By Jim Zub, Leandro Oliveira, & Ross A. Campbell
City Of Secrets’ introduction helps ease new readers into its world, but has a lot of hints and nods to previous stories that would attract the attention of old followers. We are instantly introduced to all of the main characters and given a short bio describing their personalities. The dialogue by writer Jim Zub (best known for series Samurai Jack and Skullkickers) captures their traits perfectly, allowing us to learn more about whom they are and how they act.
The first impressions of the crew are that they don’t exactly see eye to eye, but as the book progresses each character reveals their own objectives, causing them to separate. While the leader, Seoni, initially attempts to divide the crew into groups to handle multiple tasks, the members veer off in their own ways with their own agendas, leaving Seoni without a crew and without a plan. Having the characters branch off on their own paths was a great plot device used by Zub. With all the members in varying situations we are introduced to multiple locations and plots simultaneously, which is helpful, especially for a first issue. With the crew on their own it is easier to get a better understanding as to who they are and what their individual goals are.
The characters that stood out the most were Ezren, the Wizard, and Kyra, the Holy Cleric of Sarenrae. Their individual stories seem to have the most depth so far and allow for much more to be done to expand their plots. There are also a lot of elements of mystery within their stories that left much anticipation, like Ezren’s meeting with Sheila Hiedmarch or the sudden intrusion on Kyra’s prayer. Their separate story arcs ended strong and satisfyingly, so long as they capitalize on them in the next installment.
As for the art, Leandro Oliveira is very detailed and precise with his drawing, which is a good thing. From splash pages of the crew’s vessel on the open waters to close ups of the character’s faces, the art is a nice mixture of realism and cartoon. While his resume in the comics business may be small, his popularity should grow as long as he keeps producing art like he did here. Oliveira’s pencils are only enhanced by Ross Campbell’s superb coloring. The colors aren’t too simple, but not so complex that they take away from the Oliveira’s pencils. The color palette used adds a nice filter, really accentuating the “medieval” feel of the book.
The only worry in the book so far is its division of the main characters and how Zub plans to bring them back together. While splitting them up initially is a great way to learn more about them, it will be interesting to see how their differentiating stories can be connected. Hopefully, one character doesn’t get left out and stuck in a purgatory of a useless plot that goes nowhere. However, it has only been one issue and is too early to tell what lies ahead for the crew.
Overall, the book is off to a good start with a fantastic, original look from Oliveira and Campbell, and a good, multi-layered story from Zub that, for the moment, sees all the characters heading in a good direction.