Hot on the heels of “The Manhattan Projects,” Jonathan Hickman’s latest Image Comics release, comes “Secret” #1, an espionage comic book that threads into the realms of legal, accounting and private security. “Secret” opens up with a ruthless beatdown and ambles through a complex web of relationships and business connections from there. It’s not all business and beatdowns, however, there’s some minimal character development in this plot-driven comic.
Ryan Bodenheim’s art is selectively colored, never blossoming into full-color, but frequently employing accent colors to help tell the story. Case in point is the aforementioned beatdown. Roger Dunn’s house is broken into and he is viciously beaten, his grayscale world assaulted by red rage in the form of a figure in a ski mask wearing brass knuckles and threatening all sorts of hurt to those all around Dunn. That red shifts to glaring yellows and oranges of uncertainty as Dunn seeks counsel the next day. Blues and greens run through the more mundane panels, which makes the change in tones all the more significant as they mirror the flow of the narrative.
Clearly, Bodenheim is comfortable collaborating with Jonathan Hickman. If not for the credits listed for this issue, I would have presumed the end product to be the direct result of one set of hands, one mind, one person. Bodenheim and Hickman mesh nicely, delivering the first chapter of a story that will rely upon the strength of their collaboration to move forward.
Hickman, in the meantime, weaves a tale filled with experts posturing and declaring they know best for their interests only to reveal to the reader that nothing is as it seems. Dunn is the CEO of a substantial accounting firm. He relies on Gerety, a partner in a major law firm, who is calling upon Grant Miller, a private security expert. Hickman connects the three men tangentially, but creates more of a connection between the three before the back cover of this book is closed.
Unfortunately, nothing any of those three characters does is endearing in any regard. Furthermore, there are no world-shattering revelations, but there are some eyebrow-raising moments in this issue that are trademarks of Hickman’s writing. Those moments are enough to set a subtle appointment for the next issue, but the moments themselves might fade away before the next issue hits. The real draw to this series is Hickman and Bodenheim. There’s nothing in this story worth cheering, but the craftsmanship exuded by the duo is worthwhile for fans of either creator and certain to create fans of both.