Thursday, April 12, 2012

DAMN Good Comics -- SECRET #1

Less than a year after his previous series Secret Warriors ended, writer Jonathan Hickman is back in the espionage game and we're all better off for it.

Hickman's new Image Comics series Secret (minus the Warriors) delves into the world of private security firms like the one formerly called Blackwater and the political realm they infest.  Opening with a late-night home invasion that results in an tooth extraction for information, reminiscent of an episode from the spy TV series Alias, Hickman soon introduces us to Grant Miller, apparently the second in charge at the firm Steadfast Security Holding.  Miller, we learn, is focused on making "one of the most important law firms in Washington" a Steadfast client and he seemingly suffers no ethical dilemma whatsoever about how to do it.

As anyone familiar with Hickman's writing knows, he's all about the long game.  We get a few initial mysteries and a not entirely unexpected cliffhanger twist, but it seems the really meaty stuff is being saved for down the road.  In the meantime, though, the initial series setup is engaging and the dialogue is sharp and crisp.  The book already feels like it should be a drama series on HBO or Showtime, so don't be surprised if some TV executive producer looking for the next Walking Dead snaps this property up in the near future.

Part of that Hollywood feel is due to artist Ryan Bodenheim.  He lays Hickman's script out nicely, using close-ups and angles you see in cinematic thrillers.  His characters' faces are full of wrinkles, sunken eyes and furrowed brows, giving them more gravitas and helping to sell the atmospheric story tone.  Michael Garland's coloring attempts to do that as well, with each scene having its own distinct color scheme.  Unfortunately, this attempt to be stylish leaves a number of scenes feeling a bit drab and lifeless, but that's a minor complaint.

Otherwise, here we go, the start of another promising Image series.  And in the final words of this first issue, now we eat.

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