Secret Weapons is turning out to be the surprise hit of 2017. It’s been a delightful exploration of super heroics via relatable newbies, and it’s the kind of comic you can’t put down due to strong plotting and even stronger art. It’s a series you must read or at least give a chance!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Class is in session, and Amanda McKee – the machine-wielding hero codenamed Livewire – is here to show her unconventional class of recruits what it really takes to master power. And lesson number-one is…teamwork! But as these once-abandoned psiot castaways put their pain behind them to become a fully functioning unit, an even deadlier set of challenges will soon rise to meet them…
Why does this matter?
Eric Heisserer has written quite a strong first two issues, and why not? The guy wrote Arrival after all! Raúl Allén has captivated with dynamic layouts and so much detail per panel a full page splash is unnecessary. The plot is thickening at a good pace too and while a direct confrontation with the villain hasn’t happened it’s not necessary given the great character work.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That’s seriously a creepy power.
This issue opens focusing on Avichal Malakar as he attends college. It’s not so easy to just go to school though, as Malakar deals with racism due to his turban. Onlookers photograph him as they think he’s some terrorist and he’s given trouble in the parking lot. Heisserer makes it clear this is normal whether he has powers or not. It’s a strong statement that wraps the issue in a relatable and understandable message.
The remaining issue embroils Malakar’s friends Nikki Finch and Owen Cho in a rescue mission and further progresses the plot as far as the villain. This allows Heisserer to build more of a bond between the characters and have them use their powers together in interesting ways. Cho’s ability to teleport random objects continues to be used well and Finch’s ability to kick ass with or without her bird powers is great fun. The coolest part is seeing them do all this without McKee aka Livewire aiding them or even directing them. She’s doing her own thing–and clearly knows they can hold their own–though the cliffhanger certainly sets up an impossible odds situation for these newly minted heroes.
Allén draws another fantastic issue (with Patricia Martin) with some fantastic pages in the issue and many nine panel layouts throughout. The use of sound effects is inspired in this issue too, with examples making scenes more striking. From the sound of a “krunch” of a bone adding to a shocking moment, or the sound reverberating below a tall building filling the background. There’s also an excellent moment where a character says, “Kabong” and then it actually makes that sound effect. It’s a cool way to lift the action off the page. I’m not sure if that’s due to Patricia Martin’s letters–which are very clean–but credit is due no matter what. Colors are also good with skin tones coming through clearly and the use of purple in outdoor scenes used in subtle but striking ways.
The issue also has another great back matter essay by Heisserer which delves into how he approached writing comics after writing movies. There’s interesting insight and perspective in this essay as it compares film to comics in easy to follow ways, as well as the approach he took to writing Valiant specifically.
Check out that rumble!
It can’t be perfect can it?
I can’t say I really understood the scene where the characters refer to people they know. I suspect they’re other heroes who were rejected that might pop up eventually, but it strikes me as exposition to set up these characters later rather than mean anything in this issue. As a serial story, this stuck out a bit and ended up dragging the story down a bit before the ending.
Is It Good?
This is one of those series where you know it’ll have to end and you’re already loathing that day. Secret Weapons #3 is simply great storytelling in all respects.