Secret Weapons #1

Written by: Eric Heisserer

Pencils by: Raul Allen

Published by: Valiant Comics

Secret Weapons originally launched in 1993 as Valiant’s attempt to mimic Marvel’s Avengers or DC’s Justice League. Valiant finally had their stable of well known characters and the books were still selling like hotcakes. What do we do? Let’s get Bloodshot, Solar, Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar, and Shadowman all together in one book! How great would that be!??!?!?!

It’s been a number of years since I’ve read those Secret Weapons books but I remember not being terribly excited by them when I did read them. It seemed like a stunt to me and I would much rather just read the individual books then some not-so-great team book. While I owned many of Valiant’s comics I would only acquire the later issues of Secret Weapons during the days when you could find many Valiant Comics in the quarter bins.

When Valiant first announced a new Secret Weapons I was instantly excited. And why not? I love how Valiant has worked their asses off the past few years and reestablished these characters we once loved into characters that we not only love but can’t wait to read each month. So X-O, Bloodshot, Quantum and Woody, Ninjak, and more in a team book? SOLD!

Except Valiant isn’t putting together a team book. Well that’s not true – they just aren’t putting together a team book where all these heavy hitters are out to save the world over and over again. This is truly a different type of team book and it really is unique.

What made this book even more unique is that is was announced that Academy Award nominated writer Eric Heisserer was writing the book. When Secret Weapons was announced it was about twenty-something days until the awards ceremony so nabbing someone like Heisserer was HUGE for Valiant. Personally I didn’t dig Arrival – I’ve found in my old age that really smart sci-fi like Arrival and Interstellar just aren’t for me. I find it too pretentious – a word I use often when describing these types of super smart sci-fi.

Heisserer has written some decent horror including the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, the Thing reboot, and last summer’s Lights Out which wasn’t outstanding but still a decent concept. So even though I wasn’t thrilled with Arrival I was still damn excited for Heisserer to be joining Valiant to write a sci-fi book.

Now I was provided an advanced copy of the book but this book is still about two months away from hitting shelves. I’m sure I’m not the only who was provided an advanced copy and I’m pretty positive that many reviewers will sit back and divulge every single detail. I’m not for that so I’m going to describe the book’s plot in a very general fashion then give my thoughts.

HOWEVER this review may still contain spoilers – even though I’m being very general here. So if you don’t want to know anything I would highly advise leaving this review.

The book stars former Harada associate Livewire (one of the best characters in the Valiant Universe) literally going through some of the remains of Harada’s Harbinger organization. Livewire is in a facility that she had never even heard of and wondered why Harada had kept this particular building off the books. She learns that only six Psiots had lived there. She also learns that Harada was able to activate their powers (a process that one out of four people may survive) only to find out that their powers were…stupid. I have no other way to put that. They had lame powers. They couldn’t shoot fire. They couldn’t fly. They couldn’t read your mind. They had a power like…talking to pigeons. What was Harada to do? Just get rid of these kids that he spent all this time and energy on? So he holed them up in this building but had basically forgotten about them.

We are introduced to three of the Psiots with silly powers. We meet Nicole Finch who can talk to birds. She doesn’t seem to think her powers are silly. She actually does some cool shit with it so I was highly impressed. Then there’s Martin Tyus who can make inanimate objects glow. I guess he can be super handy during a power outage. Finally there’s Owen Cho who can conjure objects – which is pretty rad except he never knows what he is actually going to conjure.

Livewire goes searching for the kids but unfortunately for her and them there is someone else after them as well. This is the villainous Rex-O. Rex-O is definitely one of the sillier villains from the early Valiant days and I was never impressed with the character. Luckily this iteration has totally kicked up a notch. There’s not much in terms of letting us know the motivation in hunting down the kids. There is one – but it has yet to be revealed. So will Rex-O capture the kids or will Livewire save the day? And if she does save the day will the kids even trust her since she is a former member of Harbinger?

Reading this tale really reminded me of what Grant Morrison did on the X-Men. Grant’s X-Men was great because he showed a different side of mutant. Not everyone had to look like Cyclops or White Queen. There could totally be mutants out there who could be weird and wonderful. That’s how Secret Weapons is. Talking with birds may seem like the lamest power of all time but Nicole certainly seems to love it and can really use the power to her advantage.

In turn artist Raul Allen’s artwork really has an amazing Mike Allredesque look to it. When I saw the initial preview pages a few months back I thought the book looked okay but it really didn’t blow me away. But as I read more and more into this first issue I was really blown away by how great Allen’s work really is. It’s pretty stunning and very different then what Valiant normally does. I think this works amazing because it is different art for a different kind of book starring different types of kids. It all gels together nicely.

This is truly an exciting start to this book and snagging Heisserer seems to have paid off.  I can’t wait to see where this goes and truly hope they are able to keep this great creative team intact.

RANK: A