‘Secret Weapons’ may just be the sleeper hit of 2017.
Secret Weapons is an apt title for a crowd friendly book about heroes who have been rejected because their powers aren’t so great. Little known fact, if you’re doubted you’re more likely to prove your detractors wrong. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer continues this new and surprise hit of 2017!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer, writer of the international sensation Arrival, joins forces with Harvey Award-nominated artist Raúl Allén (WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR) for the next electrifying chapter in Valiant’s latest prestige format epic!
Why does this book matter?
Outside of it being well written by an Oscar-nominated writer? Raúl Allén has drawn a jaw droppingly good series with the second issue topping the first. Don’t believe me? Read below!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue progresses the story by having the heroes learn a few key details about the mysterious robot that attempted to kill them last issue and attempts again this issue. The beauty of this issue is how Heisserer wastes no time introducing another rejected hero (this one can turn to stone, but can’t move once he turns) who aims to build up this team in a cool way. And by team I mean superhero team, as Heisserer allows them to do a little fighting together. Nikki Finch continues to be the more familiar hero type who can do flips and cartwheels around bad guys, but her power–to talk to birds–still seems useless to the naked eye. Then again, if you’re a detective it’s very handy. Heisserer shows all three powers at work in creative ways, which makes the comic that much more fun. These are powers you don’t normally see, especially in a narrative that’s taking a hard realistic look at things.
Livewire meanwhile, factors into the story well, with a cool deep dive into the technology world — specifically programming code. Raúl Allén draws this scene very well, with pink code in the background and a hologram look to Liveware and the monster. There’s a neat use of black boxes with grey text to convey commands held up by the monster and the scene transports the reader well. Livewire is being used very well and it’s believable she’d take these rejected heroes in and call them family.
The art is downright genius at times and it’s refreshing to see layouts push how many panels you can fit on a single page. Many will liken this art to something David Aja would do due to a cel-shaded look and the number of panels with great symmetry across the page. Needless to say, when an artist can fit so many panels onto a page the value of the overall work goes up. About 2/3rds of the way through this book I thought it would be over, but then it keeps going. The many panels not only slows the story down and adds more value, but is able to show an action scene with much more depth and clarity. With more panels there’s more smaller movements, more in between action, which can and does enhance the moments. Valiant has won a lot of Eisners over the year and make no mistake, Allén should be on top of the list for best artist. There’s just so many inspired ideas within, like a top down view of the characters eating lunch (on a table with a Casablanca poster on its top) in the present, and then on the next page it cuts to a top down view of the same characters when they were prisoners and their powers were being activated.
This issue also ends with a wonderful essay written by Heisserer about the collaborative process. Fans of Arrival will get a kick out of this as it uses anecdotes from shooting that film and ties filmmaking into comics and how the collaborative process is so important.
The balloon beat is hilarious.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is great comic book writing and art through and through and the collaborative process is working well. If there’s a gripe or two over this issue, it’s very minor.
Is It Good?
What an excellent read! This is high-quality comics, with art and story coming together beautifully. If you dig superhero stories with a realistic twist don’t miss this. Secret Weapons is riveting visually as it draws you into its compelling characters.