Hidden Society is perfect for fans of Hellblazer, Dr. Strange, or the Books of Magic Series. However, with an emerging series, there’s of course far less lore. Instead, the driving force behind the series is unraveling before you; the building blocks for a fun new series are put in place, and the final product subtly begins to reveal itself. Hidden Society #2 does everything a title trying to establish itself should do: Introduce the protagonists naturally, build rapport/conflict among the team, provide foreshadowing for what is to come, introduce our antagonist(s), and establish the universe the series embodies. Issue #2 does just that, all while building the story into a fun narrative that’s easy to read. All the proverbial boxes were checked, and Hidden Society #2 is an enjoyable comic that entrenches readers more in-depth into this world, anticipating what comes next.
After assembling the last stand between humanity and a primeval world-killing serpent god, Ulloo the wizard leads the heroes of the Hidden Society to Europe where they must stop a group of nihilist warlocks from waking the serpent beast from the bowels of the earth.
Writer Rafael Scavone uses issue #2 to lay the groundwork for what is to come but doesn’t neglect to tell a self-contained story within the issue itself. Scavone provides a back story to the origins of the Hidden Society, delivers a glimpse of the more substantial threat behind everything, and establishes our immediate threat, all the while bringing our titular team together and injecting insightful characterization to the members. The task at hand was significant, but Scavone’s writing in unison with Artist Rafael Albuquerque’s art made the best out of every panel and page.
On a larger scale, Scavone begins telling the origins of the dark threat to the world, the ominous Great Fire. Through a series of flashback panels, he manages to provide nuggets of backstory for readers to soak up. Artist Rafael Alburquerque’s art is ideally suited for the tone of the book. Within four pages, a concise backstory is told. It may not provide every detail (how could it?), but it allows for enough information to push the narrative forward, leaving reasonable questions to be answered at a later date.
And yet, any graphic novel must always fall back on its protagonists. Once again, the most is made with limited space, and we learn more about this team. Ulloo is the leader of this newly established version of the group, having been a member of the Hidden Society since he was a boy. He brings each member into the fold for a multitude of reasons, having been entrenched in this world since childhood. One point of interest to take note of is how the previous teams swore to keep the spell that held the Great Fire at bay working, but the team lost its “Free Will.” Details are sparse, but I look forward to exploring this turn of events through more flashbacks.
Jadoo is the youngest member of the team. A famous Illusionist in the real world, no older than Ulloo when he joined the Hidden Society, Jadoo has a dormant ability to spell out magic; he may even be the most powerful member of the team. However, he struggles with the overwhelming responsibility thrust upon him. The similarities between Jadoo and Ulloo should are eerie, and another rich detail.
Laura is blind in the conventional sense of the word but can see beyond the world of man and into the occult realm. The first issue established her relationship with Orcus, a demon (or imp?). As Orcus’ reluctant master, Laura has a weird relationship with him that is both give and take. Orcus himself has the body of a mythical creature and the personality of roaring ’20s wise-guy. There is plenty to be explored within their relationship and their relationship with the team at large. Orcus’s abilities are more than meets the eye, and the issue has a fun moment for fans.
Finally, there is Mercy. In the first issue, she absorbed a man’s very soul. Her introduction to the team is that of an assassin, out to fill her demonic contract for Ulloo. Ulloo is fated to die at her hands but has made a deal with Mercy’s demon contractor, Belial. The dynamic here is impressive, with Ulloo knowing death is only hours away at the very hands of his newest team member. Despite Mercy’s cold-blooded demeanor, it turns out she completes her deadly contracts for the sake of her son, Thomas. Ulloo is privy to the curse Mercy is under to save him, using it to recruit her to his benefit. There is a lot to absorb here, but it never feels like overt exposition. Just enough is revealed in natural conversation to allow readers to glean some insight, never outright handing you the “Hidden Society Wikipedia.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to draw attention to Rafael Albuquerque’s art which is ideally suited to tell the story Scavone is weaving. Facial expressions, characters, designs, scaling, framing, and overall quality are excellent. At no point should you feel removed from the narrative because of questionable art; instead, you are further engulfed in this time and place. Colorist Marcelo Costa works in concert with Albuquerque and Scavone to further enhance the quality of the book. If the work of a colorist goes unnoticed in some titles, it shouldn’t do so here.
With all the players in place, this issue picks up the momentum, leaving things in an exciting place. I’ll refrain from spoilers in the hopes that my enjoyment of the issue is shared with readers. Hidden Society #2 may not be as lofty as some single comic issues, but it does nearly everything right to get readers invested in this story and ready to stick with the series. A new series is always tricky to establish. Still, Hidden Society‘s sophomore effort is worth your time and dollar, especially in a time where supporting the medium is more important than ever.