In recent years, Tom Taylor has become one of the most exciting voices in comics. His extensive work for Marvel and DC have earned him plenty of fans, whether it’s his great, short-lived run on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man or alternate spins on established DC characters such as DCeased and Injustice. Having dabbled in comics based on existing franchises for other publishers like Dark Horse, Taylor hasn’t done much creator-owned work outside his native home of Australia, but at BOOM! Studios, Seven Secrets has spun out of his imagination to glorious effect.
For centuries, the Order of the Seven Secrets has trusted in Keepers and Holders to guard said secrets in seven briefcases against all harm. However, in Amon, an enemy who knows too much and is willing to expose the Secrets, the Order faces their greatest threat. All hope may lean towards their newest recruit, Caspar, who must discover the truth of the Secrets before the Seekers do.
Of course, a young protagonist participating in an organization that functions as a school that centers on a particular set of skills is something we’ve seen in comics before — Deadly Class comes to mind. However, Taylor sets the stage differently in how he opens the story, beginning not with Caspar, but his parents. The first issue alone is a masterclass in how to establish this secretive world, its inhabitants and the conflict that awaits them, as well as the significance of the main character, who rarely appears, but does narrate.
In the Order, the duty of protecting the Secrets is the priority above all things, even intimate relationships. And yet, the connection between Keeper and Holder could be something more. Amidst the main conflict that is Amon, there is the soap opera of Caspar realizing he is the product of a forbidden love between two loyalists to the cause who have to give up being parents. As Caspar trains himself to be worthy of the Order, he does get mentored by his two parents, Eva and Sigurd, but it’s the quieter scenes between the three that bring out the emotional core: yearning to be a family.
Going back to the Order functioning as a school, the story does fall into familiar tropes such as the bully who acts high and mighty. However, this has some of the most fun world-building I’ve seen in recent comics, from showing how the warriors of the Order are trained to perfect such skills, to the Order itself being an international organization that continuously unravels in every subsequent issue. Because the comic moves at a quick pace, there isn’t enough time to go into great detail about particular aspects of the Order. Thankfully, the comic continues this month, and I’m excited to see what new layers will unfold.
Although the action can be a priority over the well-written characters, especially during the later issues, Daniele Di Nicuolo really delivers the action in a well-drawn, high-octane way. Having previously drawn Power Rangers for BOOM!, Di Nicuolo’s approach to sequential art is similar to how certain manga are drawn, most notably in characters’ sharp lines. There are also the experimental panel layouts that express the momentum in action sequences, with the addition of Walter Baiamonte’s bold coloring to punctuate the comic’s violent moments without being too gory.
It may move at a quick pace that doesn’t allow a lot of quieter scenes to get know every aspect of the Order, but Seven Secrets’ premise is built upon fun world-building, inventive action and well-written characters that give the whole book a heart.
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