While researching and reading about my next JLA/JSA entry and scanning through some of the Commander's excellent articles and Fig's Doom Patrol recollections, I thought I would feature those characters whose origins made sense or were cool and those whose were just silly. I'm going to start off with a DC hero but will get to Marvel as well. I plan on focusing on super-heroes but if anyone wants to include super-villains, it's fine by me.

I'm not going to comment on the origins of the Flash, the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man as they are so iconic, even their flaws are untouchable!

Lightning Lad: He first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (Ap'58) with the rest of the Legion. However he was unique in that he actually had an origin. Most of the non-Terran Legionnaires came from planets where everyone had some degree of the same power. No fuss, no muss like Marvel's mutants! Even the Earth-born Legionnaires (Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid and Bouncing Boy) had real simple origins. But Garth Ranzz's grew and evolved, giving him an almost biblical backstory.

It was in Superman #147 (Au'61) where we learn that Garth and Mekt Ranzz, two brothers from the planet Winath, crash on the Lightning World of Korbal when their (borrowed, *ahem*) space cruiser's batteries run out of power. They try to lure the native Lightning Monsters to charge them when they get charged instead! Garth becomes the heroic Lightning Lad while Mekt becomes the evil Lightning Lord!

So we had feuding brothers just like Thor, Aquaman, Ka-Zar, Hercules and Nick Fury. Did Mekt drag his brother for a joy-ride? Did his new found powers affect his mind?

This origin was mentioned in Superman Annual #4 (1961) though I don't know if it came out before or after #147. It was also brought up in Adventure #300 (S'62).

In Adventure #308 (My'63), the origin is expanded on as Garth's sister, Ayla, was there too, gaining the powers of Lightning Lass! The strange thing was that Mekt wasn't shown, Garth was already in his Lightning Lad outfit and wanted to join the Legion that did not exist yet!

Later, with Garth and Ayla described as twins, it was stated that all Winathians were born twins, but Mekt was not and that contributed to his turn to evil! Even his hair turning from red to white was a story!

Lightning Lad's origins had enough depth and subtext that you would think that he was going to get his own book but he had the worst luck of any Legionnaire or the best, depending on your point-of-view! He died but got better, lost an arm, had to wear a robot one but had his arm grown back! And had a solid, long-lasting and fulfilling relationship with a girl who could read his mind!

I'll add to this as I go along!

Comments? Opinions? 

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Granted I have a soft spot for Bouncing Boy, but I'm a little incredulous that this thread needed to be bumped up (after nearly three years) just to jump all over Chuck for his funny origin story. The worst? Really?

I think it's a matter of scale. If a character has become terribly important AND she/he is taken very seriously then their origin story is bound to be judged more harshly.

But are we really going to knock fellows who were not taking themselves too seriously like Bouncing Boy or Elastic Lad? Whatever you say against them bounces off them and comes back on you.

Next thing you know we're going to be questioning the metaphysical premise of Hot Stuff the Little Devil.

Have some readers gone tone deaf? I wonder.

Philip Portelli said:

The Whizzer's origin is Steinbeck compared to the Black Condor's! Taught himself to fly, indeed!

Come now, be fair.  He was brought up by condors, and they taught him to fly.  That makes it completely plausible.

Chemo, the Parasite, Captain Boomerang, Black Hand and a lot of villains had bad origins because no one thought much about it. Captain Cold stuck a prop gun in a machine, the Mole Man fell down a hole, Batroc was French. Just say anything and get on with the battle!

But are we really going to knock fellows who were not taking themselves too seriously like Bouncing Boy or Elastic Lad? Whatever you say against them bounces off them and comes back on you.

Good point, I'd have hated to be Glue Boy.

Yes, you do have a soft spot for Bouncing Boy, to be accusing us of taking SA origins too seriously. That's what we do! We aren't really taking them too seriously, we're just pointing out that they didn't and maybe they should've taken them a *little* more seriously. And no, we didn't need to dig up an old thread just to make fun of BB, we could do it at any time.

The Legion had SO many origins, most of which were pretty random with little though to the ramifications of what those origins meant about the person or his planet. If we're looking for a source for good/bad origins, the Legion is a treasure trove. To paraphrase the saying, "The Silver Age is in the details." They don't make details (or origins) like that any more.

-- MSA

I just can't get in that groove. The origins make sense to me within the context that they occur. I don't get any kick from making fun of stuff that was already meant to make fun. Doesn't seem to be on point. And it feels like schoolyard bullying.

Certainly Captain Boomerfang's origin story is a clever little tale--all about the commercial fads that were constantly getting kids to buy new products. I remember being caught up in those fads--and while I was excited to get the latest toy that every kid had to have--at the same time I was already questioning why we were being manipulated into getting this junk.

The one thing I would say about super-villain origins is that they often come out of some clever idea that the writer and the editor have hit upon. So they're good for that story, but trying to extrapolate from that into other stories doesn't always work. Which is the problem with a lot of rogues.


Perhaps Wally actually did get his powers from Mopee but the doofus got mixed up and appeared to the wrong Flash. He would have seemed a bit less idiotic in a story starring a kid.
Mr. Silver Age said

Sorry guys, but Wally West's origin takes the prize for phoning it in. Yeah, same for him! isn't an origin.

-- MSA

I like it! That would have actually added plausibility to Wally's origin, as it would explain how a 1-in-a-billion (or more) activity could happen twice in a row. Mopee decided Flash needed some help, saw Wally standing there, and zapped him exactly the same way that Flash had originally been hit accidentally. So it explains Mopee and Wally! 

And yes, as part of a Wally back-up story, in which Mopee leaves and makes Wally wonder if it really happened or if Mopee actually did do it, it would've been a cute throwaway (and probably wouldn't even have to have been dealt with in his origin). Sadly, they didn't do that, making Mopee legen (wait for it) dary

-- MSA

Barry: "I find it very difficult to believe that you gave me my powers, pal."
Mopee: "I assure you it's the truth, Mr. West."
Barry: "West?!? My name is Allen! Barry Allen!"
Mopee (checking his papers): "Allen...Allen...Allen...Oh dear! Um, so sorry, sir! My mistake!" Poof!
Barry: "I didn't think I had that much to drink..."

ClarkKent_DC said:

My No. 1 stupid origin is the Parasite. Here's a dumb guy who works in a place that regularly ships out containers full of toxic waste, and has the insanely stupid idea that they're actually full of money -- so he opens one, and finds out, the hard way, that it really WAS full of toxic waste! 

That sounds nearly plausible to me. There have been cases where people stripped open devices with radioactive contents, hoping to find something they could sell, and exposed themselves to the contents.

I saw it in some 70s cop show. Somebody stole a metal tube and they had to find him before he got it open because it was dangerously radioactive. They caught him just starting to take the back off, convinced there was something inside he could sell at a junk yard. I think it was either Streets of San Francisco or Hawaii Five-O.

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