July 26, 2017

Valiant Reviews: Secret Weapons #2

Secret Weapons #2
Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Artist: Raúl Allén
Colorist: Patricia Martini
Letterer: Patricia Martin
Cover: Raúl Allén & Clayton Henry

In Valiant’s Secret Weapons #2, writer Eric Heisserer and artist Raúl Allén continue to lay the groundwork for a thought-provoking exploration of power and the concept of family. When we think of super heroes, of larger than life archetypal and authoritative fixtures in modern society, I think it’s rare to associate any semblance of impotence or futility, but the notion runs intrinsically through Heisserer’s tale. The premise carries a pledge of grave circumspection; a group of young “psiots” with unusual or unwieldy gifts has been cast aside by a malevolent arbiter of industry and covert policy, Toyo Harada. In this world, possessing the slightest psionic gift can make you a target, and the unassuming inhabitants of the Willows have been thrust headlong into a trial by fire.

If you aren’t familiar with Valiant’s ongoing meta, you certainly want to be after taking in this small little corner of the continuity. And that’s what is so great about it, or at least about jumping in this early in the story. There is a bit of building going on, but in it’s infancy there is a taught kind of closeness encompassed in the panels. This intimacy between the characters, centering on a shared experience, is so well woven into the the interpersonal dynamics that I felt instantly comfortable inside the narrative. There were people and places that I knew and cared about, even though I knew nothing of the lore. And that attachment was instantaneous, so I was immediately bent on reconciling that dissonance and filling in my own contextual gaps.

I would be remiss if i didn’t not take an opportunity to comment on the diversity of the characters present in Secret Weapons. One of the strengths of this story is how relatable the characters are and their varied backgrounds do impart veracity to that quality. That breadth of experience also serves to contrast the transformative milieu afforded by Harada to the psiots based on the viability of their power toward his ambitions. Matriarchal and upstanding Livewire, for her technopathic gifts, was formerly a part of the prestigious Harbinger Foundation. Once a trusted confidant of the enigmatic billionaire, she never would have been exposed to a clandestine internment facility like the Willows. A place where, after having their powers activated by Harada, those deemed unworthy of conscription to his private psiot army were stripped of identity and agency. Now she aims to gather what remains of the group, though to what end we are not yet informed. Her time is short, however, as an elusive and powerful adversary is stalking the group with the intention of eliminating them and assimilating their abilities.

Heisserer, fresh off the screenplay for the exemplary Arrival film, has a talent for pulling the reader into personal stories with the smallest affectations. Raul Allen compliments that storytelling ethos with expert focal acuity. There is a haunting melancholy that becomes more palpable as the body count rises, and it is unclear who has the upper hand in the narrative. This isn’t one of those canned good versus evil victories, that isn’t Valiant’s style. Additionally, the creative team’s unapologetic penchant for killing off psiots definitely boosts the stakes. It took a bit of digging for me to suss out enough of the preceding canon to grasp the broader implications of events in this book. But that fact in and of itself goes to illustrate strength of the material. I’m in for a penny, in for a pound.

Christian Davenport


One Comment

  1. Iron_Matt

    Okay. I’m sold. Though I will most likely wait until it’s collected if I can’t find all four issues. I usually have a problem getting a complete set of singles when it comes to the mini series from Valiant.

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