the show…I’ve already told you this privately, but I didn’t know whether to hug you or kick you in the nards. Following this up…well, at least Siskoid and Bass were next in line!

    (and they pulled it off).


  5. Welcome back, and with three fresh guests Sean, Terry and Donovan – nice one Ryan! When this show was announced last week I hoped this comic was coming up, and here it is, first up. It’s not an issue I have so I had a cheeky look online.

    It’s odd that this DC Special series never had that title on the front, unlike the previous series with that name, which ended the same year this set began.

    I do feel for Inza, she’s so sad here. I’m glad she found her joy later, when Bill Loebs wrote the Nineties Dr Fate series – that was wonderful.

    Nabu was just out and out evil wasn’t he? Poisoned gas and banished grief and lost childhood. Brrrr.

    This story doesn’t half read like the prelude to a series, I wonder if Paul Levitz was pitching something.

    I really dislike the Staton/Nasser combo, I see the Neal Adams influence in the inking, but the result is far too murky, even allowing for Seventies printing. And good Lord, Inza’s hair needs an intervention.

    New Dr Fate Khalid Nassour was recently in Bendis’ Superman in an excellent two-part tale. And the Paul Levitz book of a few years ago was brilliant, he worked with a great young artist, Sonny Liew – check it out! There’s a palpable sense of the uncanny to it.


    It seems incredible that Lightray gets a spot in here. Who had been demanding more on him? He’s so very, very dull. Even his costume looks insipid.

    I do laugh at the idea that ‘Lightray’ is more fitting a name than the Sunny-sounding ‘Sollis’? And that editor’s note about Metron’s outfit is a hoot! ‘True, Metron had adopted his costume by then, but didn’t wear it when relaxing’. Classic ENB.

    I loved Terry’s bonus New Gods talk, the Fourth World remains a blind spot – one day I’ll crack open that FW Omnibus on my shelf.


    How I love that Seventies Black Canary logo, it’s so unusual, I wish DC still used it.

    I never knew Gerry Conway came up with the line, ‘The canary is a bird of prey’. Now that had legs.

    Ah, Larry Lance and his spanking line, how very Golden Age!

    Good Lord, young Dinah had a weird hairline. That explains the wig.

    Richard Drake was a sad guy, dying of a broken heart because Dinah didn’t make the police force! Honestly, he should have got a hobby.

    So am I the only one fascinated by Terry Austin and his zip-a-tone wallpaper prints? Look, that wallpaper in Richard’s home and Dinah’s flower shop reappears in Silver St Cloud’s apartment in Detective Comics.

    For me, that shot of Dinah’s arse goes beyond sexy and well into the realm of creepy.

    ‘Pass the salt.’ What a weird final line. Since when was Ollie’s chili not perfectly seasoned?

    As regards Roy Thomas’ ‘fix’ for the Dinah ageing ‘problem’, DC could have just said she was de-aged when she crossed Earths.

  6. Glad to see this show is back as the first iteration was pure gold and my introduction to being a ‘now and then’ co-host.

    It is interesting to me that it never hit me that no other New God can fly except Lightray until it was pointed out here.

    Obviously there is a lot of issues with Dr. Fate and who controls the body/etc. I wouldn’t have minded if Fate made Nelson a sort of Indiana Jones adventurer who only dons the helmet when things become otherworldly. Then you might actually care for him.

    And it is always interesting to see you revisit Black Canary Ryan as I feel you have a sort of odd relationship with the character. I think you have gone from love to dislike to respect/like for her.

    I will echo the sentiment of the last part of the discussion. Such a wonderful story about love and family.

  7. Wonderful comeback episode, with three fantastic guests. I’ve never understood Lightray either, and by the sounds of it this story wouldn’t help. Surely there’s no need for an origin story to explain how a god, born to a race of gods, ends up with superpowers. They are, after all, a god.

    Superhero stuff aside, Ryan, I have to say that the final section was an astonishingly brave, honest and powerful bit of podcasting. It reminded me of the somewhat tricky birth of my own daughter, and the overwhelming fear and love that came with it. Without wanting to get too mushy, your limitless love for Rhys comes through loud and clear whenever you mention him – you’re clearly an exceptional dad. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have something in my eye.


  8. My enjoyment of the return of SECRET ORIGINS was marred by the fact that BOTH Sean Ross and Terry O’Malley told me it was one of MY podcasts that introduced them to this medium and drew them in. SO now I can’t trust a word they say.

    Donovan, we’re cool.

    Art wise, Frank Chiaramonte is a particularly bad choice of inker for Don Newton. Newton’s art was precise and exact, with his grasp of anatomy being one of its best features. Chiaramonte inks are loose and feathery, which to my eyes just do not mesh with Newton’s pencils. I’m not saying FC is a bad inker, per se, just that he is not a good match with Newton. OTOH, the combo of Joe Staton and Mike Nasser is really solid–I think this is the only time I’ve ever seen them work together.

