We’ve been seeing a lot of teases, and even a full 7 page reveal of Valiant’s upcoming summer series Secret Weapons, written by academy award nominee Eric Heisserer (Arrival) with art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. In many ways, the comic represents a fresh new side-avenue for Valiant Comics, bringing a focus on a female character, Livewire, the first to carry a comic as a team-lead since the highly successful title Faith started, and a comic with distinctly different art style and color palette even within the highly varied and seemingly all-encompassing Valiant Universe.
The story focuses on the “cast off” psiots of Toyo Harada’s regime, those whose powers he activated, but found those powers to be lacking. In superhero tradition, this usually means a band of misfits, and in this case, we get that aspect, but we also get a lot of heart, since these are young people who have been told they are useless and made to live in difficult conditions. Think more along the lines of the young mutants in the recent film Logan and you’re getting closer to the tone of their experiences. And Harada was awful enough (of course) to even release their information and names to the public when he shut down their facility, making them targets.
We get the feeling that the last bit is what really pushes Livewire over the edge when she discovers their abandoned facility and starts the hunt, using the leaked list of names. But things are already heating up for the kids, since they are being stalked by a new enemy, Rex-O who also knows their names and locations. Will Livewire being able to round them up and protect them in time?
The first rejected psiot we meet, one who did not “qualify for Harbinger training” is Nicole Finch whose abilities are “ornipathy”, which you will be forgiven for not knowing means she can talk to birds. She comes to represent a lot about this group–their spirit and empathy for each other, their struggling desire to have self-worth. Shortly after meeting her, we see her protecting other psiots from attack, even though you might think her abilities do not make her much of a fighter. So much is about attitude, clearly, in life. Her counterpart, Owen Cho, who can make things materialize, but can’t control what objects arrive, also has the attitude of a survivor in keeping going even if it might be that “no one else is left” of their original group.
The artwork on this new series is really compelling, even cutting edge in terms of what’s being published right now, and very up to date in terms of style and character design. It gives the comic an immediacy that even more fully encourages you to believe these events could be happening right here, right now, than many comics aspire to do. The plot is also very clearly laid out for the reader in a way that will be comfortable for totally new readers of the Valiant Universe, which is something publishers should try to do from time to time, and many try, however, this comic does it particularly well.
With a new cast of young characters and a charismatic and caring lead in Amanda Mackee, aka Livewire, this comic starts off very strong and is set to bring readers a new kind of story about powers, responsibility, and standing up to a world that is at worst, unkind, and at best, indifferent to difference.
Make sure to pick up Secret Weapons #1 when it arrives on June 28th, 2017.