By Eric Heisserer, Adam Pollina, David Baron
Valiant Entertainment’s Secret Weapons debuted earlier this year to great fanfare. Featuring fan-favorite Livewire, the miniseries introduced several new characters to the canon, one of whom quickly became a new favorite herself: Nikki Finch.
The miniseries served as a starting point for the team of survivors, expanding familiarity with their personalities and their abilities. It also exposed more of Harada Global Conglomerate’s inner workings, revealing facilities such as The Willows, the “orphanage” for psiots of little use to Harada.
Nikki Finch, one of the residents of The Willows, is a gifted athlete, and her psiot ability – if her name hasn’t given it away – involves birds, specifically communicating with all different species. She also proved to be resourceful and brave, eventually becoming the heart of the team.
Due to the success of the miniseries, and demand for more, this #0 issue is bestowed unto us.
Told in snippets taking place a year before the attack on The Willows, the book shows how Nikki embarks on the journey from normal high school student to activated psiot battling Rex-O. It’s an excellent character piece that affords thorough investment into her story. Heisserer creates a believable and relatable character whose failures and successes resonate in relatable ways. Though she may have a power unavailable to normal humans, she is still human: her shortfalls and youthful tribulations are all too familiar, as is the yearning to move beyond parents’ expectations to discover who we are. It’s a rite of passage regardless of psiot-ability.
Eric Heisserer’s depiction of Nikki as a flawed and uncertain character makes her successes that much more sweet, and her actions to protect her friends more brave than first thought. He makes her truly admirable, not so much for what she’s done but for what she is willing to do. Her journey to Secret Weapons was a bumpy road fraught with uncertainty, joy, disappointment, despair, and acceptance. The book accomplishes what so many back stories fail to do: it creates a robust character, not just a timeline. It allows Nikki’s character, her inner strength, to grow and shine.
One of the remarkable features of this book is how the story is shown rather than told. Adam Pollina successfully captures the poignant emotions of the story, ranging from frailty to jubilation. The method in which the story unfolds, like brief clips of moments in time, effectively give readers a strong sense of that particular moment while moving the story forward. Imagine fast-forwarding through a movie – the effect is similar. The moments Heisserer and Pollina pause to provide glimpses into who Nikki was at that time. The overall effect shows her personal growth, and when looking in the rearview mirror, shows how drastically her life changed.
Pollina’s portrayal of Nikki makes this book work. She is the focus of nearly every panel whether she is an active participant or not. His nuanced depictions keep her from becoming a flat actor – her state of mind and emotions are pivotal to engaging character development and narrative, and Pollina does not disappoint. These dynamics guide the story while never losing sight of what is at stake, coalescing into Nikki’s life. In many ways, this is an intimate portrayal, the sensitive side of Nikki is at the front rather than the daring adventurer of Secret Weapons. Pollina supplies a transformation, from traditional beauty to one of fragility then strength – Nikki is stripped of all she was, and Pollina shows the process of becoming.
Colorist David Baron rounds out the artistic team. This is a gorgeous book. Secret Weapons had a look and feel all its own, and Pollina and Baron embrace this while still making it their own. Standout colors include purples and pink – Nikki’s signature look. Baron uses tints to set the mood, and this effect adds to the movie snippet feel of the piece.
Secret Weapons #0 is a must-have for Valiant fans. This touching portrayal of one of the newest heroes in the Valiant Universe will whet your appetite for more Secret Weapons – and Nikki.