    After the Black Canary segment I stopped listening to the rest of the show, did I miss anything?

  9. Great launch for Secret Origins Redux Month!

    Dr. Fate: He’s in the next Who’s Editing? and I think you guys will be happy with our thoughts given your own.

    Lightray: Kirby never gave Lightray an origin, so this is all new stuff, which makes it particularly sad that it couldn’t be more interesting.

    Black Canary: I have no problem with complete revamps in a movie like Harley Quinn’s, especially since we have other versions on TV shows concurrently. DC Media is like another bunch of Earths in the Multiverse. Sometimes you get a close analog (Earth-1/Earth-2 Aquaman), sometimes it’s hardly recognizable (Tangent Earth). They also do not call her Black Canary in the movie, just Canary.

    1. Also wanted to mention that, fidelity to the printed versions aside – and I certainly shared those concerns going in – the BoP movie is surprisingly brilliant and well worth your time. It’s a really fun romp. Suicide Squad was utter cobblers, mind.

  10. In the years since Ryan Daly joined the Fire & Water Podcast Network, I’ve embraced each of his newly announced shows with the refrain “oh, I see you’re not doing more Secret Origins Podcast, then.” So this is a pleasant if short-lived surprise until you go back to talking about friggin’ Batman or whatever. I have to assume for this edition that an editor asked The Answer Man which favorite lesser known super-heroes he received the most questions about, which would demonstrate demand for commissioning of a new origin story, and then they did a Lightray one, too. You like blasphemy? I think the cover is a fine enough homage until you realize it’s probably one of the worst things José Luis García-López has ever done. I guess he hadn’t ascended yet.

    I love it when I have to go all the way back to the pre-Network blogs to reference my first pass at a reply. I really should copy and paste all those old Who’s Who comments into a word doc before the entire Aquaman Shrine redirects to a happy ending massage listing. Hmm, would that make it a massage board, then? Also, it’s fun to check to see if I was a co-host on a given Secret Origins segment. I did an awful lot of the Golden Agers for no particular reason, but I think I got more of the Quality heroes.

    Anyway, I pretty much hit it out of the park that first round, and I was pleased to hear a lot of my kudos and concerns for the property were shared by our esteemed hosts. I’m not as into the art on this one as you guys. It looks like a weird half-measure between two artistic extremes rather than a complementary pairing. Why does Staton draw a twelve year old like a toddler, or was it a scripting error? Aside from wanting to rip off Captain Marvel, why rapid-age Kent Nelson when they could have just as easily started the story twelve years earlier and have him develop in monastic isolation? Which would maybe bite Dr. Strange? Dag, there’s no winning with that one. The bit where the wizard is physically destroyed after manifesting the new hero is also straight from Shazam. Why again would you bother to train Kent Nelson if you’re just going to possess his body to act, and why allow him a continued autonomous existence? Lord knows that didn’t work out for him, as Nabu lasted thousands of years and Kent was out in maybe half a century? Caucasians are demonstrably products of poor craftsmanship. Yeah, I don’t think this story would have sold me on Fate in ’78. Kent is entirely passive, and Inza Kay Letourneau’s whining is making me feel like I’m editing a Spawnometer.

    1. ‘ Inza Kay Letourneau’. OK Frank, you got me Googling… a bit unnecessary!

      Given the motto of this network is ‘Find your joy’, think again… there must have been something about this issue you didn’t hate!

          1. I’m having dwell a lot more on New 52 continuity than I ever thought I would, so maybe I’m getting Infected by The Batman Who Laughs or something. How would anyone tell, though?

  11. I forgot how much I dug Neil Daly’s “Premonition.” One of my favorite podcast openings to get you into the groove.

    As I mentioned previously, I think Dr. Fate has one of the worst origin stories, and I didn’t think this was a particularly good telling of it, so DC Special Series #10 had nowhere to go from there but up. Yes, even Lightray. I’d already checked out a few of Ram V’s issues of Justice League Dark to give me the lay of the land with modern Fate, but I went further back last night and have to second the James Tynion IV recommendation. It kind of broke my heart because it turned out they’d already done the thing that I wanted to do with Dr. Fate, except much better. Also, Wonder Woman’s role in that story offered insights and avenues that elevate the character within the DC Universe, so egg on my face for poo-pooing her inclusion on that team. It seems the best way to offer her the iconic and important status of a Superman or Batman is for her to travel in an entirely different lane, and it occurs to me that I don’t recall her ever drawing a sword there, either.

