JLA Secret Files & Origins 2004 Review

Reviewer: Mathan “I Prefer My Wally Elite” Erhardt
Story Title: Same Coin

Written by: Joe Kelly
Penciled by: Doug Mahnke & John Byrne
Inked by: Tom Nguyen
Colored by: Jeromy Cox
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Mike Carlin & Ivan Cohen

Story Title: The Fall of Modora

Written by: Kurt Busiek
Penciled by: Ron Garney
Inked by: Dan Green
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Colored by: David Baron

Everyone should be familiar with the Secret Files & Origins format by now. First there’s a story, then some profile pages. This is the latest addition to the JLA catalogue.

The first story deals with Wally “The Flash” West struggling to be a member of two teams; the JLA and the JL Elite. They both require different things from him. They both operate in different ways. They also both happen to be working cases that have a link; the Spear of Destiny. It’s a really cool story that shows how torn Wally is about his dual loyalties.

The second story serves as a prequel to the next storyline in the JLA, which begins next month. We see the Crime Syndicate of Amerika as they attack the last free society on their world. During the battle Johnny Quick loses control of his power and disappears. Also during the battle the rest of the team remembers when the battled the Justice Underground (composed of heroic versions of characters we know as villains.) Later Johnny Quick returns to the present with harrowing news, he’s been to the future and their world no longer exists.

There are actually only four profile pages. The JLE deservedly has one. The Satellite era earns one because of Identity Crisis. The other two The Red King and Ultramarine Corps both serve as hints of what’s to come.

Joe Kelly does a great job of giving us a glimpse into the torn mind of Wally West. It’s a remarkably straightforward tale, that’s a thrilling read. Busiek didn’t really impress me. The CSA tale left me thinking “hm, kinda cool” as opposed to “I can’t wait until JLA #107!!!!” The Justice Underground was easily the best part of the story, and they had a brief appearance.

Byrne and Mahnke really put their best foot forward in the lead story. Mahnke did the art for the JLE half of the story, while Byrne did the JLA half. It works remarkably well. The contrast in styles, of the teams is shown by the contrast in styles, of the artists. And I really do love Wally’s JLE costume, and the final page of the story looks stunning. Garney and Green didn’t do much for me with the CSA story. There’s nothing wrong with the art, but it didn’t suit my tastes.

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