When Tom Taylor and Daniele di Nicuolo were on the AIPT Comics podcast, they made it quite clear this is a series filled with secrets and twists you can’t even imagine. After reading the second issue of the series, I don’t doubt them at all. The first issue was a compelling introduction to a world with the barest of detail to keep us in the dark while delivering breakneck action scenes and instantly familiar characters. Narrated by the main character named Caspar who is only seen as a baby, we witness the death of his father and a character who seemed to be one of the best in the series. A bold move. In this second issue, the narrator gets the focus as we see how he went from a child torn from his parents to a fighter with a reason for revenge.
Taylor has very cleverly plotted and written these first two issues, keeping Caspar in the captions, but making us see his potential in his parents. In this second issue, we get to see the potential of Caspar, who grows up in the Order learning all that is required of being a master at fighting and various abilities required to keep the world safe. In that respect, this issue is like a good training montage in an action film, and yet we know the full truth. It’s fun to unpack what Caspar is thinking and feeling knowing who his parents are, for instance, and also what becomes of them.
We already know he’ll be a good person — we saw this in his parents and their love for each other — so now it’s a matter of understanding what he does given the cliffhanger of the first issue. This second issue plays a bit of catch-up, showing us Caspar’s journey up until the moment he learns the bad news. Taylor and Nicuolo have created an interesting plot device, shifting time around and our expectations. To make the narrative that much more interesting, the cliffhanger throws another wrench into things which will likely be used to toy with readers next issue.
This issue also does well to show us a little more about what the Order is all about. So far we know it’s a secret organization, but how they train and act within their walls is revealed. I can’t say I trust them or even know what they are protecting exactly, but it’s nice to get a different angle on this issue.
The character of Caspar remains a mystery in a lot of ways, though. The narration helps, of course, but so much time passes in between some scenes it’s hard to gather who Caspar really is deep down. We understand the confusion of not having any real parents and then discovering who they are later in life, but what does that mean beyond confusion and frustration? This issue mostly focuses on training so we don’t get to see who Caspar is and must guess at that based on who his parents are.
Nicuolo’s art continues to be the perfect combination of action and animated manga sensibilities. When swords are flung about, you get the sense of wind coming off them and the sound too. Body language is also key, informing the reader what characters are going through without words being necessary. You can almost feel the weight on Sigurd and Eva’s shoulders knowing what will become of them from the first issue. I also found the shape of characters to be interesting, as if they are defined by the point of a chin or the roundness of a head. There seems to be a representation of character traits in these designs that helps inform the reader.
Seven Secrets #2 is a good issue thanks to how it has been set up playing against and with expectations. There’s a give and take going on that’s unseen thanks to the information we were given in the last issue. Still, there remain big question marks, especially around who Caspar is, that keep you in the dark and by extension keep the book a bit distant from readers trying to connect with its characters.