    In all honesty, the second segment was the most personally valuable. I’ve invested a lot of time and research into Siskoid’s Who’s Editing podcast, fueling my all-time most obsessive-compulsively useless comments, and my whole deal hinges on the New Gods. I read the black & white proto-Showcase around the time of its publication in 1998. Which was 22 years ago. And just the one time. And also a handful of issues of Mr. Miracle across multiple volumes, plus a chunk of Orion. That’s not a lot of fresh or relevant perspective to hinge a massive project on, and I simply do not have the time or raw interest to read everything I’ve missed or forgotten. Terry O’Malley’s brief overview of the Conway run was extremely helpful to me in scanning over that run and only reading the meat. The segment also confirms that there isn’t much to know about Lightray when he can’t even carry his own secret origin with having it hijacked, by Metron, no less.

    As for the story itself, I have to tell you, Don Newton’s art was actually worse in Regrettable Return of the New Gods. Maybe it was the various inkers, but you have to wonder after a while if maybe he was at least part of the problem when the whole run has problems with lazy eyes and simian profiles. Besides not being a great example of Newton art, I have to say that he’s just not a good choice for this type of material (or Shazam, for that matter.) The New Gods are functionally and visually a subpar ’70s super team, like a cross between the Champions and the Outsiders with only the D-listers. Orion even looks like Geo-Force in a worse costume. Yes, even the green & yellow one. I know, right?

    Did I say that I was going to talk about the story at the start of the last paragraph and then not do that? It’s a trifle, so it should be understandable. I appreciated the overview of the situation in the Fourth World helping me to see Conway was coming at it from a post-nuke Star Wars perspective (weird since Dreadstar and Omega Men did the exact same thing in their early issues.) The New Genesis Equation = Elysian Fields + Croatia. Got it.

    Part of that ’70s New Gods review was the First Issue Special Mike Vosburg drew, which was awful, and there’s no way Terry Austin didn’t all but redraw the Black Canary story. I wasn’t aware that Conway had to craft a secret origin for her from whole cloth, but it worked as well here as it did when Alan Brennert expanded upon it. Richard Drake definitely cut his daughter’s hair.

    I’m done with the stories, but not the podcast, so…

  12. Dr. Fate: No new comment. Among the many points I agree with you on, the Nelsons having more personality and some adventurer cred of their own sounds cool.

    Lightray: I actually really enjoyed this one, because I learned things about the New Gods I didn’t know, even as sparse as it was. Also, it seems like a great first half to an origin story. Most origin stories follow an outline of “Here’s what happened to me, here’s what I did about it, here’s who I became as a result.” This one has chunks of that outline for both Lightray and Metron. If someone fleshed it out and gave it the Alan Brennert treatment— say, Alan Brennert, for example — it would be good to go.

    Black Canary: I also love that she didn’t have to have a defining tragedy to decide to fight crime. People volunteer for dangerous, time-consuming duty serving others all the time, and often for no pay (e.g., volunteer firefighters). Adventure and the satisfaction of helping others each have a powerful pull.

    As far as the future of female action heroes in fiction goes, fiction will have to have plenty more to catch up with real life.

    Ryan, I’m sorry you and your wife had such a difficult first year of parenting. It sounded like learning to sail in a tropical storm with sharks trying to launch themselves onto the deck. I’m sure there are scars, but also ways you are stronger as a family. I imagine that as the years go by and the challenges stack up, you may do better than most of us at knowing what’s really important and what isn’t.

    Also, I like Cranio Kid (Cranial Kid? It’s good either way), but he needs a Fearsome Five name for those bad behavior days. I nominate…The Precocious Skull!

  13. Welcome back Secret Origins Podcast. Who says you can’t go home? In fact most of us are trapped there now.

    There is UNIVERSAL AGREEMENT that Doctor Fate’s greatest moment is when Batman phoned him to keep an eye on Darkseid in Cosmic Odyssey.


  14. Finally finished the podcast. Wondering if that was down to intimacy issues or simple negligence. I was almost done with the Canary segment while parking at home of Friday evening. Listened to a little bit more while writing comments. Hopped into the car Monday morning and immediately went “I heard this already– mark as played.” It then jumped to Redux 2, and I’m like “why is Siskoid doing the introduction?” Realized that this was the first episode with Ryan, and that had gone unexplained. Remembered the comments here on Rhys, fumbled to find my way back to where I left off on the previous episode, end up listening to much of the back end of the BC segment, ate carrots, & avoided speed traps. Finally finished at lunch, and boy am I always glad that I didn’t procreate. I can be helpful situationally, but the whole lifelong open-ended commitment to the preservation and advancement of an entirely dependent life form with massively tense complications? You’re a better man than I, Ryan Daly, not that there was ever a doubt from any corner.

  15. Black Canary appeared in two television specials called “Legends of the Superheroes” She had a comics accurate costume and a sweet motorcycle.

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