ADVANCE REVIEW: Secret Identities #1

*** Please note this issue is not released until February 18th 2015***

Written by: Brian Joines & Jay Faerber

Art by: Illias Kyriazis

Publisher: Image

Secret Identities #1 is Watchmen directed by Bruce Timm.

The team of Brian Joines, Jay Faerber, and Illias Kyriazis hit the ground running with the debut of their new series. At it’s core, Secret Identities is a combination of Silver-Age Sci-Fi idealism present in the works of Jack Kirby with the dark, deconstructionism approach to the world of superheroes found in Watchmen. One of the best aspects of this series is how seamlessly the blend of these two clashing ideologies are handled. This is primarily due to the harmonious interplay between the writing and the artwork present from all the creators. Joines’ and Faerber’s dialogue and plot work ground the title in the menagerie of real world problems that would infect fantasy super heroics if the two were to merge while Kyriazis’ art keeps the book in the “grounded” in the world of pure fantasy. It’s a wonderful thing to see and a feat that is pulled off magnificently.

Secret Identities follows a team of superheroes (entitled FrontLine) that are more New Warriors or X-Statix than purely Justice League and again, this is a good thing. When imagining an entirely new cast of superheroes the general shorthand is to make most of the characters amalgamations of the archetypes present in the Justice League. We are introduced to characters that may have similar powers, but present themselves and deal with said powers in entirely different ways. One of the most striking characters both visually and thematically is that of Vesuvius, a “man” made of molten lava whose origin is unbeknownst to him but may have to do with the cataclysm of Pompeii. Interestingly enough, the book shines when it’s furthest away from the traditions of a superhero team-up book. Seeing these brand new characters handle their day-to-day lives remains to be infinitely more interesting than watching them tussle with supervillians, but both aspects are essential. While many of the characters feel slightly underdeveloped, granted this is a first issue and Joines, Faerber, and Kyriazis are counting that you stick around.

Kyriazis’ art really seals the deal. His depiction of the members of the FrontLine on and off duty is incredibly well done, allowing the art to sing when relying on the light-hearted nature of the story’s proceedings but also shifting (again) seamlessly to the darkness present in the pages of this title. Highlight of this issue remains his rendering of Frontline’s superhero base, which is the hollowed out carcass of a giant monster. Somewhere, someway, Kirby is proud.

Secret Identities #1 is a book that is fighting hard for your purchase. It wants you to give it a shot and while the book isn’t perfect, it is worth seeing through to the end of this first issue. Wholeheartedly recommend you pick this one up.