Have you ever stopped to think what makes superheroes so cool—what makes you want to be them? Usually it’s the amazing powers, but think about their day lives too? The disconnect between their real identity and their superhero persona is shrouded in secrecy, and it’s something I’m sure most people wish they had. Imagine being someone else at night, every night, and getting away from who you really are for a time. It’s why we consume entertainment, to get away from reality, and it’s a reason why these comics we read are so compelling. I want to be them, not just so I can fly, but so I can forget about who I am. Image’s new series is all about identity, and how even superheroes want to hide from who they really are. Is it good?
Secret Identities #2 (Image Comics)
Last month opened this series with a superhero team known as Frontline with a variety of heroes all with very different paths. The leader of sorts is also the president’s daughter, another has some kind of vampire thing going on and yet another is dealing with two separate lives on top of being a superhero. To complicate things even further, there’s some tomfoolery going on with a new member, Crosswind, who has slowly ingratiated himself into the team only to have bad intentions for them. He clearly has his own motivations, but he’s also being controlled by yet another man the team trusts.
Jesus, calm down old man.
Writers Brian Joines and Jay Faerber open this issue with a younger troubled Crosswind further delving into the great double-cross that appears to be forming. They thankfully keep this element on a slower burner which helps keep it fresh, but also allows other characters to catch on and possibly make this story turn in different ways. In a sense this is a series of archetypical heroes we kind of sort of know, but used in a different way. That makes the series all the more interesting because we have specific expectations for say, the Flash type speedster Rundown or the Batman type recluse hero known as…well Recluse. It is their human personas though that are the real meat of the characters, which makes their powers and hero types less important to the main story threads.
This issue advances two elements across these characters, some getting more attention than others. One is the Crosswind plot possibly going in a way that’ll make us wish he never joined the team for his own sake. It’s too early to tell, but we might just be rooting for the team not to hurt the kid, especially with the opening of this issue revealing he might not be all that bad. The rest of the issue dips a bit into certain characters real life issues, a possible foreshadowing of a giant alien attack and the creation of a new radioactive villain. Part of the joy in reading this series is its ability to juggle multiple storylines without losing interest or frustrating the reader.
The art by Ilias Kyriazis continues to impress, with some exceptional layout choices that make the sometimes boring superhero battle look fresh. Once the opening interrogation scene is over we’re given an action sequence across a double page spread set at Niagara Falls. Kyriazis uses a circle to point out where action is, then a longer Image-logo-looking-exclamation-looking-line to create a panel of the action going on in the corresponding circle seen below. It’s a fantastic way to show action across a wider scene and show each hero can take on a bad guy on their own if need be.
There’s another delectable double page spread later in the issue with a diagonal large panel at top and many smaller panels at bottom. It’s a neat effect as it shows the chaos of the battle and the many little moments that go on so quickly. There’s a lot of variety in how he tells the story, which helps keep everything interesting and makes it very page turn worthy.
I said this last month, but there’s something said about juggling so many characters in a single issue and a lot of the success goes to the artist. The writer must pace things effectively, but without good layouts, and an ability to draw many panels at times, it just won’t work. Great stuff.
Is It Good?
Secret Identities is my favorite superhero comic delivering surprises to the genre, its story and fantastic characters.