Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review - Secret Identities #1


"Could you guys use an extra hand?"

The benefit of having a secret identity is that you can do one thing in front of one audience without risking anyone tied to another audience. Many of those identities are no more moral than anyone who's not a superhero and they're subject to demonstrating the same flaws as normal individuals. Image Comics is going down an interesting road with the characters in Secret Identities #1. The issue is written by Jay Faerber and Brian Joines, illustrated by Ilias Kyriazis, colored by Charlie Kirchoff and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

The supergroup known as The Front Line have just invited new hero Crosswind to join them. But what they don't know is that Crosswind is a mole, sent to learn all their secrets. And the Front Line have LOTS of secrets. Characters have high-profile secret identities, lead triple lives and have other aspirations outside of being a superhero.

Secret Identities #1 starts off as seemingly another humanizing look at superheroes, but Faerber and Joines take it down a much different path. That path is one that focuses on the characters and their lives outside of being superheroes, showing that they're a lot more human than superhero. It's the little nuances of each in their personal lives that makes Secret Identities #1 feel a little different, helping to set up the inevitable reveal of Crosswind as a mole to be a lot more dramatic because there are more personal relationships at stake. Crosswind's motive for spying on the group isn't completely presented in the first issue, but there's a full-page reveal at the end of the book that sheds a little light on his reasoning. The approach lends a great sense of tragedy to the proceedings, as the characters are all set to up to take some sort of fall from grace.

While the characters sport a more modern appearance, there's a general datedness to the illustrations that harkens back to a different era of illustrations. Kyriazis uses extremely clean lines that gives the book a brisk, quickness to them. In this regard, the action flows quickly and moves the reader through the scenes very quickly that mirrors the all-out approach by the writers. Some of the more detailed work on the part of the facial expressions feels a little incomplete, as there are some instances where a character's face feels a little out of sync with expected physiology. For instance, the full-page illustration at the end features a character whose face seems a little wonky, which slightly undermines the intended emotional impact of the reveal.

Secret Identities #1 is another take on the "superheroes as humans" genre, where the saviors of the world all have lives that are very pedestrian when you think about it. Crosswind seeks to destroy the Front Line from the inside, but why exactly he wants to do that still remains to be seen. Faerber and Joines go to great lengths to present their heroes as beyond flawed, ensuring that when they fall from grace it will be a very long fall. Kyriazis' illustrations are fast and loose, addressing more sweeping battle scenes with more care than one-on-one scenes between characters. Secret Identities #1 shows promise and has a lot of ambitions, asking that the reader stick around to see those ambitions realized.

Secret Identities #1 is in stores now.

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