If there’s one thing that’s become a major cliche in comics it’s the secret identity. So often it’s to protect the hero’s loved ones, but how can we be so sure it’s not so they can have five wives across the planet, or be a serial killer on the weekends? The very idea of hiding your identity is shady, and that’s something explored in this new series from Image…is it good?
Secret Identities #1 (Image Comics)
Written by Brian Joines and Jay Faerber, the book opens in an unconventional way with a full-on superhero battle taking place off panel. On panel is a character who clearly has some sort of plan up his sleeves. The comic then quickly pans out, like most superhero books will, with a villain much too full of himself pushing the heroes to their limits only to have everything fall into place when the heroes push that much harder. From there the comic goes way off script if you will and delivers surprise after surprise. It’s all about a superhero team called Frontline who take on a new member named Crosswind.
Haha, “my lovelies.”
In a lot of ways this is a perfect introductory issue. The characters are set up in such a way that you come to your own quick conclusions, then Faerber and Joines knock you onto your ass with surprise after surprise. After that customary superhero battle, the issue gives you seven glimpses at each of the heroes who make up Frontline. They all get two pages apiece and they divulge important details on the heroes, and sometimes they don’t come off as that heroic by the end of their bit. In a lot of ways this series appears to be about the secrets these heroes have hidden behind their secret identities. Some secrets are frightening, others embarrassing or innocent, but all of them very original and compelling.
The beauty of this first issue is that the heroes aren’t hiding their identities for the usual reasons. In fact, each one seems to be hiding something different, which makes you wonder why nobody has done this sort of thing with superheroes before. Sure we’ve had a hero here or there that has some skeleton in their closet, but not so widespread in a single series as this. We also have Crosswind, the shady character that came in to help the heroes to open the book, who seems to have an axe to grind and a very unhealthy backstory to bring him into the fold as well.
Some brutal shots taken here.
On top of all this there are some other interesting things at play. For instance, the Frontline team is housed in Canada, but isn’t part of the Canadian government as it just so happens their hideout is inside a giant monster they vanquished in Canada. Some sort of political drama seems to be afoot here and should be interesting as the story progresses. We also have an ex member who’s been taken out after suffering an incurable injury and a character who engages in some rather immoral practices when he takes the cape off. Ultimately this makes all of the characters that much more interesting and should make any reader salivate over wanting more details.
The art by Ilias Kyriazis is great and has the perfect early Image Comics vibe to it due to its sharp detail. In some ways it reminds me of Erik Larsen’s work, although it’s a heck of a lot cleaner. Ilias has to juggle some rather chaotic and busy scenes to open the book and he does so very well. The action is tense and you’re never confused on what is going on in the page. The layouts are a bit busy—a lot of panels make up most pages—but that might be dictated more by how many characters this book juggles.
Hmm. Seems fishy.
Is It Good?
A fantastic first issue that’ll make you want to learn more about every secret identity and make you question why other comics haven’t explored superhero identities like this.