Release Date: Feb. 18, 2015
Written by Jay Faerber and Brian Joines, Art by Ilias Kyriazis and Charlie Kirchoff
Secret Identities is one of the best cases of ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’. On the outside, it looks like any generic superhero comic, (albeit with sleek cartooning that’s wild and kinetic) and would likely blend right in with the ranks of Marvel and DC. However, Faerber and Joines have brought us an enjoyable mix of superhero action and character drama. The key word here is Secret Identities, and takes the Clark Kent stereotype to the extreme, giving us almost too human characters hiding a whole lot under their mask.
The issue throws you right into the midst of action, where the public superhero team The Front Line are staving off an otherworldly invasion. Already you’ll be presented with a sense of unease, as a mysterious character looks on from the sidelines. The general premise is that an allegedly reformed super villain, Crosswind, has been seen serving the public and generally doing good. He’s helped The Front Line more than once, and so naturally they invite the man to join their team. We do find out however that Crosswind is not actually reformed, he’s acting covertly to infiltrate the team.
I feel like there was some missed potential here for a series about a genuinely reformed super villain acting as a hero. However, as I said, the keyword here is Secret Identities, which are what Crosswind wants to find out, and the largest draw of this book. There are some unique plot devices found here, such as Luminary being the President’s daughter and a Superman archetype named Gaijin, who’s adopted brother may or may not be mafia-affiliated. Plus, my personal favourite, the speedster Rundown, who uses his powers to secretly traverse between 2 families. Both of which he has a separate wife and child left completely in the dark to his hero identity or polygamous relationship.
As tense and enticing as this was, it was tough to keep up with the entire cast, only introduced to us in this issue. I found myself constantly turning back to the first few pages so I could try and make a connection between a secret identity and hero. I expect it will become a lot easier in following issues, but it was somewhat jarring at first.
While all this goes on, the spectacular art team of Ilias Kyriazis and Charlie Kirchoff are firing on all pistons. The opening fight scene with Perdition looks grand in scale, yet hard hitting and intimate. We see some solid choreography for each hero, as they all co-ordinate well with each other to create a devastating tour de force. Each design is individual and unique as well, especially Vesuvias, the Hulk archetype who’s tragically a living volcano, and Rundown, who’s costume is sleek, simple and modern. Also of note is The Front Line’s secret Base, which is the defeated body of the first villain they fought, a giant, skeletal, Galactus-like being. Nice touch
However, the more intimate scenes depicting secret identities are somewhat lacking. They seem to be switching between variations of ‘deeply concerned’ and ‘unabashedly optimistic’. However there are a few genuinely nice moments conveyed through the art, especially in the Rundown scenario, where he fist-bumps his daughter.
This was a solid debut issue that completely subverted my expectations. Secret Identities is a lot more than a Superhero comic, and displays some very original, yet brilliant ideas. With a creative team like this, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be keeping an eye out for this series as it continues.
This copy was provided by the creators for review purposes.