Secret #3 Review

Jonathan Hickman‘s other creator-owned series from ImageSecret returns this month. It’s been a long delay since issue two, which came out in June. Of 2012. While doing some research on the series I actually came across people online asking if the book had been cancelled.

When I was asked to review this issue, I was initially annoyed, thinking I’d need to buy the first two issues so I’d understand what was going on. Only later did I realize that, not only had I read those issues, but I reviewed the second one. I enjoyed it too, but a year’s long time. I’m sure there are lots of things I’ve forgotten, some of them intentionally. In any case, here’s the official description of Secret #3 from Image:

Things begin to unravel as we learn the identity of who Steadfast is working for. Billions and billions of bits of data floating through the air screaming to anyone who will listen: FOLLOW THE MONEY. 

I can’t recommend strongly enough that you reread the first two issues of the series before picking this one up; this issue really starts to pull together elements we were only introduced to before, so that we finally get some of the big picture.

The whole issue is good, but the first five pages are absolutely masterful. It’s a flashback to Grant and Thomas on a double date with their future wives, commenting that their jobs are boring when, a short time earlier, they were killing two dudes in a restroom. It’s a variation on a scene we’ve witnessed many times before (True Lies is my favorite example) but Hickman keeps it fresh: going into the date, he leads us to believe that it’s actually another operation. It’s the final panel before the title break that really clenches it, however; be sure to give that one a good look.

Ryan Bodenheim‘s beautiful art for this series is just about as realistic as comic art gets, especially in terms of facial work. It’s surprisingly easy to tell all the characters apart, which isn’t always easy when none of them are dressed as Norse gods or creatures of the night. (Remember, that’s part of the reason superheroes flourished in the comic book format — they’re easy to tell apart.) Michael Garland‘s colors are also crucial to this series. Each scene is limited to two colors, contrasted to place emphasis on specific people or objects. Interestingly, unlike Hickman’s Manhattan Projectswhich also uses a dichromatic color scheme on occasion, objects don’t always maintain the same color throughout a scene. Instead, colors are used to emphasize objects based on the specific needs of the panel. While this makes the individual panels more striking and balanced, it also makes it difficult to track objects across the page, as they switch back and forth between colors.

I’m glad to see Secret has returned, especially with such a strong issue that fixes some of the problems of the first two (and there weren’t very many problems to begin with). Even better, the fourth issue is due out September 25, and the fifth just three weeks later on October 16th. It really is feast or famine with this series, but right now I’m more than happy to chow down.


 Zac Boone is headed to Dragon Con in Atlanta this weekend. It’s gonna be cray cray. Or something. Follow him on the twitter.

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