Seven Secrets’ first collection establishes an intriguing concept with an engaging multicultural cast driven by dynamic action.
Seven secrets, The manga-influenced shonen series created by Tom Taylor and Daniele Di Nicuolo garnered widespread critical acclaim when it began last year on BOOM! Studios and the first collection in the series makes it easy to see why. The story of the writer Tom Taylor is an imaginative and exciting adventure that travels the world filled with endearing characters and a series of mysteries to keep readers interested in an action premise that comes to life with Di Nicuolo’s bombast.
Volume 1 introduces the ancient Order of the Seven Secrets, a mysterious multinational organization tasked with protecting discreet black briefcases that hold potentially disastrous mysteries. The Order assigns two individuals, a Holder and a Guardian, the duty of protecting each of the powerful Secrets. When Keeper Sigurd and Holder Eva have a son named Caspar, they must renounce him for fear that their love for a child could interfere with their duty. Caspar is separated from his parents, raised within The Order, and trained to one day protect the Secrets himself. Caspar is forced to do his duty when a mysterious new enemy challenges The Order like never before. Gaspar must decide whether to follow the old ways, which seem to lead only to death and suffering, or to forge his own path.
Taylor, who cultivated a cult following thanks to his strong character work on DC Universe series such as Injustice Y DCeased, bring that same focus on character here. There’s a lot of exposure in the first half of the book, but Taylor balances the setting with engaging dialogue and endearing moments at the beginning that make the tragedies to come feel deserved and emotional. A series that relies on seven elements with mysterious power could easily turn into a MacGuffin quest by numbers, but Taylor avoids easy pitfalls. Spice it up enough on jokes and clues about the history of the Order and the Secrets themselves that the stakes feel weighty and genuine mystery. At the end of this volume, there are no answers, but many new questions have been raised.
Series artist Daniel Di Nicuolo elevates procedures with energetic artistry that brings a new mix of manga influence and traditional Western superhero action sensibilities. Di Nicuolo’s art underpins the fantastic kung-fu adventures with character designs that draw on the diverse cultures of the international organization and lovingly represented global landmarks and architecture. Like Taylor’s writing, Di Nicuolo’s art is character first, with designs illustrating something about individuals and their personal stories.
Di Nicuolo balances character focus and great scope with excellent pacing and page layouts. When prompted, your panels avoid background details and focus on the characters and their emotions. As the action increases, the artist’s subtle lines of movement bring the pages to life and the panels break through the traditional grid structure, cutting diagonally across the page. Movement is always fluid with one panel effortlessly leading to the next.
The series’ primary color artist, Walter Baiamonte, sets the tone with a palette of cool blues and light colors that make the Order feel like a safe haven despite its mysterious forms. The airy feel and bright sunlight help bring out Caspar’s youthful optimism that permeates the storytelling. When things get violent, Baiamonte turns blood red to raise the tension. Ed Dukeshire’s letters are equally essential in setting the tone. The thin line of the word balloons and the angular strokes of the letters themselves are slick with a keen sense of design that echoes Caspar’s energy. Working in tandem with Di Nicuolo’s art, the pages are never confusing, which can sometimes be a problem among creator-owned books.
The first volume of Seven secrets is a fresh and exciting adventure series, and these first six issues make up an intriguing concept led by an engaging, multicultural cast. Tom Taylor’s story is elevated by the energetic artwork of Daniele Di Nicuolo and Walter Baiamonte, balancing globetrotting action with expressive and distinct characters. With the construction of the world out of the way in this volume, more secrets are ready to be revealed and mysteries solved in the next chapter of the story.
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