Friday, April 13, 2012

Secret #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Ryan Bodenheim

It seems like almost every week there is a new on-going or mini-series coming from Image that is of the highest degree of quality and ingenuity.  This week, the second of two new Jonathan Hickman-written series debuts, and it is a very cool book, harkening back to his first comic series, The Nightly News.

As Secret opens, a man is awoken from his sleep by a masked assailant, tied up, and tortured in order to learn his work computer's password.  His interrogator pulls out one of his teeth during their conversation.  Later, we learn that this man is the CEO of a large Washington accounting firm, and that his password gives him access to the financial secrets of many powerful people and corporations.

Scared, our executive goes to his lawyer, who is in turn able to put him in touch with the group that his firm uses for industrial espionage and security.  That group is run by Grant Miller, who proceeds to point out to the law firm, in the most arrogant way possible, the numerous gaps and weaknesses in their own security, in a bid to have them increase their use of his services.  Miller later meets with Dunn, our man from the beginning of the issue, and they outline a plan to capture or mislead the guy who attacked Dunn at his home.  Of course, there is more going on than either Dunn or his lawyer suspect, as Hickman begins to lay out just the beginning of what looks to be another multi-layered and complex story from the man who excels at these kinds of things.

At one point in the book, Miller tells the lawyers that, as 'nations are crumbling... soon all we will have left are the little tribes we call corporations."  In The Nightly News, Hickman explored people whose lives were hurt or ruined by the media; now we appear to be on the other side of the glass, as scared millionaires fight to hold on to their ill-gotten riches.  It's interesting, in the post-Occupy world, to find the 1% being portrayed as the more sympathetic characters, although I do find myself much more interested in the people who are working to ruin them.

Hickman is joined on this book by Ryan Bodenheim, the artist he worked with on A Red Mass For Mars.  This book is, by necessity, less visually gripping than that futuristic outer space story, but Bodenheim still does very well with the numerous talking-heads scenes that make up this comic, and balances them nicely with the terror of the home invasion.  The comic is coloured by Michael Garland, but I suspect that Hickman had a firm hand in the design of the comic, as most pages are monochromatic, or only have splashes of one colour.  This is a technique we often see in his independent books, and helps give them all a unified look, despite the fact that he works with a variety of artists.

I'm not sure if Secret is an on-going or a limited series (Image never seems to share that information these days), but I'll be with it for the long haul.  I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is enjoying Thief of Thieves, as the two comics go well together.

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