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Review: Secret #2

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Wednesday, June 06 2012 and posted in Reviews

The espionage series Secret, written by Jonathan Hickman, continues!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Secret #2

Story by:
Jonathan Hickman
Art By:
Ryan Bodenheim & Michael Garland

Diamond ID:MAR120502
On Sale:June 06, 2012

We learn the secret past of the Steadfast Security's chief operator as clues begin to appear regarding the mysterious KODIAC protocols. Someone gets out of jail, someone gets divorced, someone comes home dead.

Check out the next chapter of the most thrilling new series of the year, SECRET #2: NEVER GET CAUGHT!


A Jonathan Hickman story is a very specific type of organism, and most of the fun of finding of his writing is discovering exactly what kind of tactic he's going to employ. 

In that way, his stories on a conceptual level reflect the types of things he writes about.  Hickman is big into secret organizations that work in a particular way, and when all is said is done, he lays all those workings bare over the course of his story.  Pieces fit together and affect each other in intricate, often surprising ways in a Hickman piece, both in form and content.

Two issues in, Secret takes on the somewhat familiar shape of a Hickman comic.  In the first issue, we saw the What: a private security firm that takes extreme measures to brow beat major organizations into signing on as clients.  In issue #2, Hickman focuses on the Who: the agents of Steadfast Security Solutions and what they go through in a day.  Steadfast is the type of place that will invade a high-powered Beltway law firm's security in order to upsell them on their "enhanced security package."  They're the type of place that will torture a man just to gain access to his corporate secrets, and then turn around and warn him about intruders just to get his business.  Needless to say, things are very messy in the world of Steadfast Security, and such operatives as Grant Miller profit off of that mess.  Miller is a cool customer, the type who tears out a man's tooth with pliers as easily as clock into work in the morning.  Going through a divorce doesn't affect him so much as his mentor getting killed in the field does. 

Hickman is known for his narrative acrobatics, but he's pretty basic with this story.  We have all the things you'd expect in an espionage story: testosterone, violent flashbacks, secrets, and a too-cool attitude.  The drama isn't anything you haven't seen before, but there's something so smooth about the way Hickman brings it all together.  There's just enough information given out to keep a reader interested, but there's plenty that has yet to be revealed.  The big moments come in drips and drabs, which enables an air of intrigue and tension. 

Ryan Bodenheim takes an interesting tactic towards the storytelling.  Using a three-tiered structure for most of the issue, he cuts straight to the most important moments in the action, dispensing with a lot of the "in-between" that could just get in the way and cause a lot of clutter.  His panels are large enough to make the story breathe, but they don't really waste any narrative space.  Most fascinating of all is the choices made with color.  Michael Garland uses monochromatic color casts to block out an entire panel or sequence, or to cross colors in the same panel to emphasize a key element.  It's an interesting pop-art hook that makes Bodenheim's gritty, textured pencils really sing.

The art is unconventional and surprising enough that there's some kind of disconnect associated with the fact that the characters and relationships are so boiler plate.  The way the story is structured, however, is where that Hickman kick (Kickman?) comes into play.  Over time, the world of Secret will be laid out on the operating table and dissected by its creators.  How Hickman gets to the finish line is the most important of this story, and from these first two issues, it seems like things are headed inexorably to some fascinating places.  If nothing else, Secret seems set out to be a story of our time.  With private security firms, invasion of privacy, and dark underworld shenanigans on everybody's minds these days, Jonathan Hickman is as plugged in to the issues of today as he was with his media criticism in his debut, The Nightly News.  The intricate pieces of Secret are the same pieces that make up our world.   

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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