There appears to be an interest in magic based teams and schools as of late, and Dark Horse’s contribution to the sub-genre is a great addition. Hidden Society #1 is an excellent start to the monthly series by Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone, the creative team to the well-received Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald. If this issue is a barometer of things to come, fans of magic, horror, comedy and 1970s New York should be in for treat.
In a brisk 24 pages, Albuquerque and Scavone introduce us to a parallel 1970s New York, where magic and monsters bubble beneath the existing grime and terror of the city. Our main roster of characters is a motley crew of magic wielders, using their gifts for dissimilar means: Laura, a blind woman possessing a magical medallion known as the Orcus Cameo that releases a comical daemon by the same name. Jadoo, a young stage performer using parlor tricks to dazzle audiences. Mercy, a gun toting vigilante. By the end of the issue, the table is set and all our characters are together as part of the Hidden Society.
There is a sharp swiftness to Scavone’s prose and direction; not a panel or page is wasted on unnecessary exposition. The book’s tone, dark yet comical, is immediately present and established. This is aided by the fine character and panel design from Albuquerque. Its art direction hits that difficult mark between overly haunting and vibrant comic-fare. The two creator’s work complements each other nicely and are complemented well by Marcelo Costa’s animated colors.
Hidden Society #1 is a great first issue that isn’t burdened by years of continuity and detail. When it comes to table-setting for a world full of vibrant magical characters, it can’t be done better than this.