Advance Review: Secret Identities #4

writers: Jay Faerber, Brian Joines / art: Ilias Kyriazis / Image Comics

Ready to get back to the Front Line? Perfect, let’s get into it! Here’s some of what you can look forward to in the fourth installment of this uniquely diverse super hero series.

Secret Identities #4 is different than previous issues, and depending on your tastes, that may be for better or worse. To be honest, 6 pages into this issue I was not feeling it. Most of the issue follows 2 characters of the Front Line in an isolated plot that felt more like a kids’ cartoon episode than a mature comic, complete with quick setup and a neatly packaged moral at the end, but in between are some gems that make the issue worthwhile.

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In Secret Identities #’s 1-3, the series doesn’t delve too much into any particular character; instead we get tiny insights here and there, spread across a million characters. It’s been effective so far, but #4 shifted the trend, and I’m glad, as they needed to narrow the focus towards deeper character development. That focus was placed on the big-guy lava monster, Vesuvius.

Vesuvius is my favorite character, because who could dislike a gentle lava-giant? While this issue’s story feels like a rather quick one-shot, you can look forward to some backstory and a better understanding of who he is, and that’s a great plus for readers. Outside of Vesuvius there are brief moments covering other characters as well, although only a few members of the team are even present in this issue.

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Surprisingly, the most character insight comes from someone featured in only 1 page of the issue, and in a few panels you learn about as much about them as you do the highlighted character of the issue, Vesuvius. It’s a nice step forward in terms of character development that we’re learning more about half the Front Line team, and we can expect the other half to be featured when issue #5 arrives.

Kyriazis’ artwork doesn’t include many big splash pages or elaborate fight scenes as we’ve seen before, but not to the detriment of the issue. A new character appears whose costume design is rather awful in my opinion, but it’s still well drawn, fun comic art.

Overall, don’t expect the single-issue arc to have you on your seat’s edge, but there’s definitely more character development here than in the past, and that makes the issue worth the time.

You can read previous reviews of Secret Identities here.

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer in New York City. His forthcoming debut book "Piccolo Is Black" is a celebration of the common adaptations we made while non-diverse pop culture helped us form identities. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @JordanMCalhoun

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