Secret Weapons depicts the story of Livewire and a group of Psiots (people with superhuman abilities) whose abilities were deemed useless by Toyo Harada and The Harbinger Foundation. These Psiots were residents of a secret compound known as The Willows, located in Oklahoma City. After all of Harada’s secrets were leaked, many of the rejected Psiots fled, while others hid among the “regular”, human population. The previous issues have detailed the coming together of a group of these Psiots led by Amanda McKee, aka Livewire. A power absorbing killer known as Rex-O, created by a mysterious person, The Scavenger, has been hunting the team.
This issue continues the story with Livewire putting together clues (along with help from @X) to track down Rex-O and The Scavenger. While this is happening primarily in the background, the issues places focus on Avi and the bigotry and hate faced by Psiots like him, especially because he also wears a turban (a comment is shown that most don’t know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim). Avi is shown to be trying to keep a low profile, but this has become increasingly more difficult and he is forced to take action. Along the way, Nikki, Owen, and Avi come across a scenario that forces them to team up to protect themselves.
Secret Weapons has been a brilliant series so far. I love the characters and their off beat abilities. The issue begins with a one-page catch-up, which has become a staple in many Valiant titles, and it’s always welcome in my eyes. Every book is someone’s first and the industry should always look to welcome new readers. Valiant continues to shine in this regard.
Eric Heisserer writes wonderfully natural dialogue and believable, unique characters. The scripting is tight and the panels are clear and obvious making it a very easy read. The issue jumps back and forth between locations (and groups of characters) without being jarring and the pace always feels comfortably quick. The book is also well-balanced with great moments of humor. Owen’s ability to summon inanimate objects without much control lends itself to lighter moments and this issue continues the trend. I appreciated the use of technology and modern interactions. It is somewhat expected from a book with Livewire and @X, and it’s handled beautifully. We are shown mobile phones, dash cameras, mentions of Reddit, etc. It’s a nice realistic touch. Of course, the risk with these types of scenes is the potential for the book to age poorly. Time will tell in this regard.
The art has a simple, clean, and uncluttered look with just the right amount of detail. Reading a digital version and selectively zooming to scrutinize the art shows the attention to detail and even background objects are given proper attention. Most background characters have full facial features, which surprisingly isn’t always the case in many books. The art emphasizes the storytelling. Early in the issue, we are shown back to back nine-panel pages, and the issue is very panel dense overall. It feels right for the type of storytelling used. Some panels are treated almost like animation and actions are broken down panel by panel to clearly convey individual moments. I can’t recall a recent example of this type of style used as effectively as it is here. It enhances the readability of the book. The colors have a muted, real world quality that fits the tone of the series. I found it to be natural and appealing, unlike the oversaturated look of many current titles. Each of the Secret Weapons issues has had an incredible, eye-catching cover. They are almost psychedelic in their style and I love the focus on a single, vibrant color. This issue uses yellow and showcases Owen and his ability in a unique way by having him surrounded by seemingly random objects.
My only criticism of the issue is that, outside of a few pages, it doesn’t really enhance the sense of urgency in finding or fighting Rex-O. We spend a lot of time without mention of Rex-O and with our team fighting a separate battle. While it does help to strengthen the team’s bond as well as further detail the issues Psiots face after they have been revealed, regardless of how threatening their ability is, it does make the issue feel less vital to the overall story.
As this is issue three of a four-part series, the book ends on a cliffhanger and the anticipation for the final issue is palpable. Eric Heisserer has done an exceptional job with this series and I hope he continues to work in the comic book industry. For those unfamiliar with Eric, he was the screenwriter of the critically acclaimed film Arrival and became involved with Valiant when writing the scripts for the Bloodshot and Harbinger films. The final pages of the issue contain a section called “Eric Heisserer on Writing Comics”, comparing writing comic books to writing film scripts and further explores his process on writing the book. It is a great addition for fans of the series.
In summary, this is another outstanding issue of Secret Weapons. This series impresses in all areas. The writing is top-notch and the art is incredible. I feel this is one of the best books Valiant is currently publishing and that is saying a lot considering how well-regarded and rated their books are. The fact that Eric Heisserer is behind the scripts for their current films is reassuring and the love for these characters, especially Livewire, shines through. 4.5 out of 5 stars!
Written by Eric Heisserer
Art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
Published by Valiant Comics