Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines
Art, Cover: Ilias Kyriazis
Colours: Ron Riley
Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
In issue #3 of Secret Identities we saw a new supervillain calling himself The Example attacking several members of the New York Japanese community – which of course made Gaijin feel in the spotlight, as she is an alien who was found and adopted by a Japanese family (that is heavily involved with the Yakuza, a fact that the other members of The Front Line ignore). The first time he shows up, Crosswind tries to stop him – and fails. Later, the team manages to take The Example out of the equation with the help of a businessman whose company had started the research that ended up with the creation of the villain. Said businessman fakes total innocence, but there is something shady going on… meanwhile Crosswind, who actually joined the group in order to disrupt it, starts investigating Gaijin’s secret.
The fourth issue opens with Gaijin trying to get in touch with her (adoptive) brother Kayoto. Soon she gets an MMS with his picture asking for some Front Line secrets in exchange for the man’s life. What we know (and of course Gaijin ignores) is that Kayoto was kidnapped by Crosswind himself, who took him to his “handler”. Meanwhile, Punchline and Vesuvius are taking part in a meet-and-greet with some children when Vesuvius’s “niece” (rather, the great-great-granddaughter of the man who found him in the ruins of Pompeii) turns up talking about some Aztec curse threatening her.
This is, once again, an issue about family and trust. There still are funny moments, but the atmosphere is getting darker and darker by the issue. In contrast, the art remains very superhero-like, with exaggerated facial expressions and reactions. The colours help this impression by being very vivid, very flashy. The cover is also extremely suitable for a “regular” superhero book, something Secret Identity is not.
This series is a very interesting one: on one side, it does fit the typical “superhero comic” stereotype, with the villain of the month and funny characters with amazing superpowers. But on the other hand, however, Secret Identities makes those superheroes into real people. True, all superheroes have a… well, a secret identity, but normally the stories are focussed on what they do while wearing their costumes. Here, instead, we see regular people with regular lives who happen to have been born with certain powers and try to help others through them. And this goes even for the aliens, ancient creatures and (mostly) artificial beings in the story.