The Outhouse takes a look at the Secret from Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
Release Date: April 11, 2012
Cover Price: #3.50
Secret #1 by Hickman & Bodenheim
Wow, I really do not like that cover. That's my first impression and it highlights the cover's role in selling a book. This cover is striking, to be sure, but also conveys an image that says something (to me at least) about the book's general tone and genre. The problem is that I wouldn't normally pick up a book like that, and worse, the book inside the cover is actually a whole lot different and much better than what the cover tells me is inside.
I'm unsure how to really classify The Secret. Espionage? Corporate espionage? A caper or heist book? At this point all that's clear is that there is a secret, and that there are parties that want it. As a first issue goes, that's a success. What I like best about the issue is that Hickman doesn't blow the turn. If you've ever watched a poker show, you'll notice how the drama isn't really in the player's hands (since the viewer knows all those cards) but in the reveal of the cards by the dealer- will the players' bets pay off, or will the turn of the card screw up someone's plans? Here, with a title like "The Secret" there better be a twist on those last turns and Hickman manages that well. (There are a couple spots that would have benefited from another pass by an editor, though.)
The art is also a big selling point- its clear and straightforward, doing an admirable job of using panels & transitions to focus attention on the important details. In a book as carefully plotted as this one you really can't underestimate the value of doing that well.
There should also be bonus points for use of color. At first I was thinking this would just be black & white with the occasional splash of red to highlight things (like the Grendel black/white/red series of stories) but then other colors start to show up, highlighting and separating scenes and characters into distinct groups. I'll be interested to follow this book and see if color is continually used to key the reader into whom or what is connected (kind of like how color was used to superior effect in Asterios Polyp.)
Bottom Line: This is a promising book that is not at all what the cover might promise- and that's a good thing. It's a story that has several strong hooks and a bold art style that is well worth a look. I'll be watching for #2.
Review by: BD Montgomery