Review - Hidden Society #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"This is why waiting is always the hardest part in life..."

Magic is either an illusion or an ability rooted in some energy source. In Hidden Society #1 from Dark Horse Comics, it's a little bit of both. The issue is written by Rafael Scavone, illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, colored by Marcelo Costa and lettered by Bernardo Brice.

Hidden from ordinary eyes, there is a world alongside our own full of deities, demons, and danger--where magic wins out over science and dark secrets lie in wait. Ulloo, the last wizard from the Hidden Society, enlists the aid of a blind girl and her demon, a young magician, and a cursed bounty hunter in order to stop a group of nihilist warlocks from waking the Society's greatest nemesis: a primeval force that, unchecked, will scorch the planet bare of all life.

The concept of a hidden world rife with magic is always a tantalizing one and Scavone uses it as a backdrop for Hidden Society #1. In fact, the first issue is something of a whiplash introduction to all the new characters the reader is supposed to care about, yet Scavone has difficulty in convincing the reader why these characters will be important other than just spending time focusing on them. The characters are each pretty interesting for their own reasons and Scavone knows the dynamic shared amongst them could offer a big payoff when it's all said and done. A lot of Scavone's dialogue is pretty simplistic in terms of the characters speaking the lines, but there's trouble finding a sense of coherence in the overarching story. The solicit seems to inform the reader more about what to expect than the story itself and by the end of the issue there are still a lot of unanswered questions about where the plot wants to go with itself.

Albuquerque's artwork is extremely slick as each of the character's personalities shine through their facial expressions and body language. Albuquerque clearly had a lot of fun rendering the characters with an attention to creativity, from the smarmy target Rickey at the beginning to the goat/bat hybrid Orcus. The different appearances is achieved through Albuquerque's use of thin, character defining lines that affords them finer detail and presentation. There are overlaid panels on just about all the pages as Albuquerque focuses on a larger anchor point for that scene in the background while giving the reader the other action in the aforementioned panels. Costa's colors are grounded in reality, veering into the more colorful when the magic in the issue becomes more pronounced.

Hidden Society #1 offers a glimpse into a secret society of sorts that aims to bring together individuals of various magical prowess into a team for some unknown reason. Each of the characters are unique in their own way, although there's really little details as to why they're brought together or what they draw their power from. Scavone is looking to introduce readers to a new universe and cast of characters, although both of the former tend to be presented in a very formulaic, by-the-numbers way. Albuquerque's artwork is very appropriate for capturing the suaveness the book aspires to achieve through it's plot. Hidden Society #1 could be a lot of fun if some of the plot details and pacing are sorted out in future issues.

Hidden Society #1 is available February 26.