Writer Tom Taylor, artist Daniele Di Nicuolo, colorist Walter Baiamonte, and letterer Ed Dukeshire know how to keep more than seven secrets. In fact, in BOOM! Studios’ Seven Secrets #1 pretty much everything is a secret. We don’t know who any of the characters are, what they’re fighting about, or what kind of world they inhabit. It’s madness. And it’s some of the best world-building in a first issue out there.
Taylor doesn’t treat his readers like they’re idiots. He doesn’t beat us over the head with who’s who and what’s what. We’re intrigued by what we don’t know, so Taylor doesn’t let us know much. Briefly, he slips into vague language that gets a little repetitive, talking about the nature of a secret. But that’s a small price for the truly secretive intro that Seven Secrets #1 is. Even the characters, and how they’re connected, become hard to read. But Taylor uses that. Characters in this world seem so callous and unloving that the slightest touch of familiarity speaks volumes. A passing joke, speaks of a deep connection, a simple apology points to a life bond. It’s going to be interesting to see if Taylor keeps his great wit in check, or if Caspar’s generation will be of a different kind than the stone-faced characters we’ve seen so far.
It’s Di Nicuolo to whom we owe these stone faces. It doesn’t matter what is happening to these characters; they will not be moved. One character thinks he’s dying, but his face is simply serene. There’s no fear, no pain in his eyes. And when another character announces her pregnancy, she scowls. Seven Secrets exists in a world where people cannot show weakness. They can’t show happiness when they’re family is growing, or sadness when they face the great beyond. It’s for this reason that the moments of fear, the few tears, have great meaning. These characters have been told to never show emotion. When an emotion breaks through to the surface, and we see it on their face, we know it must be overpowering.
Baiamonte’s colors cascade over every scene. It’s not just a matter of what are the right colors, but what is the overwhelming feeling in each moment. Baiamonte gives moments of danger a red film, explained by a light in the distance or a splattering of blood. He gives scenes filled with fear a yellow tint. Whether it’s the color of Sigurd’s hair or the tiles behind Eva, Baiamonte tells us they’re scared even if their faces don’t. Sigurd and Eva’s trial is shown in bright white. It speaks of the indifference their judges have for them and the cold, calculating atmosphere of the room. Baiamonte’s work on Seven Secrets is efficient, and his colors are all carefully chosen to tell us more about each scene.
Dukeshire brings the fun and pizzazz to this issue. It’s what makes Seven Secrets feel like a comic book. But his use of bright yellow and white lettering, in big block letters, dwindles as the issue progresses. Sure, there’s less opportunity for sound effects in Eva and Sigur’s backstory, but even when we come back to the present chaos, Dukeshire is restrained. It takes away the fun for a second. And the silence is terrifying. As Amon and Sigur square off, we become nervous about what will break the silence. It’s the pause before the finale that makes us lean forward in our seats and bend our ears. It focuses us in on the conclusion and leaves us ready for the next issue.
BOOM! Studios’ Seven Secrets #1 is a feat in storytelling. It may occasionally get lost in the weeds of trying to fill pages with captions, but it never gets lost in exposition. Every new character is exactly that, new. We don’t need to know more; this creative team expects us to take each character as they are, and trust that we’ll know more when we need to. BOOM! Studios’ Seven Secrets is aptly named. It uses the best tool a writer has to get readers intrigued: secrets. Pick Seven Secrets #1 up from a comic book shop near you, out August 12th from BOOM! Studios!