Comixology Sale Picks: DC Secret Origins

Comixology Sale Picks: DC Secret Origins
Comixology have just put up a week-long sale of DC "Year One" type books, telling (or retelling) the origins of several of their most-loved characters (plus, er, Black Lightning). It's an excellent opportunity to remind yourself of the days when DC put out comics that didn't universally stink the place out, so let's go through them and see what you should be buying...
Batman: Year One (four issues)

This isn't just the greatest Batman story ever: it's one of the greatest superhero comics of all time. Frank Miller at the height of his powers, with incredible atmospheric art by David Mazzuchelli, it remains - over twenty-five years on - the gold standard of the modern era. If you're into superhero comics and you haven't already read it you should be doing so anyway - but at under four dollars for the whole thing, not to do so is unforgivable.
Buy it? Unless you (a) already own it or (b) clicked on to a comics website by accident, that's a big fat yes.
The Man of Steel (six issues)

John Byrne's 1986 revamp of Superman looks a little dated in places now, but is still a staggeringly important comic: no superhero had ever been significantly reinvented for their age in quite this way before. While it's several revisions away from being canonical these days, it still contains many important elements that at the time were new additions to the myth, and Byrne's visual take on the character has seldom been bettered.
Buy it? If you've a hankering for some Early Modern Age superheroics, or if you want a solid, good old-fashioned Superman story with terrific, expansive art, you could do a lot worse.
Superman: Birthright (twelve issues)

Mark Waid and Leinil Yu's 2004 series is essentially a more modern take on The Man of Steel, and was also a significant influence on the movie of the same name - but don't let that put you off. While it falters slightly in its earlier issues (and the tie-in to Smallville prematurely ages it), as soon as Clark hits Metropolis it's a glorious, thrilling and energetic re-assertion of how Superman can be relevant in the present day. Waid performs the clever trick of turning the modern scepticism over the character's relevance into an actual plot point - and brings him out triumphant on the other side.
Buy it? Twelve issues is a hefty investment, but in this case it's a rewarding one. If you don't care about Superman this might not click with you, but if your mind is open to being won over this is the series that's most likely to do it.
Green Lantern: Secret Origin (seven issues)

Geoff Johns' nine-year Green Lantern run - arguably the defining part of his tenure at DC - was around halfway through when, in the wake of The Sinestro Corps War, he decided to go back and retell the origin of Hal Jordan, cleaning it up for the short-lived "New Earth" continuity. In truth, it's hard to see much point to it - at the time of publication it served as something of a pause for breath, but as an origin it doesn't really improve on 1989's Emerald Dawn.
Buy it? If you like Green Lantern and you've never read a Hal Jordan origin, it's maybe worthwhile. But Hal's origin isn't the most fascinating anyway, and it's been better-told elsewhere.
Green Arrow: Year One (six issues)

I haven't actually read this one - but it's a hugely acclaimed series, and I'm actually picking it up myself in this sale. Andy Diggle's fresh take on Oliver Queen's origin was a huge influence on the Arrow TV show, and features some quite astonishing artwork by Mark "Jock" Simpson.
Buy it? I can't call this a personal recommendation, but everything I've heard about it suggests it's worth picking up. If you're an Arrow fan then it's certainly a must-read.
JLA: Year One (twelve issues)

The post-Crisis retcon of the JLA's origin shuffled Wonder Woman out of the picture entirely, and also marginalised Batman and Superman - meaning that this series by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn and Barry Kitson is instead centred on the likes of Black Canary and the Martian Manhunter. It's got a fairly enjoyably retro feel - particularly thanks to Kitson's artwork - but it's also a bit lightweight and unmemorable.
Buy it? As a twelve-issue series it's hard to recommend wholeheartedly, but if you want something a bit more light and throwback (despite being from 1998) in feel it might be worth grabbing.
Batgirl: Year One (nine issues)

An utter delight. Chuck Dixon (along with co-writer Scott Beatty) just gets the characters of Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson like nobody else, and this is an absolutely fantastic retelling of the former's earliest days as a costumed superheroine. This is the kind of book that makes you love a character you'd never really thought about before, casting Babs as a hugely likable, fun, and downright kick-ass character in her own right. Plus, it's got some of the earliest superhero work of Marcos Martin.
Buy it? Abso-bloody-lutely. Can't recommend it enough.
Nightwing: Year One (six issues)

This is the third and final of the Beatty/Dixon Year One collaborations - and also the only one I haven't read, so I can't really comment. I would reasonably expect that it deals well with the character of Dick, though, and Scott McDaniel is an always-solid artist.
Buy it? If you like Dick and Barbara, then probably. Maybe check out the ones above and below first, and if you get on with them, take a punt on this one.
Robin: Year One (four issues)

And here's the first Beatty/Dixon book. It's not as good as Batgirl, but it lays out a lot of the template that the later series would then expand and improve upon. Martin only shares art duties on this one - but he does so with Javier Pulido, so as you can imagine it still looks pretty fantastic.
Buy it? If you're only choosing between one of this and Batgirl, get Batgirl; but at only four dollars, this is a nice companion piece if you're so inclined.
Teen Titans: Year One (six issues)

Ashamed to say I hadn't even heard of this 2008 series before - but it sees Amy Wolfram (writer on the Teen Titans cartoon series) and Karl Kerschl reinventing the original Silver Age Titans lineup.
Buy it? I can't recommend it without having read it, but I think it looks pretty good fun, and will probably pick it up myself. I'll update this with an actual opinion if I do.
Huntress: Year One (six issues)

Reasonable story by Ivory Madison, uninspiring art by Cliff Richards (not Cliff Richard, sadly), and it's about the Huntress, who will forever be the least interesting Batman-related character. Pfft, basically.
Buy it? If you already like the Huntress, I guess. But then if that's the case, you probably already have.
Black Lightning: Year One (six issues)

Another one I've never read, because it's a Black Lightning comic. To be fair, Jen Van Meter and Cully Hamner are an excellent creative team, so it might almost be worth a shot for that.
Buy it? Hell, why not. It's a great writer and a great artist, and looking at some of the reviews other people have given it, I almost feel guilty that I didn't read it at the time.
Panel Beats Approved Checklist:

Batman #404-407 (buy)
The Man of Steel #1-6 (buy)
Superman: Birthright #1-12 (buy)
Green Arrow: Year One #1-6 (buy)
Batgirl: Year One #1-9 (buy)
Robin: Year One #1-4 (buy)
Total cost: $40.59 / £28.29