The end of one of the most exciting superhero comics to come out of Image arrives this week. It’s at once sad and exciting—sad because it’s over, but exciting because there are so many stories to wrap up and only 40 pages to do it in. The question remains…is it good?
Secret Identities #7 (Image Comics)
The cover says it all: The world is about to end. Luckily Earth as we know it has a number of heroes to stop the alien force created to kill entire planets. To make matters worse they’re really pissed off after these same heroes killed one of their own years ago. That was then (and it was only one of them) and now there are many. On top of that a hero named Crosswind wants to kill the very heroes the Earth needs to fight this force. Many of these characters are complex with compelling backstories and oh yeah, they have some neat powers too. Drama, high stakes and the promise of a conclusion? Sign me up!
Writers Brian Joines and Jay Faerber have quite an issue on their hands with a ton of story and action to be had. It’s safe to say this series was cut short and you wouldn’t need to read the afterword to know it. This issue explains a lot, spends a ton of time divulging backstories that other series would slowly reveal over fifty issues or more and it all ends here. The fact that I’m sad it has to rush by here says a lot, because I’m one of those people who likes a lot of reveals! On top of this I’d say this story is accessible to new readers. The biggest story going on involves a hero named Crosswind, but it’s adequately explained early on to understand what is going on. The only hard part for new readers would be remembering the names of these characters, because there’s a lot of them.
You get that and more here with an explanation as to Luminary’s powers—a disturbing reveal earlier in the series with an interesting twist—and an explanation as to who Crosswind is and why he’s been manipulated to kill this team off. Thankfully this issue doesn’t feel like it’s rushing to explain it all and actually starts off a bit slow where we left off. Clearly the writers had to continue the plan and then deviate sharply to fit everything in here. Once the ball gets rolling a lot of elements drop quickly, and the fact that it comes together in a satisfying and well paced way is a testament to their writing ability.
It is of course a lot to take it so quickly and it’s obviously trying to tie too much up in only 40 pages, but it’s still satisfying. Certain characters get very little action in the main battle to end things, but everyone gets a nice send off in the final pages to wrap things up. As I was reading the new direction for the team and its characters I found myself wondering hoping even, that they’ll come back and revisit these characters. Make no mistake, this was a well written story with characters coming first and plenty of original ideas and dynamic concepts at play, but it just didn’t have the sales to continue. It does read like a lot of exposition, because really, to wrap up so much so quickly you have to, but it’s never boring or slow. There’s a lot to take in and it’s all very good, so you’re going to enjoy yourself even when characters are explaining things out loud.
Okay, so the big bad villain twist does feel a bit forced. I blame the lack of pages to tell the story adequately, but it’s still a bit stiff. It’s bound to happen when you have to wrap things up like this, but it’s unfortunately a bit of an eye rolling conclusion for the big bad because we have no reason to believe things would transpire as they do.
Artist Ilias Kyriazis continues to amaze with a lot of great work here. The final pages that wrap up where the characters go from here is quite nice with interesting shifts in mood and environment, helping to detail future stories we’ll never get to see play out. The fact that he did so in a panel for each character is exceptional. This issue never reads like anything was by half measures either, with an exchange between the ultimate villain and one of the heroes playing out in a dramatic way. It feels a bit false due to the brevity of things falling in line so quickly, but the dramatic tension never falters in the scene due to Kyriazis’ ability.
Plus there’s the fantastic layouts! Kyriazis never ceases to amaze me with interesting ways to tell the story in this series and he delivers again here. One page in particular is a splash of Recluse fighting crime with panels that replicate his six-eyed mask down the page showcasing the battle with Crosswind. It’s exciting and interesting as it connects to the character and it makes the action all the more interesting. In a double page splash we have some massive destruction going on in the city and tons of tiny panels showing the reaction of the populace and a bunch of the heroes. It goes a long way in showing how powerful one of the heroes is, using scope but also the emotional toll it’s having on those who are watching.
There are so many characters to juggle in this issue, so many events and action sequences and you never get confused or lost. Kyiazis has proven he’s one of the best artists in the business and he has easily become my favorite superhero artist today.
God that image is so good for so many reasons.
Is It Good?
All good stories must come to an end and this is one good story. Its character driven plot is compelling, the action exciting and the reveals all deliver.