Comics

When Was The Comic Book Term ‘Secret Origin’ Coined?


In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Longtime reader Fraser wrote to me to ask:

Maybe you’ve answered this before but i was wondering: when was the first time comics used the phrase “secret origin?” Did DC’s Silver Age “Secret Origins” special originate it or did someone use it earlier?

As Fraser noted, in 1961, DC famously released a one-shot featuring reprints of the origins of their various characters and it was dubbed Secret Origins…

It was a big a hit, and within a few years, there was a special Superman edition of Secret Origins and then More Secret Origins and soon there would be, like, four different series over the years all dubbed Secret Origins.

But is that where the term DEBUTED?

Nope, it debuted in 1959’s Wonder Woman #105, where Robert Kanigher decided to give Wonder Woman a new origin and he chose to call the story “The Secret Origin of Wonder Woman,” which made particular sense in this instance, as this origin was a RETCON of Wonder Woman’s original origin (it involved the gods coming to Wonder Woman as a baby and giving her powers).

It was mostly just Kanigher putting his own stamp on the series.



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